Card Tricks for Beginners – Step-by-Step Instructions

I have been into card tricks for over 20 years and can still remember being a complete beginner. It was scary. You have come to the right place. Here you will learn some card tricks for beginners and the card moves you need to know to get started.

Check out this Free Video and learn my favorite 4 Ace Trick which I perform all the time at my professional events. It is easy to do and perfect for a beginner or professional.

sleight of hand

I am right handed. If you are left handed just switch the hands.

Dealer’s Grip

The dealer’s grip is the deck’s “HOME” position, the position the deck always goes back to. Hold the deck cradled loosely in your left hand, tilted down slightly.

  • Thumb on the left side.
  • 1st finger curled naturally around the front edge.
  • 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers on the right side.

Spreading the Cards

“Pick a card, any card.” That is what you will be saying if you get into card tricks. It is much more impressive to spread the cards nicely when having one selected.

Hold the deck in dealer’s grip. Push cards over with your left thumb into the crotch of your right thumb. Fan the cards along your right hand for support. Make the fan wide. Have a card picked. Close up the fan back into dealer’s grip.

PRACTICE TIME: Learning card magic is like learning a sport or an instrument. You need to practice. Take it slow, one card move at a time. Master that move before you start the next. This discipline will serve you well. I understand you want to dive in and learn some hard core card magic. First you must crawl before you can run.

Hold the deck in dealer’s grip for an hour or two while doing something else, maybe watching a movie or watching tv. Practice spreading the cards and closing them up. It shouldn’t take you very long to master this move. There is nothing hard about this, it just takes some time getting used to. With card magic there is no substitute to putting in the work.

Spreading the Cards on the Table

I highly recommend getting a magician’s close up pad for your card magic. Here is a link to my favorite one. The pad acts as a stage and looks classy. Plus it allows you to easily do the Mat Spread. You can also do the Mat Spread on a surface with a table cloth.

Mat Spread

With your right hand grip the cards from above- thumb at the inner edge, 1st finger on the left edge, and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at the front edge.

Spread the cards from left to right. Loosen pressure with your right 1st finger as you spread the cards to get an even spread.

mat spread 1

Flip Over

Press the cards down with your left thumb and dig your left 1st finger under the bottom card of the spread. Place your right hand palm up at the bottom of the spread ready to catch it. Flip the spread over using only your left 1st finger. Catch the top card. Scoop the cards up. Turn them face down and place them back into dealer’s grip. This is a flourish that is super easy to do and looks amazing.

YouTube Video of Me Teaching the Spread & Flip Over

PRACTICE TIME: Spend an hour practicing this. It is easy and fun to do. It is an impressive move. You will learn it in no time.

Thumb Fan

The thumb fan is a great flourish. It looks amazing and is a terrific way to have a card selected. You definitely want to be able to fan the deck. It is very professional looking.

thumb fan final
  • Start with the deck in dealer’s grip.
  • Grip the top half of the deck from above with your right thumb, 1st, and 2nd.
  • Move the deck into position between your left thumb, 1st, and 2nd, in the thumb crotch of your left hand.
  • In one motion make the fan with your right thumb.

IMPORTANT POINTS: Find the right position when placing the deck between your left thumb, 1st, and 2nd. Play with the pressure of your right thumb when making the fan. It is easy for me to say “in one motion make a fan with your right thumb.” You will not be able to do this at first. Learning card moves takes a little time and practice. Keep at it, you will get it.

Always consider the condition of the deck. The newer and smoother the deck, the easier it will be to make a thumb fan.

PRACTICE TIME: This is not difficult. It will take a little bit of practice. I’d say an hour or two. Making the fan is fun and looks awesome.

One-Handed Fan Close


You can close the fan with your other hand. That works fine. Yet you will want to learn the one-handed fan close. It is amazing. You will sort of snap the fan closed. There is no wrist action here. Your left 1st and 2nd fingers, in one quick motion, walk the fan closed. The deck goes right back into dealers grip. Once you get the feel for this move, you can do it quickly.

PRACTICE TIME: Did I mention I love to practice? You have to get into that mindset. This should take you an hour or so.

Shrinking Deck

shrinking deck

Once you learn the thumb fan here is something cool you can do.

  • Make a normal fan, show both sides.
  • Place the cards a little lower in your hand. Make a fan. It is smaller.
  • Place the cards a little lower in your hand. Make a fan. It is smaller.

Shuffling the Cards

When getting into card tricks I highly recommend practicing and getting a feel for cards. Learn some different shuffles. Check out How To Shuffle Cards – A Complete Guide. This will get you up up to speed. For now I will teach the Overhand Shuffle. The Overhand Shuffle has so many great uses. We will take advantage of one of these uses now.

Overhand Shuffle


Hold the deck in your right hand with your thumb at the inner short edge and your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the outer short edge. With your left hand from below use your left thumb to peel small packets off the top of the deck. Take them into your left hand. Go slow. This will help avoid dropping cards.

Card Changes in Spectator’s Hand

EFFECT: Spectator shuffles the cards. They pick a card, look at it, and it is shuffled back in the deck. You place a card on their hand, it is the wrong card. You wave over the card and it changes into their card.


Have your spectator shuffle the cards and hand them back to you. You will be using a very strong card principle here called the Key Card. This is when you know the bottom card of the deck. The important thing here is that your spectators have no idea that you know the bottom card. If when handing you the deck your spectator flashes the bottom card, perfect, that will be your key. If not you will get a peek in a moment.

key card

Spread the cards for a selection. Close the spread. Move the deck into Overhand shuffle position. Now is when you casually peek the bottom card which will be your key card. Start the overhand shuffle, pulling off small packets. Have your spectator place their card in when they want. When they do place the rest of the cards on top, setting your key card on top of their card.

