Sleight of Hand: The 7 Strongest Sleights for Card Magicians

sleight of hand
I hope you’re enjoying our massive 3 part series on magic tricks! Welcome to the third and final installment in the Complete Card Magic Blueprint. If you are practicing your sleight of hand right now… don’t put down your deck… but make sure you check out all 3 parts!

This Blueprint is your fast-path to easy card tricks! It shows you every sleight you’ll need to do great magic, and more important, exactly why each one matters.

Just by reading our Blueprint, you’ll save yourself hours of frustration, confusion and wasted practice time on techniques that you don’t really need. In the long run, you’ll have even more fun with your magic, and your audiences will be even more astonished when you perform.

If haven’t read the first two installments of this Blueprint, use the links above to read them first. This post deals with ‘Advanced Techniques’, and this article will make them much easier to learn.

But as you’ll see, the secrets to making the ‘difficult’ look easy lay in how you approach the fundamental card magic concepts we cover in the first two parts of this Blueprint!

Okay… I’ll pause here so you can go read the first two parts of the Blueprint. Don’t worry, I’ll be very patient…:-)

Congratulations! Expert ‘Sleight of Hand’ Will Be Easy!

Sleight of hand easy? You may be thinking I am making a bold claim!

Now that you’ve learned the genuine secrets in the first two parts of this plan, you are in for a very big treat. The ‘simple’ Double Turnover is actually far more challenging to perform than the so-called Expert Level Sleight of Hand.

In fact, armed with the knowledge you now possess, you’re about to discover that the most powerful sleights in all of card magic are not as difficult to master as you may think.

You’ll see EXACTLY how they fit into the ‘big picture’ of your card magic, and as I’m about to reveal, that information absolutely eliminates the unnecessary frustration magicians experience when they tackle the techniques you’re about to discover.

Consider one fascinating thing these sleights have in common:

  • The Classic Pass
  • The Gravity Half Pass
  • The Top Palms
  • The Bottom Palm
  • The Side Steal
  • The Diagonal Palm Shift
  • The Top Change

These ‘sleight of hand moves’ fascinate the inner magician in each of us because of one main feature they all share:

Anytime you witness a performer who can demonstrate one of these moves in person, a mere demonstration of the sleight itself actually feels like real magic. And once you know the ‘basic idea’ behind the mechanics of the Classic Pass or Top Change, it’s even more amazing to witness.

The first time I saw a magician who could really do these moves, over 20 years ago, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My face looked as though I’d just seen a fire-breathing dragon flying above my house!

Surrender the Idea of Invisible Sleight of Hand. It’s an Illusion.

When these sleights are performed properly, they seem invisible. However, when we practice them, we find invisibility to be an all but impossible goal. This approach leads to unnecessary ‘sleight of hand frustration’.

In fact, this illusion is encouraged by on-screen ‘move demos’. In live performance, these sleights DO NOT rely on invisibility for success.

That’s great news for your success. Don’t strive for ‘invisibility’, or wait to acheive it in practice before you start using these sleights in your performance.

Instead, focus on far more important goals that are not only realistic, but actually easy in comparison. For a move like the Classic Pass to be effective, it must be silent, effortless and economical – each secret action must take less than a single moment to complete…without rushing.

Finish the sleight before your ‘moment of misdirection’ expires and thanks to your quiet, relaxed execution, you won’t have any noises or tension to draw your audience’s eyes to the pack as you perform it.

If you learn the sleights in this part of the Blueprint in this way, people will soon be saying you perform these sleights ‘invisibly’.

But in truth, you’ll have mastered the illusion of invisibility. And that’s what makes the sleights that follow seem so impossible.

Advanced Sleights Make Direct Miracles

Unlike the Open Action Sleight Clusters we covered in Part 2, the  techniques that follow do not take place as you seem to turn over the deck (Invisible Turnover Pass) or display the top card of the pack (Double Turnover).

I DO NOT recommend the advanced techniques that follow because they’re challenging, or because they’re ‘cool’. In fact, as you go through  this final part of our Blueprint, you’ll see that I’ve only included a small number of sleights for your consideration.

Each of the sleight of hand moves that follow are direct and economical. After learning about deceptive Double Turnovers in Part 2 of this plan, you’ll be very glad to discover that most of these techniques require a secret break and only one other Secret Action.

To the audience, It will seem as if you’ve barely handled the cards. And as you’ll discover, this one feature can have an extremely powerful impact on your audience’s experience when you perform.

The Classic Pass

The Classic Pass, or as it is titled in The Expert at the Card Table , The Two Handed Shift, allows you secretly to cut the pack as you seem to do nothing at all. This one sleight can be used to force, switch, control or force any number of cards.

In fact, the Classic Pass is the most dynamic, adaptable secret move in magic. It always has been. For that reason, the Classic Pass was considered ‘the backbone’ of card magic for centuries. And once you start using it, you’ll find it to be one of the most useful sleights in your entire repertoire.

sleight of hand classic pass

Here’s a tutorial sharing a powerful, little known secret to performing an imperceptible Classic Pass:

 In my Pathways Training System , we use unique training methods and specific strategies to help passionate magicians master the shift quickly.

