How to Do Card Magic Tricks for Beginners

Updated on October 3, 2019
TimArends profile image

Timothy Arends has been a practicing magician and ventriloquist for over 30 years.

Check out these tutorials for some basic card magic tricks.
Check out these tutorials for some basic card magic tricks. | Source

Doing Card Tricks

Although I have been involved in magic for many years, I still see magic tricks that amaze me!

When I was a young kid, my uncle, who was in the Navy in World War II, did some card tricks for my brother and me (perhaps he had also performed them for some of his buddies in the service). I still remember them! When I attend meetings of a local magic club, I always see something done with cards that I can't figure out!

Card tricks are the most popular branch of magic performing. There are probably more tricks, sleights and routines devised for cards than for all other objects combined!

What accounts for the popularity of card magic? For one thing, cards are instantly recognizable objects. Even in this age of video games, card games are still popular (solitaire is even one of the most popular computer games).

Everybody knows what cards are as well as certain facts about them, such as that there are four suits, two Jokers and 52 cards in a deck. Playing cards, with their backs all alike and their faces all different, seem to have been designed to do tricks with.

Most card games involve concealing the identity of one's cards from the other players and trying to guess what cards the others might hold. Therefore, it is not surprising that most card tricks involve having a spectator select a card and the magician trying to guess which card was selected.

Card tricks range all the way from those that rely on mathematical principles and are called “self-working” to those that require difficult and elaborate sleight-of-hand. Both types of tricks can be entertaining. But whatever kind you do, the real key is to practice and to concentrate on winning over and captivating your audience.

If you wish to perform card tricks using some of the more sophisticated sleight of hand, you should have a certain amount of talent, a great love of card magic and a willingness to spend long and hard hours practicing and rehearsing.

If you simply wish to perform a few card tricks to entertain and impress your family and friends, however, there is no shortage of great non-sleight-of-hand card tricks you can learn.

One thing that I should point out is that even though many card tricks require no sleight-of-hand, many of them, especially the more elaborate ones, have a significant number of steps involved that must be memorized and learned to perfection before you attempt to perform them—even the so-called "self-working" ones.

Beginning a card trick and then forgetting a crucial step is even worse than starting to tell a joke and forgetting the punchline!

So what is the most important part of learning card magic? Learning how to be truly entertaining. And what is the most important part of actual performing? Avoiding the temptation to do too many tricks at a time! "Always leave the audience wanting more" is the best adage to abide by.

If you wish to learn card magic, there are a number of books, DVDs, online videos, e-books and courses on card magic that you can learn from. To get you started, here are a number of good tricks you can learn now.

A classic story card trick.
A classic story card trick. | Source

Cops and Robbers

This trick shows how an effective storyline can dress up a trick to make it more interesting to the audience.

You show four jacks to the audience and tell them that they represent four burglars who decided to rob Macy's department store. They start out on the roof of the store, and they agree that they will meet there again when they are done. You place the four jacks on the top of the face-down deck.

The first burglar went down to the jewelry department, you say. You take one of the face-down jacks from the top of the deck and place it randomly somewhere in the deck. The second burglar went to the furs department. You slip the second jack into the deck. The other two burglars went into the electronics and automotive departments. You accompany this explanation by slipping the two remaining jacks somewhere in the deck.

Suddenly the alarm rang! Just like magic, the four burglars reappear on the roof of the store (just in time for the police to collar them). One by one, you turn the four cards on top of the deck over and show that they are the four jacks!

What you need:

A deck of cards. Only one deck is used for this trick, and you use only four jacks.

How you do it:

Find the four jacks in the deck. What the audience doesn't know is that you have four random cards in addition to the jacks.

Fan the jacks out for the audience, being careful to keep the four random cards hidden behind the last Jack. Place all the cards face down on top of the deck. When you slip the top four cards into different places in the deck, it is really the four random cards rather than the jacks. End the trick by showing that the four jacks have returned to the top of the deck.

You can name the card that was selected from behind your back with this cheat.
You can name the card that was selected from behind your back with this cheat. | Source

The Mind Reading Cards

You have someone thoroughly shuffle a deck of cards and then hand the deck to you behind your back. While you are holding the deck there, tell the audience member to remove a card from anywhere in the deck, look at it, and then place it on top of the deck. You turn and face the audience and, after a little concentrating, you name the selected card!

What you need:

An old deck of cards

How you do it:

After a card is chosen behind your back, turn and face the audience. After you do so, you secretly tear off a small portion of the corner of the top card containing the index pip.

After you turn and face the audience, you bring the hand containing the index up to your forehead, as if you are concentrating. The torn portion of the card stays hidden behind your fingers. This allows you to glance at it and discern the name of the card.

The torn card is slipped into your rear pocket behind your back so it is not discovered. The trick can be repeated once or twice, but don't overdo it!

In this two-person mind reading trick, you name the card that was selected while you were out of the room.
In this two-person mind reading trick, you name the card that was selected while you were out of the room. | Source

Nine Card Mind Reading

You lay nine cards on the table face up in three rows. While you are out of the room, the audience agrees on a chosen card, but doesn't touch it or move it. You return to the room and tell the audience that you will read the mind of your assistant. Your assistant points to each of the cards with a pencil without saying a word while both of you seem to concentrate intensely. You then announce the card that was chosen, and you are right!

