Easy Card Magic Trick: the Spelling Trick

little girl with playing cards

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Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Here’s a great card magic trick that’s easy to learn and perform. The effect is actually a combination of a location effect and strong revelation. You can watch a video of the explanation that supplements these written instructions.

This easy magic trick requires no sleight of hand. You have a spectator freely select a card and then replace and lose it in the deck. You ask the spectator to name his card and then you proceed to spell the name of the card and deal cards—one by one, one card for each letter—onto the table. When you reach the last letter, the card that you deal and turnover is the spectator’s chosen card.


Watch Now: Learn the Easy Spelling Card Trick

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Regular deck of cards


  1. Have the Card Selected

    Bring out the deck and allow the spectator to freely select a playing card. Allow the spectator to show the card around as you turn around and/or look away.

    Magician fanning cards
    PM Images/Getty Images
  2. The Secret Work to the Spelling Trick

    As the spectator shows the card around, glance at the bottom card of the deck in your hand and remember it. You’ll be using this as a “key” card to later find the spectator’s chosen card.

    In the example, the bottom card is the “seven of diamonds” and the spectator’s chosen card is the “ten of clubs.” (Remember, at this point, you don’t know the spectator’s card. This is just for the sake of the example.)

    As the spectator shows the cards to others, it’s easy for you to turn around and glance at the bottom card.

    The spelling trick
    Wayne Kawamoto
  3. Return the Card to the Deck

    When the spectator returns the card to the deck, you’ll need to make sure that your key card (the bottom card that you’ve remembered) goes on top of the spectator’s card.

    You have two ways of accomplishing this:

    1. Have the spectator return the selected card to the top of the deck and then cut the deck. This brings your key card on top of the spectator’s selected card somewhere in the middle of the deck.
    2. A more elegant way is to cut the deck using either a pivot cut or swivel cut. You’ll find instructions on how to do these cuts in the links. Take the time to learn these cuts and they’ll serve you well in other card tricks beyond this one.

    The picture shows the deck spread out a bit with the current situation. Your “key” card, the “seven of diamonds,” is now on top of the spectator’s selected card, the “ten of clubs.”

    If you like, you can add a false cut at this point to apparently mix the cards, which will really help to sell the effect. 


    Try to make sure that the spectator's card is about halfway or lower in the deck. The reason for this is more apparent in the next step. But if the spectator's card is in the upper half of the deck and you have to spell a card with lots of letters, for example, "seven of diamonds," you may run out of cards.

    Where to place cards
    Wayne Kawamoto
  4. Set up the Spelling

    In this step, you set up the spelling of the card and you do this in an incredibly open manner. We’ll discuss the practical side of things first and then offer some tips on how to accomplish the task.

    Openly spread the cards with the faces towards you and look for your key card (the “seven of diamonds” in this example). At this point, you’ll see that the “seven of diamonds” is on top of the “ten of clubs,” which is the spectator’s card (in a performance of the trick, this is when you learn the identity of the spectator’s card). As you can see in the picture, openly spell the spectator’s card using one letter for each card, starting with your key card.

    When you get to the last letter, cut the deck at this point.

    So how can you get away with all of this spelling? Just tell the spectator that you’re looking for his card and take your time glancing at the cards. It will just look as if you are thinking.

    If you like, you can add a false cut to apparently mix the cards.

    Set up spelling
    Wayne Kawamoto
  5. Spell to the Card

    Ask the spectator to name his card.

    Begin to deal the cards, one-by-one onto the table, and spell each letter of the card’s name. When you get to the last letter, deal and turn over the card and it will be the spectator’s freely selected card.

    Ten of clubs
    Print Collector / Contributor/Getty Images