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How to Overhand Shuffle

Updated: May 31

The overhand shuffle is one of the most popular methods for shuffling a deck of cards, and it's also one of the easiest.

It's also essential for magicians learning to work with cards.

The overhand shuffle is a popular technique for manipulating cards and is often used by magicians, card players, and cardists alike.

It's quick and easy to learn and can be used with any size deck of cards.

Let's take a look at this shuffle!

 

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Magician Ryan Joyce doing the Overhand Shuffle
Magician Ryan Joyce doing the Overhand Shuffle

The overhand shuffle is performed by holding the deck face down between your thumb and second and third fingers.

The left hand then transfers random cards from the right hand to the left by sliding small groups of cards from the top of the deck and repeating until all cards are transferred.

​Level of Difficulty: Easy

​Time Required: 5 mins

WATCH: This video shows how to overhand shuffle a full deck of playing cards.


 

Learn the Overhand Shuffle

What You'll Need

  • Deck of cards

Step-By-Step

  • Step 1 - Hold the deck face down in your dominant hand - in this case, our right hand holds the cards along the short edges.

  • Step 2 - Grip the cards between your thumb, second and third fingers. Your index finger can choose to rest on the top corner of the long edge of the cards.

  • Step 3 - With the thumb of your other hand, slide a few cards from the top of the deck into the palm of the other hand.

  • Step 4 - Repeat the process until all cards have been transferred.

Overhand Shuffle GIF

 

Photos

Hover over each photograph for short descriptions of the movement.


 

Is the Overhand Shuffle good?

The overhand shuffle is a popular and easy way to shuffle cards, but is it any good at actually randomizing the deck?

Umm-- not so amazing.

The overhand shuffle is the most common way people shuffle cards, and it does mix the cards—but it's nowhere near as effective as other shuffles like the riffle shuffle for randomizing a deck.

A key factor in achieving 'randomness" is that each card has an equal chance of appearing at any position in the deck.

Here's a video of Persi Diaconis, a Standford mathematician discussing the effectiveness of the overhand, riffle and "smoosh" shuffle.

The video starts with the question "how many shuffles do you need to mix up a deck of cards?"

The results may surprise you.

Diaconis says seven riffle shuffles are enough to randomize a card deck compared to ten thousand overhand shuffles.

The overhand shuffle is easier to do, but it's not very random.

So why do we use it? Because it's easy! The overhand shuffle can be learned in seconds and doesn't require any special equipment or training.

Here are a few other reasons you should learn the overhand shuffle.

 

Why Should You Learn the Overhand Shuffle?

The overhand shuffle is a move every magician and card enthusiast should know.

It's especially useful when you want to mix up the order of your deck in a hurry, whether shuffling cards for a game or performing a magic trick.

It also teaches you the basics of what magicians call "card handling"—the idea that you should easily handle a deck of cards.

Cardistry is a relatively new art form that demonstrates card-handling mastery.

It's easy to start—you can practice shuffling one or two at first until you feel comfortable enough to shuffle three or four at once.

The more familiar you are with your deck, the better your magic tricks will look!

Curious to learn about other shuffles?

 

Other Card Shuffles

The Overhand Shuffle and the Riffle Shuffle are two of the most common shuffle methods.

They're used in casinos and at home alike, but you don't have to be a pro card player to use them. Here are a few useful shuffles you should know.

Popular card shuffles: (click to learn more)

What's your favorite shuffle? Let us know in the comments.


 

Conclusion

The overhand shuffle is quick and easy to learn, and it's useful for all sizes of playing cards or decks.

Plus, it teaches you the basics of handling cards.

The overhand shuffle is an essential technique to learn.

If you want to randomize a deck of cards, learn the riffle shuffle. Stanford Mathematician shares that seven riffle shuffles can effectively randomize a deck of cards and over ten thousand overhand shuffles.

Keep your eyes out for a riffle shuffle tutorial coming soon!

 

That's It!

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Don't forget to check out these incredible articles from Magician Masterclass!

 

What to Read Next


Magician and Illusionist Ryan Joyce

​Ryan Joyce is the Executive Director of the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival. Ryan is a professional magician, entertainer and speaker who has performed over 5000+ shows worldwide. He has appeared on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, Canada's Got Talent and every Canadian national television network. He has over 10+ million views on YouTube, Facebook and social media and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies to deliver world-class performance.


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