Which Deck Of Cards?

By Ben Harris - Monday, March 23, 2020


I’ve been doing card magic for a living (to some extent or another) since 1979. That’s a long time. Much has changed, including lots within card magic—the genre within magic that I love the most. The types of tricks being performed have changed to some extent (keeping pace with “the times,” fashion, trends, and shorter attention spans), and a whole new genre has been born—the art of Cardistry. I’ve watched this grow from it’s early (Dan & Dave) days into a discipline which, in my opinion, is maturing damn nicely. Along with this new arm of card wizardry has come a revolution in quality playing card design and availability. One can even accessorize back designs to suit one’s attire and mood. It hasn’t always been this way…

Ben Harris

Back when I was starting out, the only real choice of playing card for the professional performer (or avid amateur) was either Bicycle 808s or Tally-Ho (Circle or Fan backs). Today? There are literally hundreds of great decks to choose from: decks for the performance of elegant Card Magic and, quite separately, decks specifically for Cardistry. For the first time in our history, the vast majority of these new decks are of a superb quality. Years ago, the USPCC would not even entertain short runs of custom decks. Now they have a facility dedicated to it.

Decks that I turn to for serious card magic include the lovely Derren Brown Deck and the Navigators. These are both produced by Theory 11 and printed to the highest standards by the USPCC. They exhibit elegance, classic design, and superb handling. Another beautiful deck is the Seekers from Art Of Play. Cards like these go hand in hand with serious presentations for corporate and television work. They lend an air of authority and timelessness. If you perform mentalism-type card magic, the above decks are perfect.

Cardistry decks are different from cards used for card magic in that they are designed to look good while in movement. They must “glow with the flow,” so to speak. This is achieved by using high contrast colors positioned to be dominant during card fanning and, quite often, the total absence of white borders. The lack of white borders (and to a lesser extent, the bright colors) make these decks less suitable for general card magic. But for flourishing, they are amazing. For my own limited excursions into Cardistry, I like to use Chris Ramsay’s Momento Mori deck (first edition) for its tasteful use of white space, Ninjas Remix, and Pure Imagination Project’s Splash deck for their unbridled torrents of color.

Decks of cards

It’s great having such a wonderful choice for the tools of our trade. We can now best fit the deck to the genre, enhancing our magic. There is even a Ring deck (inspired by the movie and produced by Galaxy) that’s perfect for those who enjoy haunting pasteboard presentations.

Decks of cards

The variety is now so great that you can mix and match good quality decks to suit your attire, making the chosen deck even more “you.” I collect Tag Heuer watches, and like to match the color of the watch dials (red, black, white or blue) with appropriately colored decks. I know some performers who match their sunglasses (or sneakers) to their cards in the same fashion. It’s a small thing—a simple fashion extension—a subtle visual nicety; something that was not possible that long ago, certainly not if you wanted to use quality playing cards!

I say, embrace it all. Why not visit Vanishing Inc. Playing Cards and have a look at the astounding variety of quality decks available. Andi & Josh curate the collection, so there’s no rubbish. Grab yourself a few decks to either fine-tune your magical performances and Cardistry, or to just nail some cost-effective fashion accessories!


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