Everyone loves a great magic trick, especially kids! You and the kids will practice your math skills while having fun with these easy math magic card tricks. We’ve included three of our favorite magic tricks that anyone can try plus a helpful set of showmanship tips to help you wow the crowd and yourself!
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History of Playing Card Magic Tricks
It’s believed that playing cards originated in China in the 9th century and there are written records of playing cards from Europe in the 1300’s. They’ve always been used for games and magic card tricks began as ways to cheat at gambling. People tried lots of methods to get away with cheating from sleight of hand movements to counting cards. Luckily you don’t have to cheat to have fun with card tricks!
Magic Math Card Tricks Supplies Needed
You don’t need much to do these magic card tricks. Playing cards, of course. We like these jumbo playing cards for the kids. You’ll also need an audience of at least one since these tricks are interactive. It also helps to have a flat surface.
Plus, to make learning and performing these math magic card tricks easier, you can have a printable set of instructions emailed to you. It also includes a set of helpful magic showmanship tips, too. Simply enter your info below to have the printable emailed to you.
FREE! MAGIC MATH
CARD TRICKS PRINTABLE
How to Do a Playing Card Magic Trick
Magic card tricks are easy when you know the secrets! But just like any new skill, getting the tricks ready for an audience takes practice. When you’re trying to learn a magic trick, first try it on yourself to see if you can figure out how it works. Try playing with the cards face up so you can see what’s happening! Now on to three of our favorite math-filled magic tricks.
Math is Magic Trick
In this magic card trick, you’ll guess an audience member’s card without revealing the magic math in the trick.
How to Perform the Math is Magic Card Trick:
- Shuffle the deck. Have an audience member pick a card and remember it.
- Tell them you’re going to be able to read their mind and guess their card but first you need them to do a little math.
- Ask the audience member to calculate the following.
- Figure out the value of their card. 1 for aces, 2-10 for cards 2-10, 11 for jacks, 12 for queens, and 13 for kings.
- Double the card value.
- Add 3.
- Multiple by 5.
- Add 1 if the card is a heart, add 2 for spades, add 3 for diamonds, or add 4 for clubs
- Give you the calculated total.
- To figure out their card, subtract 15 from the total in your head. If the total is 2 digits, the first digit is their card’s value and the last digit is the card’s suit using the values above. If the total is a 3-digit number, the first two digits are the card’s value and the last digit is the card’s suit using the values above.
- Tell the audience member their card and they’ll be amazed.
The Math is Magic Card Trick Magic Revealed:
This math trick works because by asking them to add three and multiply by 5, you’ve had them add 15 to their value. When you subtract 15 in your head, it helps you figure out where they started!
Pick a Card, Any Card Trick
In the Pick a Card, Any Card Magic Trick, you’ll find an audience member’s card by counting out the letters in the card’s name.
How to Perform the Pick a Card, Any Card Magic Trick:
- Shuffle the deck. Count out 9 cards and deal them into 3 piles.
- Ask the audience member to pick one pile and memorize the bottom card.
- Stack the cards with the audience member’s pile on top.
- Ask the audience member to spell their card, for example for the Ace of Spades: A-C-E O-F S-P-A-D-E-S
- As the audience member counts, deal cards from the deck into a pile. When they finish each word, stack the remaining cards in the deck on top of the pile. For example, deal 3 for ACE, then stack the deck, then 2 for OF, then stack the deck, then 6 for SPADES, then stack the deck.
- Finally, spell out M-A-G-I-C while dealing out the cards. The card dealt on the letter C will be the audience member’s card.
The Pick a Card, Any Card Magic Trick Magic Revealed:
This trick works because no matter what card is spelled, the memorized card ends up in the same position in the stack. It’s in position three from the bottom after the first deal and position 5 from the bottom after the second and third deals. This sets up the deck for spelling magic to work!
21 Card Magic Trick
In the 21 Card Trick, you’ll guess an audience member’s card by dealing several rounds of 21 cards.
How to Perform the 21 Card Magic Trick:
- Select any 21 cards from the deck and set the rest aside.
- Shuffle the deck to make the trick look honest.
- Deal the cards face up into three stacks, placing one card per column at a time and rotating through the columns.
- Ask an audience member to pick a card and remember it. Then ask the audience member which stack their card is in.
- Pull together each stack into its own neat pile. Quickly stack them with the audience member’s chosen stack in the middle. Try to not let them notice there’s an order to your stacking.
- Repeat steps 3-5.
- Repeat steps 3-5 again.
- Deal the cards a final time. Their card will be the 4th card down in the middle stack.
- Reveal the card to the audience and hear their amazement!
The 21 Card Trick Magic Revealed:
With each deal of this magic trick, the audience member’s chosen card gets closer and closer to the middle stack, middle card. That’s because of how you deal the cards, one per stack at a time rotating through the stacks and because each time you stack the column with their card in the middle of the deck.
After the first sandwiching of the piles and redeal, you know their card is in the middle 7 cards across the three stacks. When they pick the next stack and you redeal, you know their card is in the middle 3 cards across the 3 stacks. After the final deal, you know their card is the 4th one down in the middle stack of seven cards.
Magic Trick Showmanship Tips
To help your audience believe in any magic trick, it helps to add some showmanship and entertainment to the trick. Here are some of our favorite showmanship tips. You’ll find these in the free printable math magic card tricks download, too.
- It’s more than just magic tricks. Bring out your inner actor to make your show entertaining for your audience.
- Practice makes perfect. Magic tricks get better and better the more you perform them!
- Get talking during your show. Talking to the audience helps make the audience more engaged plus it distracts, too!
- Start with simple tricks that work. It’s hard to have a great show with tricks that fail, so start where you’re comfortable.
- Make the magic seem impossible. The harder it looks, the more amazed the audience will be when they see the trick.
- Learn from the experts. Watch and learn from the experts because their years of practice can help you grow.
- Make the tricks your own. The best magic shows are unique to the magician. Put your style in the act, too.
More Magic Fun for Kids
There are lots of ways to have fun with magic with the kids. Want to wow them at the dinner table with a fun science trick? Try this Smoking Fingers Magic Trick.
Or, grab a whole set of STEAM-filled magic. These math magic card tricks are a sneak peek into one of our favorite books.
Make some magic with the STEAM Explorers Magic Ebook! Inside you’ll find magic illusions, tricks, and transformations loaded with the power of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
The kids will love wowing friends and families with magic math card tricks, a 3-D ladder illusion, sleight-of-hand fun, magic paint, and so much more! You'll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) exploration easy!
FREE! MAGIC MATH
CARD TRICKS PRINTABLE