Math Card Tricks: Counting Cards


playing_cards.jpgHere’s a simple card trick that can be done with an ordinary deck of cards and a Volunteer From the Audience. Remove the jokers (from the deck, not the audience), and shuffle the cards.

Throughout this trick, Aces are 1, 2s are 2, 3s are 3, …, 10s are 10, Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, and Kings are 13.

Place the top card of the deck face up on the table. Look at the number of the card, and starting with that number deal more cards face up on top as you count to 15. For example, if the card is a 9 then you would place six more cards face up on top as you count 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Once you’ve finished, turn the pile face down.

Form a new pile by repeating the procedure: if the first card you turn over is a Jack (which counts as 11) you’d place four more cards face up on top of the Jack as you count 12, 13, 14, 15. Once you’re done, turn the pile face down.

Continue with this procedure, forming separate piles, until you’ve used up all your cards. The piles may come out evenly; if you don’t have enough cards to finish a pile, then pick up the incomplete pile and hold it in your hand.

Now have The Volunteer choose any three piles; leave those piles alone, and pick up the rest of the piles, adding them to any that are in your hand.

Count out 4 cards from your hand, and give them to The Volunteer. Have The Volunteer turn over the top card on two of the piles, and give that number of cards to The Volunteer as well. For example, if The Volunteer turns over an Ace (1) and a Queen (12) then you’d give The Volunteer 1+12=13 additional cards from your hand.

Now for the magic: Turn over the top card on the remaining pile. Voilá — it equals the number of cards left in your hand!

Note: There are some variations on this. You can count up to 16 instead of 15 when you make piles; in this case you initially give The Volunteer 1 instead of 4 cards. Or you could only count to 14 or 13 and then you’d have to give The Volunteer 7 or 10 cards initially. The smaller the number, the more piles you’ll (probably) end up with to choose from, which can appear more impressive.

Anyone see how it works?

This is a variation of a card trick posted at Card Trick Central.

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7 Responses to “Math Card Tricks: Counting Cards”

  1. Joe S Says:

    That a cool trick.
    In my website we publish card tricks tutorials.
    Please consider posting at Contact me for more information.

  2. sanjog Says:

    its coool
    can u send me cardmagic tricks in my email address.

  3. Ξ Says:

    Thanks! All of the card tricks I know are online; doing a search yields a lot. The ones we’ve done here are listed under the tag math magic if you want to just look at those posts.

  4. matt Says:

    what is the magic behind the card trick i need it for a asingment

  5. Ξ Says:

    Each pile has 16 cards minus the value of the top card: for example, if the first card has a 4 then you’d count 5, 6, …, 15 on top, which means there are 15-3=16-4 cards in the pile. With the 3 piles plus the 4 cards you give the Volunteer, the Volunteer will have 52 cards [the full deck] minus the values of those top cards.

    (That’s not the full explanation, but if you look at what you do next, you may realize why you’re left with the correct number in your hand.)

  6. Hans Says:

    Good Tricks. That card trick use simple math subtraction equation.
    3 piles, each pile total is 15.
    = 3 x 15 + 3 cards (the cards on top of piles) = you only need 48 cards
    That’s why you give 4 cards to the volunteer in advance. (52 – 48 = 4)

  7. magic tricks tutorial Says:

    good trick!

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