How to Make your Bicycle Playing Cards Last Longer
“How do I make my playing cards last longer?”
Without a doubt, this is one of the most common questions we receive. Well, we’re happy to let you know that it’s actually pretty easy to take care of a deck of cards. By following our simple suggestions, you can make your favorite playing cards from the United States Playing Card Company, Expert Playing Card Company, Legends Playing Card Company and others last for countless card tricks and cardistry flourishes.
1. Wash Your Hands (and Dry Them too!)
Even if your hands look clean, you may still have oils on your skin that can ruin your playing cards. These oils will make the cards bend and stick together. They will also discolor the clean white edges, making the deck of cards look as gross as it feels. So, before you pick up a deck of playing cards, take a moment to wash and dry your hands. The drying time is especially important since the paper stock of your Bicycle playing cards will soak up any water from your damp or clammy hands and begin to warp.
2. Use a Cheaper Deck when Practicing
As you might not have a chance to wash your hands every time you want to use your playing cards, especially if you practice card magic while you’re on the go, it is a good idea to have a variety of cheaper playing cards available to use when learning card magic or some new sleight of hand. You don't want to use your Richard Turner Gold Seal deck for learning mercury card folds!
A deck of Bicycle Playing Cards or any of the other affordable alternatives we featured in our article The Best Playing Cards for Magic Tricks are great options for practicing magic tricks. Mainly thanks to the way they are made. You can then save your more expensive limited edition custom playing cards for special performances.
It’s important to note that your practice deck of cards should be replaced once its handling starts to suffer. Practicing too much with a “Poop Deck” (or a very worn out deck of cards) can cause you to become comfortable with the deck of cards feeling this way. If you do this for a long time, you won’t know what type of touch is needed to operate higher quality decks, leading them to feel awkward when performing. This is the last thing you want when trying to nail a difficult card sleight while under pressure.
3. Keep Them Tucked Away
One of the easiest ways to make your playing cards last longer is to leave them in the tuck box whenever you’re not using them. A deck of cards left out of its case acts like a sponge and soaks up all the moisture in the room. This will cause the cards to bend or “click” and become difficult to use.
4. Avoid Keeping Playing Cards in your Pants Pocket
Beyond moisture, excess heat is another one of the biggest enemies for a deck of cards. This is why you should avoid carrying playing cards in a pants pocket because the heat from your body can cause them to expand and warp. If you can, carry your decks of cards in a jacket pocket or separate bag. A metal Card Clip can also go a long way in helping the card decks maintain their shape while also protecting the tuck box.
5. Avoid The “Big Scoop”
Whether you’re a beginner magician or a professional magician, occasionally dropping your cards is inevitable—especially when working on a knacky packet cut or card flourish. When this does happen, it’s important to avoid the “Big Scoop”. Scooping up your playing cards in big piles can potentially scratch their surface and also pick up dirt and dust that will sit between the cards and impact their handling.
Instead, if you drop your playing cards, pick up the cards carefully one by one. It may take a little bit more time, but it can play a big role in making your playing cards last longer.
6. Use Fanning Powder
As your playing cards age, their surface coating may begin to deteriorate causing them to become “sticky” and clump together as you use them. Applying a little fanning powder can go a long way in helping your playing cards fan, spread and flourish like new.
7. Spring and Faro Your Playing Cards
Beyond being an awesome and easy card flourish, springing your cards can actually help make your playing cards last longer. The spring action helps iron out any warping and the air helps keep the cards dry. Giving the deck of cards a few good faro shuffles in both directions can also help ensure they maintain their shape and sit together well.
8. Use a Light Touch
Most beginner magicians often have too much tension in their hands when they begin to learn card tricks. The same can also be said about many experienced magicians when they learn advanced sleight of hand. Gripping a deck of cards too tight can cause the cards to bend over time. Having a light touch is essential for making your playing cards last longer and also has the added benefit of making your card tricks look more elegant and professional. Even if you're using trick decks of cards.
What to do if your Playing Cards are Warped
If your playing cards ever get warped, bent or develop the dreaded “click”, you can place the deck in a card clip or wrap it with rubber bands for a few hours to help restore its shape. But, you should avoid storing them with the rubber bands on. You can also place a heavy weight (like a stack of books) on them for a day or two.
This one might sound a little crazy, but putting your deck of cards in the fridge for a few hours in a card clip can also help restore some of its shape and dry out any moisture. Many playing card collectors actually keep their collectable decks of cards in cooled storage for this exact reason. However, results may vary. So, we wouldn’t suggest doing this with your most expensive playing cards at first.
Don’t be Afraid to Use your Cards
By following these easy tips, you can make your playing cards last longer and save a lot of money over the course of your magic journey. However, it’s also important to remember that, at the end of the day, playing cards are just pieces of paper. If you use them, they are eventually going to get ruined and will need to be replaced.
Beyond making card tricks more difficult, using an old beat-up deck of cards also looks very unprofessional. This is why many professional magicians will actually use one or two new decks of playing cards at every show or gig. Thankfully, most standard playing cards like Bicycle Playing Cards are affordable and available nearly anywhere. You can even buy them in bulk or “bricks” of 12 decks to save money.
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