The Tumble Shuffle


How can you hand out cards for shuffling without handing them out?

Jay Sankey shared his solution to this Zoom-show conundrum on a recent YouTube video (up for a limited time and since taken down, I believe).

It’s good, but I wanted something that felt even more chaotic.

The solution came to me while moving a box in the loft. In fact, the box was the solution.

Let’s get ready to tumble

You’ll need a large clear plastic storage box with a secure lid. Mine’s 80 litres, from Wilko in the UK. Dump an old pack of cards inside and put the plastic lid back on (so you won’t be pelted with pasteboards in a moment). Now shake, shimmy, tip and tumble the cards to your heart’s content.

From having a play with it, I’ve found a sort of up, around, then down tumbling motion seems to give the best mix (see the video below).

It looks chaotic and messy, and it is. When you stop and remove the lid, you should find a haphazard mix of face up and face down cards.

Face up and face down cards tumbled together in a box.

Tumbling in performance

When doing it in a Zoom show, you can up the interactivity (always a good thing in my book) by having your audience shout instructions for how you shake the crate, namely:

  • Side to side
  • Up and down
  • Tumble clockwise
  • Tumble anticlockwise

When you’re done, remove the lid and cleanly remove the cards at your finger tips. They can now be used for any trick that requires a genuinely shuffled deck. What kind of tricks? Well, here are two ideas to get you started…


Since the cards end up face up and face down, it feels like a natural fit for a version of Simon Aronson’s classic, Shuffle-Bored.

In this case, the general plot and revelation stay the same, but you’ll need to change the method as follows:

Make up a batch of double-faced cards that have the same card on each side (via splitting and sticking). Since they’ll only be seen via webcam, they needn’t be perfectly made, as long as they don’t look too chunky, and can stand up to being tumbled. These are the cards that will match your prediction. For the remaining cards in the deck, use double-backers.

While you could start the trick with a standard deck, then switch this deck in, my favourite way is to stick with the sloppy vibe, and just dump them out of the case, straight into the tub. This will normally cause some cards to fall face down and some face up anyway.

Tumble them up, following your audience’s directions, until they tell you to stop. Then remove them and go into the multiple reveals as usual, starting by predicting the number of face up cards.

Invisible tumble

The second trick is super simple. Show two decks – one standard and one Invisible Deck. Mix the standard deck using the Tumble Shuffle, then have the audience choose any of the face up cards and show that it’s the only face down card in the second deck.

Take It For A Spin

If you try it, or come up with other tricks it would be well suited for, then do let me know. One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with more magicians, so I’m always happy to hear from people.

Coming next Friday: 10 ways to twist a classic reveal.