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[P]
How To Shuffle and Cut a Deck of Cards One-Handed

By Coryoth in Culture
Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 02:14:08 PM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

With the apparent growth in popularity of poker I thought it might be useful to provide some instructions for a couple of simple shuffling flourishes to impress your friends and potential victims with. With enough practice you should be able to absentmindedly shuffle and cut a deck of cards with one hand while sorting your chips with the other. It's also a useful flourish for those interested in card tricks, and just generally for those interested in manual dexterity games.


The Basic Grip

Holding the deck the right way is the first important step, and both the one handed shuffle and the one handed cut begin from the same basic grip. Pinch the deck lengthwise between thumb and middle finger with the faces of the cards pointing toward your palm. Place your ring finger next to your middle finger, holding the side of the deck. Use your little finger to brace the bottom edge of the deck (you should be able to let go with your thumb and cradle the deck with your middle, ring and little fingers). Finally curl your forefinger around so that the bottom face of the deck rests against your nail and knuckle. Your grip should look something like this.

The One-Handed Shuffle

From the basic grip rotate your hand so the deck is standing vertically along the longest axis, holding the cards up with your little finger resting underneath. The vertical grip isn't strictly necessary, but it makes a clean cut of the cards easier. Bring your forefinger out from the back of the deck and grip the side of the deck above your middle finger. Use your forefinger to pull back half the cards. Now pinch the bottom half of the deck (closest to your palm) tightly between thumb and forefinger, letting the top half go with your thumb and balancing it on your little finger and supporting it with your middle and ring finger. You'll want to rotate your hand away from you slightly to do this, letting the top half of the deck balance neatly in your last three fingers.

Now comes the tricky part. With thumb and forefinger rotate the bottom half of the deck anticlockwise as far as you can while still cradling the top half mostly vertical with your bottom three fingers like so. This should bring your forefinger close to the opposite side of the top half of the deck. Now rotate your hand so the faces of the lower half of the deck (between thumb and forefinger) are pointing directly down and your palm is facing up. The top half of the should now be resting against the nail of your curled forefinger. What you want to do now is stretch and push upwards with your forefinger, so that it is touching the side of the top half of the deck. If you have big hands you will want to pinch the top half of the deck between middle and forefinger. If you have smaller hands (like myself) you should slide your middle finger underneath the top half of the deck and pinch the top half between forefinger and ring finger. Now pivot the two halves of the deck about your forefinger so that the corner of what was the top half of the deck is braced against the side of what was the bottom half of the deck. If you've done this correctly you should now be back at a stable grip with the deck in two halves next to each other something like this.

As a warning, almost undoubtedly the first few times you try this you will fail, potentially by quite a large margin. The temptation is to assume that it is impossible because your hand simply isn't big enough. Let me assure you, your hand is big enough (I have relatively small hands), it just takes a bit of practice and perseverance to learn how to make space in your hand. Here are some tips that should help you along the way:


  1. Your hand really is big enough.

  2. It's all about balance. You won't be able to grip the cards through the whole process so it's matter of learning to hold your hand at the right angle at the right time to balance the cards rather than gripping them. Wherever possible let gravity do the work.

  3. Get good at rotating with thumb and forefinger. You should be able to get the bottom half of the deck at almost right angles to top half. The further you can shift your forefinger across in the rotation the easier things become.

  4. Rotating your hand so it is palm up after rotating the bottom half of the deck is important. The key is the top half of the deck is now balanced on your forefinger so you can push up with your forefinger tipping the top half against the brace of your middle and ring fingers. Tipping the top half of the deck like that makes it much easier to slide your forefinger out from behind it.

  5. When rotating the bottom half of the deck away you want the top half well cradled - you want to, ideally, not touch the top half of the deck at all with your forefinger while rotating the bottom half of the deck. If you get this wrong you'll end up brushing the bottom card of the top half of the deck and pull it along with your forefinger which complicates things enormously.

  6. Practice is the only way, but when practicing try to keep in mind the points above, and try to take note of exactly what you're doing, and how you use gravity, or angle the cards differently, to make it easier.


After all that work you're actually most of the way there. Now that you have the deck in two halves side by side all you have to do is weave shuffle them together then squeeze the deck back into shape between thumb and middle finger. The first step to managing to do this is to move your middle finger so that it rests against the top edge of what was the top half of the deck, and shift your little finger around from the bottom edge to the side next to your ring finger. Now start the weave.

