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The Slip Force: Step-By-Step Guide to Amazing Card Tricks

Master the slip force card trick to force a preselected card secretly!

This essential card force is one of the most versatile card-handling techniques with unlimited possibilities to amaze your audience!

Magician riffling a deck of cards corner with his thumb and the words "Slip Force"
Let's learn laying card with the Slip Force

What is the Slip Force Card Trick?

The slip force is a classic card trick force that allows a magician to seemingly give a spectator a free choice of a card while, in reality, forcing them to choose a predetermined card.

It is also sometimes referred to as a "Backslip Force."

This is one of my favorite card forces, and I know you'll love it too!

Here is how the slip force works:

  • The magician starts with a deck of cards that has been set up in advance. A specific card (e.g. the 7 of clubs) is placed on the top of the deck.

  • The magician riffles through the cards and gives the spectator a free choice to call "stop" at any time.

  • As the deck is separated at their selection, the forced card is secretly "slipped" onto the selection.

The spectator takes the pre-selected card and is revealed as their seemingly "free selection."

A magician holding a deck of cards and the card being forced has a handwritten X in magic marker
The forced card is secretly slipped into position.

The slip force relies on simple movements, psychology, and misdirection to force a card. When done well, it looks like a completely free choice.

It's a powerful technique for card magicians to control selections. Let's learn it step-by-step!


History and Origins

The Slip Force is a cool card trick that's been around for a long time.

It started way back around 1700 with a trick in a book called “The Asti Manuscript.”

This trick was about changing one card into another.

Later, in 1912, a magician named Ellis Stanyon showed a new way to do it in his magazine.

He used a knife to pick a card!

Then, in 1913, another magician, Val Evans, said he had a new way to do the Slip Force in a magazine called The Sphinx.

In 1933, Victor Farelli changed it a bit and used it in a different trick. And then, in the 1970s and 1990s, more magicians like Gary Kurtz and Marc Delahousse added their own cool touches to the force.

There's even a way to do the Slip Force with one hand, which was shown by Eddie Joseph in 1941 and T. Page Wright in 1991. Bruce Cervon added a neat twist in 1972 by flipping the card over as it slides out.

So, the Slip Force has been around for ages, and many magicians have made it even better over time! 🃏✨



The slip force is a card-forcing technique that allows the magician to force a spectator to choose a predetermined card. There are two ways to execute the move.

Let's take a look at the basic steps.

Basic Method:

Step 1 - Start with the deck face down in your left hand and the card you want to force on top. The cards are held in mechanics' grip.

A hand holding a deck of cards, the top card has a large "X" drawn on it
Hold the cards in mechanics grip

Step 2 - Bend the corner of the cards with your left thumb and slowly begin releasing them and allowing them to spring upwards. Magicians call this riffling.

hand holding a deck of cards.  The top card has a large x drawn on it and the thumb riffling the corner of the cards downwards
Begin riffling the edge. Ask the spectator to call "stop."

Step 3 - Ask the spectator to call "stop" at any time while you are rifling through the cards slowly.

Hand holding a deck of cards with the thumb riffling the corner and the word "Stop."
The spectator freely calls "stop."

Step 4 - When the spectator calls you to stop, without hesitation, your right hand grips the top stack of cards along the short edges, and your palm covers the forced card.

Right hand separates the deck of cards.
Your right hand grasps the short edges of the cards

Step 5 - Draw the top stack of cards upwards while your left fingers maintain grip on the top card.

The left hands slip the forced top card to the lower stack where the spectator called "Stop"
Left fingers "slip" the forced card on the lower stack.

Step 6 - In one continuous movement, your left-hand fingers slide the force card from the top of the deck and "slip" it to the bottom stack.

The deck of cards is seperated with the spectator's forced playing card being slipped on to their free selection
Separate the two stacks, secretly slipping the forced card

Step 7 - Tell the spectator to take the card they selected by offering them to take the top card of the left-hand stack.

To the spectator, it appears as if you simply divided the cards where they called and handed a freely chosen card.

The forced card stack is brought forward towards the spectator
Offer the stack with the forced card to the spectator

Step 8 - Continue with the trick, using the force card for the revelation or other effects.

Next, let's look at a variation of the steps above that are slightly more advanced but more deceptive.

Advanced Method

Here's a slight variation on the slip force that can make it even more deceptive.

Step 1 - Repeat steps 1 to 4 above.

Step 2 - After the spectator calls to stop and you've gripped the top stack with your right hand (step 4), rotate both hands so both packets are now face up.

Hands hold a split deck of cards rotating
Rotate your hands as you slip the card.

Step 3 - As you rotate your hands, the left-hand steals the top card.

Magician's hands rotate the cards face up while the top card is slipped onto the new stack
Continue rotating cards face up as you slip the card

The two stacks of cards are now face up
As you rotate point to the exposed card

Step 4 - Point with your left index finger to the bottom card of the right back as you say, "Don't take this card because I've seen it..."

Magicians hands point to the one stack with the card show and the hands begin separating
Tell the spectator that you don't want them to take the card you can see.

Step 5 - Turn your left hand so the cards are face down, bring the forced card forward, and say, "... take the card you stopped at."

The magician's hands rotate again so the cards are faced down
Rotate your hand face down again, bring the forced card towards the spectator

The benefit of this second version of the slip force is that it can be performed surrounded and undetectable at every angle.