 However, you can find the basic technique I teach under the name, The Two Handed Shift in The Expert at the Card Table, by S.W. Erdnase.

Our Pathways Training goes into great detail about every aspect of mastering this sleight. There’s over an hour of training on this one move, that in performance, takes less than a moment to perform.






But here’s the most important tip I can offer you for working from the easy-to-find method that appears in Erdnase.

Solving Sleight of Hand Frustration

At some point during your practice, you’ll become frustrated and unsure. That’s when most magicians become susceptible to ad-copy or youtube demonstrations that promise an easier method.

If you’ve already had this experience, you’re not alone. I’ve done it. And so has every great magician I know.

You’ll be tempted by variations that seem a lot easier to master. For example, for longer than I’ve been in magic, magicians have used a riffle of the front end of the deck with the right fingers to make the pass more ‘invisible’.

However, I’ve seen less than 5 who can perform a riffle type pass softly enough to avoid drawing focus to the deck.

Remember what you’ve already learned from this Blueprint. The Riffle Action is an Open Action. On top of that, it makes a sound on purpose!

The sound and the Open Action actually FORCE your audience to look at the deck…and at exactly the wrong moment.

You can find my complete video training on The Classic Pass and the other items in this Blueprint, in my new improved Pathways Training System.

In 12 Volumes and over 13 hours of instruction, you’ll discover a unique approach to learning that makes The Classic Pass, and every other sleight, easier than ever before to master.

Click Here to find out more about the Pathways Training System.


The Half Pass

The Half Pass works a lot like the Classic Pass, and allows you to reverse any number of cards at the bottom of the deck, from one card, to all the cards beneath the top card of the deck.

Like the Classic Pass, The Half Pass can be totally imperceptible from any angle for an unlimited number of spectators.

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In this case, I can proudly recommend my own technique, The Gravity Half Pass, which first appeared in my 2002 book The Paper Engine. I’m fortunate that experts all over the world still agree this is the best ever devised.

You can see a demonstration of the Gravity Half Pass in the original trailer for the Paper Engine here. Pay close attention – it’s used here to create some highly visual magic:

The Gravity Half Pass is actually invisible from every angle. Even more important, and not possible to show on video, it can be performed with no tension and thus, it’s also completely imperceptible. And as we’ve already discussed, that’s what really counts.

Like the Classic Pass, the Gravity Half Pass can be used to force, control, switch or visually reverse cards in the pack. It’s incredibly versatile, and once you get comfortable with it, you’ll use it every day.

The Gravity Half Pass is the exact method I teach in the new Pathways Training Program.

Practice Tip: The Gravity Half Pass was developed from closely following the concepts underlying the Classic Pass. In fact, you’ll be able to make even faster progress by studying the two sleights at the same time.






Use 3M Cross Training to Master…Only Faster!

In my popular 3M Coaching Program, I use the common exercise term ‘Cross-Training’ to describe this principle. In effect, a small breakthrough in any one of the Cross-Trained techniques causes an immediate leap forward in all the others. 

Since the Invisible Turnover Pass, the Classic Pass and the Gravity Half Pass are all based on similar mechanical principles, practicing them at the same time gets faster results than working on any one of them alone.

The Top Change

The Top Change is to the Double Turnover what the Classic Pass is to the Invisible Turnover Pass. No open action is required, and nothing seems to change from before to after the switch. There’s not a hint to alert anyone that something suspicious has happened.

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In all appearances, you simply hold the deck in one hand and a card in the other. As you place the card on the table, or on a spectator’s hand (or really, you don’t have to do anything with the card at all), it transforms into another card.

This incredibly powerful technique is not hard to do, but it does test your nerves.

For that reason, I recommend you get very comfortable with the Double Turnover before you add this ultra-direct ‘power tool’ to your belt. When you’re ready, you’ll find the Top Change to be one of the most reliable ‘sleight of hand tools’ in magic.

To learn this sleight, I suggest two versions. First, the method that appears in Expert at The Card Table is very good, as is the David Williamson Method from his first book, Williamson’s Wonders.

The finger positions are different in each of these methods, but both can be performed wonderfully. But in each case, invisibility deserves little thanks.

Success here depends more than ever on misdirection, effective structure and effortless, relaxed execution.

The Complete System Of Palming

Now you’ll discover the most important new concept in this plan. It’s the only idea that can’t be simulated by methods introduced in the first two parts of this Blueprint.

Even if you only master the easiest of the techniques in this section, The Bottom Palm, you’ll be able to accomplish astounding miracles that can’t be accomplished any other way.

Like the passes mentioned above, there’s no change in the deck after any of these Palms are executed. Again, softness and context are far more important than ‘invisibility’ when it comes to this type of sleight of hand.

Remember, no person is an average, and you will undoubtedly experience faster results with some of these techniques than others. When it comes to palming cards, there’s no substitute for experimentation.

The Top Palm

Top Palms are more difficult than Bottom Palms, but despite this fact, most people choose to practice the Top Palm first. I suspect this is because the Top Palm seems, at first glance, to be more practical.

However, when you have a card hidden in your right hand, it’s extremely difficult to hold your hand just as you would if it were actually empty.

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Many instructors suggest you hold the deck from above for a few moments after palming.  In practice , this is only practical if you have extremely large hands. Even then, it’s pretty easy for audience members to ‘see the goods’.

