Select a standard deck of cards with four suits and a total of 52 cards plus the Jokers. Remove the Jokers.

Step 1: Count Values

This trick involves only counting the face value of cards, also counting cards themselves. Pay no attention to the suit of the cards.

In this trick an Ace has a value of 1. A Jack has a value of 11. A Queen has a value of 12. A King has a value of 13.

Step 2: Shuffle and Begin

Shuffle the deck as much as you desire to satisfy yourself and anyone viewing the trick.

Turn over a card. Here you see a 5. Count off the next card as 6, then 7, and then 8. Do this until you reach 13.

In the photo you can see I have counted out eight cards to reach 13.

Step 3: Fold the Counted Cards Over Onto the First Card

You will be making a pile of the cards you have counted out. Turn them over and place them on top of the 5 as you see in the photo.

Step 4: Turn All Cards Over to Make a Pile

This photo shows a pile of the cards from the previous step and photo. Although you cannot read it, the top card is the 5 you first pulled from the top of the deck.

Step 5: Make a Second Pile

The first card pulled from the deck this time happened to be a 10. I counted out three more cards to reach 13. Turn the counted cards over and lay them onto the 10. Turn the pile over so the 10 is on top and backside up.

Step 6: Make Six Piles

Repeat the process described in steps 2 through 5 until you have six piles. Arrange them in any order.

Step 7: Remove Any Three Piles

Remove any three piles and fold them into the deck (upper left of the photo). It does not matter if you shuffle them in, lay them on top, or place them on the bottom. Just add the piles removed to the deck.

Step 8: Arrange the Three Remaining Piles in Any Order

If someone is observing you, have him or her move the remaining three piles into any order or position.

Step 9: Turn Over Two Top Cards

Have your observer turn over any two top cards. Usually they will be the cards at either side of the center pile, but it does not matter.

Add the value of the cards turned over. In this case 9 plus 2 equals 11. Count eleven cards from the deck and set them aside. In the photo I grouped the eleven cards removed from the deck into groups of three and set them off with yellow boxes to make it easy for you to follow. The last grouping has, of course, only two cards to make eleven cards.

Step 10: Count Ten More Cards

Always count and remove ten more cards from what is left of the deck. Ten is a constant number, like pi in mathematics. Set them aside.

Step 11: Count the Cards Still in the Deck

Count number of cards left in the deck. Here you can see that five cards remain in the deck.

When you have your observer turn over the card on the remaining pile, it will have the same value as the number of cards left in the deck, that is a 5.

Step 12: It Worked!

There were five cards left in the deck. The last card to be turned over from the piles is a 5.

This trick always works if there are 52 cards in the deck and if you count correctly while following the steps exactly. I do not know how or why. An engineer friend with a lot of higher mathematics training tried to understand it, but gave up. It is strange because it begins with the face value of a card and then switches to counting numbers of cards.

If the first card in several piles had a low value (Ace, 2, 3, etc.), you could run short on cards before counting out the six piles. In that case, fold some of the piles back into the deck and begin counting those piles again. Chances are you will draw some higher value cards and will have enough cards to make your six piles.

Also, six piles is a little bit for theatrics. The trick works perfectly well with only three piles.
I did it, and it didn't work the first time. my middle deck, top card was a 7 and I had 8 cards left. I checked and everything was right other than that. any reason why this could happen.
I had another thought about why you might have gotten a wrong result. When a person is first doing this trick it is easy to forget and place the first card on the bottom of a pile, rather than on the top. If the new top card were an 8 rather than the 7 you first drew, that would account for your result.
I have been showing this to people over the last 50 years. As I said, so long as I used a complete deck and so long as I counted correctly, it has always worked. It sounds as if you tried it a second time and it worked. Is that correct?
Are you sure you're playing with a full deck?

About This Instructable




Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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