Are Magicians Banned From Casinos- Truth Revealed

Since I perform card tricks for a living I constantly hear, “I would not want to play cards with you.” Many times I get asked if I’m allowed in casinos. Let me answer this now. Are magicians banned from casinos?

Magicians are NOT banned from casinos. Casinos are happy to take anybody’s money, no matter who you are. Magicians do not have an advantage because they cannot really touch the cards and therefore cannot perform any sleight of hand or trickery. Casino personnel and security cameras are everywhere which means magicians cannot get away with anything on the casino floor.

People do get banned from casinos, and some of them might be magicians. Yet the reason they are banned is not because they are a magician. You will learn all the details below.


Magicians ARE allowed in casinos, they have no advantage. At the tables you are not allowed to pick up your cards fully. You have to leave your cards on the table and bend up the corners to look at them. For the table games that allow picking up cards players are only permitted to use one hand. This makes it much easier for the dealer and security to keep track of all the cards and notice any funny business.

Casino floor security is very tight and there are many cameras focused on each table. A team of security professionals are always watching for suspicious activity. Casino policy is very strict and we all know about the “eye in the sky.” This doesn’t allow any room for card manipulation or sleight of hand. Being a magician or having any skill with the cards is irrelevant and inconsequential.

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Magicians ARE allowed to gamble. Since all players cannot really touch the cards and are under heavy scrutiny when rolling the dice, magicians cannot use any trickery. Trained staff and security are closely watching and monitoring casino floors. Any suspicious activity will be noticed and immediately looked into. Casinos will take anyone’s money so magicians, like anyone else, are welcome to gamble.

A very big misconception is that that magicians are good at gambling. Just because someone has skills with a deck of cards does not mean they are good at gambling. Sleight of hand card tricks and gambling are two very different animals. To be honest, I make my living performing card tricks and I am a lousy gambler.

You might see a magician produce the four aces or deal a royal flush from a shuffled deck. The procedures used in the trick would never work in an actual game. There are some card techniques used for magic that can be used for cheating. False dealing and shuffling, false cuts, and card switches are a few examples. A true card expert could use these moves in a casual game, yet there is no possible way to use these techniques at a casino.

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Magicians, in general, are NOT good at poker. Poker is not a game of skill with a deck of cards. It involves strategy and mental fortitude, not sleight of hand. Magicians are no better at poker than non magicians. When you play poker you want the other players to think you have no skill, which is the opposite goal of a magician. The only thing a magician and poker player have in common is that they both use cards.

When people ask if a magician is good at poker I think they are really asking if magicians are good at cheating at cards. The answer is no. Just because someone can do card tricks doesn’t mean they know how to cheat. And if someone knows how to cheat it doesn’t mean they would actually be able to do it in a real game. It is one thing to present a card trick. If you mess up, no big deal. If you are caught cheating in a game you can be killed.

When I think of magicians being good at poker one guy comes to my mind- Antonio Esfandiari. He started as a professional magician and then became a professional poker player. Antonio is very well known and his amazing skill with a deck of cards is common knowledge in the poker community. Yet nobody has a problem playing against Antonio because he has no advantage at the poker table. Learn more about Antonio here.

The best sleight of hand card magician I ever met used to cheat at cards when he was in the army. He used marked cards. He bought a couple marked decks and left them at base camp where he and the guys would hang out at night. Nobody knew they were his cards. In casual games (sometimes called soft games) you can get away with things like this. This would never happen in a casino.


Magicians are banned from casinos for the same reasons non magicians are banned from casinos. Counting cards, suspicious betting patterns, disorderly conduct, getting drunk and being loud, loitering and taking pictures, gambling underage, abusing sign up bonuses, cheating, and voluntarily opting out. No magician has ever been banned from a casino just because he/she is a magician.

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I perform at a big celebrity event every year in Lake Tahoe. It takes place at Harrah’s Casino. I have taken out a deck of cards many times on the casino floor. If security sees this they kindly ask me to put the cards away and explain that I cannot have cards on the casino floor. I usually put the deck away or move to another place. I suppose if I refused they might throw me out and ban me from the casino. This would be disorderly conduct.


Famous magicians are NOT banned from casinos, though they might say they are. It sounds good and makes for an interesting news story. Truth is celebrities are welcome in casinos, it is good for business. Wouldn’t you be excited if you looked at the table next to you and saw David Copperfield sitting there playing cards? I would!

David Blaine performed an amazing trick on one of his tv specials where he went into a casino and told two girls the next 5 outcomes at the roulette table. They walked away with $3,200. Let me be honest here, this is complete nonsense. If Blaine could predict the outcome and win every time at roulette he would be a billionaire. He is not. A lot of magic on tv is bogus. To learn more about bogus magic tricks on tv check out How to Levitate.

When I first got into magic about 25 years ago, there was an amazing television special with one of the best sleight of hand card magicians in the world, Bill Malone. His segment was filmed in a casino and Bill did an incredible full deck card trick. At the beginning he mentioned that he is usually not allowed in casinos. I remember my dad repeating this over and over, being so impressed. Years later I found out it isn’t true.

Derren Brown, the famous English mentalist, claims he has been banned from almost every major casino in the UK. Is this true? I don’t know. Aside from Derren’s incredible mentalism, he is an unbelievable sleight of hand artist. Still he has no advantage on the casino floor. I think he is a great marketer and “being banned” from casinos sure sound cool.

There is a false perception of the skills of magicians. When people see a magician produce 4 aces from a shuffled deck they assume he can do anything with a deck of cards. This is simply not true. Getting good at card cheating techniques is very difficult and takes years and years of practice. Most magicians learn a few card tricks and some basic sleight of hand. There are also many great card tricks that don’t even require any skill.

The greatest card gambling sleight of hand artist in the world is Steve Forte. This guy is a living legend, you definitely don’t want to play cards with him. Steve is an expert poker and blackjack player and used to cheat casinos. After being caught and going to jail, Steve was hired by casinos as a consultant. He is an expert when it comes to scam detection, cheating techniques, and casino surveillance.


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Most casinos have some sort of magic show as part of the entertainment. Magic is fun and amazing and extremely popular. It fits perfectly with the feel of a casino. If casinos were that worried they wouldn’t employ magicians. I have performed at casinos and spoken to other magicians who have performed at casinos. None of us have ever been banned or disallowed from gambling.

I have performed at many events where they have a casino theme. Sometimes for fun I will go behind one of the blackjack tables and perform some card tricks. Though everyone is amazed and walks away thinking they would never play cards with me, there is not one thing I did that would help me at the casino tables.

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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.