Two Lost Cards in a Deck

Below you can read the steps of a magic trick, as well as a video of its live performance. Your goal is to figure out how the trick is done, then perform it for your friends and challenge them to figure out the trick themselves.

  1. Take out from your pocket a deck of cards, which is visibly shuffled.
  2. Ask your first assistant to cut the deck, then take the top card from the bottom pile of cards and memorize it.
  3. Ask your second assistant to take the next card from the bottom pile and memorize it.
  4. Ask your first assistant to return his card back on the top of the bottom pile, then ask your second assistant to do the same.
  5. Place the two piles of cards on top of each other and cut the deck multiple times.
  6. Split the deck into two piles of cards, dealing consecutively one card on the left, then one card on the right, and so on, until you run out of cards.
  7. Take one of the two piles of cards, look at it, and guess correctly what cards were chosen by your assistants.

How does the magic trick work? Below you can see a live performance of the magic trick from Penn and Teller’s show Fool Us.

The secret of the trick is to memorize the group of cards which are located in even positions and the group of cards which are located in odd positions in the original deck. An easy way for doing this is to split the cards into two groups, such that the cards in the first group are only spades and diamonds, and the cards in the second group are only clubs and hearts.

When the two assistants pick their cards and then return them back into the deck, the order of the cards is reversed. When you split the original deck into two piles (even after cutting it several times), each of the piles will contain a card which should not be there. For example, the group of spades and diamonds will contain one clubs card, and the group of clubs and hearts will contain one diamonds card. These two cards are the ones which were picked by the assistants.

Siegfried Tieber is a Los Angeles-based performer and sleight-of-hand magician. He has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Huffington PostLos Angeles Times and ForbesMost recently he was invited to be part of Penn & Teller: Fool Usa television series featuring the legendary performance duo (yes, he did fool them).


  1. There are a number of ways you could do this trick.
    However, given the presentation–and without giving away the secret–the most likely solution is that Seigfried Tiber is using the same method as used in Neither Blind nor Stupid by Spanish card master Juan Tamariz (see He borrowed some elements of patter from Tamariz as well.
    Given how the cards looked when he spread them out, the trick has been tweaked to hide the method, but it would not surprise me if the method is identical.

  2. Incorrect. Please watch the video at 4min 21sec where you can see all the cards from one pile. There are all 4 suits in it. The magician must have memorized all 26 cards in the exact sequence without separating it into two groups of suits.

    1. PS: The 2 steps “cut and complete” method used by the magician won’t alter the sequence of cards inside the two piles. It just merely change the starting point and endpoint of the sequence, ie the first card of sequence starts somewhere in the middle of the pile and when it reaches the end it will continue from the beginning of the pile.

    2. Hello Andrew. You are correct, the magician did not split the cards based on suits only; this was just a suggestion for anyone who wants to perform the trick without much effort. There are many other options however, e.g. for one pile suit + card is even while for the other is odd. I am not certain what formula Siegfried has used exactly, and I think it may be even possible that he has memorized half a deck completely.