Tell your spectator to concentrate, and please place their hand out. Look through the cards and take out the card below your key card, their card. Miscall it without showing it, “You had the King of Spades?” and place it face down on their hand. When they say no, take a second, as if surprised, and then act as if you have an idea. Wave your hand over the card and turn it over in their hand. It has changed.


IMPORTANT POINTS: It is very important that your spectators don’t see you peek at the bottom card. Don’t blatantly look! Do it casually as you start overhand shuffling the cards. You will be surprised how many times your spectator will flash the bottom card when shuffling and not even know it.

This is the type of trick where your spectators will forget the details and give you so much more credit than you deserve. They will say that they saw their card change in their hand or they felt it change. Magic like this is really good and will leave a great impression.

PRO TIPS: Act confident when taking out their card, and then surprised when you are wrong. This will make the change stronger. Don’t repeat this trick for the same person.

Card Prediction

EFFECT: Spectator shuffles the cards. You write down a prediction. A card is picked, they look at your prediction, it matches.

Card Force

Your spectator picks a card and you know what it is before they pick it.


Have your spectator shuffle the cards. Take the cards back and turn the deck face up. Spread through showing they are all different. Remember the card that is 2nd from the top, that will be your “force” card. Square up the cards and turn the deck face down.

Tell your spectator that you want this trick to be impossible so you will bury the top card and the bottom card. Take the top card and place it into the center of the deck. Take the bottom card and place it into the center of the deck. Your force card is now on top. Grab a piece of paper and tell your spectators you are writing down your prediction before the trick starts. Write down your force card. Leave the paper on the table.



Have your spectator lift off a small group of cards, about 10 or so, flip them face up, and place them back onto the deck. Tell them to do this again, yet this time lift off a larger group of cards, more than 10. There will be a group of face up cards on top of the deck.

Spread the face up cards until you get to the first face down card. Tell them to look at this card and remember it. This is your force card. Turn all the face up cards face down on top of their card so their card is buried in the deck. You need to build up the trick a little bit here:

  • Your card is lost in the deck…
  • I could not have known how many cards you would have lifted…
  • Or where you would have cut the deck.

REVELATION: The only thing left to do is have them read what you wrote down. Tell them you knew they would pick that card. This is a strong trick and will get good reactions. I wouldn’t repeat it for the same spectator.

PERFORMANCE TIPS: When you spread the cards in the beginning to show they are all different be very casual about it. Once you learn this force you have a very powerful technique in your arsenal. Only use this force one time when performing for someone. There are many more great tricks you can do using this force. For some more check out How to Do a Magic Card Trick- From a Pro Magician.

3 Card Mind Reading

EFFECT: 3 cards are placed in a row on the table. You tell your spectator when you turn they should look at one card, leave it alone, and switch the position of the other 2. You turn back and tell them their card.


Spectator takes out any 3 cards and places them face down in a row. You instruct your spectator- “Look at one card, leave it alone, and switch the position of the other 2 cards.” While giving instructions mime the actions. Actually look at one card and remember it, this will be your key card. You will do this very casually, they won’t even remember. Let’s say your key card in this example is the King of Clubs.

3 cards

When you turn back around you will look at where your key card was. There are 3 possibilities:

  1. You look and it is still your key card. You know your key is their card.
  2. Your key moved, so you know it is not that card or your key.
  3. Your key moved, so you know it is not that card or your key.

In this example your key didn’t move so you know they picked the King of Clubs. Always start with the position where your key card was. If your key didn’t move you only have to look at that one card, you know it is their card. If your key moved, their card is the other non key card.

IMPORTANT POINTS: When looking at each card be a little mysterious. It adds to the effect. A little acting goes a long way here.

PRO TIPS: You can do this trick a total of 3 times. It is a pretty strong principle and definitely a fooler. Many times after I know which card is theirs I tell them they can gather the cards and mix them a little. I mime the actions with my hands. They usually just gather the cards and give a slight mix. I just follow their card.

ALTERNATIVE ENDING: Here is a really cool way to reveal their card which always gets an amazing reaction. Square the cards into a pile with their card on the bottom. Have your spectator hold out their hand in a loose fist. Mime the actions. Place the cards 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 smack the cards out of their hand. Do this over a table. Due to friction the bottom card, their card, will be the only card they are left holding. It is pretty impressive. If you do it fast enough they will not know that it is the bottom card of the pile that stayed in their hand.

back pattern

PRO VERSION: There is a way to do this where you never look at the face of the cards. People who know this trick will be fooled big time. You will have to find something on the back pattern that stands out and use it as your key. In the picture it is hard to see yet the top border is thinner than the other 2 top borders. This will be my key. The trick works the exact same way.


When getting into card tricks you want to practice and learn card moves that you will actually use. Everything here is worth practicing and very usable in the real world. The 3 tricks above are perfect to perform together because they are all different. The first trick you find their card in a magical way, the second trick you predict their card, and the 3rd trick is completely different. It is a fun interactive baffling mind reading card trick.

It is important to vary the types of card tricks you perform for the same spectator. If you want to learn some more amazing card tricks check out 5 Easy Card Tricks That Blow Minds.


Hi, I'm Matt Furman. 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.