What you need:

A deck of cards, an assistant who has practiced the trick with you.

How you do it:

The first card your assistant points to tells you which card was selected. For example, if the card in the center of the layout was the selected card, when your assistant points to the first card, they point to the center of that card! Similarly, if the selected card is in the middle of the top row, when your assistant points to the first card, they point to the upper middle section of the first card. If the card selected is at the upper right corner of the arrangement, then your assistant points to the upper right corner of the first card, and so on. Your assistant can then point to the rest of the cards randomly.

The selected card is drawn from an envelope in this trick.
The selected card is drawn from an envelope in this trick. | Source

Envelope Card Prediction

You show the audience a sealed, opaque envelope which you declare contains a single playing card that will serve as your prediction. You hand the envelope to someone in the audience and tell them to place it in their pocket. Next, you hand a deck of cards to someone, tell them to shuffle it and hand it to you behind your back.

You remove one card randomly(?) from the deck and bring it forward. When someone opens the envelope, they see that the card you drew forth matches the prediction card you had placed in the envelope previously.

What you need:

An envelope, a deck of cards and an extra card from another deck.


Seal the extra card inside the envelope. Now remove the matching card from the deck and place it in your rear pants pocket.

How you do it:

Have someone take the envelope and hold onto it. Have the deck shuffled and hand it to you behind your back. After you turn to face the audience, you simply remove the duplicate card from your rear pants pocket and bring it forward as if you drew it from the deck. When the envelope is opened, it will be seen that your prediction matches the selected card.

A way of forcing a card for card tricks.
A way of forcing a card for card tricks. | Source

The Cards and the Dice

You write a prediction on a piece of paper, fold it up, and tell an audience member to place it in their pocket. You hand them a pair of dice and tell the volunteer to roll them and add together the numbers on the tops and bottoms of the dice. You then hand them a deck of cards and tell them to count down the same number of cards as the number they rolled. When they open the prediction, it shows the name of the card they counted down to.

What you need:

A pair of dice, a deck of cards, a pencil and a piece of paper


Before the trick begins, count down from the top of the deck to the fourteenth card and memorize it.

How you do it:

Tell the audience you will write a prediction on a piece of paper. Write the name of the card at the fourteenth position in the deck. Hand the audience member the pair of dice and tell them to roll them and add up the numbers on the top and bottom of both dice.

The numbers on the tops and bottoms of two dice always add up to 14! In this way, you can “force” the card at that particular number. This is a handy way of forcing a card for many tricks.

In this card trick, you lower a magnet into your pocket by a string and pull it out with the selected card attached!
In this card trick, you lower a magnet into your pocket by a string and pull it out with the selected card attached! | Source

The Magnetic Card

You have a card selected and returned to the deck. After letting an audience member shuffle the deck, you place the deck into your coat pocket. Next, you show a magnet tied to a string and lower it into your pocket. When you pull it up, the magnet is holding the selected card!

What you need:

A horseshoe magnet (available in the toy section of the local discount store), a razor blade, a piece of string about a foot long, two matching decks of cards and any jacket with large, open side pockets.

How you fix it:

Take two of the cards from the duplicate deck and glue them together, with a thin steel razor blade at the top edge between the two cards. Place this prepared card into your jacket pocket with the face of the card facing front and the blade at the top. Tie the magnet onto the end of the piece of string.

How you do it:

Force a duplicate of the card in your pocket on an audience volunteer using the method described above. Let the spectator shuffle the deck. Place the deck into your right jacket pocket behind the prepared card.

Tell the audience that you have a psychic magnet and display it to the audience dangling from the string. Lower the magnet into your pocket with the string so that it comes in contact with the prepared card. Pull the string out of your pocket and show that the magnet has magically found the selected card. Place the card back into your pocket and move on to another trick.


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    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 

      3 months ago from Louisiana

      Cool article! I'm no magician, but years ago I did a simple trick that used two cards glued together, whose extra weight would tell you when the spectator's card would be next on top of deck.

    • TimArends profile imageAUTHOR

      Timothy Arends 

      8 months ago from Chicago Region

      True, that keeps it from being totally impromptu. The first and last ones can be done on the spur of the moment though.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Helpful, I tried some of them- GUARANTEED TO NEVER FAIL- but still, some you need really specific stuff- like a razor blade and two matching decks of cards, one old, one new.

    • profile image

      Kellen Convery 

      14 months ago

      I rate the page 2.5 stars because it did not help me a lot.

    • profile image

      kelly yung 

      20 months ago

      wow it is really great I tried it with my friends and it worked

    • profile image

      Vslon ibraimi 

      21 months ago

      I want to be magic


    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Bob is awsome

    • TimArends profile imageAUTHOR

      Timothy Arends 

      5 years ago from Chicago Region

      Some mind reading tricks could be just the thing for you, WillStarr!

    • WillStarr profile image


      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I love it! I do a couple of sleight-of-hand tricks, but my fingers are getting arthritic, so I'm looking for alternatives.

    • magictrickshq profile image


      6 years ago from Switzerland

      Love the hub man, great job!


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