Here’s a complete guide to the best (and all of my favourite) card tricks.
If you’re looking to learn card magic or add to your repertoire, this is a good place to start!
What you’ll find on this page:
- Explanations of famous card tricks, where to learn them & performance tips
- Curated lists of tricks and routines (impromptu, self-working, etc.)
What you won’t find: Quick reveals of magic tricks from TV or celebrity magicians. This is a learning resource (at least, it aspires to be!) and not the place to find out how something is done just to satisfy curiosity.
Card Tricks Overviews, Tips & Roundups
What you’ll find on these posts: I’d recommend starting with my beginner’s guide that lays the groundwork for learning card magic, from the very first shuffle to the foundational sleights that every magician must know. Here you’ll have a clear-cut guide tailored to learning card tricks as a beginner.
At the end of this guide I will provide a link to the thirteen different types of card trick’s post (and Evan will provide examples for each type of card trick). There may be new and innovative effects created by genius card magicians, but they will always, more or less, fall under these 13 card trick categories that have been around for decades. These form the pillars of card magic.
Once you eventually reach the point where you know enough tricks to last them pretty much the rest of their lives it’s time to start thinking about getting more mileage out of your favourite effects before you seek out new ones. When this happens learn the six ways to make your card tricks stronger.
What you’ll find on these posts:
This library of content was created with the aim of giving you the best 7 card effects for some of the best types of card tricks in magic.
The Best Impromptu Card Tricks
1: Back in Time (Jay Sankey)
‘Back in Time’ by Jay Sankey is a captivating card trick that plays with the concept of reversing time.
A spectator picks a card, then returns it to the deck. The magician thoroughly shuffles the cards, including mixing face-up cards sloppily into face-down cards, losing the selected card in a hopelessly jumbled mess of a deck.
Using an indifferent card as a “magic wand,” the spectator waves it over the deck, causing the cards to travel “back in time.” Before they know it, the entire deck has been unshuffled, with each card facing the right way, and the indifferent card they’re holding has transformed into THEIR card, as if the trick never even happened.
2: 1/2 Deck, Impromptu Out of This World (Curry, Lorayne, Colombini, Ammar)
“Out of This World” is a classic card trick devised by Paul Curry where participants, without looking, accurately separate a mixed deck into reds and blacks, showcasing an astonishing and often inexplicable display of intuition or influence. Over the years, magicians have added unique twists to this 1942 masterpiece, making it a staple in the repertoire of card magic.
Techniques may include the Lorayne’s “Unreal” version, Colombini’s finesse, or Ammar’s teachings for a smooth and seemingly impromptu demonstration of this psychologically engaging trick, often ending with a spectator-perceived free choice that successfully divides the colors without prior setup.
3: Ambitious Card Routine
In the Ambitious Card routine, a spectator’s signed card continuously returns to the top of the deck, no matter how many times it’s seemingly lost within the stack. Each ascent is achieved through increasingly baffling manoeuvres, creating a blend of suspense and humor as the card defies all odds to claim the spotlight repeatedly.
4: The Biddle Trick (Elmer Biddle)
In The Biddle Trick, the audience chooses a card, which is then lost in the deck. The magician removes a set of five cards, and the chosen card is among them. The spectator holds the deck while the magician shows the set. Miraculously, the selected card vanishes from the small set and reappears in the middle of the deck held by the spectator, creating a perplexing and delightful illusion.
5: Untouched (Daryl)
“Untouched” is a card trick where the spectator deals cards into a pile at their discretion, then separates that pile into two. Despite no interference from the magician, the top cards of these new piles astonishingly match the original top cards of the deck, showcasing an effect of prediction or influence that seems impossible given the spectator’s free choices.
6: Spectator finds their own card! (Sankey)
From a completely fairly shuffled deck, a participant selects a card and the magician loses it in the pack. Then, the participant is invited to touch as many cards (sight unseen) from the fanned deck as he would like, in an attempt to choose his own card again. These cards are counted, and the participant freely chooses any number (between 1 and the number of cards). The selected card is revealed to be THE card at that position in the packet.
