Music & Entertainment

Card Magic

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 22:16 min

Learn the fundamental moves in card magic that can unlock a world of tricks at your fingertips.

Penn & Teller
Teach the Art of Magic
In their first-ever MasterClass, Teller breaks his silence as he and Penn teach their approach to creating moments of wonder and astonishment.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Card tricks. Many magicians, their whole careers-- nothing but card tricks. Their whole act is nothing but this. They'll do nothing but card tricks. But you know, to start card tricks you need to know how to know what cards someone's selected. Lot of card tricks come down to that. And that is called the card force-- making someone think they had a free choice while actually knowing what card they're going to pick. That's called a card force. We've got a couple of them we're going to teach you. The other way is to have someone pick a card and then be able to find what that card is. That's called a card location. We'll teach you one of those, too. And we're going to be joined by Johnny Thompson, one of the greatest magicians and greatest card people in the world. The basics of all card magic, coming up right now. - What I'd like to do-- this is a real pick a card trick. So the whole audience can see it. While I turn my back, would you remove one card out of the deck so that the audience and the camera can see it while my back is turned. Have you done that? DAVID: Mm-hmm. - David, hold on to the card as I gather these up. May I have the card face down. Place it on top of the deck. There are many ways to mix cards. For instance, poker players shuffle cards like this. Sometimes they cut them. Sometimes they don't. If you really want to mix them, you take half the deck and turn it face up, the other half face down. That half is face down. That half is face up. I don't know where your card lies at this particular point. But watch carefully. When you shuffle cards like this, you can absolutely see that they're being mixed. Can you see that? Like so. Now look it. Some of the cards are face up. Some are face down. Some are face up. In general, that was your last card. In general, they're completely mixed. Can you see that? Back to back, face to face. In general, completely mixed. Watch carefully. Don't take your eyes off the cards. Put your hand on top. What was the name of your card for the first time, David? - Nine of clubs. - Did you see or feel anything happen when I did that? - - That's cause I didn't do it yet. How about now? I did it. You missed it. Remember the cards are face up and face down and back to back and face to face? And I-- take your hand away. When I spread these out, they've all straightened out except for one card-- your card, the nine of clubs. Thank you very much. - There's more magic in cards than anything else. And the possibilities with cards are endless. We have with us Johnny Thompson. He's been working with us over 20 years. Considered by everybody to be the greatest magician alive. He's going to show us a little bit of magic. Then we're going to show you just some basic principles of card magic. And the great thing about learning basic principles of card magic is it really is-- and this is d...

Open your mind with magic

With more than 40 years performing together, Penn & Teller have sold out shows around the world, earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and created the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas. Now the legendary magicians are taking you behind the curtain. Learn fundamental magic tricks and the psychological tools that create amazement, at home or on stage. Expand your perception of the possible.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I love Penn and Teller, so watching them and learning from them was a treat .I'm also a writer and a lot of what they saw can be applied to storytelling and any art form.

Amazing. Five-star rating isn't enough. Philosophical tour de force for those interested in how magic is an epistemological exploration!

Great class. I watched this with my 6 year old and she loved it as well.

i think the way they teach is very direct and very motivational, i love theuir style humor and seriousness while showing the tricks and teaching you how to be a better peformer. the triicks are very basic but is a good first step in magic, i would love to see an advance curse one day.


Vinny V.

Good but they need to go into how to hide the props...i.e. the vanishing glass in the lap, etc.


I've been learning card magic for a few years now, and I still learned something new with this lesson! Great forces and magician's choice. Loved it!


I did the whispering queen with my 5th grade class today. Using it as a model for how writers lead their readers making the readers think they felt a certain way about a character all on their own but really the writer lead them that way. Anyway, I called it Tattle-Tale Jack instead...and forgot the number I needed twice! Then finally got it right and showed them how it was done so I could relate it to writing...they loved it. Thank you!

Matthew M.

What do you recommend for breaking in a deck of cards? I'm finding my deck impossible to manipulate because they're so slick.

Matthew M.

Sitting here with my new, freshly shuffled deck of cards getting ready to play along. The queen of spades, you say? Johnny's got it on top and weirdly my queen of spades is first card on the deck bottom. Must be some kind of magic.

A fellow student

Dear Video Person Sitting On The Left Who Asked A Good Question, If the cut happens to separate your key card and the chosen card, you'll have to improvise a little bit. If that happens, then the key card is on bottom and chosen card is on top. Once you see your card on bottom, make an excuse to spread all the cards out. Maybe make jokes about how valuable time is (since you just spent a long time doing this) and maybe comment that you always wanted someone narcissistic enough to bring their own card to the top and invite them to keep it as a souvenir. Something like that. Patter can save the trick.

Mario R.

I would like to see a follow up video teaching more sleight of hand. I’ve wanted to be a magician my whole life and, unfortunately, I suck at sleight of hand and don’t even know where to start


I enjoyed the lesson. It would have been nice when teaching the glide, how to shuffle to keep the chosen card at the bottom to begin with. On part 2 of the glide, a method to get the chosen card to the bottom of the deck so that when dealing off the cards the person will stop at the selected card. Sometimes there are little steps missing to complete a trick.

Polina R.

The style of the instructors (Johnny is especially brilliant in this lesson!!) is just... magical! The wit, the playfulness, the humanity, the kindness, the wisdom, the philosophy with which they view magic and human life. Amazing, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this experience!

A fellow student

Gentlemen, this lesson is wonderful. We will Miss Johnny but he is now part of the History.