How to Do The Double Lift

the double liftThe double lift (also known as the Double Turnover) is an essential move for any serious magician. It is the primary move used in numerous classic card tricks. In this article, we will walk you through what the double lift card trick is, why it is an important trick to master, types of double lifts, and more.

What Is the Double Lift?

The double lift is a sleight of hand technique in which the magician lifts two cards at once, but makes it appear as only one card (the top card on the deck). To spectators, it appears that the magician is showing the top card, but it is actually the second card. In order to do the trick, you will need both a mirror and a deck of playing cards. When the cards are displayed, this move is referred to as a double turnover. Some versions of this trick rely solely on sleight. Others use it in combination with mechanics and good showmanship to create entirely different moves.

Where is the Double Lift From?

You may be wondering who invented the double lift card trick. The term was first coined by Theodore ‘Theo’ Annemann, a magician who specialized in mentalism. However, it was performed much earlier. You might be surprised to know that the double lift card trick dates back to 1776. It was first recorded in Richard Neve’s book The Merry Companion. The next instance was in the 19th century. While we have some knowledge of how far the act dates back, it is unknown who performed the very first double lift. Many people confuse the double lift with a double turnover. The moves differ since the double turnover is an extension of the double lift.

Why is it such an important move to master?

The double lift is a skill that every magician practices until they can do it with their eyes closed. It is an incredibly powerful trick that can be used in various other magic tricks. In fact, some classic tricks rely solely on the use of double lifts. For instance, if you master the double lift, doing something as simple as this trick below can amaze audiences:

  1. Do a double lift showing the second card, making it look as if it were the top card.
  2. Place the hidden top card in the middle of the deck.
  3. Show the new top card (which used to be the second card), saying that it magically floated from the middle of the deck back to the top.

It’s an amazing thing to see for people who are unaware of this technique. Here’s an example of how such a simple move can wow audiences. Here David Blaine performs a trick for the Dallas Cowboys. The entire trick basically revolves around doing a double lift twice and totally misleading the audience. You’ll see the amazing effect the trick has, even with such simple techniques. The trick by David Blaine involves using two identical cards and is explained in more detail in this tutorial.

How to Perform a Double Lift Magic Trick: 5 Easy Steps

Step 1: Hold the Pack of Cards Properly

Hold the pack of cards securely in your hand. Keep your pinky on the bottom corner of the cards, wrapping around the deck. This will set you up to perform what is known as the “pinky break.”

Step 2: Perform the Pinky Break

Slide your pinky finger underneath the top two cards in the deck. To do this, push your thumb out and to the right. This will push two to three cards out. Then, use your pinky finger to tuck underneath the second card. Square your deck up again. Remember to use your mirror to help see from the audience’s perspective. You do not want to expose the pinky break to the audience as this would give away your secret.

Step 3: Flip the 2 Cards

Using your right finger and thumb, flip over the two cards you have on your pinky finger. Use your index finger under the card and your thumb on top of the card. Lift the card up slightly (about ½ an inch) and then flip it over. As you flip the cards over, make sure to land the card on the back side of your thumb. By doing this, you will keep the cards you flipped separated from the rest of the deck.

Step 4: Flip the 2 Cards Back

Since you have already separated the two cards from the rest of the deck, it is time to put them back in. Remember, these two cards should only look like one card to the audience. To do this, repeat step three.

Step 5: Complete Your Creative Routine

This completes the double lift tutorial. There are many ways you can finish off your routine in a creative way. A few ideas include taking off the top card and inserting it in the middle of the deck, shaking the deck, and revealing the top card (aka the audience member’s chosen card).

Now that you know the five steps, practice them as much as you can. The audience will be able to detect inconsistency in a routine.

Types of Double Lifts

There are many ways to do a double lift. We’ll take a look at the 4 most commonly used ones. You’ll notice that the more natural it looks, the more difficult it is to master.

1. Push Off Double Lift

This is the double lift that David Blaine and many other professional magicians choose to use. It’s also the one you see in the video above where he does it twice right in front of the Dallas Cowboys audience and they don’t suspect a thing. The way you pick up the cards is so natural that people never suspect that it could be two cards.

This is one of the hardest double lifts to master. You may be able to learn how to do it with a little bit of practice, but it’s going to take at least a few months of practice before you are ready to do it in front of an audience.

You should be warned though. Even though it looks awesome and rarely ever draws any suspicion, it can be difficult to pull off with an older/flappy deck of cards. There is very little room for error and a high chance of the two cards misaligning.

2. Basic Double Lift

The basic double lift is by far the easiest to do. It’s the best way for beginners to get started. However, it doesn’t really look natural. Even if you pull off the move perfectly, it attracts a lot of suspicions even from people who don’t know what it is.

The basic move consists of simply lifting two cards with your hand and turning it over in the air. As you grow more comfortable with the “feel” of picking up two cards naturally, the other techniques will be easier to master.

3. The Double Turnover

Double Turnover is another method that is good for beginners. It is just slightly more difficult than the basic move and looks a little bit more natural. This is because instead of lifting the cards, you simply turn them over face up on top of the deck. After the card is shown, you turn them back over again. Take a look at what this trick looks like and how to do it in the video below. Although it looks a lot more natural, it is not concealed enough to make it one that professionals or experts choose to use.

4. 2-Card Pushover

The 2-Card Pushover is by far the most difficult to master. However, it is also the most natural and most reliable. By reliable, I mean that it works well under pressure and with a variety of playing card conditions. The 2-Card Pushover is similar to the Double Turnover but looks infinitely better. Take a look at the video below to learn how to do it.


Which Move is the Best One?

The 2-Card Pushover is the move I recommend for anyone who is willing to take the time to practice it. The 2-Card Pushover and The Push Off Double Lift that David Blaine uses are the two most popular among professional illusionists. However, the 2-Card Pushover works much better under pressure. While the Push Off is more susceptible to errors (such as the two cards misaligning), the 2-Card Pushover allows for much better control even with older decks.

The Double Lift is a Beneficial Technique for Beginner Magicians

If you are serious about learning to perform magic tricks, the double lift is a great place to start. This technique will greatly improve your skills at sleight of hand along with your confidence level. Remember to practice a lot and be patient with yourself. Learning and honing the double lift card trick is an important act for any aspiring magician.