For these reasons, successful ‘Top Palmers’ nearly always steal the cards from the deck immediately after palming.

Stealing the palmed cards away from the deck is called retiring, and while you’ll find it takes a bit of courage with ANY palm, you can cover the action by using the other hand to pass out the cards for shuffling, or by placing them on the table.

Ultimately, the Top Palm is a helpful sleight of hand method in many situations. However, I mention it here first – primarily to get it out of the way. There will be plenty of time to master a Top Palm after you’ve experienced the success and confidence that come from starting with a much more practical approach.

The Bottom Palm

I suggest you begin your journey to masterful palming with The Bottom Palm because of several big advantages it has over the more popular Top Palm.

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First, the Bottom Palm is easier to learn. Second, you can keep the deck in your left hand, above the palmed card, for as long as like. It looks as though the deck sits normally in your hand.

In performance, this will make it very easy to retire with the palmed cards because you can wait for as long as you like, without fear of detection.

In the Pathways System, you’ll discover many of my favorite Bottom Palm methods. But why wait? Start using my easiest method right now, which appears in one of our most popular posts here.

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Side Steals and Diagonal Palm Shifts

Side Steals and Diagonal Palm Shifts allow you to palm a card or cards directly into either hand from any position in the pack.

Left and Right Hand Steals use the exact same palm positions as the Bottom and Top Palm – and they become most helpful in situations where you want to steal the card(s) from the pack without first shuffling or passing them to the top or bottom of the deck.

Remember, in most cases, 90% of the final effect on the audience will be easily achieved using only a Top or Bottom palm. Surprisingly few effects demand such directness.

Miracles like Card to Pocket , Card to Wallet and any effect where four-of-kind are produced from an audience shuffled pack can all be performed, with roughly the same impact, using only a Top or Bottom Palm.

How Palming Skills Progress

With a little practice, you’ll be able to use the Autopilot Card to Pocket in performance. You’ll be able to not only palm a card, but imperceptibly retire with that card to your pocket.

As you perform the Card to Pocket regularly, you’ll acquire the confidence to retire without moving immediately to your pocket. After a few months, you’ll one day feel bold enough to relax with the palmed cards to your side or in your lap.

This may seem ambitious now, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you develop the ‘sleight of hand confidence‘ to ‘hold out’ cards while the audience shuffles.


The image above shows a card midway through the Side-Steal Sleight Cluster

magic with hands

This image shows a card midway through the Diagonal Palm Shift, otherwise known as a Left Hand Side Steal


The first time you ‘hold out’, you’ll be so pleased and amazed that you may nearly give yourself an award!

But in short order, you’ll begin to rely on this tactic all the time!

And that means you’ll need to start covering your tracks. Once you start using palms in your sleight of hand, for a variety of effects, including multi-phase routines like “Card to Pocket”, you’ll positively NEED alternate methods to keep the audience off your trail.

For that reason, Side Steals and Diagonal Palm Shifts will ultimately play a crucial role in your advancing repertoire. However, don’t hurry the process.

Just as each stage of this Blueprint has led to the next, the left and right hand palming positions you learn at first will become second nature as you use them. It doesn’t take very long.

And you’ll discover as you progress, that Side Steals and Diagonal Palm Shifts will actually come to you. You’ll find you’ve already half-learned these incredible sleights before you even practice them.

The Spread Cull

The Spread Cull allows you to spread casually through the deck and to steal any card or cards you want, and to move them secretly to any location you desire. As far as sleight of hand goes… this is very useful!

It’s an astounding tool, but difficult to acquire and perform with real confidence. The best path forward is to focus on developing your Hand to Hand Spread, followed by the Classic Force on the same line.

These techniques develop your ‘spread intelligence’, so that when you’ve acquired many of the techniques in this Blueprint, you’ll be ready master the Spread Cull in short order.

Now You Know the Pathway!

Many valuable techniques and sleight of hand moves do not appear on this Blueprint. I decided to include only the most important, valuable techniques I’ve encountered over the last 20 years.

My hope is that you can use this material to develop your own card magic without wondering what to do, what comes next or if you’re practicing the right things.

Now that you’ve read the whole plan, I suggest you go back and start at Stage One. It Provides a complete suite of card magic tools.

Use those tools to perform amazing magic for anyone you know. Then let those tools, and the micro-skills they include, provide a foundation on which to master first your Stage 2, and then Stage 3 skills as you need them.

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed the Complete Card Magic Blueprint – I’ve had a great time developing this material and teaching it to passionate magicians all over the world. And now, it’s yours!

With Warmth,
Aaron Fisher

P.S. Sleight of hand is so rewarding! If this Blueprint has helped you, there’s a VERY good chance that my Pathways Training System can save you hundreds or thousands of practice hours and dollars on your own path to astonishing card magic.

You can find out all about the Pathways Training Program here. You’ll be very glad you did.

