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Shadow has compiled some nice tips for shuffling cards. We hope you enjoy them. Shadow recommends buying Bicycle Cards from MJM Magic for practicing card shuffling. The Blue and Red Bicycle Cards can be found by going to the Bestsellers section on the right side of their home page!

View our How To Shuffle Card Pictures section for pictures of the card shuffle techniques below.

The Methods of Card Shuffling


The objective of a correct card shuffle is to change the order of cards in the deck. People developed many various ways how to shuffle a deck in the history of playing cards. The first shuffles were probably relatively easy. As time passed by many more shuffles appeared. Nowadays we have a large scale of card shuffles. Some shuffles are common while the others are considered fancy. It also depends on a country. For example in Europe the most widely used shuffle is the Overhand shuffle. The Riffle shuffle is common in the USA but in Europe this shuffle is considered fancy and many people can't do it. It also depends on quality of cards you can get in certain areas.

We can divide shuffles in a few groups. We have explained the common/fancy shuffles in the previous paragraph. We also have one or two handed shuffles (I've also seen a foot shuffle and maybe some aliens can perform three handed shuffles or tail shuffles if they know cards ;-) ). Other groups are regular/false shuffles. The methods which really change the order are called regular shuffles. The methods which leave the deck in the same order or keep/move some cards into certain positions are called false shuffles.

Here you can find the most common shuffles plus some fancy ones. We will also teach you a few false ones. But enough theory, let's learn some shuffles. All the methods here are written for right handed people (if there is any difference between the instructions for both hands) so if you're left handed then simply reverse the hands in instructions.

I strongly recommend you to see the pictures and videos for each shuffle. The Card Tricks Forum in our message board has many pictures and videos that can be used for reference.


The Overhand Shuffle


This is probably the most common method of card shuffling today. You probably know how to do it but just for sure here is the correct method.

You start with the shuffle cards in your right hand. You hold the deck with your thumb on one short side of the deck, index finger on the long side and middle and ring fingers on the short side opposite your thumb.

Now let's explain the position of fingers of the right hand. The right thumb slides the cards from the top of the deck held by the left hand to the right hand. The right index finger is bend and lays on the short side of the deck. The other three fingers are a bit curled under the deck.

The right hand is moved closer to the left hand and the right thumb locks (by applying pressure on the top card) a few cards from the top of the deck. Then the right hand moves back and the locked cards are drawn from the top of the deck to the left hand. This procedure is repeated until all the cards are in the left hand.


The Table Riffle Shuffle


This shuffle is also quite common. You can see it in every casino.

At the beginning the deck should be on the table with the longer side facing towards you. Cut about a half of the cards and place them next to the rest of the cards that short sides of both packets touch each other. The right hand is placed on the right packet that thumb is in the left corner of the deck on the side facing towards you, the index finger on the top of the packet in the middle of the short side close to the edge and the rest of the fingers are on the longer side of the deck opposite to you. The left hand is placed on the left packet in mirror symmetry with the right hand.

Now rise both thumbs a little and at the same time apply a little bit of pressure on the top of the deck with your index fingers. Release the cards from both packets with your thumbs while rotating both your hands so at the and of the shuffle (there are no cards held by thumbs) the angle between the two packets will be instead of 180° ca. 160°.

Now you have to insert both packets together. Again there are different methods how to do this. E.g. curl your little, ring and middle fingers and place them at the short sides of the packets, your index fingers on the long sides of the packets opposite to you and the thumbs on long sides of the packets facing towards you and now insert the packets together and square the deck.

When you start practicing this shuffle you probably won't be able to make a perfect riffle shuffle (the cards are released one by one so at the end there are no two cards from the same packet together) but after a few days of practice you'll be able to do a decent riffle shuffle.


The In-air Riffle Shuffle


Many people know how to do the riffle shuffle on the table but they often don't know how to make it without it.

