Riffle Shuffle with Bicycle Cards - New deck and beginner - Need Help!

Discussion in 'Cardistry & Flourishing Forum' started by 1o20, Mar 28, 2020.

  1. As the title suggests, I am new to this, have no prior exposure. I live in a small town, where no one else does this, so I can't ask for help in person, and I have no other decks to borrow. I recently got Bicycle cards and started practicing. During the practice, I was unable to do the riffle shuffle.

    The problem is, the deck is new, and based on what I've read online, new decks need to be broken in, and once you do that, it gets easier. That's perfect, I am more than willing to break them in. So what do I do to break them in?
    Riffle shuffle. *facepalm*

    I am positive that I am getting something or the other wrong, it isn't just the deck. I divide the deck into almost halves, but then when I try to riffle the halves (is that the right way to say it), the come down in clumps. If I do it in the air, the cards that I slide my thumb off of end up falling down instead of staying horizontal and parallel to the ground in my hands like they should. And also, they riffle off of my thumb in clumps, which makes things worse. Finally, I can't make the bridge properly. The arc, the curve isn't as smooth or circularly shaped as it is in most tutorials. I sometimes accidentally push them together using the upper palm without wanting to, but I have to apply pressure as per the instructions provided in the tutorials. And even if they don't accidentally get pushed together, the bridge doesn't come riffling down like it does in the videos, the cards just relax down.

    So what do I do here? Give up?
    Gabriel Z. likes this.
  2. I'm sorry, you probably won't want to hear this, but that is just how it goes for everyone at first. You just need to practice until you get it down. That's really all I can give you, assuming you are using the correct technique, as you say. As far as breaking them in, here is a link to a great free pdf on breaking a new pack of cards in:
    Good luck, and don't give up. You've got this!
    Gabriel Z. likes this.
  3. First off, you don't need to break in a deck of cards other than a couple of shuffles.

    A video of you shuffling would help as would a link to where you are learning from. If you don't want to post a video in the forums, just send a link to me in a "conversation."
    Brownstudy and Gabriel Z. like this.
  4. Here's one by School of Cardistry:
    And here's one by Lotus in Hand:

    I use those two tutorials, and even they don't agree with each other on everything. For example, SoC tells me to straighten out my index fingers during the riffle, while LiH tells me to curl it in for a better bend. I tried both ways, since I have no idea which one of the techniques is right and better, and who to believe over the other. But there has been no success yet. I've been trying everyday.

    I just signed up for the pdf, and will read it once I'm home from work. I am not sure whether my deck is already broken in or not, because I haven't succeeded at riffle shuffle even once. I have no idea if failed shuffles count. The cards still feel a bit tight and clumpy, at least compared to what I see in the above tutorials. Their cards seem so loose yet still firm enough to not completely fall apart. All I can do successfully so far, are the basic grips, and the smear fan (it's not as well executed as others I've seen online, but it's still something). Other than that, I have tried riffle shuffle and failed, and haven't tried anything else since then, since I think everything else is much harder, and if I can't get the riffle shuffle, I certainly won't get the other moves.

    Thanks for motivating me. Failure has felt a little dry, but it's nice to see that the community is eager to keep everyone's hopes up. I'll keep practicing, and hopefully with the tips and advice that keeps coming, I can figure out how to get it right.
    Gabriel Z. likes this.

  5. Yeah, don't sweat it....Some moves take longer to get than others to get. As long as the passion is there you should be fine. Look at The Royal Road to Card Magic for the way Hugard and Braue teach it... And follow it to the letter. The waterfall is taught in the Flourish section of the book. So first learn the basic In the air riffle shuffle get the mechanics down to the point where you do it second nature .... Then go on to the waterfall. Hope this helps.:)
  6. Hey, it's alright. It took me a month to get the Charlier Cut down [insert facepalm] BUT only a week to learn it with the other hand. It's like everything else in the world. Once your hands get 'conditioned', it won't exactly be ultra-eaay, but definitely better and easier.

    It appears to me that you're trying to learn the in-the-hands riffle shuffle. Do you know the table riffle shuffle pat down? Usually people focus on that first. However, I didn't. Hence for us, the 'rebellious kind', here it goes:-

    The lines marked with pen are the lines which are to contact the bottom short edge of the topmost card of the vertical packet.

    The initial vertical position of the packet with its topmost (or leftmost) card's bottom short edge in direct contact with the pen marked line.