(Thanks for reading! I’d love it if you would give a little back and “share” this article to others who might enjoy it.  Also, leave your comment or question below and we will read each and every one…)

Complete Card Magic Blueprint: 9 Most Popular Techniques

Complete Card Magic
This is Part 2 of our Complete Card Magic Blueprint. This plan shows you the 22 essential techniques that drive all great magic tricks with cards.Everything we’re about to cover in Part 2 builds on the specific strategies I taught in Part 1. If you haven’t read Part 1, do it now, and don’t worry… I’ll wait here…;)

Complete Card Magic Blueprint

Assuming you’re reading these words, congratulations! In reading Part 1, you’ve already acquired the foundation for complete card magic.  

You may be asking, how is that possible?

Can a small, curated collection of specific techniques actually make it easier to master even the most advanced skills in card magic?

The surprising answer is…ABSOLUTELY.  This Blueprint is your fast-path to easy card tricks!

The most powerful techniques are not as difficult as they seem. Sleights like the Double Lift and Turnover, or the Riffle Force, are not actually difficult.

However, most magicians take on these moves without first addressing a handful of simple techniques that ease the way for every sleight to come.

And YOU are to be congratulated, because most of these small, yet crucial details (I call them ‘micro-skills’) can be mastered simply by using the easy techniques you were introduced to in the first part of this Complete Card Magic Blueprint.

Complete Card Magic Blueprint: Stage 2

Thanks to the core micro-skills you’ll acquire just by using the material we covered in the Stage 1 one of the Complete Card Magic Blueprint, only one small sleight stands between you and the most powerful techniques in the world of card magic.

Without it, you can go no further. But with this one simple idea, there isn’t a single valuable technique you can’t master.  

The Biggest Little Secrets In Card Magic

Charlie Miller, one of the greatest card magicians of all time, used to say The Fourth Finger Flesh Break was the most difficult move in card magic.

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The Left Fourth Finger Flesh Break (The Pinky Break)

It doesn’t matter if you have an invisible pass, palm or half pass. If the spectator can see a line in the front of the deck, or a break between the packets, they’ll know you’re ‘up to something’Once that happens, it’s impossible to deliver the experience of magic with cards.

Here’s video training that will show you how to catch and hold an invisible fourth finger flesh break:






Save Years of Frustration: Learn From My Own Embarrassing Story

I feel compelled to share an embarrassing story with you. I hope my mistake can save YOU some precious time.

My first book, The Paper Engine, is filled with information on how to do invisible, imperceptible passes and reverses, like my well known Gravity Half Pass.

But just a few years before I wrote that book, I was practicing over 10 hours a day, just to learn advanced sleights like the Passes we’ll cover later in this plan. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find a way to ‘break through’.

I made a lot of progress, but something was still missing. For YEARS I tried to discover the secret…without success.

And then it finally hit me…

My break was showing.

In that moment, I realized that my pass was flashing…because the audience could see my ‘secret break’ between the packets, they could effectively see what was coming…sometimes as much as 30 seconds before I ever did the move!

At that moment I decided to make my Fourth-Finger Break invisible. That became my top priority. And as I found out, just giving this one detail my undivided attention for a few weeks was enough. Before I knew it, the problem was solved…and everything began to change.

In fact, within a few months, I developed the core technique of the invisible Gravity Half Pass.

And that never would have happened if I hadn’t realized the importance of holding a break that can’t be seen.

The Right Thumb Break

The Right Thumb Break is the counterpart to the Left Fourth Finger Break. You’ll use it to transfer the break, along with the deck, from your left hand to your right hand, or vice versa, anytime you want.

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Once you have both breaks working together, you’ll be able to maintain the break no matter what happens during your performance.

Shake hands with a new spectator, pick up your drink and take a sip or get something from your pocket – it won’t matter what you need to do. You’ll have your break safe and secure. You’ll be ready to proceed anytime with complete confidence.

By the way, this is an incredible feeling of confidence and comfort. In fact, I know for sure you’re going to LOVE it.

The Two Breaks also arm you with anything you need to tackle, with ease, every sleight in the world of intermediate and advanced card magic. Now you’re ready to begin arming yourself with the most popular sleights in magic.

Here’s a video to show you the best ways to maintain a break as you transfer the deck from hand to hand:

complete card magic break






I recommend that any time you have the opportunity to ensure the success of a technique by getting a secret break a few moments before the sleight, you do so. In nearly every situation, this will make it much easier to ensure you don’t ‘hang-up’ when it’s time to execute the sleight.

And that’s what separates every sleight to come from all those we covered in Stage 1 of the Blueprint. Moving forward, every sleight in this plan makes use of a secret break.

And that one piece of information changes your card magic entirely. Because once you add a secret break, a sleight is no longer a sleight at all…

Complete Card Magic Blueprint – Introducing the Open Action Sleight Cluster

A ‘Sleight Cluster’ is any technique that combines two or more secret actions. In almost all cases, these secret actions are separated by Open Actions.

Open Action are actions you want the audience to see. Open actions break us secret actions, and lend those secret actions protection and cover.   

For example, Double Turnovers take place as you turn a card face-up, and then face-down again. The Invisible Turnover Pass happens as you turn over the deck.

The most popular sleights tend to be Open Action Sleight Clusters.These sleights are deceptively appealing, thanks to the Open Actions that cover them, but in truth, they’re more challenging to master than they first appear.

