By Ray Petelin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As a meteorologist, I use math to predict the behavior of many different ingredients in the atmosphere.

Math is a great tool to predict things.

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It is an even greater prediction tool when you are in control of most or all of the variables.

That is how we can use 21 playing cards to wow our friends and family with MAGIC!

This magic trick, though, is actually possible because of math!  Should we call it mathgic?

Anyway, the math that makes this work is complex, and rather than give you a math class, let’s just talk about what it does.

With our set up of 21 cards it provides the groundwork to push the card to the middle of the deck in only a few steps.

Let’s get into the steps to make this “mathgic” work!

(NOTE: I am breaking this down into mini steps, so it will have more than three steps in this explantion, but once you get the hang of this, you will see how this works in 3 steps)

WATCH: Ray Petelin Gives The Full Description

Step 1: Deal the cards out into 3 columns, from left to right.  Do this until all 21 cards are dealt. (you should have 3 columns of 7 cards).

Step 2:  Have an unsuspecting victim…I mean participant… look at the cards, NOT TOUCH THE CARDS, and mentally pick a card and remember it.

Step 3: Ask the participant which row it is.

Step 4: Sweep each column up into its own pile, while maintaining the order of the cards.  You will stack these piles on top of each other with the pile containing the participant’s card IN THE MIDDLE of the 2 piles (THIS IS IMPORTANT because it is what causes the math to help us force the card to the middle of the deck, even if we don’t know what it is).

Step 5: Deal the cards out, just like you did in step one.

Step 6: Ask the participant which pile it is in.

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Step 7: Sweep the cards up, just like in step 4, putting the pile with the participant’s card in the middle.

Step 8: Deal the cards out one more time, just like step one.

Step 9: Ask the participant which pile it is in.

Step 10: Sweep the cards up, just like in step 4, putting the pile with the participant’s card in the middle.

Now, all the steps have been performed.

This means we have grouped, or forced the card to the middle of the deck.

Since there are 21 cards, that means the middle card is the 11th card, so just deal the cards off the top of the deck.

When you get to the 11th card, flip it over and assert your wizardly dominance!


This is how I show it in the explainer video.

Have a participant shuffle the 21 cards, and “cut the deck”.

When they cut the deck, have them memorize the card they see.

Then go to step one.  Skip step two. Then do the rest.

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