How to Palm Cards & Recover Them (now with videos)

hand icon Being able to smoothly and covertly palm cards is an important skill for aspiring Cardicians (Card Magicians).

The Hugard Palm

By means of this sleight cards can be palmed unnoticed, although the bottom card of the deck remains in full view.

Hold the pack in the left hand, vertically, the bottom card facing the audience, the thumb at the middle of the upper side, lower side resting on the first joints of the middle and third fingers, the first and little fingers doubled back so that their nails rest on the back of the rear card. ( see Fig.1 )

palming a cardStanding with your right side to the front bring the right hand to the pack and grip it by its lower corners with the tips of the thumb and first finger.

The bottom card should be in full view over the back of the right hand, the fingers of which are held close together and bent into the same extent as the forefinger which holds the outer corner of the pack.

At the same moment pull back the lower sides of the cards to be palmed, with the tips of the left middle and third fingers, gripping them against the backs of the left first and little fingers.

Extend the left fingers downwards, thrusting the packet into the right hand, the left thumb remaining on the upper side of the pack throughout. An imperceptible contraction of the second, third and fourth fingers will hold the cards securely. Remove the left hand with a careless wave, and let your eyes follow it.

The palm can be made in a flash but there is no necessity for great speed since the move is covered by the back of the right hand. This is the cleanest method of palming yet devised for the production of fans of cards from various parts of the body.

To Palm and Recover Cards

This very effective flourish deserves much better treatment than it usually receives, even at the hands of professional magicians. How often does one see the artist palpably grab a handful of cards from the top of the pack, then thrust his hand under the coat of a spectator and bring them out spread fan wise?

The spectators laugh and applaud and the performer takes it all as the reward of his cleverness. In reality, the spectators have seen exactly what he really did, there was no secret in his getting possession of the cards, and they only laughed at the discomfiture of the volunteer assistant. Having “got away with it” so easily, as he thinks, he never sees any necessity for making his moves cleanly. Yet the palm and recovery should be done in such a way that it creates real mystery as well as amusement.

How to Palm Cards Video Tutorials

Good explanation of a top palm.

Another great vid of the classic palm:

In the first place when you palm the cards never remove the right hand at once. Hold the pack in the same hand for a few moments and then transfer it to the left hand as openly as possible.

Close the second, third and fourth fingers, bending the cards almost double, and with the forefinger point to the place from which you are about to produce the cards. Thrust your hand under the spectator’s coat and rest it momentarily fiat against his body. Bend your middle finger inward, pressing its tip on the back of the packet to hold it as you withdraw your hand a little to enable you to grip the inner ends of the cards by the finger tips.

Then fan the cards to the fullest possible extent as you bring them into view. The whole action should be made as if your hand went to the spectator’s coat to take out cards you just pointed to and not to push them underneath it. In this way, you get not only the amusement of the onlookers but their mystification as well.

When the cards are to be produced from the performer’s body, the action differs. Suppose the fan of cards is to be produced from the back of your right knee, palm the packet and retain the pack in the right hand as you make a free gesture with the left.

Then take the pack in that hand as openly as possible and make a one hand color change, pointing to the face card with the right forefinger, the other three fingers bending the cards into the palm.

Ruffle the pack, look down at your knee and drop your right hand just behind it. Insert the first joint of your middle finger behind the packet and, by straightening the fingers, extend the cards directly behind your knee.

Grip the cloth of your trouser leg with the tips of your thumb and middle finger and pull it outwards, the palm of the hand to the front, tips of the fingers and the cards behind the cloth. Fan the cards as you draw them into view and it will appear as if they are being actually pulled through the fabric.

If the palmed cards are to be apparently caught in mid-air, then, as you stretch your arm out, grip them by their outer ends between the tips of the first and second fingers at one corner and between the third and fourth fingers at the other, exactly as in the front palm for the back and front sleight. Bend the thumb in on the back of the cards and fan them out as Widely as possible.

By varying the methods of making the palm and the single hand color change, a routine of moves can be arranged which will be really mystifying and not mere jugglery. The Hugard palm will be found a valuable one for this purpose since the bottom card remains in full view, making it appear to be impossible that any cards could have been palmed off.

From Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard (1934)

Blifaloo’s Notes: The above instructions were published in 1934, but are still great — between this and the video tutorials you should be able to figure how to palm cards.


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