Practice the basic version until you've mastered it, and then work on the abovementioned subtleties.

The slip force takes some practice to perform imperceptibly but allows you to control what card the spectator picks every time.

Master this technique to amaze your audience!


Why It's Effective

The flexibility of the split force makes it an indispensable technique for card workers.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • The slip force better hides the magician's secret work and makes the spectator's choice appear genuine.

  • It's easy to learn and master for magicians of all skill levels.

  • Unlike mathematical forces or equivoque forces, the slip force can be repeated in a routine without exposing the method.

Any serious magician should devote time to properly learning the slip force and using it effectively in their performances.


Tips & Suggestions

The slip force is a fundamental card trick, but there are many small tweaks and techniques that can help perfect the execution.

Here are some tips for practicing the slip force:

  • Start slow - Go through the motions step-by-step to build muscle memory. Perform the slip force in slow motion, focusing on smoothness and precision. As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the speed.

  • Perform in front of a mirror - Better yet, record the actions on your phone and watch yourself as you execute the slip force. Look for any extraneous motions that could tip off the spectator. Check that your grip and handling appear relaxed and natural.

  • Practice the riffle - The key to the slip force is riffling through the cards seamlessly with one hand. Experiment to find the right amount of pressure that works for your hands.

  • Misdirect attention - When riffling through the cards, chat with your spectator and make eye contact. Their focus will be on you rather than the cards.

  • Vary the card selection - Don't always force the same card. By forcing different cards, you prevent the trick from looking too repetitive if performed multiple times.

  • Change up the deck - Practice with both new and used card decks. This is helpful when you are asked to perform a magic trick and have to use a borrowed deck of cards. Older, worn decks will slide and riffle differently than newer decks.

  • Relax your grip - A tense, rigid grip on the deck will make the move more noticeable. Keep your grip firm but relaxed.

With regular, focused practice, the slip force can become second nature. Strive for invisibility - when properly executed, not even a magician should detect the force.

This versatile technique is an invaluable addition to any card magician's repertoire.

The slip force is one of the most useful card sleights to master.

With practice, you'll be able to perform it flawlessly. Mastering the nuances and variations will help you perform it like a professional.


Using the Slip Force in Other Card Tricks

The slip force is an incredibly useful technique that can be incorporated into many other card tricks.


A drinking glass magically resting on top of a playing card

Here are some of the ways magicians use the slip force in other card routines:

  • Card Controls: Since you know the spectator's chosen card, the slip force allows you to find and control the card to wherever you need it in the deck.

  • Card Reveals: Tricks where you reveal a thought-of card benefit greatly from the slip force. You can use it to force the spectator's card and then magically reveal it any way you wish!

  • Transpositions: The slip force is perfect for accomplishing this, allowing you to transpose their card with another card seamlessly.

  • Mentalism & Prediction Tricks: Tricks where you predict a chosen card can be done flawlessly with the slip force. You simply force the prediction card, and the trick looks like real mind-reading.

  • And more!

As you can see, mastering the slip force opens up many possibilities for stunning card magic.

It is one of the most useful sleight-of-hand techniques in card magic for good reason.


Common Mistakes

The slip force is a fundamental card magic technique, but it does take practice to master.

Here are some of the common mistakes to watch out for when first learning and performing the slip force card trick:

  • Rushing the force - Don't flip through the cards too fast when having the spectator say "stop." Rushing can make the force seem suspicious.

  • Not covering the slip - When separating the cards and slipping the forced card, keep the hand and fingers over the top so it is concealed. If the slip is visible, it will give away the trick.

  • Forcing from the front - Always force the card from the middle of the pack. Forcing from the front leaves limited cards to flip through and makes the force too obvious.

  • Poor acting - Act confidently as if whichever card they land on is a random selection. Don't oversell it, but also don't seem tentative or nervous.

  • Fumbling or noisy card exchange - Practice smoothly slipping the force card with little to no sliding card noise. Awkward handoffs can ruin the illusion.

The key is to practice the slip force until the motions feel natural.

When the technique becomes second nature, the focus can be on showmanship and presentation to truly master the trick.

Being aware of the common mistakes will help identify areas to improve.

With time and repetition, the slip force can be performed flawlessly to amaze audiences.



The slip force is one of the most useful and versatile forces in card magic.

A force is a technique where the magician causes a spectator to choose a specific card while giving the illusion that the spectator has a completely free choice.

Learning the slip force is considered a rite of passage for many magicians.

It requires practice and skill to perform smoothly and convincingly, but once mastered, it opens up many card tricks. The slip force integrates naturally into tricks and routines, enabling magicians to guide outcomes and create stunning reveals.

Audiences are amazed when their "freely chosen" card matches predictions or reveals itself in impossible ways.

In magic, the ability to control what appears uncontrolled is the source of wonder and astonishment. The slip force elegantly embodies this principle, empowering magicians to shape outcomes under the guise of free choice.

For this reason, it remains a masterclass in the art of deception through natural and disarming action. Truly a fundamental of card magic.


That's It!

You've just unlocked the secret of the Slip Force!

With practice, this skill, the slip force, will become a seamless part of your magical performances, leaving audiences in awe.

If this post helped you master the Slip Force, show some love by hitting the ♥️ heart button below. Or better yet, share your experiences and tips in the comments – your insights could be a game-changer for fellow magicians!

Keep shuffling, and remember, the real magic is in your dedication to the craft. 🃏✨


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