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Card Sleights

Card sleights are very useful moves used to assist a magician to perform a card trick. The noun sleight refers to cunning or cleverness so together with a little misdirection these moves can help a trick achieve a very powerful effect.

Some sleights require greater hand dexterity than other but this page shows the workings of a few popular easy ones that when combined with a little practice will help you to achieve some spectacular magic effects.

Double Lift

This is one of the most useful moves that the aspiring card magician can learn. Start by holding the deck in the left hand as shown in (photo:1). The fingers of the right hand, should be holding the top edge of the deck lightly and the thumb of the right hand, should be resting at the bottom left corner. Try tilting the deck so that when you look down that your are able to see the cards under the thumb.

 

The right thumb then  lifts the edges of the top cards allowing all but two cards to fall back onto the deck as shown in ( photo 2 ). The right thumb now presses forward on these two cards so they press lightly against the right fingers and the thumb and fingers can lift the two cards free of the rest of the deck as in ( photo 3 )

If the right thumb and fingers squeeze the two cards lightly, maintaining a slight bend, the two will stick together as if they were only one card. There are many ways of performing a double lift and it is one of the most handy and commonly used card sleights. Practice this gem of a move until you get it perfect. You will reap the rewards many times over during your magic career.

Hold mouse cursor over each photo for a description of each card trick sleight skill

Hold deck in your left hand, with the tips of your fingers resting on top right edge and the base of thumb resting on bottom left edge of deck.
Turn up one edge of the top two cards with the thumb of your right hand.
Lift the top two cards from the pack, making sure that they stick together, looking like only one..
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3

                                            

 

How To Palm A Card

Make sure that before performing this trick, that the card to be palmed is at the top of the pack.

The deck should be held as demonstrated in  Photo:1 shown below.

 

 

Using your other free hand, bring your palm face down over the pack of cards, cradling them so it looks like you are merely just squaring up the deck. Take care to keep the fingers and thumb of your free hand closely together and gently squeeze the top card so that its top edge is pressing against the first joint of your fingers and the bottom corner is wedged against the fleshy base of your thumb. Photo:2

Keeping fingers and thumb close together, keep a slight bend on the card and stealthily remove your hand away from the spectators view. Photo:3

As long as the palm of the hand is not in view , this sleight will look completely natural and unsuspicious as it is not in an obvious gripping position or clenched fist.                                                                                                            

Hold deck in left hand as shown in photo
Place palm of other hand on top card and squeeze gently.
Place palm of other hand on top card and squeeze gently.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
 

 

Easy Methods Of Forcing a Card

Riffle Force : This is an easy to do method of forcing a card and the basis of many easy card magic tricks. You can learn this sleight of hand quickly and it looks very believable to your audience. The secret is explained in this magic video tutorial.

 

Cross Cut Force :  ( This is an easy method of forcing a card . There are many other forces to learn as well as these.))

Shuffle the pack of cards and sneak a peek of the bottom card.( Photo:1 )
Ask your spectator to cut the pack in two and to place the half that they have cut, face down on the table. ( Photo:2 )
Take the other half of the pack of cards and place it on top of the spectator's half at a 90 degree angle to form a cross. ( Photo3 )                                                                                                          

Shuffle deck and sneak a peek of the bottom card.
Place the remaining half pack on top of the spectators half at a 90 degree angle.
Ask your spectator to cut the pack in two and place their half pack on the table.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
 

Use a little entertaining chat or make a funny comment to momentarily distract the spectator from the set up of the cards.

Now ask them to pick up the top half of the deck of cards, tell them to look at the bottom one of that pile and and memorize this as their chosen card.. They can then put the two half packs back together and shuffle the cards. The card they have just memorized is the one that you took a peek at before on the bottom of the pack while shuffling. They should have convinced themselves that they have had a free choice in cutting the cards at this point while the real truth is that the card has been "forced " upon them.  
 

Learn To Do A Pinky Break

The pack is held in the dealing position. It's a good idea to slightly bevel the pack towards the outer fingers. This creates a slight edge and makes it easier for the pinky to feel and count down through the cards, the pinky tip is pressed slightly into the pack which creates a small break in the cards above and below the pinky tip. The opposite end of the pack (nearest to spectator) should be held slightly higher than the end nearest you to conceal the break.

Also at the end of the pack nearest the spectator, the edge of the top card should be firmly pressed onto the next card down with your thumb to camouflage the break. If the selected card is to be presented to audience, flip over the cards above the pinky break as shown in figure 3, using the thumb to help the move. The selected card should then fall face up on top of the deck. Maintain the pinky break and repeat the flip to return the cards to their original position.

Bevel the pack and place pinky tip in below selected card.
Flip over cards above the pinky break with first finger of other hand and use thumb of holding hand to assist the move.
Cards should be allowed to freely fall face up on top of pack. Retain pinky break if required and repeat flip to return cards to their original position.
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
 
 

Do A Riffle Shuffle

If the bottom cards are to be kept in position then they are allowed to fall from the left hand in the first movement of the shuffle. The deck is split into two packets, the ends put together, the cards being bent upwards and released in such a way that they become interlaced. To keep a card or a small number of cards on the top of the pack, you have simply to release it or them from the right hand portion of cards, last of all. Riffle Shuffle alternative method of shuffling.

 

Card Vanish And Production

A card is presented in the magician's hand and vanishes right in front of your eyes. Even more amazing, is that the card appears again as quickly as it disappeared. This move requires a lot of practice but can be incorporated into many card tricks and your practice in perfecting the move will be well rewarded with smoother showmanship. The video below shows the performance and the secret.

 

       

This video shows a convincing card change with the use of a simple slide trick.

 

                                           

You can learn about card sleights by viewing some good quality learning card tricks DVD's which are a good way to learn card sleights by watching close up videos of professional hands performing popular sleights, accompanied by a clear explanation which are available from most good magic shops.

A good book for learning card magic is The Royal Road to Card Magic which is a card magic classic and a valuable learning aid.