7: Las Vegas Leaper (Paul Harris)
In the Las Vegas Leaper effect, a spectator is handed ten cards to count and securely place into their pocket. Mysteriously, without any apparent moves from the performer, three additional cards seem to teleport and join the original ten, leaving the spectator with thirteen cards in their pocket. This surprising jump is a clever blend of audience participation, misdirection, and skillful sleight of hand, culminating in a memorable moment of astonishment.
The Best Spelling Card Tricks
1: Further Than That (Stewart James)
“Further Than That” is a captivating card routine in which a series of unexpected revelations unfold, keeping audiences on their toes. Starting with a spectator’s chosen card, the magician sequentially predicts the value, suit, and color of the next cards, culminating in a finale that goes beyond typical card predictions, hence its evocative name. This trick seamlessly melds prediction, coincidence, and surprise, making it a favorite among card magicians.
2: Spelling Collins Aces (Martin Lewis)
“Collins’ Aces” is a classic card magic effect where four aces are miraculously spelled out one by one. After placing aces within the deck, the magician spells out “A-C-E” for each suit, dealing a card for each letter, and with each count, an ace is revealed on the ‘E’. This trick combines the elements of spelling, surprise, and skilful card manipulation, intriguing audiences with its precision and simplicity.
3: Spell All (Harry Lorayne)
In the “Spell All” card trick, the magician showcases a unique spelling ability where spectators freely choose several cards. Each card is then lost in the deck. Remarkably, by spelling the name of each card out loud, the magician deals cards from the top of the deck for each letter, and the last letter dealt always corresponds to the chosen card, revealing it in an astonishing manner.
4: Super Easy Spelling Card Trick (Mismag)
The spectator has a free choice of any card, which is then lost in the deck. After dealing through the cards face up in an effort to locate the selection, the magician is then able to “spell” his way exactly to the chosen card. This one is easy to learn for beginners and works on the key card principle. It’s totally impromptu and, cleverly, the “work” is done right in front of the spectator.
5: Impossible (Larry Jennings)
In Larry Jennings’ “Impossible” card trick, a spectator’s selected card impossibly travels to a specified position in the deck, defying odds and expectations, leaving audiences astounded by the precision of its placement. Some people find Impossible to be a bit convoluted, but if you’re a good performer, the effect is absolutely stunning.
6: Nine Card Problem (Jim Steinmeyer)
The “9 Card Problem” is a clever card trick where nine cards undergo a series of shuffles, yet magically, a selected card consistently reappears, showcasing the illusion of randomness at its finest. If you like mathematical card tricks, packet tricks, or card tricks that can be done from a distance, you need to learn Nine Card Problem. This trick is so good that David Copperfield chose to perform it on his Fires of Passion special in 1993!
7: Nathan’s Lie Speller (A Million Card Tricks)
The magician places a “prediction” card face down on the table at the very beginning. The participant then chooses a card, which is then lost in the middle of the deck. They are then asked to think of a different, unrelated card (totally free choice!) — when the magician spells that card out, it leads directly to the chosen card. The prediction card, which has been in plain sight the entire time, is shown to be the freely though of “unrelated card.”
The Best Prediction Card Tricks
1: Untouched (Daryl)
I love so many things about Untouched by Daryl. It’s a totally impromptu self-worker with an incredible twist — the magician never even has to touch the cards!
The magician removes a prediction card from a spectator-shuffled deck and places it on the table, in plain sight the entire time.
The spectator then deals out two random piles of cards (they really do have a free choice of how the piles are made), and when the top card of each pile is turned over, they’re shown to match the suit and value of the prediction card.
2: Overkill (Paul Harris)
In the Overkill card trick, a spectator’s freely chosen card is revealed in a multi-phased display of magic. First, it’s predicted by the magician, then it repeatedly appears in surprising ways—despite being lost in the deck. The grand finale reveals that all the cards have turned blank, leaving only the chosen card.
3: Prior Commitment (Simon Aronson)
In the Prior Commitment card trick, the magician displays a deck with different commitments written on each card. A spectator’s selection matches the magician’s prediction, made prior to the trick, not only by card value but also by the unique commitment, demonstrating a stunning double coincidence
4: Double Guarantee (Daryl)
In ‘Double Guarantee’ a spectator (or two) is allowed to insert two face up Jokers into the deck at any point while the magician shuffles. They then get a look at which cards they placed the Jokers next to, and it turns out that the Jokers had the selected cards written on them from the very beginning.