First, they each require two or more secret actions – they’re not sleights, but sleight sequences. Second, magicians make the mistake of attempting to perform these techniques without using separate misdirection for each secret action. In most cases, we actually encourage the audiences to watch the secret actions as well as the open ones.  

To perform sleights like the Double Turnover repeatedly in your performance, each of the secret actions in the sequence must be misdirected as though it were a separate sleight. On top of that, the audience must feel as though they never looked away!

When I teach the Double Turnover in our card magic coaching program, there are no fewer than 3-4 secret actions in the sequence. It’s easy to misdirect the audience during these secret moments, but if you perform the whole sequence as though no misdirection is required, you’re virtually guaranteed to raise suspicion.  

Here’s a great short tutorial to show you how misdirection works with the Double Lift:






The Double Turnover is actually one of the most challenging Sleight Clusters in magic. Before we get there, let’s cover a few less complex Sleight Clusters – ones that use only two secret actions and are easier to master.

The following techniques use only a secret break, combined with Simple Stage 1 Micro-Skill, to create the most reliable, effective secret card forces in magic.

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3 Elite Card Forces

The ability to ‘force’ a person to take a specific card, while maintaining their conviction that they themselves made a totally free choice, enables more direct, astonishing effects than any other kind of sleight.  

Ultimately you want several deceptive, practical ways to force a card.  

Once you’ve mastered the easy-to-do Crossing the Cut Force from Part 1 of this plan, you’re ready to taste the power and magic that ‘Stage 2’  Card Forces allow.   

Fortunately, the most practical forcing methods come directly from the Stage 1 ‘Selection and Replacement Procedures’! If you can already to the Left Thumb Riffle, Hand to Hand Spread or Dribble, you’ll be able to transform any one of them into a powerful, practical, card force.  

The Riffle Force uses the Left Thumb Riffle to secretly force the card either directly above, or below, the Fourth Finger Flesh Break.

This is one of the most practical forces, but to make sure it becomes one of your ‘go-to’ moves, develop your Left Thumb Riffle – once it looks ‘fair and square’, the force is ripe for you to harvest.  

The Dribble Force is particularly useful because of the fair, almost careless look of the selection procedure. Essentially, you’ll hold a break below a force card about ¾ up from the bottom of the pack. As you dribble the cards into the left hand, you’ll ask the spectator to call ‘stop!’ at any time. Then, as the spectator’s lips begin to move, allow all the cards below the right thumb break to fall. Look away and show the face card of the upper half to the entire audience.

This procedure makes sense to the audience – and it looks natural as well.

Remember that the Dribble takes more practice than the Riffle. For that reason, the Dribble Force develops just a little more slowly than the Riffle Force. The Dribble Force is ultimately stronger, but it’s likely to take a few more months to master than a good Riffle Force.

The Classic Force lets you force a card above or below a Fourth Finger Break as you spread the cards from hand to hand for a selection.  

This force looks like real magic, but it’s not 100% certain. In order to master it, you’ll need to be very comfortable spreading cards from hand to hand – slowly, quickly, one at a time or in small groups as necessary.

Ultimately, it’s all about being able to modulate the pace of your spread as the spectator goes to take a card. Every spectator behaves a little differently, and good ‘Classic Forcers’ can adapt their spread action in real time to deliver the force card just as the spectator’s hand reaches the deck.

The best way to practice this amazing, powerful force is to attempt it anytime you have a card selected…just for practice. Before long, you’ll find yourself ‘hitting the force’ more often than not.

The Classic Force is one of the most diabolical, incredibly astonishing methods you can use, so it’s worth having a ‘Plan B’ for those unavoidable times when it doesn’t ‘hit’. When your Classic Force misses, abandon it immediately, and allow your spectator to take any card they want.

Immediately proceed to perform a trick that doesn’t require a force. Then double back, and use a sure-fire method like the Riffle Force or Crossing the Cut to perform the original trick.

This is one of the oldest and best ways to handle a missed Classic Force. It’s stood the test of time because it’s always been incredibly effective.

I’ve used the Classic Force successfully in 1000’s of performances, and I’ve found that when it fails, the Crossing the Cut Force is the ideal backup. The process is swift, the result is sure…and nobody ever suspects a thing.

You’ll soon discover that merely HAVING a backup plan takes all the pressure off, and in the bargain, improves your Classic Force success rate immensely.

The Double Turnover: The Ultimate Sleight-Cluster

The Double Lift and Turnover are the most popular switches in card magic. As a practical matter, most magicians get caught doing them far more often than they would like – and arouse suspicion even more often than that.

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The issue arises partly because this wonderful sleight is used much too often – in many cases (like the Ambitious Card) several times in the same routine. By simply having an alternative switch in your toolbag, like the Two Handed Glide from Part 1 of the Blueprint, you’ll reduce the ‘load’ on your Double Turnover – and greatly reduce the likelihood of problems in performance.

The Experts Choice: The Robert Houdin Double Turnover Get-Ready

Once you decide you never want to get caught again during the Double Turnover, it’s time to start using the Robert Houdin Break method. Any break before a Double Turnover helps, but this is still the most reliable approach ever devised.

I can tell you from personal experience that learning this move alone was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my magic.

You can find this method taught twice in easy-to-find, classic books like Stars of Magic and the Dai Vernon Book of Magic, and it’s clear this method was Vernon’s preferred choice.  

