What are the Best Playing Cards for Magic Tricks?

Whether you’re a beginner magician or a seasoned professional, a high quality deck of cards is an essential tool of the trade. With 1,000s of decks available, it can be overwhelming deciding which playing cards to use for performing card tricks or practicing sleight of hand. So, we surveyed our team of magicians to determine the best playing cards for magic tricks.

bicycle deck playing cards fanned out in a royal flush in spades

Bicycle Playing Cards

Bicycle playing cards are one of the most popular decks of cards in the world. The classic Bicycle 808 Playing Cards, available as either Bicycle Standard Playing Cards or Bicycle Rider Back Playing Cards, are generally affordable and can be found in most stores. Which is what makes them such a good choice of a deck to use for magic tricks.

Printed by the United States Playing Card Company, Bicycle Playing Cards use a special embossed air-cushion finish to provide consistently good handling. They’re also significantly more durable than cheaper alternatives, maintaining their performance over countless card tricks, shuffles, springs and fans.

Beyond their exceptional quality, the familiarity of Bicycle Playing Cards also has added benefits for magicians. Since they’re so recognizable, audiences will be less likely to suspect you’re using a trick deck. This is slightly ironic because most special cards gaffs or gimmicked decks are actually made with Bicycle Playing Cards.

Slightly more expensive Bicycle Gold Standard Playing Cards are also available with a traditional cut specifically designed for magic tricks.

Buy Bicycle Standard Playing Cards

Phoenix Playing Cards

Phoenix Playing Cards from Card-Shark are also printed by the United States Playing Card Company on a similar stock to Bicycle Playing Cards. They are preferred by many professional magicians because of their distinct cut, which offers improved handling—particularly with tricky faro shuffles.

Due to their growing popularity among magicians, many creators are starting to use Phoenix Playing Cards to create gimmicked decks and gaff cards. In fact, they are the preferred playing cards of our very own Joshua Jay. He used them to fool Penn & Teller with his trick Out of Sight.

Buy Phoenix Playing Cards

Bee Playing Cards

Bee Playing Cards are a high quality, affordable deck of cards that are manufactured by the USPCC on a premium flexible stock. Designed to look like casino playing cards, Bee Playing Cards are best known for their borderless all-around back design that allows magicians to better hide difficult sleight of hand moves. As a result, Bee Playing Cards are particularly popular among those who do gambling demonstrations or gambling-themed magic tricks.

Buy Bee Playing Cards

Tally-Ho Circle Back Playing Cards

Produced by the United States Playing Cards, Tally-Ho Circle Back Playing Cards offer a similar feel and performance to Bicycle Playing Cards. However, many magicians and card flourishers prefer their more sophisticated back design. They are a great alternative at an affordable price.

Buy Tally Ho Playing Cards

COPAG 310 Playing Cards

Copag 310 Playing Cards are Cartamundi’s signature deck of cards. They feature a revolutionary True Linen B9 Finish that was specifically constructed to provide unrivaled handling and durability for magic tricks. These playing cards have a distinct snappy and flexible feel. You also never have to spend any time breaking them in as they handle like a dream right out of the box.

Buy Copag 310 Playing Cards

Superior Playing Cards

Superior Playing Cards are the Expert Playing Card Company’s affordable, durable and functional alternative to standard Bicycle Playing Cards. They are printed on an exceptional soft-touch stock with a classic finish and feature a traditional cut for flawless shuffling.

These playing cards are also great for magicians who do walkaround performances or those who like to carry a deck of cards with them to practice because they have a specially crafted, tear-resistant tuck case.

Buy Superior Playing Cards

The Dapper Deck

While these might look like an expensive collectable deck of cards, The Dapper Deck was actually exclusively designed to provide professional magicians with a stylish and affordable alternative to standard playing cards. They’re printed by the USPCC on remarkably soft and smooth crushed to provide the optimum and dependable performance magicians need.

Every Dapper Deck comes with matching Jokers and special gaff cards (a blank-facer and a double-backer) for added card magic value. They are also a marked deck with discreet markings for the suit and value of every card.

They are available in unique Orange and Navy Blue colors.

Buy a Dapper Deck

Monarch Playing Cards

Monarch Playing Cards are another high-end deck of cards designed specifically for magicians. Their luxurious design adds a touch of elegance to every card trick and superior quality stock from the USPCC ensures they handle as beautifully as they look. You also receive a double-backer with every deck.

These chic playing cards skyrocketed in popularity among magicians after they were featured in the blockbuster magic movie “Now you See Me” and were listed as a #1 gift on the GQ Holiday Gift Guide. While they are slightly more expensive than the other decks of cards listed here, they are still affordable enough for regular use.

Monarch Playing Cards are also available in a variety of colors beyond the standard Red and Blue.

Buy Monarchs

Choosing a Deck That’s Right for You

All of these decks of cards are great for magic tricks. Whichever one you choose is ultimately up to personal preference. Since they’re so affordable, we suggest testing out a bunch of them to see which ones you like most.

While there are a variety of amazing limited edition custom playing cards to explore for special occasions, the playing cards listed above are designed to be your everyday carry for practicing and performing magic.

Looking for the best playing cards for poker?? We've written a great article for you!

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