top of page

How to Shuffle Cards like a Magician

Updated: Jan 10

Shuffling cards like a magician is more than randomization and mixing a deck of cards-- it's an essential skill.


Shuffling also adds an extra layer of deception or showmanship for magicians and card enthusiasts.


Most of these card shuffles are beginner-level and help to get better acquainted with playing and handling cards.


Knowing how to shuffle cards is a significant first step toward improving card handling or learning sleight of hand.


In this post, you'll also find cool ways to shuffle a deck of cards, step-by-step, and how many shuffles are needed to completely randomize a deck of playing cards.


Let's take a look at how to shuffle cards like a professional!


 

Jump to Section

 

Magician shuffling cards using the overhand shuffle
Learn Cool Ways To Shuffle Cards Like A Magician


 

How to Shuffle Cards Like A Professional


Have you ever wanted to shuffle cards like a professional?

Mixing is crucial to card handling in general.


Mixing the deck easily makes Your card magic look more refined and entertaining. You can blow your audience's mind with showmanship, personality, false shuffles, and advanced techniques!


Let me guide you in mastering these professional shuffling techniques and make your card magic even more impressive.


You don't need to learn fancy sleight of hand or have a fancy deck of cards for most card tricks, but it's always best to work with a clean deck when you get started.


There are many card shuffling techniques. I'll cover the most common shuffles in this post.


Here are the card shuffles we'll cover:

You've likely seen and used these first two shuffles. Are they effective for mixing cards?


Let's take a look!

 

Two Shuffles Worth Mentioning


We must start with these first two shuffles, the Pile Shuffle and Smoosh Shuffle.


You may have never heard their names, but you've probably used them.

These two shuffles require no skill, and you may wonder how effective they are for mixing the cards-- let's take a look:


1. Pile Shuffle


Level of Difficulty: Novice


The pile shuffle involves creating a series of random piles by dealing out all fifty-two cards.


You then gather the piles and assemble the deck—an easy but time-consuming shuffling technique.


The pile shuffle ensures that every card is separated, but it is not a trusted shuffling method.


The shuffle isn't often recognized in serious gaming because the shuffler can manipulate it.


If you're interested in a detailed explanation, here's a Reddit post on Magic: The Gathering explaining why the pile shuffle isn't acceptable.


Did you know there's a name for randomly scattering the cards on the table? There are about a dozen names for it!


2. Wash, Corgi, or "Smoosh" Shuffle


Level of Difficulty: Novice


Alternative Names: chemmy, Irish, wash, scramble, beginner shuffle, smooshing, schwirsheling, washing the cards

This shuffle has many alternative names, like "washing the cards."

The idea is to separate and randomly intermix all of the cards on the table's surface for a suitable time.


To effectively mix the cards with this technique, you must smoosh for at least sixty seconds.


This shuffle requires no practice or skill and is considered effective for randomizing the cards.


It's used at many professional poker tournaments.


Next, let's take a look at some beginner shuffles!


 

Overhand Shuffle

Level of Difficulty: Beginner


Magician shuffling a deck of cards with the Overhand Shuffle
Shuffling a deck of cards with the Overhand Shuffle

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


Overview of Steps


Note: Below is a description for right-handers.


  1. Hold the deck of cards in your right hand along the short edge.

  2. Grip the cards between your second and third fingers and your thumb. Make sure the cards are face down. You can use your index fingers to help square the cards.

  3. The left hand does most of the work.

  4. As your left hand approaches the cards, your thumb slides a card off the deck into the fingers that hold the new pile.

  5. Continue drawing single and multiple cards off with your thumb until all the cards have been transferred.


Take a look at this essential card shuffle in detail: learn the Overhand Shuffle step-by-step.

 

Hindu Shuffle

Level of Difficulty: Beginner


Magician performing a Hindu Shuffle on a deck of cards
Hindu Shuffle moves small stacks of cards from the top of the deck to the bottom

​​Alternative Names: Indian, Kattar, Kenchi, Kutti

The Hindu Shuffle is similar to the overhand shuffle in that you remove small random packets of cards from the top of the deck to the bottom of a new stack.


  1. The deck is held face down with the middle finger on one long edge and the thumb on the other on the bottom half of the deck.

  2. Packets are drawn off from the top of the deck, and allowed to drop into the palm.

  3. Piles are stacked on top of each other until all packets have been drawn from the top of the deck.


The Hindu Shuffle is also great for magicians and valuable for many great tricks and applications.


Using the Hindu Shuffle, many tricks can be performed with a borrowed deck of cards. You can force a playing card, locate a spectator-selected card, and control the location within the deck.



