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Master the Riffle Shuffle: A Step-by-Step Guide to Impressive Card Mixing

Updated: Jun 21

The riffle shuffle is a fantastic shuffle to learn because it’s an effective way to randomize a deck of cards and a fancy demonstration of card handling.

The riffle shuffle is the most common shuffling technique used worldwide in casinos, poker tournaments, card players, and magicians.

In this article, we’ll teach the riffle shuffle step-by-step.

Card player riffle shuffling a deck of cards
Step-by-Step: how to do a riffle shuffle!

Let's take a look!


Learn the Riffle Shuffle (Long Edge)

Step-by-Step Shuffling Technique Instructions

The long-edge riffle shuffle is one of the most popular shuffling techniques that provides a thorough mix of cards while showcasing your card-handling skills.

Watch: How to Riffle Shuffle Playing Cards

Follow these step-by-step instructions to master the long-edge riffle shuffle:

Step 1: Split the deck in half

a magician's hands dividing a deck of cards
Divide the deck of cards in two even packets

Divide the deck of cards in two even packets.

Hold the deck of cards face-down in one hand, and use your left hand to split the deck into two roughly equal stacks.

Step 2: Position your hands

a magician adjusting two stacks of cards on the table
Square the cards and position your hands

Square the cards and position your hands.

Place each half of the deck in one hand, with your thumbs on the long edges, your middle finger applying pressure, and your other fingers supporting the cards from below.

Step 3: Riffle the cards

Overhead shot of a magician riffle shuffling the cards
Let the cards release from your thumbs

Let the cards release from your thumbs.

Position the two halves of the deck so that the long edges face each other, with a small gap between them.

Use your thumbs to gently lift and release the cards from each half, allowing them to fall and interlace with each other.

The riffle shuffle is often compared to the dovetail shuffle, which is studied in mathematical contexts involving perfect shuffles, random walks, and permutations.

Step 4: Control the shuffle

Card player riffle shuffling the cards
Allow both stacks to flow smoothly for the best possible shuffle

Allow both stacks to flow smoothly for the best possible shuffle.

Try to maintain an even pressure with your thumbs, ensuring the cards interlace evenly.

This may take some practice, but with time, you can control the shuffle better and achieve a more consistent mix of cards, aiming for a perfect riffle shuffle.

Step 5: Complete the shuffle

Once the cards are interlaced, use your fingers to gently push the two halves together, forming a single deck.

Be careful not to bend the cards too much, as this can lead to damage over time.

Step 6: Square the deck

Finally, use both hands to square up the deck, ensuring all the cards are neatly aligned.

Step 7: Practice, practice, practice!

The key to mastering the long-edge riffle shuffle is practice.

Spend time working on your technique each day, and you’ll soon be shuffling like a pro.


By consistently practicing the long-edge riffle shuffle, you’ll easily develop the muscle memory and finesse required to perform this impressive technique, making your card games more enjoyable and skillfully mixed. It is generally recommended to perform eight shuffles to achieve optimal randomness.


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The Difference Between Short Edge and Long Edge Riffle Shuffles

The primary difference between the short-edge and long-edge riffle shuffles, a common shuffling technique, lies in the way the cards are held and interlaced during the shuffle.

Both techniques are effective for mixing the cards, but each has unique characteristics and styles.

Short Edge Riffle Shuffle:

In the short-edge riffle shuffle, the cards are held by the short edges, with the thumbs on the top edge and the other fingers supporting the cards from below.

The cards are riffled together from the short edges when shuffling, creating a smaller, more compact shuffle.

This method is often considered easier for beginners, requiring less hand strength and dexterity to execute.

Long Edge Riffle Shuffle:

For the long-edge riffle shuffle, the cards are held by the long edges, with the thumbs on the top edge and the other fingers supporting the cards from below.

The shuffle is performed by riffling the cards together from the long edges, resulting in a wider, more expansive shuffle.

This technique often appears more impressive and requires greater hand strength and control to perform smoothly.

The short-edge and long-edge riffle shuffles are effective for mixing playing cards and can be mastered with practice. The choice between the two often comes down to personal preference and comfort.

Some people find the short edge shuffle easier to learn and execute, while others prefer the more visually impressive long edge shuffle.

Experiment with both techniques to determine which works best for you and your card-playing experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the riffle shuffle effective?

A: Yes, the riffle shuffle is an effective shuffling method for shuffling playing cards. When performed correctly, it ensures a good distribution of cards, making the deck sufficiently randomized for most card games.

Q: How long does it take to learn the riffle shuffle?

A: The time it takes to learn the riffle shuffle varies from person to person. With consistent practice, most people can become proficient in the technique within a few days to a few weeks.

Q: Does the riffle shuffle damage cards?

A: The riffle shuffle can cause wear and tear on playing cards, especially if done aggressively or with poor technique. However, with proper handling and a gentle touch, the damage to cards can be minimized, and they should still last for a considerable amount of time.

Best Practices to Minimize Damage

If you’re concerned about maintaining the condition of your cards while shuffling cards using riffle shuffling, consider the following tips:

  1. Shuffle Gently: Practice shuffling gently and avoid applying excessive force. The goal is to interlace the cards without causing undue stress.

  2. Use a Playing Card Guard: Invest in a high-quality metal guard to protect your cards. Playing card guards can extend the life of a deck of cards and reduce some wear and bending.

  3. Alternate Shuffling Methods: Incorporate other shuffling techniques, such as the overhand shuffle or the pile shuffle, to distribute the wear more evenly across different methods.

  4. Card Quality: Consider the quality of your cards. High-quality cards designed for extensive use, like those used in Magic: The Gathering, can better withstand repeated shuffling.

Q: Is the riffle shuffle difficult?

A: The riffle shuffle can be challenging for beginners, but it becomes easier to execute with practice. The key is to develop muscle memory and the right technique, which will make the shuffle feel more natural and effortless over time.

Q: What are other shuffles?

A: Here are some other card shuffles.

The perfect shuffle is also highly effective and is studied in mathematical contexts, card shuffling techniques, and its applications in fields like parallel processing and interconnection networks.



In conclusion, mastering the art of card shuffling enhances your card game experience and adds a touch of flair and professionalism to your gameplay or magic tricks.

The short-edge and long-edge riffle shuffles are effective techniques for mixing your cards, and you can achieve impressive results with consistent practice.

Patience and persistence are the keys to becoming proficient in these shuffling techniques.

So, keep practicing, refine your skills, and soon you'll shuffle like a pro, impressing your friends and making your card games even more enjoyable.

Happy shuffling!


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