My own research performing and teaching this method to thousands of students has proven it further. There is no more effective or deceptive method you can choose.

This video shows you how to perform my Simplified Robert Houdin Break. It’s a great way to get started with this invaluable technique:






The Double Turnover

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Most of the time, magicians learn the Double Turnover as a single action  that needs no misdirection. They do the move as they look down at the cards and the audience sees the whole thing.

They get away with it once..if they’re lucky. The second try arouses suspicion, and often, by the third turnover, the audience says, “You’re holding two cards as one!”  

Every magician who has attempted the Double Turnover has had this experience. I’ve had it myself more times than I can count..and trust me. It’s horrible!

Want to know more about the difference between a Double Lift and a Double Turnover? Watch this tutorial:






The Simplified Vernon Double Turnover

In my Pathways Training System, we make several alterations to the Vernon Double Turnover, which make it easier to perform so the cards NEVER split. Combined with the Houdin Break and proper misdirection, you can perform as many Double Turnovers as you want without any fear of arousing suspicion.

Whether or not you have our Pathways Training System or you’d like to get the training directly from the books mentioned above, always remember that the Double Turnover is NOT a single sleight, but an Open Action Sleight Cluster.

The Secret Reversal Sleight Cluster

The Cover Reverse allows you secretly to reverse a card or cards at the bottom of the deck as you seem to merely turn the deck over in your hand. Like most Open Action Sleight Clusters, magicians are taught to perform this technique as though it were a single action. And again, that’s why we have problems in performance when we don’t have to.  

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The Invisible Turnover Pass

The Invisible Turnover Pass takes place as you turn over the deck, and it’s actually surprisingly easy to perform so that it truly IS invisible.  

Most performers look at the cards as they do this pass, because the illusion is visually superb. However, when we invite the audience to ‘burn’ our hands during secret actions, we raise suspicion.

Always remember, just because a move is invisible, it doesn’t mean you should ask the audience to look at it.  

Here’s a video tutorial showing you how to perform my own version of the Invisible Pass. This sleight is fun to do and easy to learn – it first appeared in my first book, The Paper Engine:






Up Next: Stage 3 – Expert Card Magic Made Easy

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re in for some very good news. In Part 2 of the Complete Card Magic Blueprint, you probably discovered that many techniques you’ve been told were easy are a little more challenging than you’ve been lead to believe. At the same time, you discovered the secrets to unlocking those moves and making them your own.

In the next and final part of the plan, you’ll discover that invisible Classic Passes, Half Passes, Palms and Steals are actually easier than you’ve been told. With the information you now possess, you have everything you need to make even the most advanced sleights in magic surprisingly easy to master.

We’ll see you in Part 3!

Aaron Fisher

(Thanks for reading! Take a moment to click “share” and let other magicians know about this article.  Do you have a question or comment about this article? Leave it below and we will read each and every one…)

Magic Tricks: 22 Essential Sleights and Your Complete Card Magic Blueprint

Magic Tricks: 22 Essential Sleights and Your Complete Card Magic Blueprint

Magic Tricks

Lovers of great magic tricks were thrilled with our Easy Card Tricks post. To say thanks, we’re going to share the Complete Training Plan we use to help our magician coaching clients take the fast lane to magic tricks that can astound any audience. Enjoy!   

This is Part 1 of our Complete Card Magic Blueprint.

Complete Card Magic Blueprint

Assuming you’re reading these words, congratulations! In reading Part 1, you’ve already acquired the foundation for complete card magic.  

Have you ever spent countless hours practicing magic, only to give up in frustration?

Or seen so many versions of a magic trick, you spend all your ‘magic time’ just trying to decide what to practice?

If so, this Card Magic Blueprint is for you!

Just by reading this plan, you’ll get more results from every minute you spend with cards, and all of your magic tricks will astonish like never before.

22 Essential Sleights: This is NOT an Ordinary List of Magic Tricks

As you go through this plan you’ll see a few techniques you’ve already heard of, and maybe some you already use.

But this is not a mere collection of useful sleights & magic tricks. Far from it.

In fact, many sleights you may have considered irreplaceable do not appear on this list at all. The truth is, most of the popular sleights you’ve been told you need…are simply unnecessary.

That’s right…you don’t need them to become an astonishing card magician.  

However, there are some very specific skills you DO need. Without them you won’t get far. With them, you’ll have the framework to create any miracle you can imagine.

This plan will list the exact skills that really make it happen, and show you how each and every one fits into the big picture of your own miraculous card magic.  

3 Magic Trick Strategies to Maximize Your Success

  1. The secret is not just to do the right things, but to do them in the most effective order.  Focus on the first items first. They’ll build your skills quickly, and ensure you get maximum results from every minute you spend on your magic.
  2. As you go through the blueprint, pay special attention to items you have never carefully considered before. In most cases, these will be easy-to-acquire ‘micro-skills’ that accelerate your progress in surprising, exciting ways.
  3. The later items on this blueprint build directly on the earlier ones. Focus on the first skills first. You’ll find even the most ‘difficult’ sleights in the plan surprisingly easy to master!

