Perfect Riffle Shuffle?

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by Brownstudy, May 11, 2020.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I’m new here so apologies if this question has already been asked. I did search for it and it appears that it hasn’t.

    Is it possible to teach oneself to consistently do a perfect In the Hand Riffle Shuffle? Is it possible to always cut the deck into two exactly equal packets?

    Particularly interested in the cut stage; how could I train myself to always cut the deck exactly in half?

    There don’t seem to be any resources anywhere about this, so maybe it’s not possible.

    I would really appreciate some pointers.

    Thank you,

  2. So, a perfect tabled riffle shuffle is possible but very difficult and I've not heard of a perfect in the hands riffle shuffle.

    However, you can relatively easily learn a perfect in the hands faro shuffle which gets the same effect as a perfect in the hands riffle shuffle. You can also do a tabled faro that looks a lot like a riffle shuffle. The best resource of learning the perfect in the hands faro is Card College Volume 3 by Roberto Giobbi (the first two volumes are great if you want to learn any card magic).

    To split the deck perfectly in half just takes practice. Set up the cards so they are half red and half black with the red cards counting up from the middle -- e.g. Ace of Hearts, 2 of Hearts, 3 of Hearts, etc. -- and the black cards counting down from the middle, Ace of Spades, 2 of Spades, 3 of Spades, etc. So if you picked the 2 of Hearts, you would know you were at 24 cards where the 2 of Spades would be 27 cards. As you pick the deck up, use your thumb and middle finger. Giobbi provides a good way to get to the 26 cards that allows you to adjust based on the look of the packet.
  3. Is there a reason you're looking to do perfect riffle shuffles, as opposed to Faro shuffles? Riffle shuffling perfectly is much more difficult than Faro shuffling as the cards weave dependant on the action of your thumbs, as opposed to a perfect weave caused by the force applied to two stacks of cards at a slight angle.

    Put the deck into Si Stebbins stack. That way, you are always aiming to cut to the mate of the bottom card. Pay special attention to how the two packets look on the side edges, so that you get better at sighting the appropriate number of cards.

    RealityOne likes this.
  4. Thank you, RealityOne, that’s an extremely helpful answer. I’ll definitely check out Card College Vol 3.
  5. No, there’s no particular reason, except the riffle is what most people recognise as a ‘normal’ shuffle so it would just be extremely cool. I won’t waste time on perfecting it if it’s virtually impossible though. It seems like the faro and other flourishes would be a better use of my time.

    I’ll look up the Si Stebbins stack. Thank you so much for your excellent answer.
  6. It is possible. It is possible even that you take some cards in your hand and legitimately can say how many cards are in your hand with no gimmicks, sleights or anything magic-y necessary. That however, is just practice. It will happen eventually and there are two reasons that there aren't any resources on how to do any of that:

    1) It is gradual, and depends solely on the performer and the amount of practice they put in. It is the amount of time they've spent handling cards, and NOTHING else, and very often, no factors other than the time.

    2) There's no reason for anybody to be bothered with that. Maybe if you're banking on some magic effect performed by a perfect faro shuffle, then it might be necessary. However, perfect riffle shuffles and often, even perfect faro shuffles end up being not worth the time. So those who, having put a lot of time handling cards, suddenly realise that they split the deck into perfect halves, even they don't care enough to actually map out the actions and movements which helped them do that.

    Why would you want to do that? Is it one of those things you can just tell people happily that "I can cut a deck into perfect halves"? That, in my opinion, is often a worthy enough goal (sort of the reason cardistry exists. Don't kill me) but though I don't remotely care about doing perfect riffle shuffles, once a girl asked me how I divide the pack into perfect halves (which I hadn't), so be careful that what you're looking to achieve is worthy enough of YOUR time and EFFORT.


    Brownstudy likes this.
  7. :)[/QUOTE]
    Thank you MohanaMisra,

    I think, yes, I just feel it would be really cool.

    I completely see your point about it not being worthwhile studying for (although I look forward to the day when it happens on its own).

    I will practise other flourishes/tricks first as it’s a better use of time.

    Thank you again!
  8. There are resources on estimation (cutting to a certain location) and a number of effects that rely on that principle. (

    Just think of being able to cut to a 15 card stack that is in the middle of the deck. If you are using a memorized deck, being able to cut a certain number of cards is a helpful skill.

    Yes, but the practice needs to be directed so that you can associate what a cut feels like with a number of cards. With that said, it isn't as difficult as you would think to get the deck cut exactly in half as preparation for a perfect faro.

    I disagree, there are a number of effects that use a perfect faro and a perfect faro is not that difficult to learn. A simple effect is if you can borrow a deck, stack a royal flush as the top five cards and then do four perfect in-faros (top card remains top card). When you deal out five poker hands, the first hand will get the royal flush. You can also use perfect faros to get into Mnemonica stack from new deck order (with some minor alterations if you are using Bicycle new deck order). You can also set up a deck to arrive in a stack after one or two perfect faros.

    If you're @Gabriel Z. you could interpose eight perfect faros between two sets of up the ladder cuts and still end up back in new deck order.:)

    There are versions of a tabled faro shuffle that look a lot like a riffle shuffle to the casual observer.

    You can learn to do an imperfect faro in less than an hour. To do a perfect faro once, maybe another hour. To do it 50% of the time, maybe another 2 hours. To get to 80%, maybe another 4 hours and to get to close to 100% eight times in a row (the number required to take a deck and return it to its original order) probably another 8 hours. Personally, I'm between 50% and 80% and typically only miss by two or three cards.
  9. Joe Barry had a video out for a little while with E called "The Perfect Riffle Shuffle" that teaches exactly this.