5: Amazing Prediction by Harry Lorayne
In the Amazing Prediction card trick, after a spectator shuffles the deck, they select a small subset of cards and mix them further. Meanwhile, the magician pens a prediction. Mysteriously, the written forecast impeccably aligns with the chosen cards, revealing a remarkable prediction.
6: 1/2 Deck Impromptu Out of This World by Curry, Lorayne, Colombini, & Ammar
The 1/2 deck impromptu version of the classic Out of This World taught on Ammar’s ETMCM is one of my favourite card tricks of all time. Not only is it completely impromptu and absolutely shocking, it has a KILLER twist ending: A prediction! In this one, you actually “let” the spectator get two cards wrong when they’re sorting red and black only to reveal at the end that you knew which ones they would get wrong.
7: Gemini Twins (Fulves)
In the Gemini Twins card trick, two pairs of cards are magically revealed to match, despite the deck being shuffled by the spectator. The magician’s predictions—two ‘twin’ cards—forecast the outcome perfectly, showcasing a startling coincidence after the spectator freely chooses where to divide the deck.
Best Story-Based Card Tricks
1: Sam the Bellhop
Sam the Bellhop is a narrative card trick where the magician tells a story of a hotel bellhop’s adventures, with each card drawn coinciding with the tale’s characters and events. The deck seems shuffled, yet each card dealt aligns with the unfolding story, displaying an impressive combination of memory, sleight of hand, and storytelling.
2: Gambler vs. Magician
In the Gambler vs. Magician card trick, a narrative unfolds of a high-stakes game between a gambler and a magician. Each card drawn represents their fortunes changing hands—with Kings and Aces appearing at climactic moments. It’s a dramatic demonstration of skill and chance, where the magician’s prowess is pitted against the gambler’s luck, culminating in an unexpected and cunning twist.
3: Gemini Twins
In the Gemini Twins tale, two black-suited brothers on a double date with queens are left at the bar as their dates step away. Spotting twin redheads, each brother chats up one. Upon their return, the queens whisk the kings away, only for two red-haired kings to swoop in, a twist no one sees coming as red kings were absent before, adding a dash of mystery to the trick’s unfolding story.
4: Cannibal Cards
In the Cannibal Cards story, deck kings transform into jungle cannibals on the prowl. They encounter and devour victims with a playful card-mouth burp, vanishing them completely. Hunger unsated, they turn on each other until only the King of Clubs remains, revealing the ‘eaten’ cards mysteriously housed within his ‘stomach’, concluding a tale of magical predation.
5: Jack the Bounty Hunter
The premise of this trick is that Jack is a Bounty Hunter will find any suspect (card) the spectator chooses. The spectator will notice with every new pile of cards, Jack is getting closer to the suspect until finally, there are only two cards left. One face-up card shows Jack and the other card—which is the suspect of the crime. It’s purely mathematical (no sleights required)!
6: Cops and Robbers
In the Cops and Robbers card trick, four thieving Jacks hatch a bank heist, each tasked with a role. They alight via chopper on the bank—the deck in the magician’s grasp—divvying up across its floors in search of loot. But soon, a lookout Jack spots cops encircling below. In a daring twist, the criminal quartet reconvenes atop the bank, beating a hasty helicopter retreat just as law closes in.
7: The Rich Man & The Porter
A wealthy man requests a porter to summon four affluent poker players (Kings) to his opulent hotel room. Pleased with the porter’s success, he tips generously, only to ask for the company of four elegant ladies (Queens). The porter obliges, presenting a quartet of redheads and brunettes. A further tip is given, and now four waiters (Jacks) are brought to attend. As the story progresses, cards are laid down that mirror the narrative. Culminating like “Sam the Bellhop,” the porter recounts the poker hands, artfully aligning with the dealt cards, that led to the rich man’s defeat.
