Learn Card Magic Tricks: Step-by-Step Guide by a Magician

Find out where to begin and everything you need to know to learn incredible card tricks.

Playing cards getting shuffled together by a magician
Playing Cards

Card tricks remain one of the most popular kinds of magic. Even if you aren’t a card magician, learning card magic can is extremely useful–from the discipline required to practice sleight of hand to being able to perform impromptu at a party. 

Likewise, card magic is popular because cards are so simple, cheap, easy to carry around, and present an endless possibility for tricks. You’d be hard-pressed to find a magician who doesn’t know at least a dozen tricks, or doesn’t carry a pack everywhere they go. 

Every magician should be well-versed in card magic, at least as a way to bond with other magicians. Here’s what you need to know about card magic: 

Where can you Learn Card Magic?

There are lots of great free resources for learning easy and advanced card magic tricks. Check out our articles on the best card magic books and where to learn card tricks online. We've also written extensively on the best playing cards for magicians and easy ways to force playing cards.

How do you practice Card Magic? 

Card magic is great because, unlike something like mentalism, you can do a lot of practice on your own. In fact, you should do much of it on your own. If you’re practicing a double lift, for example, you should sit down and practice thousands of times before you perform for someone. 

While a mirror is a good tool, the best way to learn is to record yourself on video. There’s no excuse for not doing this–in all likelihood, the device you’re reading this on has at least one camera. So set one up, pretend you’re talking to an audience, and record how your sleights look. 

While, of course, there’s no substitute for live performance, you need to have your fundamentals down before you try to fool someone. 

How to practice the classic force: 

The Classic Force is a crucial tool, and one of the hardest forces to practice. The classic force fundamentally relies on audience management and timing, and really can’t be practiced alone. Here’s what you do: 

  1. Do practice alone. Try to classic force a doorknob or something at a similar height to a human hand. Practice the motion of feeding a card into someone’s hand.
  2. Then, when you practice for other people, do it for a trick where the card doesn’t need to be forced. Simply see if you can get them to take the correct card. 
  3. Have an out. When you do want to force a card, make sure you have a backup for if they don’t take it. Now you get the benefit of a clean force, and you know what to do if they choose the wrong card (like a color change into the correct one). 

Want to learn the classic force? Check out Card College 1 by Roberto Giobi.

How do you make card magic unique?

It’s easy for an audience to see a deck of cards and immediately dismiss it as “just another card trick.” It’s important, then, to inject your own personality into your performance. Asi Wind’s Inner Circle is a phenomenal example of making card magic unique: Asi is taking all the knowledge of card magic he’s built over several decades, and applying it to a totally unique show. It may take decades to find your voice, but it’s worth pursuing.

Likewise, Joshua Jay studied various aspects of magic, and found that card tricks resonated with people more when you added an extra object to it, like an orange. This doesn’t mean that you should immediately perform card in orange. But it’s important to understand why that works: Which is that other objects can be surprising and add novelty, especially if you’re performing a lot of card tricks in succession. You can learn more about the study here

How to learn advanced card magic:

It truly is important to master the fundamentals. But once you’ve made your way through Card College and Royal Road to Card Magic, you might want to pick up more advanced books. Anything by Juan Tamariz will steer you in the right direction. Likewise, Dani DaOrtiz might be the best card magician working today, and all of his videos are top-notch. Finally, Ben Earl’s The Family subscription service has hundreds of tricks and techniques waiting to be discovered.