Overhand Shuffling

Possibly the most used type of shuffle in the west, though it has been replaced of late by riffle shuffling, is the overhand shuffle. It has the appeal of being simple, familiar and easily performed in the hands, actually it is performed essentially exclusively in the hands.

(A brief note here in regard to the methods I describe. They are all written from the perspective of a right handed individual, if you are left handed and wish to perform it in the manner common to someone who is left handed simply reverse right and left in each case that I use the words. Now go grab a deck of cards, you will find it ten times easier throughout this volume if you follow the descriptions with a pack in your hands so you can get an idea what it is I am describing.)

Method: Begin by holding the deck in your right hand vertically pinched between your thumb on the "lower" end of the deck (side closest to you) and your middle and ring fingers on the "upper" end of the deck. (Note, I will use the term "end to describe the shorter sides of the rectangular cards and "side" to describe the longer sides of the rectangular cards). The forefinger and pinky are loose, not holding onto anything as seen in figure 1, but should be available as we will use them to provide cover later.

Figure 1.

From this position, you should be able to glance down and easily see the face of the bottom card on the deck. Now, tilting the deck slightly so the face of the bottom card is no longer visible you will use your left hand thumb to peel off cards or packets of cards into your left hand as seen in figure 2.

Figure 2.

There is a quick note here concerning the left hand position. I often see people peeling cards onto the fingers of the left hand as per figure 3; do not do this!

Figure 3.

Instead, it is much better to get into the habit of shuffling the cards into what is almost the mechanics grip deeper in the hand as seen in figure 4. The reason for this will come later when we learn the undercut and particularly a double or triple undercut. When you peel the cards into the left hand, try to get the upper leftmost corner to contact the base of the forefinger; we will see how this is important later for providing cover. Key points in addition to the upper left corner of the card contacting the base of the forefinger, are the three fingers running along the side of the cards in a sort of loose open fashion. Ideally, you should be able to wrap them and your thumb around the upper side of the deck as shown in figure 5.

Figure 4.
Figure 5.

As I'm sure you can tell, the process is quite simple and you should be able to pick it up easily with minimal practice. In order to familiarize yourself with the process I recommend you practice by running through a deck a few times peeling off single cards, small packets of cards (try to control the number you peel off) and dropping small packets. There will be times when it is desirable to cycle through the deck quite quickly and thus require dropping reasonably large packets as opposed to small groups of cards which is favorable when going for increased control. Just as a reference for the uninitiated among you. The process of controlling the number of cards being removed up to four or five can be achieved quite easily by pulling the top card with the lowest part of the thumb you can manage and putting slight pressure on each card as it becomes visible in accordance with how many you would like to remove. For reference see figure 6.

Figure 6.

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