Best Colour-Changing Card Tricks
1: The Brain Wave Deck
In the Brainwave Deck trick, a spectator freely names any card, setting the stage for a stunning revelation. From a deck where all cards face one way, the magician extracts one card with a contrasting back color. This card, against all odds, is turned to reveal the exact card the spectator envisioned. This feat requires no force; the choice is entirely up to the spectator, making the reveal a genuine mind-boggler.
2: 8-Card Brainwave
In “The 8 Card Brainwave,” a spectator thinks of a card from a small selection of eight. The magician, without any sleight of hand, reveals that the chosen card is the only one with a different colored back, demonstrating an uncanny prediction. The effect is direct and baffling; the spectator’s card is always the odd one out, and the selection is genuinely free – no forces, with a different outcome each time.
In “Legacy,” a spectator selects a card, which is lost in the deck. The magician then reveals a “legacy” of cards from an ancestor, containing a prediction that impossibly matches the chosen card. Not only does the selected card reveal itself to be distinct, often with a unique back design or color, but it also perfectly corresponds with the narrative’s prophesied outcome, showcasing a seamless blend of storytelling and sleight of hand.
4: Red Hot Mama
In “Red Hot Mama,” a spectator’s chosen card is lost in the deck, but a wrong card, usually a red queen, appears and changes into the selection. The chosen card is then lost again, only for all other cards to turn blank, leaving only the red queen, for a surprising visual finale.
5: Color Changing Deck
In the Color Changing Deck trick, the magician presents a deck of cards, has a spectator select one, then returns it to the pack. With a magical gesture, the entire deck’s back changes color, except for the spectator’s card. This visual stunner can conclude with the entire deck transforming back to its original color.
6: Stranger’s Gallery
The “Strangers Gallery” trick unfurls a mystery where spectators freely select three cards from a deck with different photographic back designs. The magician, without looking, not only identifies each card but also astonishingly reveals matching photographs from an envelope, showcasing an uncanny connection between choice and chance.
7: Bizarre Twist
The “Bizarre Twist” card trick presents a stunning sequence where three indifferent cards bizarrely and visually twist to reveal themselves as the spectator’s selected aces. With each twist, an ace appears, culminating in a surprise final transformation that leaves the audience questioning reality.
Best Self-Working Card Tricks
There’s something special about ‘Overkill’ that always gets a great reaction. It’s the multiple revelations at the end that really hook people. I tell them to just remember one card, but then, bam!—every card I turn over is another piece of the puzzle, leading to their selected card. It feels so impromptu, yet the payoff is huge. It’s like a rollercoaster for the spectator, and I get a kick out of watching their disbelief turn into amazement.
I love performing ‘Untouched’ because it turns the spectator into the magician. They have all the control—or so it seems—as they deal the cards and discover the magic themselves. It’s that direct engagement and the genuine astonishment on their faces that I live for. Every performance feels fresh because their reactions are so real and unguarded. Plus, it’s all done with a regular deck, which just ups the ‘impossible’ factor!
3: Gemini Twins
What I find captivating about “Gemini Twins” is that its simple premise and astonishing reveal is very captivating. It’s the kind of trick that resonates due to its narrative charm and the clear, surprising connections drawn between seemingly random choices. Its ease of performance and powerful payoff make it a favourite if you’re the kind of person who wants to create a memorable moment with minimal setup.
4: 21 Card Trick
In the “21 Card Trick,” a spectator selects one card from 21 laid out in three columns of seven. The selected card’s column is noted and the cards are gathered and redealt thrice, with the magician pinpointing the chosen card in the final reveal. It’s a classic exercise in mathematical magic, where the secret lies in the columns and the number seven.
5: Play It Straight Triumph
Play It Straight Triumph” is a clever card trick where a deck is mixed, some cards face up, some face down. A spectator selects a suit, and magically, only cards of that chosen suit face up while all others are face down. The kicker? The selected suit cards are in numerical order, demonstrating a perfectly organised chaos and a mind-bending triumph over disorder.
6: Lazy Man’s Card Trick
In the Lazy Man’s Card Trick, a spectator freely picks a card and then cuts the deck to their heart’s content. Despite the casual mixing, without a single overhand shuffle or even a riffle from the magician, the selected card astonishingly reveals itself from the deck, proving that sometimes, the most impressive magic happens in the spectator’s own hands.