Weave shuffling is a little tricky, so if you aren't used to shuffling this way I suggest you practice it two-handed for a while to get the feel of it first. To do a two-handed weave shuffle split the deck in two and hold one half in each hand pinched between thumb and forefingers at the far ends of each half. Bring one half up to the other, edge on along their shortest side (your hands should be gripping each half so that they are as far from each other as possible). Now touch the corner of one half of the deck to the edge of the other, and slide the corner along the edge, gently pushing one half into the other. If done right, as you slide the cards with naturally interleave, or weave, together allowing you to push the two halves together thus shuffling the cards.

For the one-handed shuffle you will be weaving the halves along the long edges rather than the short, but the principle is the same. While applying gentle pressure with your ring and little fingers push what was the top half of the deck along past the other half with your middle finger (pushing from the top edge). Once you've introduced the weave at the bottom corner you can slide your forefinger out from between the two halves and bring them together with thumb and middle finger. Now bring your little finger back to the bottom edge of the deck, place your forefinger against the top edge, and using thumb and middle finger, and little finger and forefinger as opposing pairs straighten up the deck so all the cards are flush. From there just bring your forefinger back curled behind the deck to return to the basic grip: you're ready to cut the deck.

Once again, the first several attempts at this may be rather discouraging. Weave shuffles aren't the easiest even with two hands, and you have very little control with only the one. Don't panic though, with a bit of practice you'll rapidly find yourself getting the hang of it. Here, again, are some pointers on how to make things easier:


  1. Lining up the halves is key - you want both halves as level and parallel as possible. The best time to sort that out is when you are pivoting the halves about your forefinger. Spend time getting good at lining the halves of the deck up and you'll find the weaves a lot easier.

  2. Light pressure with the ring and little fingers makes quite a difference. Push too hard and I assure you that it won't work. Ideally you want to use only as much pressure as is required to keep the two halves touching. Most of the work is done with the middle finger sliding the corner along, it's this action that generates the weave.

  3. Applying slight upward pressure with your ring and little fingers can help - ideally you want to start the weave from the bottom of the deck.

  4. Your forefinger plays an important role. As the weave begins the two halves of the deck will tend to tip up, and you need to use your forefinger to hold the top cards down - if they escape your grip they'll pop up and destroy the weave for the top part of the deck. I like to curl my forefinger at the last joint and while pushing with the middle finger uncurl my forefinger to keep control of the top cards. This also makes for a smoother removal of my forefinger from between the two halves by simply continuing to uncurl my forefinger.


The One-Handed Cut

The one-handed cut is much easier to master than the the one-handed shuffle (no surprise, cutting is always easier than shuffling). From the basic grip rotate your hand so that the palm is facing directly up. Pinch the upper half of the deck between thumb and middle finger, letting go of the bottom half with your thumb so that it falls onto your curled forefinger. Now draw your forefinger back so that the bottom half of the deck falls against your palm and your forefinger is resting just underneath the edge of the bottom half of the deck farthest from your thumb. Push up with your forefinger. If you have particularly large hands you can keep a hold of the top half of the deck. If you are like me, then let go with your thumb and let the top half of the deck fall against the edge of the bottom half as you push it up with your forefinger. This should make a little A-frame of cards like so. Keep pushing up with your forefinger until the bottom half of the deck pushes past the top half, and the top half falls onto your waiting forefinger. Bend your forefinger as flat you your palm as you can lowering what was the top half of the deck as much as possible. Use your thumb to push what had been the bottom half of the deck over on top of the other half. Tip your hand away from you slightly and use your forefinger, curled flat underneath the deck, to lift the deck up out of your palm and pinch the deck between thumb and middle finger as in the basic grip. You can now use you fingers to straighten up the deck as after the one-handed shuffle, and then return to the basic grip, ready for another shuffle of cut as required.

General Advice

Both one-handed techniques feel almost impossible when first attempted, but actually become manageable surprisingly quickly with a bit of persistent practice. Practicing is easy - it's the sort of thing you can do when sitting watching TV or reading a book, idly manipulating the deck as you do so. It can, of course, take considerable practice to get really smooth and consistent at these techniques. If you're aiming at that, try to focus on making each step smooth and easily repeatable, speed isn't that important. If you don't believe me, try videoing yourself after you've managed to gain some basic proficiency. You'll find that the process actually looks a lot faster than it feels, and that you don't actually have to go that fast for it to be very impressive.

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How To Shuffle and Cut a Deck of Cards One-Handed | 54 comments (37 topical, 17 editorial, 1 hidden)
What a Cool Topic (2.12 / 8) (#5)
by Pluto on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 12:47:05 AM EST

Is that your hand?

