To learn card magic, you’ll need three things:

  1. A decent deck of cards. Bicycle Rider Backs are a popular choice, largely because they’re cheap and plentiful.
  2. A copy of The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue.
  3. Time. 

The Royal Road is easily the most popular foundational text on the art of card manipulation, but adjusting to its rather dry instruction (it was published in 1948) can be difficult for those raised in the age of YouTube tutorials. So to get started, I strongly suggest you check out the video above, in which close-up YouTube magician Othmarius goes over a sizeable chunk of the book’s first chapter.

Once you’re done with the video, you should pick up a copy of the book. It’s cheap – I snagged my copy for less than a fiver – and nearly every magician I’ve spoken to has recommended it. Is it better than the wealth of tutorials available on YouTube? I’d argue yes. It lays out techniques and tricks in a clear order of difficulty and complexity, with each chapter building on the last. The only part that has aged poorly is some of the presentation tips. For example: Announcing all your reveals with a hearty “ALLEZ OUP!” probably won’t fly today.