    It's very, very knacky. I never got even close to getting the hang of it. You might be able to get it from Joe Barry directly.
    Brownstudy likes this.
  10. That was very informative. I’ll definitely be working on the faro. Thank you!
  11. Thank you Witchdoc. I’ll take a look.
  12. Really? I didn't know a perfect cutting of a deck had so many resources. Well, you learn something new everyday. :)

    I knew a few effects with perfect faro's, but speaking for myself (and only myself) till now none of the applications have really appealed to me that much. Maybe if a ground-breaking (and faster) application comes up...

    So, @Brownstudy , check out the sources these guys mentioned if you want to get the hang of perfect cutting! :) I personally have no use for them...

    [clicks on the links mentioned and spends the next month learning how to cut a pack perfectly]

    Brownstudy likes this.
  13. Can you point me towards sources? Up 'til now, I'd believed this was "simply" a tabled faro made to simulate a normal tabled riffle shuffle.

    Little bit of nitpicking; if I didn't misunderstand your post, the math isn't quite right. Faro once, you've stacked for two players; faro twice, you've stacked for four; faro three times, you've stacked for eight, and so on. (If I'm not mistaken, the graph for this mathematical function would be 2^x -- if I am mistaken, please correct me :))
    Brownstudy likes this.
  14. #14 RealityOne, May 12, 2020
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
    You're right -- it was early in the morning for me and my brain wasn't working.

    Most are. The only sources I'm aware of are Steve Forte, Volume 1 GPS (Apparently a Demonstration... I do not have the video to confirm) and Karl Fulves' - Setting Up Exercises (which, as an aside, you need to correspond by mail with Karl to purchase -- I've got copies of his typewritten responses from when I purchases some manuscripts from him which are really cool). I've not seen the Joe Barry video and can't comment if that is a tabled faro made to look like a riffle or not.

    Check out the Magic Cafe for a very interesting discussion including posts by some of the greats -- Paul Chosse, Steven Youell, Denis Behr (creator of Conjuring Archive) and Jason England, a discussion of the semantics between a tabled faro and a riffle, as well as the discussion of a unknown Spanish magician who can do a perfect riffle including 2s and 3s.

    For me, I'm happy with a regular riffle shuffle and the waterfall thing I do afterwards is the closest I'll come to Cardistry.:cool:
    Brownstudy likes this.
  15. For those wondering what a table faro disguised as a perfect riffle shuffle looks:

    ForceProof101 and JoshL8 like this.
  16. At least Steve Forte's video (I don't have Karl Fulves' manuscript) shows a riffle faro - in other words, a table faro made to look like a normal riffle shuffle.
    I also checked Steve Forte's newest book for any reference to a perfect non-faro riffle shuffle and found no mention of it -- from which I would deduce that the move is either so far underground and still in use that he didn't want to even mention it's existence (which, from the fact that it's being discussed on a magic forum, I doubt very much) or that nobody can do/does it (with the possible exception of a mysterious hustler from Spain and a Blackjack dealer). What I did find in the book, however, was a mention that when the riffle faro is well done, "you'd swear you were witnessing a normal shuffle" (paraphrased).

    Thanks for the link to the Café thread, it was an interesting read. Most of the distinctions made seemed to be purely semantic, and every perfect shuffle discussed (exception: mysterious hustler from Spain and Blackjack dealer) seemed to be based on the faro principles of butting the cards together and letting them interlace mostly on their own.

    One of the best riffle faros I've come across is this one:
    ForceProof101, RealityOne and JoshL8 like this.
  17. It is an in the hands riffle. The grip and 'get ready' aid in getting a perfect one-to-one shuffle.
    Brownstudy likes this.
  18. Now that the thread has drifted, this probably isn't necessary but for the sake of completeness.

    It exists and is taught poorly by Brian Tudor on Generation X and Generation Extreme DVDs. However it is in no way deceptive. It looks like you're doing, exactly what you are doing.

    It is ironically called Better than Fero(sp) (Perfect Riffle Shuffle). The spelling mistake is intentional.
    RealityOne and Brownstudy like this.
  19. Oh, I missed a point in the original post.

    Easy. Separate red and black suits. Arrange it so there's an A, 2, 3, etc. in sequence going away from the middle. So it would look like this:
    13 cards, K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A (then switching to the other color) A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K.

    Then look and cut the deck where you think halfway is. Looking at the face card will immediately tell you how far off you were. If you're looking at the A, you're good. If you're looking at the 3 you are three cards off.

    Alternatively, if you have the deck in USPCC new deck order you're looking for the "kissing kings", ie: King of Diamonds and King of Clubs. Since USPCC new deck order goes Ace through King of Spades, then Ace through Kind of Diamonds, then King through Ace of Clubs, then King through Ace of Hearts. Aim for half the deck, if you're looking at the King of Clubs you're good, otherwise adjust accordingly.

    It really doesn't take that long to get this reliably consistent. At least, not if you're a bit OCD and have decent spacial recognition skills.

    To take it further you can train yourself to cut any number of cards reliably with a very similar method. Just arrange the deck so you can immediately tell how far off your target you are.
    Brownstudy likes this.
  20. Cool, thanks, WitchDoc. I’ll definitely be giving that a go.

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