So let’s start at the very beginning. To build the foundation for card magic miracles, you’ll need to “Build Your Card Magic Operating System”.

Close your eyes and say the magic words “magic tricks, magic tricks, magic tricks”.

Now, let’s do this…

Magic Trick Mastery: Build Your Card Magic Operating System

Card Magic Trick Tip: The Natural Dealing Position

magic trick natural dealing position

The Natural Dealing Position is the ‘launch position’ for every single thing (magic tricks & sleights) you do with cards. Everything from dealing the cards cleanly off the deck, to the Double Lift and the Classic Pass depends on the specific finger positions you use to hold the pack.

The Natural Dealing Position must become your normal way of holding the cards. When you hold the cards, do it in Natural Dealing Position and you’ll see an immediate improvement in all of your card magic.  

You can test this right now. If you haven’t already, grab a deck and check out our recommended 7 Point Natural Dealing Position. Does your current grip match up perfectly? Remember, every one of the 7 points can make or break your card magic!

In most cases, when you find a sleight challenging or ‘unreliable’, the issue can be traced directly back to how you normally hold the deck. In the article, you’ll see how each of the 7 points plays a pivotal role in your success…even sleights you would never expect!

Change your Dealing Position… and transform your card magic and tricks. Surprisingly, it really is that simple. Here’s a short video tutorial I made to show you exactly how it works:

 Card Magic Trick Tip: Your Shuffle System

Your Shuffle System creates the ‘background’ for everything you do with cards.

magic trick shuffle systemWe recommend the Overhand Shuffle and the Overhand Shuffle Control as the ideal choices.

As you examine the world of card magic, you’ll find almost every type of shuffle can be used to control cards, from riffle shuffles to dovetail shuffles and more.

But for over a century, the greatest card masters have been in total agreement:

“For total astonishment, practicality and naturalness, the Overhand Shuffle cannot be beat! ”

The following tutorials will help you master your card magic tricks by getting your Shuffle System up to speed.  Since this is the basic foundation of many magic tricks with cards, you should spend some time with these videos.

Shuffle System Tutorial: Overhand Shuffle Control

Shuffle System Tutorial: Running the Cards

Card Magic Trick Tip: The One Card Push Off

The One Card Push off is just what it sounds like: your ability to use your thumb to push a single card off the deck or packet, and only a single card, every time.

magic trick one card push off

Why focus so much attention on a ‘move’ that isn’t even a move?

Great question!

This little idea is a VERY big deal.

It’s so easy to push a card off the pack, in theory, that most magicians we meet with have never given it any consideration at all. After all, anyone can do it, so why should it matter?

The real ‘skill’ here is to make sure that only one card gets pushed every time. When we perform many tricks, it doesn’t matter how ‘cleanly’ we push off a card. We use our left thumb to push a card off the deck, and maybe one or two more come with it. We use the right hand to remove only the card we need and that’s the end of it.

But if you’ll take a few minutes as you practice to pay special attention to this detail, you’ll be able to push off one card, and only one card, every single time.

And with this powerful new ‘micro skill’ you’ll be able to do things that most card magicians find difficult…or even impossible. For example, the Classic Force, the Robert Houdin Break and the universally coveted Spread Cull…

All become much easier to practice and perform with total confidence…if you start with the easy to master, but crucial One Card Push Off in your toolbox.


Magic Trick Mastery: The ‘Big 3’ Modes of Handling

Three kinds of selection procedures power virtually every card magic trick. Don’t make the universal error of practicing sleights like double lifts or forces before first becoming aware of The Big 3.

Like your Natural Dealing Position, how you have a card selected and replaced can make or break your magic before you finish a single trick.

Magic Trick Mastery Mode #1: The Left Thumb Riffle

magic tricks left thumb

The Left Thumb Riffle – When the cards riffle off your thumb as you ask someone to call ‘stop’, it makes for a very clean, convincingly natural, selection procedure.

This Selection and Replacement Procedure feels as fair as can be. It actually disarms your spectators. Since they only need to replace their selection where it first came from, they never even consider ‘challenging’ you.

The Left Thumb Riffle is also the easiest of the Big Three to master. For those two reasons, we recommend you practice the Left Thumb Riffle and make it your first ‘go-to’ selection/replacement procedure.

The following tutorials will give you everything you need to master the Left Thumb Riffle. Watch this video and learn how this works… and you will absolutely love using it with your magic tricks!

Magic Trick Mastery Mode #2: The Hand to Hand Spread

magic tricks hand to spread

Spreading the cards between your hands is the most common way to have a card selected. Just about anyone can spread the cards well enough to say ‘take any card’, but if you practice spreading the cards softly and smoothly between your hands, the audience will sense the freedom you promise. And that’s just what you need to do if you want to stop suspicion before it arises and pave the way for miracles.  

If your spectator doesn’t feel the freedom when you say ‘pick a card’ you’re sunk. Even if you aren’t using a ‘force’, it doesn’t matter – they audience will feel like you are. Oddly enough, this phenomenon doesn’t even require the spectator to know that ‘card forces’ exist!

A soft, open spread also keeps ‘air’ in the cards, and that makes just about any sleight easier to do.

