Richard Turner (magician)

Richard Edward Turner (born June 16, 1954)[1] is an American expert card mechanic who is known for his card trick performances. He was honored with a Golden Lion Award in Magic from Siegfried and Roy and the Lynn Searles Award for Excellence in Card Manipulation. He is the 2014 and 2017 recipient of the Close-Up Magician of the Year award from The Academy of Magical Arts, and he is the subject of the documentary Dealt (2017).

Richard Turner
Richard Edward Turner

(1954-06-16) June 16, 1954 (age 66)
OccupationCard mechanic, card manipulator
Spouse(s)Kim Turner
WebsiteOfficial website

Early lifeEdit

Turner was born in San Diego in 1954, which he dubbed "the year of the full deck" (referring to a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, plus the two jokers). At the age of seven he became infatuated with the television show Maverick.[2][3]

His eyesight failed at the age of nine following his recovery from a bout with scarlet fever.[3] The macula (the center of the retina) of each of Turner's eyes was completely destroyed, preventing forward vision, and the rest of his retinas suffered a condition he describes as a "shotgun pattern" resembling and functioning as if they had been blasted full of holes by a tiny shotgun filled with bird shot.[2] By the age of thirteen, his vision deteriorated to 20/400, twice as low as the level deemed legally blind in the State of California and, over the years, what little vision Turner possessed gradually deteriorated to the point where he presently sees little more than indiscernible shadows, and those only peripherally.[4]

Turner attended a special school for the visually impaired in Santee, California, where he refused to learn Braille (and never has). His younger brother, David, had been taking karate lessons for nine months, and invited Turner to accompany him. He began karate lessons in 1971 under the tutelage of Master John Murphy, the United States' founder of Wado-Kai, a Japanese hard-style karate, was good at it, and began training at Gene Fisher's Gym, eventually earning a fifth-degree black belt in Wado-Kai karate. [5]

In 1972 Turner auditioned for a small non-profit San Diego Christian theater operated by television actor Steve Terrell, and he performed for six years with the "Lamb's Players". Terrell taught Turner how to look people in the eye so that they would not know of his visual impairment.[2]

He was later introduced to stuntman Bobby Yerkes, who taught him to swing on the trapeze, walk a tight rope, and take high falls. [4]


Turner's demonstrations have been featured on television programs, including That's Incredible!, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, The 700 Club, five appearances on Japanese programs, including World Geniuses and on Great Britain's The Paul Daniels Magic Show. He has conducted motivational lectures for international corporations and government agencies and created and performed a family entertainment program for school children across the nation, featuring a comedy routine co-starring his wife as schoolmarm "Miss Guided", his assistant.[6]

Turner performed his 19th-century riverboat gambler's act as "The Cheat" on a constant basis:

  • For seven years, two days a week at Marie Callender's Restaurant and five days a week aboard the Reuben E. Lee Riverboat-themed restaurant in San Diego, California, once logging 2,190 consecutive days worked;
  • Entertained VIPs for four years at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth, Texas, the world's largest honky tonk;
  • Served seven years as Ambassador and Featured Performer at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, where he performed thirty-seven shows a week;
  • Nine years at the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum in downtown San Antonio, Texas; and
  • Demonstrated his skills at business expositions, magic conventions, private parties and as a Performing Member since 1975 at the Magic Castle, where he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame.[7]
  • In 2017 he fooled Penn and Teller with a card trick on their television program Fool Us.

Turner's audiences have included Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who joined Turner and his wife at one of their school programs.[8] Turner auditioned and was hired by his employers without revealing his visual impairment, and he never informs his audiences that he is blind.

The United States Playing Card Company employs his services as a "touch analyst" to evaluate the texture, flexibility and cut of dozens of decks of cards each year.[2]

Although semi-retired, Turner appears several weeks a year at The Magic Castle, performs his act and presents lectures to his peers, and performs at private parties at the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.[4] Richard Turner has also appeared in a Penguin Live lecture in which he details some of the work on his award-winning false dealing.[9]

In 2008 he toured as part of a stage show called Hoodwinked with Todd Robbins, Bob Arno and Banachek.[10][11]

In November 2009, under Grand Master John Murphy and Senior Master John Douglas, Turner received his Master ranking Sixth Degree Black Belt in the Wa Do Kai system, a Japanese hard style karate. In the martial arts world Mister Turner is now Master Turner.