    Be cruel to your deck.

    1) FALLING IN CLUMPS:- You're being too kind on the cards, is what I assume. Riffle the full deck in one hand to understand the force required for the action. Then repeat in the other hand. Finally, divide the deck into two and riffle. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE WEAVING PART, WE'LL GET TO THAT.


    Keep your thumb almost flush with the rightmost (or bottom-most) card of the packet, for ease of riffling.

    Riffle in this manner, to get the cards parallel to the ground.

    2) NOT PARALLEL TO THE GROUND:- (DISCLAIMER: Technical stuff ahead) Take a deck. Divide it into two. Take one of the halves in your left hand. Hold it vertically so that the packet's face faces your right (away from the left palm). On the bottom SHORTER end of the packet held in this way, place your left middle and ring fingers' middle phalanx. If you riffle now, the cards should be almost parallel to the ground.


    The riffling shown with 2 packets.

    3) BRIDGE:- This isn't a faro, a non-perfect bridge is very much accepted and even better to be honest, if magic is your goal. A perfect bridge just makes things suspicious. Moreover, if you're going for aesthetics and striving to achieve the perfect 'weave', that part has no hacks. It'll come with time, when your thumb will become sensitive to how much pressure should be applied on the cards to release them one by one.


    The weave, clearly not perfect but a good riffle shuffle. Note position of the fingers of both hands.

    (Curious, what other flourishes do you know? That might help us give you reference points for how to do the shuffle.)


    Note positions of the thumbs.

    4) PERFECT BEND OF THE BRIDGE PRIOR TO THE CASCADE:- After the bridge. Put your thumbs with force on the ''intersection'' or ''weave'' point of the bridge. Then pretend your Superman and bend.


    Bend like Superman.

    5) PERFECT CASCADE:- In your case they're relaxing down, in my case they all fell at once (and the first time scared the figurative faeces out of me). Play with the pressures at this point in time. There's no way round the labour.


    Note the fingers of my right hand. In reality, you will have to open fingers of BOTH hands in this manner. You regulate the pressure by moving your palms parallely away or closer to each other.

    Finally, you don't need a riffle shuffle to break in a deck of cards.

    Moreover, promise, the apparent relaxation BUT JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF PRESSURE comes with time. It won't start looking as smooth as Jaspas' shuffles right away.

    ihave5sisters likes this.
  7. I don't like the extreme bending, so this is how my riffle shuffle usually looks. It's not evident here but this method is cleaner, less noisy, there's less bending and moreover, pretty much more elegant.


  8. What MohanaMisra said: Practice riffling the whole deck (or half the deck, if you want to start slow) without weaving the cards. This is more difficult with new cards, because the edges are still "sharp" (as they are freshly cut) and not yet rounded by time and use, plus there are still tiny bits of paper clinging to them, messing everything up. (If it's of comfort for you to know this: I sometimes still have the same problem when riffling brand new cards.)

    Adjust your grip. Essentially, your fingers are all that stand between your cards and cold, dark oblivion (i.e. the floor). If they're just barely curled around the outermost edge of the cards, of course they'll "droop", so experiment with different finger positions. Also, make sure you hold the cards tight enough (a certain tightness comes automatically with flexing the cards upwards far enough before riffling them off the thumb).

    Again, what MohanaMisra said: You're too kind to your cards. Practically everybody I see doing it for the first time (myself included) makes the mistake of not bending the cards far enough when forming the bridge. Think about it: You want the cards to cascade into your hands nearly squared. To achieve this, the space between your palms can be no wider than the length of a single card. If you bend the cards that far, they also build up enough force to cascade nicely, instead of just relaxing down.
    This is more difficult with new cards as well, as they are stiffer than broken-in cards and bend less easily. Of course, the bridge is also easier as well as more impressive with a neat shuffle, instead of a "clumpy" one. (Try doing this: Arrange the cards one by one, alternating on each side (if you can, do a Faro shuffle) and try bridging the cards and letting them cascade then. It's a glorious feeling :))

    In the end, my advice would be to do only the riffle without the bridge until the cards' edges have become smoother and the shuffle less clumpy. You can practice the complete sequence then, and once you've gotten the feel for it, it will become easier with a new deck as well.

    Have fun practicing!
  9. Wow, I was off for a few days, and now that I'm back, I see quite a few responses, and all of them detailed. I am going to address each and every one of them one by one.

