Counting card trick “The Final 3” explained (easy tutorial)

For the “Final 3” card trick, all you have to do is count some cards – that’s it. The trick will work every single time and doesn’t require any sleight of hand at all. In this post, I’ll explain it step by step!

Here’s how this card trick works:

With the “Final 3” card trick, you are able to find three different cards chosen by the audience at random. All you have to do is count the cards on multiple piles and the rest of the trick happens by itself.

If the trick doesn’t work when you try it, I’ve listed the common mistakes and a few extra tips at the end of this post.

Let’s get started with the tutorial.

How to perform “The Final 3” (all you have to do is count cards)

The great thing about this card trick is that you don’t need to learn any sleight of hand or other complex moves. It’s based on a mathematical principle and all you have to do is count a few cards, that’s it!

Another thing I’d like to mention: I’ve taken quite some photos because it’s way easier to explain the trick with images. It might take some time until they load, but it’s worth it, I promise!

Here’s how you do the trick:

The spectator can choose three different cards from the deck (he can really pick whatever he wants, it doesn’t matter).

By the way: it might be a good idea to either let your volunteer write down his cards or have three different people remember one card each because memorizing three cards can be quite challenging.

After selecting the cards, the deck can be shuffled before you continue with the trick.

To make things easier, I’ve selected the three Aces for this tutorial.

Selecting the three cards
Selecting the three cards (I’ve chosen the Aces for this tutorial)

Once the cards have been selected, you continue by creating four piles on the table (or whatever surface you can find).

This is where the counting part of the card trick starts.

How to count the cards for each pile

If one card is in the wrong pile, the trick won’t work.

Each pile must have the exact amount of cards listed down below to make it work.

By the way, many tutorials use a different amount of cards (10, 15, 15, and 9), but this method is easier and skips one extra step where you have to put four cards from the top to the bottom of the deck.

Make sure to use these numbers, the trick is easier to do and looks more smooth!

The pileNumber of cards
Pile number one (the left one)14
Pile number two15
Pile number three15
Pile number four (the right one)5

I’ve used a different color for the three selected cards (blue instead of red). This makes it easier to explain, but when performing, make sure to use a normal deck.

Another thing to keep in mind: the deck must have exactly 52 cards (no jokers or special cards!) to make the trick work.

This is how it should look like:

Creating the four piles
Creating the four piles (number of cards from left to right: 14, 15, 15, 5)

You now put the cards chosen by the audience on the piles in a specific order.

Whenever I say pile number #1, I’m talking about the pile on the left. The pile on the right is number #4.

Start by asking your spectator to put one of his cards (it doesn’t matter which one) on pile #1.

First card first pile

Next, he can cut pile #2 wherever he wants and put the cards on top of pile #1.

It will look like this:

Cut the second pile

Now, you repeat the same steps for the next two piles.

Ask your spectator to put another card on pile #2.

Second card second pile

He can cut pile #3 and put the cards on pile #2.

Cut the third pile

The last card is put on pile #3.

Third card third pile

The only difference for the last pile: you just put all of the cards of pile #3 instead of cutting it.

This is how it looks like when you are done:

Cut the fourth pile

You should now have three piles with the three cards chosen by the audience inside the piles.

The next step is to put the piles on top of each other, creating one pile.

But make sure to do it in the right order, because it will mess up the trick otherwise.

Here’s how you do it:

Put pile #3 on pile #2.

Put the third pile on the second one

Now, put pile #2 on pile #1.

Put the second pile on the third one

Once you’ve reached this point, there’s not that much that can go wrong.

From now on, the trick will pretty much happen on its own.

How to find the three cards selected by your audience

Start by dealing the cards onto the table, but make sure to put the first card face up.

If you don’t start with the first card facing up, the trick doesn’t work!

Start like this:

Dealing the cards onto the table 1

Continue with the second card next to it (with its back facing up).

Dealing the cards onto the table 2

Now, just go one by one until all the cards are distributed evenly in two piles.

Make sure to take your time, one card on the wrong pile will mess up the trick.

Dealing the cards onto the table 3

This is how it should look like:

Dealing the cards onto the table 4

When all the cards are distributed on the two piles, you can remove the left pile (the one with the cards facing up). You don’t need these cards anymore for the rest of the trick.

Continue with the right pile (the cards that are facing down).

Remove the cards facing up

Now, repeat the same steps again and again, until you are left with only three cards.

Start with the first card facing up, continue with the next card facing down, and repeat until all the cards are dealt on the table.

Remove the pile with the cards facing up, and repeat.

At some point, you will be left with only six cards.

You are left with only three cards

If you’ve done everything correctly, all the spectator’s cards should be in the left pile.

For this tutorial, I’ve used the three Aces, so these are the cards I’m left with:

The final three cards

This trick will work every single time, as long as you count correctly.

I really like it since it doesn’t require any preparation at all and you can perform it with any deck, as long as it has 52 cards.

A few final tips and reasons why the trick might not work for you

If you can’t make the trick work, don’t worry – here’s my list of the common mistakes.

  • Make sure to use a deck with exactly 52 playing cards.
  • Don’t make any mistakes when counting the cards for the different piles.
  • Put the piles on top of each other in the correct order.
  • When dealing the cards onto the table, start with the first card facing up.
  • Remove the pile with the cards facing up and continue with the other pile.

Other than that, please keep in mind that one spectator is usually not able to remember three different cards. Many people forget their choice because they are so focused on watching the performance!

You can either ask them to write the cards down or take a photo of them, it will ensure that the trick gets the attention he deserves.

There’s nothing worse than you showing the spectators the final three cards and they are like: “Oh, I don’t really know, I forgot my cards…”

Other than that, I love this trick and you will sure too!

Looking for even more easy card tricks?

You can check the “Three Piles Trick” in this post where I explain the entire trick step by step (it doesn’t require any sleight of hand as well).

If you like mental magic, you will enjoy this mind-reading card trick I’ve explained in this tutorial.

Image sources:
All of the images are my own photos, click here if you want to use them.