In 2010, Turner was asked by Director Terrence Malick to cheat Brad Pitt's character at the black jack table in the film The Tree of Life.[12]

Turner is the subject of the feature-length documentary Dealt, directed by Austin, TX-based filmmaker Luke Korem.

Professional recognitionEdit

In 1978, magician Ed Marlo praised Turner as a cardman, actor and entertainer by saying, "Technicians as a rule are not usually good actors or entertainers. Richard Turner is all three."[13]

In 1987, Dai Vernon described Turner as the most skillful card technician in the world, proclaiming, "Having seen countless numbers of card experts execute for over eighty years, I consider Richard Turner to be by far the most skillful. He performs the most difficult moves with the greatest ease. I doubt if anyone can equal him. He does things with cards that no one in the world can do – no one. I don't care if you go to China, France or Germany, he does things that no one else can do, and he performs them beautifully."

Author and sleight of hand expert Charlie Miller stated, "They call me eagle eye Charlie; Charlie sees everything. I can't see it, Kid - I can't see it!"

Milt Larsen, Founder and President of the Magic Castle, Inc said, "In my 45 years at the Castle, people repeatedly say of Richard Turner that it is the most astounding act of sheer skill they have ever witnessed."

On December 12, 2005 world-renowned cardman, author and casino game protection expert Steve Forte said that, "Richard Turner is the real deal! As one of the finest card technicians on the planet, Richard advances the science of card manipulation to heights never dreamed of."

Card mechanic and game protection consultant David Malek praised Turner in 2006 by declaring, "One of my favorite card men and a world class technician and performer is Richard Turner. Richard is second to none when it comes to gambling demonstrations with cards. He deals seconds, centers and bottoms equally well and runs up cards with lightning speed. On top of all that he is a fifth-degree black belt and without a doubt the most physically fit magician I know. We all have a lot to learn from him."

On November 11, 2006, casino surveillance specialist, table game protection expert, casino administrator, cardman, and professional poker player Ron Conley wrote, after watching Turner demonstrate his abilities in a one-on-one setting, "I was very impressed with your card work, absolutely some of the best I've ever seen."

Gambling regulatory supervisor and playing card enthusiast Bruce T. Samboy advised in November 2006, after watching Turner during five performances at The Magic Castle and later in private sessions, "The world's best cardmen practice the moves until they do them right. Richard Turner practices the moves until he can't do them wrong."

Tony Giorgio, an expert in the methods employed by card and dice cheaters said: "Richard Turner's masterful, magical, manipulation of playing cards is incomparable."[14]

Personal lifeEdit

Turner is married to Kim Turner (née Miller) and they have a son named Asa Spades Turner.[15]

When Turner was eleven years old he created a puzzle game called "Batty", inspired by the game Tower of Hanoi. In May 2011 he released his fourth version. Batty has eleven levels of difficulty ranging from an uncomplicated Level 3 through the extremely complex Level 11. While a Level 3 can be resolved by an elementary school student by making between 6 and 7 moves, mastering Level 11 demands far greater mathematical acumen, requiring between 1,023 and 2,047 moves without making a single mistake.[16]


  1. ^ "California Birth Index - Richard Edward Turner".
  2. ^ a b c d Stone, Alex (2012). Fooling Houdini : magicians, mentalists, math geeks, and the hidden powers of the mind. New York: Harper. ISBN 0061766216.
  3. ^ a b "Performances". Richard Turner The Cheat. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c England, Jason (April 2007). "Living on Jacks and Queens: Richard Turner". Genii: The Conjurer's Magazine: 66–71.
  5. ^ Cervantes, Jessica. "Film to Shed Light on Card Trickster". July 18, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  6. ^ "Master Card Mechanic". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  7. ^ England, Jason (April 2007). "Living on Jacks and Queens: Richard Turner". Genii: The Conjurer's Magazine (66–71): 66–71.
  8. ^ "About Richard". Richard Turner The Cheat. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  9. ^ "Richard Turner LIVE (Instant Download)". Penguin Magic. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  10. ^ Greenaway, K (July 10, 2008). "If it weren't onstage, it'd be illegal". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  11. ^ Smith, Alison (November 25, 2008). "Woo in Review: HOODWINKED". SWIFT. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  12. ^ Cervantes, Jessica (July 18, 2013). "Film to Shed Light on Card Trickster". Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Testimonials". Richard Turner The Cheat. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  15. ^ "Blind card shark amazes with his astounding skills". CBS This Morning. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  16. ^

External linksEdit