 

Riffle Shuffle

Level of Difficulty: Beginner


magician riffle shuffling a deck of cards on a table
Riffle Shuffling a deck interweaves the cards randomly

This is one of the most common ways magicians shuffle cards because it's easy to do once you get the hang of it and looks fantastic when done right.


A riffle shuffle is a method of shuffling cards that involves splitting the deck in half, then interweaving them back together.


Unlike the faro shuffle, it's not necessary to divide the cards exactly in half.


A little time and practice are required, but once you've got it, you can do it with your eyes closed!


Learn how to do the riffle shuffle step-by-step and video instructions here.

 

Bridge or Cascade

Level of Difficulty: Beginner


magician cascades shuffled cards back into alignment
Cascading the cards back to alignment. Also called a card bridge

A bridge or cascade is the best way to finish a riffle shuffle.


The sound of cards fluttering back into place is beautifully rewarding! A quality cascade needs a quality riffle shuffle.


The key to achieving the best cascade is for the cards to be as evenly interwoven as possible.


Learn how to cascade the cards.


 

Faro Shuffle

Level of Difficulty: Advanced


Faro Shuffle with a deck of playing cards
Faro Shuffle weaves cards perfectly one card on top of the next

The faro shuffle is an advanced card shuffle used by magicians to accomplish incredible tricks.


To perform the faro shuffle, a deck of cards is split exactly in half then every card is interwoven perfectly.


What makes the faro shuffle difficult is built on three layers:


  • divide the cards exactly into two stacks of 26 cards

  • interweave each stack perfectly, one card over the next

  • take only a few seconds to execute 🙃


It's a good idea to set aside a deck of cards for practicing.


Good quality cards (with minimal to no bends or creases) are essential to practice and execute a faro shuffle.


Over time, you'll be able to split the deck in half, guided almost exclusively by touch.


Your senses will become refined and be able to identify a packet that is heavier than the other.


This comes with time.


A "Perfect Faro" refers to interlacing both stacks of twenty-six cards, one card on top of the next.


The terms "In Faros" and "Out Faros" refer to the starting position of the top card.

 

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the easiest way to shuffle cards?


The easiest way to shuffle a deck of cards is often called "Washing the cards" or "Smooshing."


Scatter the cards facedown for sixty seconds on the surface of the table.


It does require extra surface space, but it's very effective and used in casinos and poker tournaments.


2. Does shuffling damage the cards?


Shuffling is a necessary part of playing cards.


It helps to ensure that the deck is random and fair. However, shuffling cards improperly can cause unnecessary damage to playing cards.


For example, if you shuffle too roughly or too much, you may rip the cardstock or otherwise damage the integrity of the card by causing tears, creases or bends.


The amount of damage done by shuffling depends on how many times you mix and how much force you apply when shuffling.


What's the best way to minimize any damage caused by shuffling? Practice!


3. What other types of card shuffles?


Here is a list of other types of card shuffles:


  • Strip Shuffle, Running Cuts

  • Corgi Shuffle, Chemmy, Irish, Wash, Scramble, Beginner Shuffle, Smooshing, Schwirsheling, or Washing the cards.

  • Mongean Shuffle - also known as Monge's shuffle

  • Mexican Spiral Shuffle

  • Fake shuffles

  • Shuffling Machines

  • Online Shuffle Algorithms


4. How Many Shuffles Do You Need To Randomize A Deck of Cards?


When you shuffle a deck of cards, you're trying to randomize the order of the cards. The more times you shuffle, the more likely you'll be able to create an evenly distributed deck.


Randomizing a deck of cards takes a minimum of seven riffle shuffles.


A riffle shuffle involves taking two halves of a deck and sliding or interweaving them together.

 

Takeaway


We've covered a lot of ground in this article, but the most important thing to remember is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to card shuffling.


You'll have to experiment with different card shuffling techniques and handling.


The best card shuffles to learn are the overhand shuffle and riffle shuffle.


The overhand shuffle is helpful because it's straightforward and can be used in many situations. It's also useful for card tricks.


Riffle shuffling involves splitting the deck into two piles and then interweaving them back together. This technique creates a natural-looking shuffle, but it can be difficult to master if you don't have much card experience.


After you've mastered these techniques, you must learn how to cascade (or bridge) the cards after riffle shuffling them.


A card cascade is very satisfying, hearing the cards flutter back into alignment!


To become a professional magician, you must learn to perform these shuffles easily and confidently.


 

That's It!


Hit the ❤️ below if you got value from this article, and share your questions and comments.



 

What to Read Next:



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.


Related Posts

See All

Comments


Here's More Magic For You:

bottom of page