Start with the deck in left hand and hold it with your little, ring and middle finger on one short edge of the deck and with thumb on the another. The index finger is placed on top of the deck. Now apply pressure with your index finger on the top of the deck and riffle about half of the deck with your thumb on your right hand's little, ring and middle finger (they should touch the short side of the packet). Now move your left hand up and with the little, ring and middle finger rise the packet held by the right hand to the right hand's thumb. Now you should be holding about half of the cards in each hand with fingers in mirror symmetry.

Close your hands and riffle the packets with your thumbs (again the index fingers apply pressure so they bent the packets a little). Now you can simply insert the packets together and square the deck or make a little flourish to insert the packets together. This flourish is called wave and I think you have seen it in movies or magic shows.

So if you want to wave the cards, then hold the riffled packets by your index, middle, ring and little fingers on the free shorter sides of the packets. Now curl these fingers and put the thumbs on top so the cards will create a shape like inverted and stretched U. If you straighten the fingers the cards will start to "fall" down. This way the packet will be inserted together with ease and smoothness.


The Faro Shuffle


Some people have been asking recently about this way of card shuffling. It isn't so easy as the previously described card shuffles.

You start in a position when you hold the deck in your left hand with fingertips of your thumb on one of the long edges, your index finger on the short edge and the rest of your fingers on the long edge opposite to your thumb. Then you take about a half of the deck with your right hand. When you take the half of the cards away you have to hold them with your thumb on the long edge, the index finger slightly pressing the top of the packet and the other finers near on the long edge opposite to the thumb. Now comes the hard part of the shuffle. Now you have to weave the short edges of the packets together. This takes some time to learn. It's better to bend the packets a little before you insert them together. When you start training this card shuffle you probably won't be able to insert the packets very well. Everyone uses slightly different methods to weave the cards together so you should find the one which works for you the best.

After weaving the packets you can simply finish the Faro shuffle by squaring the deck or by using the waterfall flourish.

The Hindu Shuffle


This card shuffle is similiar to the overhand shuffle. It might seem exotic when you see it for the first time.

You start from the same position as for the Faro shuffle. You hold the deck with fingertips in your left hand. Your thumb is on the long edge of the deck, the index finger is on the short edge of the deck and with rest of your fingers on the opposite long edge of the deck. Now you approach the deck with your right hand and take about 7/8 of the deck from below by your thumb on one of the long sides and your index and middle finger on the opposite side. Now release the pressure with your left hand a bit so it should be holding only the top 1/8 of the cards and move the 7/8 with your right hand away from your left hand. When the 7/8 of the cards aren’t touching the left hand let the 1/8 fall into your left hand palm. Now move your right hand with the cards closer to the left hand so the cards will be in the same position as at the beginning and again remove a small portion of the deck, move your right hand further and let the cards fall into your left hand palm. Repeat this process until the whole deck is in your left hand palm.

Riffle Shuffle vs. Overhand Shuffle


In 1990 Prof. Persi Diaconis and his team made an interesting discovery in the world of playing cards. Prof. Diaconis worked as a mathematician/statistician but he had been a professional magician before so he familiar with card tricks, crooked gambling and different ways to shuffle the cards. He discovered that if you want to shuffle a deck of 52 cards randomly (so that each card has an equal chance to be on every position in deck after the shuffling) you have to give the cards 7 riffle shuffles. This was a great discovery because the previous estimations were that the deck must be shuffled between 5-20 times (other studies specified the amount of required shuffles between 5-12). If you shuffle the deck less than 7 times some groups of cards might remain together. If you shuffle the cards more than 7 times then the next shuffles have almost no effect. In this study of shuffling the riffle shuffles were not perfect. The perfect riffle shuffle isn't so perfect. The perfect riffle shuffle means, that you cut the deck exactly in the half and you riffle the cards so that there is one card from the left hand then one card from the right hand then one card from left hand etc. It might seem that this is the best way how to shuffle cards but it is not true. If you out-shuffle (the first card you drop during the shuffle is from the original bottom half of the deck) the deck 8 times it will be back into the original order! The study of Prof. Diaconis has also shown that if you want to shuffle the deck randomly using the overhand shuffle you will have to shuffle the deck about 2500 times! Here you can see the advantage of using the riffle shuffle. It is interesting that even now you can see dealers in casinos shuffle the deck only 4 times...