    @Gabriel Z, I will most definitely look up "The Royal Road to Card Magic". I've tried learning moves from "card magic" tutorials, but they end up going into specifics that I have nothing to do with. There are so many people who say that "cardistry" and "card magic" are the same thing, or interchangeable, but they're wrong. I might end up learning a move from those tutorials, but I will still get overwhelmed with magic related information that I have no use for. Needless to say, maybe I've just come across the wrong tutorials, maybe Hugard and Braue will be different and break my bias, in which case I will be more than happy to proven wrong. Thanks for the tip.

    @MohanaMisra, now there's a really in-depth response, followed by a Dumbledore quote. Totally lightened up my spirits. Much like you, I too have directly jumped to in-the-air riffle shuffle, because to me, it's kinda like this. If I am trying to strike up a conversation outdoors, and I decide to use cardistry to break the ice, what are the odds that a table will be available for me to do the moves on? And riffle shuffle is arguably a basic move, yet still so professional, it is impossible to not learn it and still qualify as a decent cardist. Maybe I should try some on-the-table riffle shuffles too, but I fear that if I get used to that, I will no longer be able to keep the cards from falling while I hold them in the air.
    When starting out, I divide the deck into two. You didn't mention that at all, but I assume you didn't because it's common sense and you assumed that I would know it already, in which case you were right. The first three images are exactly what my initial steps look like. I am most definitely not being too kind on the cards. I do not mind bending them, although they do end up developing an arch sometimes, in which case I bend them the other way to more-or-less straighten them out again, and if that doesn't work, I just place them under my Harry Potter books, and that always Reparo's it. :p
    When I say they fall in clumps, I mean the ratio isn't good. It should be one card from the left deck, one from right, or maybe one from left, two from right, because those are minor differences, and the ratio is not too far from 50-50. In my case, about 15 fall from the left deck, and then 5 from the right, and so on. These ratios are way off, and the post-riffle result involves a few thick clumps sitting on top of each other. If I bend too tightly, all cards spring down together at once. I need it all to fall more or less one-by-one, but rapidly interlace with one other at the same time. I hope that makes sense. Based on the technical words you've used, I guess it's called the "weave". In your picture, it's a good weave, a good ratio. In my case, it's very uneven.
    I can do all basic grips, and a smear fan (albeit with very few cards). The only kind of shuffle I've done my entire life before starting to take cardistry seriously is the average shuffle that most people do, when they hold the deck with one hand, grab a huge bit from the bottom and place it on the top, and keep doing that repeatedly. I'm new to this, so there is indeed hope that I'll eventually crack the riffle shuffle.
    Now during the bridge-bending, I have to be careful with the cards. This is when I end up bending so forcefully that the cards either separate entirely (so it's no longer a weave or a bridge, we're back to two decks), or they spring out of the side and directly into my face, before falling to the ground. I also try not to push them in too much, but my upper palm sometimes accidentally does that, and the bridge turns into just one deck before the cascade. And yes, when I say the relax down, I mean that they fall all at once in a non-riffle way, just gently going back to sitting on my hands neutrally, as if I never set out to cascade at all. I have gotten cascades sometimes by dumb luck, but I guess that is proof that I can eventually perfect the riffle shuffle.
    Those are some really good tips, and while I was trying to follow them through, I did end up getting a cascade again by dumb luck. It is dumb luck because I tried repeating it, and failed. But your advice is indeed effective. I will continue practicing. Thank you for the support.
    P.S.: I'm a muggle with no interest in magic. But I do have great deal of respect for wizards and witches like you. You're most definitely a Slytherin, but the good kind, like Albus Potter. :p

    @Scodischarge, I can relate. Before I got serious about this, I used to try with cheaper, smaller decks, without any tutorials to guide me, and even those decks felt better than the brand new bikes do, but only because bikes involves a lot of high-end crafting. One dollar decks don't last half as long, or help build good cardistry habits. Thankfully, I switched to bikes, and have been all the better for it.
    I do try to curl my fingers around the outermost edge, but sometimes the cards tip over the curls even then so, because the larger portion of my fingers are busy with holding the deck pre-riffle. Can't blame my hand size, because I've seen cardists with baby hands do much more complicate shuffles in much lesser time. I will keep experimenting though. I've found going a bit diagonal with the curls decreases the number of times the cards fall off. Maybe that's my way out of this one.
    I haven't gotten to Faro shuffles yet, but I will eventually. The idea is to first learn all basic moves, and then a few not-so-basic ones, and I don't know where Faro shuffle lies on this scale.
    I will continue practicing and hopefully let the forum know once I work it out. It's a big "if", but a hopeful one. Thanks for weighing in.
    Gabriel Z. likes this.
  10. Try practicing with fewer cards. Perhaps half the deck with a quarter deck in each hand.
  11. I don't hate Slytherin BUT I'm a Pottermore-certified Gryffindor, so...