Did you know you had a magic "M" on your palm? Very rare magical sign. A lot of destiny there.

Also, it appears that you have traveled (or will) a great deal. Many journey lines.

So far, I see one major relationship. Could be that you only have one in your lifetime, which is not a bad thing.

BTW, this is a very well done story. Bold the links (they are too subtle to signify) -- and move it to vote.
_______________________________________
Burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones... deliberately unsupervised playgrounds for technology itself. -- William Gibson

Thanks. (none / 1) (#40)
by neuroplasma on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:25:58 AM EST

Ms. Cleo.

--
"...you know how you pple are... very sneaky with untrusting slanty eyes" - LxXCaligulaXxl@aol.com
[ Parent ]
with the apparent growth in length and gridth (1.33 / 9) (#11)
by dimaq on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 06:49:29 AM EST

is what I see in your article

thanks for the pics (1.25 / 12) (#16)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 10:40:10 AM EST

those are some nice smooth young hands you got there..  i bet all that wanking u do must be real nice - almost preferable to getting some real action.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to finish what the pics of your soft smooth hands started...

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

That's not how I do it (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by tempysmurf on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 12:17:04 PM EST

I'm sure there's several different ways to do the one handed shuffle, and I'm sure that different hand sizes and which hand you're using can be a factor, but that's not the way I do it. I've been shuffling one handed for about 14 years and from what you're saying, my method seems easier and perhaps smoother.

Instead of roatating the cards, I slide my index finger across the bottom of the top deck, almost not touching them at all. This way it appears as if the bottom half of the deck POPS out, instead of rotating around.

Also, before weaving the cards together, the cards are positioned, not evenly together, point to point, but with the bottom half slightly lower than the top half. I then pivot the bottom half upwards slightly into the top half, creating the weave. My weave is pretty much instantaneous, without any fumbling of trying to get the cards to weave. They just shuffle together.

When the actual shuffle occurs, I remove my index and middle finger completely from the process, although this could be debated, instead of using my index finger on the top.

A couple of suggestions for practicing, use your second hand to balance the top half of the deck during the process, and move your hand away, until eventually you don't need it. I remember the hardest part of learning how to shuffle with one hand was to be flexible enough to be in the "stable" position with ease.

Yeah, there are many variations (none / 1) (#23)
by Coryoth on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 12:41:38 PM EST

For my hand size I find rotating is easier when you're starting out. With a little practice and feel for it you tend to rotate less. With your amount of experience it's likely not required at all.

The other technique, which I didn't mention, is to actually pivot the top half of the deck about your ring finger by pushing toward your palm and up with your ring finger so that the top half rotates past your forefinger which you can then pinch the top half with. From there your reasonably well braced and can just spin the back half out from behind with forefinger and thumb. To do this its best to push your forefinger into the split so the top half can slide against your nail (and thus not drag cards). This tends to require good balance though, as you don't want to tip the top half too far and have it spill out.

As for the weave, yours sounds like an interesting technique and I'll have to try it. I don't find myself doing any fumbling (repositioning the fingers is easy, and with practice a simple tap with the middle finger downard starts the weave immediately. More importantly though, I tend to find its easier to learn to weave cards this way, especially when starting out with two-handed weaves to get the feel. The technique you suggest is slicker (and is how  magicians tend to do perfect faro shuffles), but  I personally find it harder and requiring more practice to get the hang of for two-handed weave shuffling anyway.

Thanks for your insights though, I'm sure plenty of people will find your method easier than mine.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

I just realised... (none / 0) (#36)
by tempysmurf on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 01:04:12 AM EST

that you're doing it completely different. When I said that it was hard to get to and hold the "stable" position with ease, I thought you were using your middle finger to hold the top half of the deck in place on the outside. How to describe it so that it's clear? In your picture, you have your middle finger underneath the deck, while my middle finger would be in the place where your ring finger is. Which would explain why you have to rotate the cards instead of pulling them straight out, because you're missing a finger to balance the top half of the deck. Not that either way is better than the other, I was just trying to figure out how and why you were doing it the way you were.

[ Parent ]
Small hands (none / 0) (#37)
by Coryoth on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 01:13:45 AM EST

I can't actually stretch my fingers wide enough to grip the deck between forefinger and middle finger, so yeah, I end up with apparently a different arrangement to you to prepare the cards for the weave.