Magic Trick Mastery Mode #3: The Dribble

The Dribble is the third and final Selection and Replacement Procedure  you’ll eventually want to add to your toolbox. It’s very disarming, displays the selection (on the face of the right hand packet) to the entire audience at the same time and makes for an incredibly convincing card force.

magic tricks dribble

  Thanks to it’s appearance, the Dribble can disarm an audience as much, or even more, than the Left Thumb Riffle. However, it is slightly more challenging to do.

We hate it when passionate magicians sit on the sidelines waiting to master a ‘secret move’ when they could be out amazing people with an effective substitute.

For that reason, start using the Left Thumb Riffle immediately. In just a few months, you’ll be able to Dribble the cards as well.

You’ll have access to all of the Big 3 Modes of Handling, and you’ll have smooth sailing every time you say, “pick a card!”.

Be warned: Once you get comfortable with all of the Big 3 Modes of Handling, The Dribble may be your ‘go-to’ favorite for life!

Here’s a video tutorial I shot to help you understand exactly how to use this special technique:

Assemble Your Simple Sleight Suite

Two of the three ‘must have’ sleights you’re about to meet take less than a single moment to accomplish. That’s a good thing, because that’s precisely how long you can direct a spectator’s attention away from your hands without them noticing at all.  

In addition, these three sleights are also among the easiest secret moves in magic.

But don’t overlook them. These three simple moves, combined with your Overhand Control System and your favorite Selection and Replacement Procedure, allow you to perform at least 80% of the greatest card miracles ever devised.

Crossing the Cut

magic tricks crossing cut

Crossing the Cut is a secret card force that is truly sleight-free. However, that doesn’t mean it’s ‘self working’. In fact, our clients have consistently found this force to be the easiest, fastest way to master the fundamentals of expert misdirection.

When this super easy force is performed well, it’s amazingly effective!

Amateurs often overlook this force, but top professionals around the world have used it for over a hundred years to create miracles without relying on sleight of hand.  

Do yourself a favor and learn the Crossing the Cut Force.  You will use it for years!

Watch this short video tutorial and see for yourself!

Braue Reversal

magic tricks braue

The Braue Reversal takes more than a single moment to perform, but in this case that’s ok because it’s not a secret action at all!  It’s also the easiest secret reverse to master…and the one you should start using right away.

The reverse is made under the perfect cover of a simple, though slightly fancy, cut.

And with this little tool in your box, you’ll be able to force, switch or magically reveal a selections in many astonishing ways.

It’s the best secret reversal to start with because it’s the easiest one to learn and use with success and confidence.

See it for yourself here:

The Two Handed Glide

magic tricks glide

The Two Handed Glide allows you to display a card on the face of the deck and secretly to switch it for another card as it’s placed on the table.

Many magicians dismiss this powerful weapon and go right for the Double Lift or Turnover.

I suggest you don’t make that mistake. The Two Handed Glide looks incredible natural. It’s very disarming, and best of all, it’s a LOT easier to master than any Double Lift or Turnover.  

Plus, unlike the Double Lift or Turnover, the Two Handed Glide only takes a single moment to do…so it’s very easy to misdirect.

No matter how many ways you can switch one card for another, this one is the most fundamental sleights to your success with magic tricks. Even after you can perform a masterful double turnover, you’ll still use the Two Handed Glide all the time.

See a quick tutorial here:

What’s Next With Your Magic Tricks?? Integrate and Level Up!

Congratulations! You’ve already accomplished more in the time it takes to read this article than most magicians do in a lifetime!

You’ve developed a complete system of card magic that allows you to perform nearly every effect in card magic – from the Ambitious Card (Glide and Overhand Shuffle) to visual full deck reversals (The Overhand Shuffle, Braue Reversal). You can perform spelling tricks, mental divinations, direct mind reading miracles and even visual magic. Nearly every effect in card magic can now be yours.  

In addition to a complete repertoire of sleight-of-hand skills, you’ve also acquired something even more valuable…

Just by performing simple, amazing magic tricks with the sleights we’ve already discussed, you’ll master the ‘micro-skills’ buried in them. And you’ll do it with little or no conscious effort.

As a result, you’ll find advanced sleights surprisingly easy to learn… and all card magic tricks will come easier and faster.

For Example:

The One Card Push-off and the Hand to Hand Spread provide the foundation you’ll need to execute flawless Classic Forces and Spread Culls.

The Criss Cross Force provides the strongest training we’ve ever found for the Misdirection that powers No-Fail Double Turnovers, The Invisible Pass, the Top Change.

Left Thumb Riffles and Dribbles are the most challenging, foundational parts of the Riffle and Dribble Forces.

The Two Handed Glide provides the framework you’ll use to perform invisible Class Passes, Top Changes, Palms and Side Steals.

In Part 2 of the Blueprint…

I’ll show you exactly how to use your new skills to raise your magic tricks to new heights. I’ll show you exactly how to attack the next stage so you achieve mastery without the frustration.

You’ll also discover the secret that unlocks the entire Second Stage of the Card Magic Blueprint. And as you’ll see, this secret is so small that most magicians never even notice it.  

I’m going to show you what that secret is – and how you can use it to master any sleight or magic trick you choose.

See You In Part 2!

(Thanks for reading! Do you have a question or comment about this article? Leave it below and we will read each and every one…)