Learn How to Shuffle Cards

By Tim Ryerson | January 4, 2009

Many people have difficulty shuffling playing cards, and this can be problematic when playing at a table without a professional dealer – such as in home games or self dealt games (where each player takes it in turn to shuffle and deal). The solution to this problem is to get a pack of playing cards and learn how to shuffle – which is the objective of these card shuffling tutorials.

Over the years I’ve sat next to lots of players who say “I can’t shuffle” or “excuse my poor shuffling”. If they’re really bad then someone usually offers to shuffle for them, for which they’re usually grateful. If you fall into this minority of poker players then now is the time to learn. You probably can’t shuffle because you’ve never been taught the correct techniques. While you may think shuffling cards looks hard or complicated, it’s actually fairly easy. It’s similar to when you learn how to play poker, i.e. understanding the correct techniques, and then practicing. Repetition is the key to success!

6 Card Shuffling Tutorials

There are many different ways to shuffle a deck of cards. For these card shuffling tutorials I’ll be covering the following methods:

  • The Overhand Shuffle – This is the shuffle used by most people. A good simple, lazy, sloppy shuffle.
  • The Hindu Shuffle – A simple, quick and very elegant shuffle. One of my personal favourites.
  • The Weave Shuffle – A very simple shuffle to perform and for those yet to master the riffle shuffle.
  • The Riffle Shuffle – This is a great way to shuffle cards and not as difficult as it looks.
  • The Table Riffle Shuffle – This is easier than the in the hands riffle shuffle, yet just as effective and elegant.
  • The Strip ShuffleAlso known as running cuts and is a great finish for the table riffle shuffle.

The Overhand Shuffle

The overhand shuffle is the shuffling technique most employed by beginners so this is where we’ll start. The standard overhand shuffle is a simple way to shuffle cards. It is a very open, casual, somewhat sloppy shuffle, in contrast to the more elegant riffle shuffle and table shuffle which will be explained later.

1: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 1 2: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 2 3: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 3 4: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 4
5: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 5 6: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 6 7: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 7 8: The Overhand Shuffle - Step 8

The Handling

  1. Hold the deck by the sides so that the deck is on its edge.
  2. The fingers of the right hand rest lightly against the back of the deck, thumb on top.
  3. The left hand grips the deck and lifts off as the thumb holds a few cards back
  4. The thumb moves out of the way as the left hand comes back down.
  5. The thumb then takes a few more cards.
  6. As the left hand again moves up
  7. This action is repeated several times
  8. The deck is finally squared up.

Important Points / Tips

  • The important point with this shuffle is to have a light touch.
  • You may also like to curl the index finger of the right hand around the deck to offer extra support.
  • If you find the thumb is taking too many cards in big groups or it is only taking single cards then don’t worry about this, with further practise you will get the balance right.
  • Instead of using the thumb to pull the cards off, you can just use the other hand to throw the cards down. Some people find this easier to do and a more natural action.

The Hindu Shuffle

I don’t know why this is called the Hindu shuffle, but my guess is that it originates from India. I have seen lots of Asian people shuffle cards using this technique. There is a similar shuffle called the Arab Shuffle, but I prefer this handling. The shuffle is very simple and quite easy to perform. Once you have the hang of this shuffle I’m sure you’ll use it all the time.

1: Hindu Shuffle - Step 1 2: Hindu Shuffle - Step 2 3: Hindu Shuffle - Step 3 4: Hindu Shuffle - Step 4
5: Hindu Shuffle - Step 5 6: Hindu Shuffle - Step 6 7: Hindu Shuffle - Step 7 8: Hindu Shuffle - Step 8

The Handling

  1. Hold the deck by the end with the thumb and middle finger. The index finger can rest lightly on top for more support.
  2. Here is an image from below.
  3. The right hand comes underneath the deck. The thumb, middle and ring finger touch the side of the deck. The index finger stays out in front.
  4. The right hand lightly takes packets of cards from the top of the deck.
  5. The removed cards fall onto the palm of the right hand. The index finger stops the cards from flying forward.
  6. The right hand goes beneath the deck once more and removes another packet.
  7. This action is repeated several times until there are only a few cards left. These are placed ontop of the deck, which is then squared.
  8. An image from behind to show you the correct technique.

Important Points / Tips

  • The key to this shuffle is to form a trap with the fingers so that the cards fall neatly into the palm. The index finger is especially important as it will stop the cards from flying everywhere.
  • The index finger of the other hand can go where you like. I usually keep it well out of the way.
  • It is up to you about how many packets you glide off the top. I usually drag about ten packets then repeat the shuffle again.
  • Don’t go too fast at first, unless you want to perform the 52 card pick up trick!

The Weave Shuffle

To be honest I rarely use this shuffle as I prefer the riffle shuffle, which is much quicker. However this is a very easy shuffle and is ideal for people who have yet to master the riffle shuffle. It’s easy yet it does a good job of mixing the cards.

1: The Weave Shuffle - Step 1 2: The Weave Shuffle - Step 2 3: The Weave Shuffle - Step 3 4: The Weave Shuffle - Step 4
5: The Weave Shuffle - Step 5 6: The Weave Shuffle - Step 6

The Handling

  1. Hold the cards by the edge and using the thumb seperate about half the cards.
  2. Align the upper pack of cards against the lower pack.
  3. Weave the cards together by the edges.
  4. Push the cards together by about an inch or so.
  5. Bend the cards with the palm of the left hand and then release the pressure.
  6. Square the cards up.

Important Points / Tips

  • Don’t be too rough with the cards. This shuffle can damage the cards when performed badly. Use a light touch and you will find the cards will weave together more easily.
  • It’s also easier if you weave the corners together rather than the whole sides.
  • You do not have to perform the cascade finish with this shuffle. The other option is to just push the two packets together and square the deck.