Shuffling Machines and Computer Shuffling


Nowadays more and more casinos try to use the shuffling machines or computer shuffling system instead of live dealer's shuffle. The automated shuffles have their pros and cons. The early shuffling machines were plastic boxes where you could see through a clear piece of plastic how the cards were being riffled and cut. The main advantage of these machines was that they eliminated the human factor during the shuffling and they were also faster than dealers (if they didn't break down which was quite often). Some of the new shuffling machines work on a different principle. There are a few smaller boxes (slots) inside where the cards are being distributed. For each card the machine first chooses randomly a slot and then it randomly chooses if the card will go on the bottom or on the top of the cards that are in the slot. Even with this system of shuffling the cards might seem to be completely random but they are not. Imagine you have 26 red cards and 26 blue cards. You put the red cards on the top of the blue cards and put this deck to the shuffling machine, which works on this principle. After the shuffle you'll have a group of blue cards, then a group of red cards in the middle and finally a group of blue cards in each slot. So if the machine collects the cards from slots after the shuffle you'll still have groups of red and blue cards together. Computer shuffling doesn't operate with real cards so you don't have to worry about the mechanics. Some casinos start using this method so that the live dealers have only to push the buttons. These systems use generators of random numbers. There are many algorithms that generate random numbers and shuffle the virtual cards. Some of them are similar to the good old riffle shuffle. The main advantages of these systems are speed, no chance to cheat with the standard mechanics and elimination of human errors.

Card Shuffling In Casinos


The Casino Dealer Card Shuffling Thread talks about card shuffling requirements for dealers.
Level_Five starts the thread by asking about card shuffling requirements:
"what are the minimum requirements of dealing at a table? i'm sure it varies from place to place, but my friends and i keep sitting down at the tables wondering how they're able to get the rounds completed so quickly. i read into it a little (apparently there are training schools for this?), and we focused upon their shuffling techniques...but i'm still a little shakey. what should i practice? and once i get that down, where do i go from there?"

Fourth recommends that potential dealers should contact casinos near them:
"I'm in montreal Canada and we have quite a large casino, they are very picky about their dealers. They prefer if you have attended a card handling course. Yes there are schools and courses available. They vary from card handling technique and all the way to controlling your players, (not their cards) but if they get angry, or upset...etc. They teach you how to spot a cheater... If you are really interested in dealing at a casino, contact your local casino' PR person or HR person and ask for guidance. They are almost 100% willing to help. Think about it, there isnt a wealth of card dealers all in line to take the next available position. Also, try looking in your phone book or on the internet for courses, or guidelines., And I would have to agree with Expert magicians statement, I wouldnt make it obvious that you know alot about cards. Besides, they're technique may differ from yours, so I would want to learn their technique from scratch since, well, they would paying my paycheck. "

expertmagician talks about different types of shuffles:
"I am not sure of how to describe shuffling a deck of cards on a forum....it is something you must see and be shown. As you may or may not know...there are many kinds of shuffles. The must common used in casinos are table riffle shuffles followed by running cuts. Sorry, I don't know where to learn the basics of shufffling. Most magic books assume you know how to shuffle since they teach false shuffles, stacks, etc. I do know that there are various schools to teach people how to be dealers in casinos...check the net or yellow pages. Which I could be of more help."

CardSorcerer talks about the different table shuffles:
"In regards to shuffling techniques, you definitely need to learn how to do proper table shuffles as well as running cuts. Try to get as fast and smooth at them as possible. As you know, casino’s want the games to move as fast as possible. Any extra time you are spending to shuffle a deck of cards, or count a stack of chips, reduces their overall profitability. When practicing your table riffle shuffles, make sure to do so with the same deck of cards that the casino uses. If they use KEM cards, practice with a deck of those – if they use regular poker cards, a bicycle deck should suffice. When you practice, make sure to do so according to secure shuffling procedure. Although, procedure varies from game to game as well as from casino to casino - in general you: give the deck the running cuts before the table shuffle, do at least 2 table shuffles in a row, and end the sequence with a shuffle. Then you cut the cards. Although, all of this may sound pointless, by utilizing secure shuffling procedure, it limits (but does not eliminate), the opportunity to employ false shuffles and other sleight of hand. On the job, they will probably teach some version of this procedure as well as to clear your hands for the camera. "

