Book of Magic/Card Magic

Card Handling Basics

  1. Card Shuffling
  2. Card Cuts
  3. Fanning Cards

Sleight of Hand

  1. Key Card Principle
  2. False Counts
  3. Double Lift
  4. Forcing a card
  5. Second Dealing
  6. Bottom Dealing
  7. Pass
  8. Crimp
  9. Glide



Stacking the cards is not in itself a magical effect; however with the right presentation you can perform some very cool tricks. As a simple example, a packet of cards is held in the left hand. The top card is removed and placed on the bottom; the next card is turned face up on the table. The card is the Ace. The next card is removed and placed on the bottom with the next card turned face up to the table. This card is the King. This continues until there are no more cards in the hand. On the table are the A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3, and 2 in order. Not impressive but adequate for an example. In order to perform this feat the cards must be in a particular order. In this case the order is as follows:

     8,A,3,K,7,Q,4,J,6,10,2,9, and 5.

The method for stacking a packet or the deck differs from trick to trick, however one thing is the same for all stacked deck tricks. It is the finished product that is of importance, so knowing what you are after in the effect and working backwards will give you an easy method for stacking the deck. The trick becomes more impressive if it appears that the deck wasn't stacked, so being able to stack a deck in front of the audience without them knowing it is a definite plus. With this in mind, let’s take our example above. If you look at the sequence of numbers above, you will notice that one half of the cards are in order and placed every other card (the Ace through the Nine.) The other half (OK you got me, 13 cards can not be evenly halved) are also divided into half, and they are inserted between every other card in the first half (Sort of.) The bottom 3 cards are shuffled before they are shuffled into this pack. Again if you work backwards this can be done in just three shuffles. First take the bottom three cards and shuffle them. Since there are only three, basically just take the top card of the three and put it between the others. Then take those three and the next four and shuffle the three cards between the other four. Next take those seven cards and shuffle the remaining six in between the shuffled seven, and you're now in the right order to perform.

This can get a little confusing until you have done it a few times, but once you learn to stack cards for a particular trick you are ready to move into doing a routine with the stack trick as a finisher. This can really blow people away as they are not expecting a trick that gives the appearance of such card control after having witnessed the deck being used for other things as well. For example if the above stack was expanded to include the entire deck of cards, a series of tricks that might include a lost and found card, a mentalist type trick and then the finale of rearranging the deck in order. Once the cards are stacked for the finale, the order of the cards is known (at least to the magician) and thus a card can be picked by the spectator from the deck, returned to the deck, lost and then miraculously found. The magician could name the card by prediction, and finally the cards could be handed over to the spectator to deal the cards out surprisingly in order.

That took a lot longer to write about than it would to perform, but that's ok: it's about to get longer! Let’s look at the sequence above and see how a routine can be formed from such a stack. First just as in the example above, start with the cards in the order you want them to end in, and work your way backwards to the starting order. Place this stacked deck in the card box and your ready to begin. When you perform a trick like this for a spectator, take the cards out and cut them. Don't draw attention to the cut by saying anything like "Now I will cut the cards" as the spectator seeing the cards cut will make the leap to the cards are now in an order that the magician couldn't know. (It’s all psychological.) Let the spectator choose a card (remember you actually know the order of the cards even though they were cut, so don't worry that you will mess up, because you have practiced this for hundreds of hour’s right.) When the spectator chooses the card, cut the deck at the point the card is at and place the top section (just above their card), on the bottom of the deck. As they look at their card, get a glimpse of the bottom card (the one that was just above theirs) and now you know what their card is by remembering the next card in the sequence (oh did I mention that you have to memorize the order of the cards?) Now comes the devilishly clever part. Have the spectator place the card back on the top of the deck, and simply cut the cards. This does two things, first it puts the cards back in their original order but shifted; second it "looses" their card. If I were performing this trick, I would use another spectator that the first one knows, and using the Magicians Force Mental Effect, have the other spectator reveal the chosen card. While you are doing the MFME, you have time to "SEARCH" for the chosen card. It is pretty easy to do since you already know what it is. Once you find the card, reverse it in the deck (make it face the other way i.e. face up in a face down deck) but leave it in the position that it was in. Once the MFME is complete, you can reveal the Face up Card in the Face Down Deck. Since the cards are still in order, reverse the direction of the card again, and looking at the face of the deck, cut the cards again to put them back in their original order. Hand the cards to the spectator and instruct them on how to deal the cards. The final magic happening in their hands, leaving the magician looking like.... well a magician!

When using stacked decks, the most difficult part is thinking of the ending. That is what you wish to accomplish, after that all you have to do is just work backwards to assemble the stack. After the stack is assembled, you might want to write down the order of the cards to make it easier to stack the next time, but once in order simply run through the deck as the spectator will and make sure that they fall where you want them to. Writing down the order will also help you to remember the sequence, which will help you in lost and found cards or mental effects. The only thing you must avoid when doing stacked decks is never drop the cards, or change the order by shuffling unless you are really good at reordering them in front of the spectators without them noticing. It really messes up the trick if you do.

Notable performers

  • Gregory Wilson