I would have to say, if you have the reach then your technique is probably going to be easier to manage than mine.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

"Your hand really is big enough." (none / 0) (#38)
by tempysmurf on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 01:32:56 AM EST

I'm telling ya, my hands aren't huge, you can do it, it's all about practice. Now, if you want to talk about doing insane flourishes that are impossible unless you have hands like Arsenio Hall, look up Brian Tudor.

[ Parent ]
I did try (none / 0) (#42)
by Coryoth on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 11:23:15 AM EST

Unless you have a particular technique for holding the deck between forefinger and middle finger then I'm afraid I can't - I spent a while trying to work out various ways to do it when I first learned one handed shuffling (and having experience with contact juggling and other tricks I was aware of the fact that with practice and study your hand can have a lot more room than you expect) everything I tried failed: I simpl can't spread the two finger wide enough - in fact I can't even just wedge the deck between them and hold it, it doesn't quit fit.

The only way in which I might be able to manage such a thing is with forefinger bent toward palm and middle finger straight and the deck braced against the back of my forefinger - the deck does fit that way. If that's the technique you use then I have to applaud you because that affords me very little control in the "stable position" and is very hard to get to. I find my technique far easier than managing that. I am quite impressed that you can do such a thing efificiently.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Impressive voting history (1.00 / 3) (#26)
by Fen on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 02:42:24 PM EST

Only hope Jane and my transhuman article fares as well--I might copy the general layout.
--Self.
Alternative One-Handed Cut (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by Coryoth on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 02:47:11 PM EST

Seeing as this actually got voted up so apparently some people are interested, I'll describe an alternative one-handed cut that's a little harder, but a little flashier.

From the basic grip follow along the technique for the one-handed shuffle up to the point where you have brought your forefinger out to pinch the top half of the deck between forefinger and ring finger. Now instead of pivoting the two halves to meet edge on, tilt the half held by thumb and forefinger at an angle such that the bottom corner is higher than the other half of the deck so that when you pivot the two halves it will pass over top. With thumb and forefinger rotate that half of the deck clockwise around over top of the other half and keep going as far as you can - you should be able to swing the deck through almost a full 180 degrees (or more depending on how far out you rotated to extract it, up to 270 degrees is possible). At the same time as you are doing that rotate the bottom half around by pushing in toward your palm with your ring finger - you should get around 30 to 45 degrees of rotation, just about aligning the two halves. Now with your ring finger take hold of the top half of the deck as well so that you are pinching the whole deck between ring finger and forefinger. At this point you can use your ring finger to push the top half around if you haven't quite got the two halves aligned. Bring your thumb back around and grip the side of the deck just below your forefinger so you now have the deck between ring finger and thumb, and redistribute your fingers around the deck.

If you've got the one-handed shuffle down then this should be pretty easy to pick up, but beware of mising the two while learning as it can mess up your muscle memory given the similar beginnings but radically different finish. If done smoothly this is quite an impressive cut due to the whirling of half the deck through a full 180 degrees (or more if you use a lot of rotation to extract the back half).

Jedidiah.

I can't believe this was voted up. (1.37 / 8) (#29)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 03:43:17 PM EST

I am now working on a 5000+ word essay on the proper way to clean your hard-wood floors and the controversy of Swiffer vs. Swiffy in the home floor-care industry.

Everyone of you who voted for this bit of wankery get ready for a near sexual experience when that comes out.

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

I can't believe this was voted up (1.66 / 9) (#30)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 05:18:40 PM EST

I'm now working on a tedious 5000+ word manifesto on drumstick twirling.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
hell, i'm interested. (none / 0) (#32)
by Cloud Cuckoo on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 10:42:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Your silly menifesto (none / 1) (#43)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 02:04:33 PM EST

will pale in comparison to my humorous look at the world of professional garbage bag making. A lot of people don't hear the stories of the high-flying garbage bag world.

Well, now they will.

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Who gives a shit how to shuffle one-handed? (2.00 / 5) (#31)
by kosuri on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 08:45:50 PM EST

I only know how to surf one-handed. It's served me well.
--
I'm glad that when this story goes down this stupid comment will go with it. -- thankyougustad, 11/23/2005
F the shufflin' (none / 1) (#33)
by Grayworld on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 10:53:23 PM EST

How can I cheat two handed at poker and get away with it every time.


Fair but a bit unbalanced to be sure!

That's easy (none / 0) (#34)
by Coryoth on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 11:13:22 PM EST

Learn a good controlled shuffle (it's pretty easy to control a riffle shuffle with practice) and get good at second and bottom dealing.

Alternatively learn how to centre deal (4th part).

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Here's a tip. (none / 0) (#41)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:30:49 AM EST

Never play cards with a Shrine clown. Trick shuffles are how we pass the time between circus performances.