    I get it. Either, as you said, you're applying too much force, OR maybe check the positions of your thumbs right before and during the cascade?

    Here's the thing...

    If the weave or the ratio as you put it, is too far off, I'd still call it a riffle shuffle (because you're riffling the cards and mixing them). HOWEVER with a poor weave, a cascade would be severely difficult to achieve. Hence I think your difficulty in cascading is largely due to your difficulty in getting a clean weave. I'm pretty sure once you get a good weave consistently, your cascade will become consistent and pretty too.

    Here's a secret, I don't perform the in the hands riffle shuffle the way anybody teaches it. As said, I use the table-riffle-shuffle method in the air.

    There are two reasons for it.

    1) The cards are bent less. Not only does that wear the cards less but also prevents anybody from seeing the bottom cards, which is helpful if say, I've placed specific cards at the bottom.

    2) I have more control over the riffling and hence, my weave becomes very clean (the reason for my weave not being that good in the picture is that I was trying to do the in-the-hands-riffle shuffle the way it's taught everywhere).

    Due to the second point, I think you too should try the table shuffle method in the air.

    You're absolutely correct. Cardistry is not card magic. I'll repeat it (because it's a fundamental mistake magic 'purists' still make when discussing cardistry), cardistry IS NOT CARD MAGIC.

    However, think of oration or recitation and singing. Singing and public speaking or oration have NOTHING to do with each other. But the vocal training and soothing techniques to help clear, improve and rest your voice in singing help in improving public speaking too.

    Similarly, whether from magic books or cardistry tutorials, a riffle shuffle will be taught pretty much similarly by both and in this particular case you can let go of your bias. This is because a riffle shuffle is used by magicians extensively.

    Look up 52 Kards' tutorial on the riffle shuffles and use the table method in the air.

    Yes. As sad as it sounds, the only tip usually is to practice. Keep practising and you'll get there (if only there was an alternative!).
  12. Just keep at it. It’s like anything. If your hands and brain are unfamiliar with the movements it takes time to learn them and then to get it into your muscle memory.

    Its not easy and will require a lot of practice and repetition. Just like it took for every single person you see that can do it well.
    Good luck and don’t give up IF you really want to learn. ✌️
  13. In case anyone is wondering, I somehow got it. I mean I can't do it perfectly yet, or in the air even, but I can do it on a table. I have no idea how I made it work, but I guess this is just one of those darndest things that works itself out if you just keep trying over and over again. I thought I was getting nowhere, but surprisingly enough, I did get somewhere. I am really happy about that, and y'all made it possible, so thank you so much for your support. Is there anyone here who can give me tips on doing the riffle shuffle in the air?
  14. Agreed. This has nothing to do with breaking in a deck first. See this article on that:

    Breaking in a New Deck: Why and How?

    It's all about technique with shuffling, and as others have suggested, getting direction from a reliable teacher (e.g. quality video) is the way to go to master this.
  15. See? This is my only frustration with cardistry (but it's also a good thing in a way). That if we spend enough time with the move, we just get it somehow. And this happens with 90% of cardistry moves. Of course, all this makes learning and helping and giving others tips, very very difficult.

    But hey, more importantly, congratulations! :D
  16. I've always thought that Microsoft OneNote would be good for keeping track of things. Unfortunately, I just use a bunch of word documents with no apparent organization.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  17. It's funny (figuratively speaking)..the riffle was the ONLY shuffle I ever used for 30+ years. I find it strange to shuffle any other way. The overhand shuffle to me was weird. But getting into card magic opens ALL sorts of possibilities and new ways of looking at EVERYTHING, not just "ordinary" cards.
  18. My only problem with the riffle shuffle is that after a riffle shuffle (or a faro), the deck just doesn't feel shuffled.

    And to the spectator, that's the only thing which matters.

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