Level_Five talks about his shuffle progress after a lot of practice:
"this should help me, basically i knew most of this and have been practicing tutone's riffle shuffle for nearly an entire year now, so i'm kinda good at that. i think i just need to move everyone's chips around efficiently, getting the game moving, and setting up for the next round of hands. is there a certain order to shuffle and cut the cards? if i can remember correctly, there are about 3-4 riffle shuffles, 3-4 quick cuts, throwing down the card cove to the felt, putting half the deck onto the cover, and then the other half atop of that (another half cut thingy)...pick it up and shuffle. i suppose it's just practice, right? i didn't know that customer service was so important, but it makes too much sense to deny. no, i'm not especially looking for a job at a casino...but i think it'd be great to know that part of the game...maybe host some tournaments at home amoungst the local poker allstars (and there are a lot 'round these parts). i'll be playing a game tonight, maybe i'll shuffle for everyone!"

CardSorcerer talks about more shuffling procedures:
"Procedure varies widely; however, if you are doing table shuffles, here is a good secure shuffling procedure you can follow. Give the deck a running cut (TuTone’s Box Cut) then give it two table riffle shuffle (see TuTone’s Riffle shuffle). Then give the deck another running cut and finish with a table riffle shuffle. The cut (not the running cut), if performed by the dealer, should then be done with one hand and onto the cut card. If you desire the cards to be more randomized, add another leg of running cuts and shuffles to the sequence. Of course, these are just general basics to follow. Many casino games have unique procedures on top of this. Shuffling the deck in this manner does not go unnoticed and limits the amount of sleight of hand that can be used at the table. Interestingly enough, many casino dealers follow secure shuffling procedure; but, really have no idea of its importance."

TuTone discusses how shuffling works at his casino:
"at the casino i work at they had a training course to deal poker.....they taught us to do a short wash of the cards to slightly randomize them then riffle shuffle once then to a 'box' cut then shuffle twice more and cut onto cut card........this is to ensure no card can be followed in the deck......hope this helps........in vegas they have 'dealing schools'........but you might be able to take a training course at your local casino.......hope this helps.......if u have any further questions about dealing just send me a PM and i'll be happy to help."

expertmagician talks about shuffling machines and randomization:
"You may also notice that casinos today want you to stick by STRICT shuffling proceedures. This is because thay have learned to analyze shuffle patterns and how they randomize or don't randomize the cards. As it turns out, human beings have a difficult time breaking patterns in the cards. This fact used to be used to tha advantage of card counters. In addition, casinos also found out that since most play blackjack using simular strategies....they discovered that patterns developed over time. This knowledge of pattern development was used by card counters against the house. The casinos wanted to break these patterns and make sure the cards are WELL mixed. This causes the players to get more "bust" hands "12-16", which is better for the house. The new shuffling patterns are designed to break up these patterns and make "shuffle tracking" more difficult. Now, as you may notice, the casinos are starting to use shufflemaster style machines which is guaranteed to break up these patterns and cause more "bust hands". This is one reason I will never play when a machine shuffles the cards. I don't like getting 12-16 for my first 2 cards when playing blackjack. Video blackjack has this same issue. Since a computer shuffles, the cards are too randomly distributed. In addition, the computer shuffles after EVERY hand which makes the problem even worse. Bottom line, if you want to learn to shuffle and deal for a casino, that is fine but be aware that you will have to shuffle exactly the way the casino wants and you may be displaced by a shuffling machine. Side note: Even with all of what I discussed above, blackjack is still one of the best casino games, with the lowest house take....if you know what you are doing. In the old days (during the 1970s and easly 1980s), I used to play blackjack to make money, now you can't get the edge over the house the way you used to, so it is not worth my time, unless I just feel like gambling."