Learn the 21 Card Trick in Under Five Minutes

The 21 card trick is a strong magic trick that is fun and easy to do, perfect for when somebody hands you a deck of cards and tells you to blow their mind.

Here you will learn, step by step, how to do the 21 card magic trick. I’ve included four incredible ways to reveal their thought of card, which takes this trick to the next level.

21 Card Trick

Your spectator thinks of a card, you tell them the card they are thinking of. The 21 card trick does not involve any skill or sleight of hand and is perfect for anyone new to card magic.

It is a self-working card trick that relies entirely on a math principle, and is quite baffling.

You only need 21 cards, it doesn’t matter what they are. Put the rest of the deck aside.

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21 Card Trick Explained

21 Card Trick

Hold the cards in your hand face down.

  1. Deal cards face up, left to right, into rows of 3, making three columns of 7 cards each.
  2. Tell your spectator to think of one of the cards.
  3. Ask them which of the 3 columns their card is in.
  4. Gather the columns into a pile, sandwiching the column with their card in the middle. Turn the whole packet face down.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 two more times (excluding step 2).
  6. Deal 10 cards face down and flip over the 11th card, it will be their card.

21 Card Trick Endings

1. Dealing to Their Card

Slowly deal the cards face down into a pile. Count silently to yourself. Deal 10 cards, the next will be their card. Pause. Slowly turn over the 11th card mysteriously revealing their card.

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2. Spelling to Their Card

Hand your spectator the cards. Tell them to deal cards one at a time, face down, into a pile, spelling out the magic word ABRACADABRA, one card per letter.

Have your spectator turn over the card that falls on the last A of abracadabrA. It will be their card.

Since abracadabra is spelled with 11 letters, this is a perfect ending. You can use other words or names that have 11 letters, for example MINDBLOWING.

Dribbling the Cards

3. Reading Their Mind

For the third and final time you lay out the cards, their card will be exactly in the middle of the pile. When they point to their pile, remember the card 4th from the top or bottom.

Gather the cards and place them aside, you no longer need them. Act as if you are reading their mind, and reveal their card. Play it up a little so it adds to the mystery.

“You are thinking of a red card, a heart…the 10 of Hearts.”

4. The Card Appears in Their Hand

This is a really cool way to reveal their card and can be used in many card tricks. You will get an amazing reaction.

Deal 7 cards onto the table and take out the next 4 cards, the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th card. Hold it in a face down pile, and place the rest of the cards aside.

Their card will be at the bottom. Ask them to hold out their hand in a loose fist. Mime the actions to show them exactly what you want them to do.

Place the 4 card pile between their 1st and 2nd fingers at the knuckle. Make sure they are not holding the cards too tightly.


You are going to firmly, yet gently, in a downward motion, smack the cards out of their hand. Do this over a table. Because of friction, the bottom card will be the only card they are left holding.

This revelation is extremely impressive and always gets a gasp.

21 Card Trick Tips

  • Deal the cards quickly, it is “dead time.”
  • Layout the cards before you start the trick to avoid the spectator having to sit through one of the dealings.
  • Make sure to deal the cards one at a time, left to right.
  • Make sure to pick up the piles correctly.

21 Card Magic Trick Variations

Spectator Shuffles

Instead of laying out the cards before having a card thought of, hand them the 21 cards at the beginning, have them look through, think of one, and shuffle them. Now do the layout procedure 3 times.

I like that they get to shuffle, yet the dealing procedure is the worst part of the trick. For this reason I prefer to deal out the cards before they think of one, so now you only have to deal the cards out twice.

27 Card Trick

When the same method is applied to 3 piles of 9 cards each, it is called the 27 card trick. It is identical in principle and procedure. Their selection will end up being the 14th card down in the packet.

Personally I would stick with 21 cards. It is less dealing and quicker. In the end it is the same exact trick.

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The 21 card trick is a terrific trick for beginners. The conditions of the cards don’t matter, you can perform the trick surrounded, and it is easy to do.

More Info: Scientific American

Try out all the endings to see which one works best for you.

Matthew Furman
Matthew Furman

Hi, I'm Matt. I've been a full-time professional magician for over 20 years, ever since I left medical school to pursue my passion.

I have a ton of real world experience and I am constantly practicing and performing new mind blowing magic.