The Riffle Shuffle (in the hands)

This is a great way to shuffle cards. While this shuffle looks impressive, it’s actually far easier than you might think. Yes, I’ll admit it does take some getting used to, but once you have a feel for the cards it’ll be second nature.

1: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 1 2: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 2 3: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 3 4: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 4
5: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 5 6: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 6 7: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 7 8: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 8
9: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 9 10: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 10 11: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 11 12: The Riffle Shuffle - Step 12

The Handling

  1. The start position is this. The thumb of the left hand goes on the top edge. The middle and ring fingers support the bottom edge. The little finger can be placed on the back edge and the first finger can either go on the front edge or bent ontop of the deck to lend support.
  2. The thumb now riffles have the deck away. The first finger can lend support here by bending in behind (i.e. on top of the deck).
  3. The riffled packet can now fall onto the the middle and ring fingers of the right hand. The index finger of the right hand should come to the front edge and the little finger on the other edge.
  4. Both packets should now be firmly gripped in the position shown. The use of the index and little fingers should lend support here.
  5. As you can see in this picture, the fingers are supporting the deck with the two thumbs on the top edge of the deck.
  6. The hands are turned over whilst keeping a good grip of the cards. Because of the solid grip, the cards should not fall.
  7. The thumbs now riffle the deck together. The thumbs should just move slowly up the edge of the cards. The cards will riffle together.
  8. The solid grip of the cards supports them as they riffle together. Some people are in the habit of using their knee or a table. With a solid grip it isn’t necessary.
  9. The cards should now shuffled together an inch or so. You can either push the two packets together and square up….or…
  10. You can perform the cascade finish. Simply bend the cards whilst keeping your thumbs on the top. This will stop them from going everywhere.
  11. Now just gently release the pressure from your thumbs and the cards should cascade.
  12. Square up the deck and shuffle again if necessary.

Important Points / Tips

  • Some people are in the habit of doing this against their knee or against the table. It is not really necessary to do that as long as you’ve got a good grip on the cards.
  • If you’re having trouble getting the cards to shuffle together then just experiment with the distance between the cards and the position of your hands.
  • You do not have to perform the cascade finish with this shuffle. You can just push the two packs together. However the cascade finish looks really nice and it’s the easiest part of the shuffle. It is basically self working.

The Table Riffle Shuffle

This is a simple shuffle which you will see performed at the casinos or poker rooms. The reason this shuffle is used is because it is very effective and it is impossible (depending on the dealer) for the players to see exposed cards. The previous shuffles often give other players a chance to glimpse at the bottom card.

1: The Table Riffle - Step 1 2: The Table Riffle - Step 2 3: The Table Riffle - Step 3 4: The Table Riffle - Step 4
5: The Table Riffle - Step 5 6: The Table Riffle - Step 6 7: The Table Riffle - Step 7 8: The Table Riffle - Step 8

The Handling

  1. Start by lifting off about half the deck with the right thumb.
  2. Move the packet over to the right and hold each packet with the thumbs placed on the inside edge, index fingers lightly on top, and the remaining fingers at the corners of the front edge.
  3. The thumbs now lift up the edges of each packet. This is supported by applying pressure with the index fingers of each hand.
  4. The corner edges of the two packets should be nearly touching as the thumbs now riffle up the edges of each packet
  5. The cards should now be shuffled neatly into each other.
  6. Push the two packets together.
  7. Square up the pack and repeat the shuffle if necessary.
  8. Here is an image of the closed shuffle, see below for more info.

Important Points / Tips

  • This shuffle can be done in several ways. It can be done open or closed. What I mean by open or closed is the way you position your hands. I prefer the open style because it is handled in a more open manner. If you look at dealers in a casino or poker room then you’ll see that they often use the closed method. This method is sometimes called the dovetail shuffle.
  • I’d suggest experimenting and see which method you prefer.

The Strip Shuffle (or Running Cuts)

This is a very nice casino type action and an ideal shuffle to combine with the riffle table shuffle. It can be quite tricky to get used to the handling, but definetly worth the effort.

1: The Strip Shuffle - Step 1 2: The Strip Shuffle - Step 2 3: The Strip Shuffle - Step 3 4: The Strip Shuffle - Step 4
5: The Strip Shuffle - Step 5 6: The Strip Shuffle - Step 6 7: The Strip Shuffle - Step 7 8: The Strip Shuffle - Step 8

The Handling

  1. Place the deck on the table and place the thumbs of each hand on the back edge, fingers at the front.
  2. The right thumb grips a small packet from the top of the deck whilst the left hand removes the rest of the packet by moving out and forward.
  3. The left hand brings the packet back on top of the smaller packet and the right index finger lifts up out of the way.
  4. The packets are not aligned together. The left hand packet should be jogged slightly to the left whilst keeping a grip on these cards.
  5. The right index finger then clips another small packet which fall ontop of the previous packet as the left hand moves away again.
  6. The left hand packet comes back on top again as before and the right index finger clips more cards from the top.
  7. The cards move away again and the small packet drops onto the cards below. This sequence continues.
  8. Until all the cards have been stripped and the deck is squared.

Important Points / Tips

  • Start by doing this shuffle very slowly. You can then speed it up once you’ve got the hang of it.
  • You will often find that cards pop out of the deck when they shouldn’t. Don’t worry about this. Just square the cards up quickly and carry on.
  • The key to this shuffle is the clipping of the cards by the index finger.

By Tim Ryerson

Tim is from London, England and has been playing poker since the late 1990’s. He is the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ at Pokerology.com and is responsible for all the content on the website.


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