7: Out of This World
Performing ‘Out of This World’ never gets old for me. I love the simplicity of the premise but the complexity of the effect. I lay the cards out and the spectator, using only their intuition, separates them into reds and blacks. The tension as we turn over the piles is palpable. When they see they’ve inexplicably sorted the colors correctly, the look of astonishment is priceless. It’s a powerful moment that feels genuinely magical, and that’s why it’s one of my favourites to perform.
Best Card Tricks Using A Card Stack
1: Card Prediction
This is a classic trick where the magician predicts a card that the audience will select. With a stacked deck, the magician can easily know which card will be at any given position.
2: Finding a Chosen Card
The spectator chooses a card and returns it to the deck. The magician, knowing the order of the cards, can easily locate the chosen card.
3: Spelling to Cards
In this trick, the magician spells out the names of cards, dealing one card for each letter, and the last letter of the name coincides with the card itself. This works wonderfully with a memorized stack.
4: Telling a Story
The magician tells a story, flipping over cards from the deck that perfectly match the narrative. This requires intimate knowledge of the card stack and a bit of creativity.
5: Four Aces Trick
The magician can quickly locate and produce the four aces or any other set of cards from a shuffled deck, showcasing incredible skill or ‘psychic’ ability.
6: Any Card at Any Number
A spectator names any number, and the magician is able to produce the card that would be at that exact position in the deck.
7: Impossible Co-incidence
Two decks are used, one of which is stacked. A spectator chooses a card from the normal deck, and the magician finds the matching card in the stacked deck, seemingly by coincidence.
The Best Card Tricks EVER…
- Card Through Glass: Cyril Takayama performed a stunning trick where a chosen and signed card appears to stick to the inside of a fish tank after being thrown against it.
- Card to Impossible Location: Performed by Jimmy Grippo, this trick amazes as a chosen and signed card mysteriously appears in an impossible location, like the magician’s jacket pocket.
- Invisible Deck: A classic in card magic where a spectator’s chosen card appears face down in a deck that was previously thought to be invisible.
- Chicago Opener: Daryl performed this trick where a chosen card changes its back color in a deck, and then the trick is cleverly repeated with a surprising finish.
- Card on Ceiling: Michael Ammar entertained with a trick where a spectator’s signed card sticks to the ceiling, escaping a rubber-banded deck.
- Sam the Bellhop: Bill Malone tells an engaging story while matching each card to the narrative in a seemingly shuffled deck.
- Oil and Water: René Lavand, a master of sleight of hand, performed an astounding color-separation trick with an added layer of difficulty by doing it one-handed.
- Out of this World: Michael Ammar had a spectator separate a deck of cards into reds and blacks using just their intuition, with a surprising outcome.
- Card in Box: Tommy Wonder stunned participants as a chosen and signed card ends up in a small box that was in view from the beginning.
- Cards Across: A classic card trick where cards mysteriously travel from one location to another, performed by Mac King.
But, what is THE BEST card trick in the world?
The best card trick in the world, also regarded as the ‘holy grail of card magic’ is ‘The Berglas Effect,’ also known as “Any Card at Any Number” (ACANN): A spectator names any card and another spectator names any number between 1 and 52. The magician then deals down to that number in the deck, and the named card is found exactly at that position without any manipulation by the magician.
You’ve just read perhaps the mightiest collection of card tricks in the world, now it’s time for the silver bullet…
If you asked any magician—whether a seasoned professional, top-class children’s magician or a member of the magic circle—THIS question…
“Where are the REAL secrets?”
They would most likely give you THIS answer…
They’re in the books.
We couldn’t agree more.
In fact, two years ago we launched our ‘classic magic book collection’ project where you could pick up 368 of these books.
That project sold in the thousands—but ever since we created it we’ve been acutely aware of one big problem….
For a lot of people these books are difficult to read, and so bulky it’s hard to find the really good stuff.
Our friend Danny Goldsmith (considered by many the world’s best coin magician) recently lamented to us that he learns better from video and struggles with classics such as Bobo—that would otherwise undoubtedly hold so much power for him.
That among many other reasons is why we’ve created this project.
This project is a VIDEO collection of 138 of the BEST tricks from our library of 368 classic magic books.
