Your second technique to learn is the more-impressive looking riffle shuffle. In addition to the basic technique, four tricks and one flourishy reveal of two cards are also taught here. The technique can also be used in concert with the overhand shuffle for some nice displays of the cards apparently being thoroughly mixed.

2.1 The Riffle Shuffle

The basic techniques taught in Royal Road are fine here, mostly because they’re essentially standard. Learning how to shuffle in order to retain top and bottom stock is nice because it will allow you to layer your deception somewhat with the techniques taught in chapter 1. For instance, if you control the card to the top, you can add a riffle shuffle in order to make the deck appear even more mixed. Later on you may have a card at the top or bottom of the deck that will be useful in some other way (you’ll see examples of this in the next chapter) and riffle shuffling to maintain its position will allow you to appear to be using a regular, unprepared deck. Learn everything up to and including Riffle Shuffling in air.

2.2. Waterfall Shuffle

Jump ahead to Chapter 3 in Royal Road so that you can learn the nice waterfall flourish for a riffle shuffled deck. When you get this down, you’ll really start to look like somebody who knows what they’re doing with cards. Now, there technically is an argument for not appearing to look like you know what you’re doing with cards, but better to know and not need it, than to need it and not know.

2.3 “A Poker Puzzle”

Taken from Royal Road, Chapter 9, this is one of the better self-working tricks out there. Obviously, you could learn how to do a bottom-deal in order to make the feat more impressive, but it’s still pretty good as it is. Also, because you know how to riffle shuffle to maintain the stock, you can actually do this trick in a slightly more deceptive manner, since now you can just have the aces on top of the deck, shuffle to maintain top stock, go through the deck and only remove the kings, then proceed with the rest of the trick as written. Later, when you learn the flourishy reveal of a couple of cards, you can actually set the deck up as follows… Aces on top of the deck, then two kings on top of them, two kings at the bottom of the deck, a riffle shuffle to maintain top and bottom stock, and now you can reveal two kings (via the method taught in 2.6 below), and then repeat to reveal the other two kings (repeating that same method), and you can go into the trick that way.

2.4 “A Tipsy Trick”

This is a great trick, and one that is needlessly buried too deeply in Royal Road, in Chapter 14. Perhaps it’s there as a reward for students who’ve shown themselves to be diligent. There’s an argument to be made for gate-keeping secrets from those who aren’t going to take magic seriously. However, there’s also an argument to be made for efficient learning for those who are going to take magic seriously. I’m going to assume you’ll do right by the art, in which case, this is a great trick to know. One note: step 5 in the trick calls for a spring flourish. You don’t need to know how to do this in order to do the trick. If you still want to learn it, it will be covered later in this series.

2.5 “An Instinct For Cards”

This is from Chapter 2 of Royal Road. I was initially a bit hesitant to include this one, simply because it calls on the spectator to do all the work, and there is a bit of an element of risk in that. In the end, I decided to keep it, simply because of how impossible it can appear to be. Read the description of the trick: the spectator cuts the deck in half, takes the card they cut to, cuts the deck where they like and replace the card there, then riffle shuffle. Then they cut and riffle shuffle again. Finally, they cut once more. For a magician to find the trick under those conditions is pretty impressive. Of course, there is a slight element of risk there, which will be apparent when you read the method.

2.6 “Catching Two Cards At The Fingertips”

This is in a bunch of places, but we’ll go with the one from Erdnase’s Expert At The Card Table (from lybrary.com), at the end of the Legerdemain section. One thing to add. Some clever soul (unsure who) realized that if you toss the deck from one hand to the other, you’re actually set to repeat the method to reveal another two cards. So, for example, to reveal the four aces in a flourishy manner, but two on top and the other top on the bottom, do this from the right hand to the left, and then do it from the left hand onto the table, and you’re left with the four aces in your hands. Go back to 2.3 to see how it can be used in conjunction with that trick as well.

2.7 “The Joker Speller”

This is in Hugard and Braue’s Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (from lybrary.com). Technically you can do this trick with the overhand shuffle, and normally it might be better to do it that way because maintaining a block of so many cards with a riffle shuffle can sometimes look too obvious. However, if you’re willing, there’s a potentially intriguing way to do the trick. Set the cards up of a single suit at the top of the deck as described. Do a false overhand shuffle yourself, and then split the deck in two and have a spectator riffle the cards together. Ask out loud for a suit, and pretend to hear somebody say the suit that you made the arrangement for, and then remove those cards in order (their exact position in the deck may be random, but their order relative to each other won’t be disturbed), and proceed with the trick as described. I normally don’t like spelling tricks, but this is one I could easily see myself doing, although it might be because I can see the comedy value in the trick, particularly since I would want to reverse the presentation so that it’s me constantly finding the joker and a spectator successfully finding the cards.

Conclusion

Again, we kind of had to abandon the suggestions from Royal Road and do things out of order so as to get the most out of this technique, but if you work hard on it, then the tricks taught here are all attainable. There’s some nice variety the effects as well.

It’s also worth pointing out again that you’ll want to look for opportunities to use this shuffle in conjunction with other techniques in order to add to the overall impression of the trick. Technically, you could have done The Joker Speller or A Tipsy Trick using nothing but the overhand shuffle, but hopefully it’s clear how adding a riffle shuffle can really enhance the impression of the effect.