"On Monday it was like, `Wow, it missed us, it took a turn east,' and everything eased up," Tyson said. "... And then all of a sudden, literally and fi
[ Parent ]
Next: "How to lick your elbow" ;-) [nt] (2.33 / 3) (#35)
by artis on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 11:14:18 PM EST


--
Can you know that you are omniscient?
Start by cutting it off right above the elbow[nt] (none / 0) (#51)
by assert 0 on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 01:39:18 PM EST


--
CFLAGS="-mcpu=athlon-xp -O3 -pipe" # gentoo ricer!
[ Parent ]
Better one handed cut... (none / 1) (#39)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 08:24:04 AM EST

First, thanks for the article - I've been doing a couple of one handed cuts for years, but I've never done a one handed shuffle, so I have some practicing to do.

But, to the better one handed cut:  

  1. From the basic grip, shift the forefinger to the closest side of the deck. You should be holding the deck tightly on two sides now - forefinger on close side, second finger on far side, thumb and other fingers free.
  2. Swing your thumb down and around to the outside corner of the deck. Your thumb will be on the same side of the deck as your second finger, but it will be the side or knuckle of your thumb that's pressing against the deck, not the tip.
  3. Using the side of your thumb, sheer off the top half of the deck, rotating it until you have the two halves parallel. One half is held by thumb and first finger, the second by your first and second fingers.
  4. Push the top half under the bottom half by drawing your first finger under the half of the deck held by it and your second finger. When the two halves are in contact, remove your finger from between them.
  5. Square the deck.
This one looks really impressive. The only downside is that if you blow it, the deck will pretty much explode into the air.

"On Monday it was like, `Wow, it missed us, it took a turn east,' and everything eased up," Tyson said. "... And then all of a sudden, literally and fi
Thanks for the article. (none / 1) (#44)
by omrib on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 02:17:38 PM EST

Don't be discouraged by the trolls...

By the way, if you hate reading this stuff, then the local library has tons of books you haven't read yet (including politics, economy, philosophy and vegan cooking).


Maybe they have (none / 0) (#45)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 03:32:04 PM EST

card shuffling classes that people can take instead of sullying the waters here with it.

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Smaller cards (none / 1) (#46)
by 4th Ace on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 07:29:44 PM EST

If you're hung up on hand size, you should know that in addition to the normal Poker-size cards, you can buy Bridge-size decks which can be easier to handle.

I would argue the opposite. (none / 0) (#48)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Sep 16, 2005 at 09:50:41 AM EST

Long ago I told fortunes with a Tarot deck. When the time came to learn card tricks, I was so used to those huge cards that working with Poker decks was trivial.

"On Monday it was like, `Wow, it missed us, it took a turn east,' and everything eased up," Tyson said. "... And then all of a sudden, literally and fi
[ Parent ]
I do it similarly... (3.00 / 3) (#47)
by Armada on Thu Sep 15, 2005 at 11:00:56 PM EST

...but I always start it like this.


arr! (1.50 / 2) (#50)
by Highlander on Sun Sep 18, 2005 at 07:19:34 AM EST

You do it like a three-fingered one-armed pirate ..

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]
THE ONE HANDED SHUFFLE (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by CAPS LOCK on Fri Sep 16, 2005 at 11:22:55 AM EST

HUR HUR HUR

There's a video here (3.00 / 3) (#52)
by themarcway on Mon Sep 19, 2005 at 06:44:36 AM EST

http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=639 Ignore all the adverts and so on, just click on the video link. Looks nice though, maybe I'll bother.

Best article on this site in a long time (none / 1) (#53)
by D Jade on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 10:35:16 PM EST

Bravo!

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
Nice story, here's another tutorial (none / 1) (#55)
by jessecurry on Sun Oct 02, 2005 at 02:45:01 PM EST

Here's a tutorial that is also pretty good.
http://home.att.net/~sleights/card.htm

$7.95/mo,Webhosting 2.4GB disk,120GB bandwidth

thanks:) (none / 1) (#56)
by marikas on Tue Oct 04, 2005 at 06:55:53 PM EST

I found this article exciting because like most of us I sometimes like to play cards. I really learned some cool tricks and had to tried it immediately. Of course these shuffling methods did not come out right and it almost seemed impossible but I will practice because practice makes perfect:) Next time, when I'm playing cards with my friends I can definitely impress them.

How To Shuffle and Cut a Deck of Cards One-Handed | 54 comments (37 topical, 17 editorial, 1 hidden)
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