First, we spent hours upon hours pouring over these books, sifting through the material, and finding the very best ‘hidden gems’.
And there were a LOT of them.
In fact, while creating this project we quite literally found the method for one the best selling magic tricks of 2023 in a single throwaway paragraph written by Theodore Annemann.
(this is no exaggeration, check out trick 39 of this project upon purchase to see the proof!)
Next, we spent nearly two weeks practically living in our studio, filming high quality videos going over each of these tricks and making them as EASY to understand as possible.
Our goal was to do ALL the hard work for you.
We’ve taken these tricks, added our own modernizations, touches, alternate handlings and most importantly brought them into the modern age in the form of video.
We’ve also made sure the original excerpts are right below the video because reading and watching can create an even better experience!
Click the link below to view our 138 classic effects…
Individual Card Trick Breakdowns
What you’ll find on these posts:
This collection of content has been and continues to be crafted to serve as a comprehensive guide to some of the most iconic and timeless card tricks ever performed.
The Ambitious Card Routine
The Ambitious Card Routine (ACR) is undoubtedly one of the most famous card tricks in all of magic.
There are a couple of things about this routine that make it special:
- It’s simple & easy for people to describe later
- It’s (almost always) totally impromptu
- It’s customizable. Everyone’s ACR is a little bit different!
- It often leaves the spectator with a cool souvenir
So what IS it?
The Ambitious Card Routine is a famous card trick where a freely chosen, and often signed, card repeatedly jumps from the middle of the deck to the top under more and more impossible conditions.
Out Of This World Card Trick
Starting to feel like all card tricks are the same?
“Pick a card, any card…”
You need to add Out of This World to your arsenal of card tricks.
The Out of This World card trick is a world-famous card trick where a spectator successfully separates red cards from black cards into two piles without seeing their faces.
There are tons of variations and methods for accomplishing the effect, but the end result is usually about the same — total astonishment!
The Torn & Restored Card Trick
I love card tricks where something totally unexpected and visual happens.
Usually when you tell people to “pick a card,” they brace themselves for some version of the classic (and let’s face it, a bit cheesy) 21 Card Trick.
But in this effect, you take their selected card and RIP IT INTO PIECES right in front of them.
Then, magically, you restore it to its original condition.
It’s called the Torn and Restored card trick, and it’s a mind-blowing classic of card magic.
The Card Warp Trick
Talk about a VISUAL card trick.
If you’re sick of “pick a card and find it” routines or even tricks where cards move or turn upside down, maybe it’s time for something a little more eye-popping.
Card Warp is a trick most card magicians should have in their arsenal when the need for something simple and visual arises.
In Card Warp, the magician takes two playing cards from the deck. One is folded along its length and the other along its width. The longer card and is then “pushed through” the other folded card, and when it pops out there other end… it has miraculously turned inside out!
The effect is repeated several times, with the card even stopping in the middle, shown to be half inside-out and half inside-in!
At the end, the cards are torn in half and all edges are shown to match perfectly.
The 21 Card Trick
If anyone has ever offered to show you a card trick at a party or gathering…
There’s a good chance it was the one trick almost everyone seems to know.
Yes, I’m talking of course about the 21 card trick.
You know the trick with piles of cards?
The cards are laid out into 3 piles or rows of 7 cards, gathered up, and then laid out again. After repeating this twice, the trickster can then reveal which card is yours even though you’ve never said it aloud.
The Triumph Card Trick
The ‘Triumph’ card trick is one of the most visually stunning demonstrations of card magic ever created, and if you’re not performing it yet, you’re missing out on a proven ‘reaction machine’ honed over decades.
What makes Triumph such a smash hit with magicians and audiences alike?
From its humble beginnings in the mid 20th century to the downright devious methods in use today, this card trick has charmed thousands of spectators around the world. It’s a tried and tested ‘worker’ that you can perform anywhere, anytime…with a borrowed deck to boot!
In the Triumph card trick, the cards are shuffled in a surprising way by the magician — half face up and half face down! With just a snap of the fingers, the magician makes all of the cards instantly face the correct way again… except the one selected card.
Thank you for reading my guide to the best (and all of my favourite) card tricks. I hope you enjoyed it!