Why are Bicycle Playing Cards so Popular?

In the world of card games and card magic, Bicycle Brand Playing Cards are easily the most recognizable and familiar brand. In fact, some magicians refuse to use any other deck of playing cards because they fear audiences will think they’re using a trick deck. Join us as we uncover why Bicycle Playing Cards are so popular. And it's not just that they last longer than other cards.

bicycle deck rider back playing cards

A Brief History of Bicycle Decks

The history of playing cards is a long one. Bicycle Playing Cards are actually just one of the many brands produced by the United States Playing Card Company, one of the world’s largest producers of playing cards.

Founded as Russell, Morgan & Co. in 1867, the USPCC eventually adopted its current name and introduced the iconic Bicycle brand in 1885. Named and designed after the high-wheeled bicycles that were popular at the time, Bicycle has been the UPSCC’s signature brand for over 130 years. I wonder if they could ever have imagined Bicycle playing cards would end up being the most popular decks of cards for magicians.

Quality and Consistency of Bicycle Playing Cards

One of the biggest reasons the USPCC continues to be one of the most trusted producers of playing cards is their reputation for providing a consistently high-quality feel and handling across every deck of cards they print. This is especially true with their Bicycle Playing Cards. Simply put, everyone knows what to expect when opening up a Bicycle deck.

While the USPCC does now offer a variety of stocks, including the Bee Casino and Thin-Crush stocks that are popular among custom playing card designers, all Bicycle Playing Cards use the same standard Bicycle stock. As is the case with nearly all USPCC-brand playing cards, each Bicycle deck is also printed with a trademark embossed “air-cushion” finish to ensure unrivaled performance. The popular Richard Turner Gold Seal playing cards are also made this way, but are cut using a different method.

Bicycle Playing Cards also offer consistent printing and coloring. Despite an occasional odd batch, every deck of Bicycle playing cards looks the same. Those decks that do have minor discrepancies, such as a slightly off-center image, still handle and feel the same. These variations are often unnoticeable at a glance and are a favorite among magicians since they are typically sold at a discounted price as Bicycle 808 Seconds Playing Cards.

What is a Standard Deck of Bicycle Playing Cards

The popularity of custom playing cards has grown exponentially in recent years and many designers choose to associate their work with the trusted name and consistent quality of the Bicycle brand. As long as you obtain proper licensing, get your artwork approved in advance and adhere to strict brand guidelines, you can create custom Bicycle playing cards. As a result, having the Bicycle logo on the card box no longer guarantees there is a standard Bicycle deck inside.

A standard issue deck of Bicycle Playing Cards is available in either red or blue and features the recognizable Rider Back design. Each deck comes with 52 playing cards, as well as two Jokers and two extra cards (typically an advertising card and another card ranking poker hands). Beyond the back design, the number 808 being printed on the Jokers and Ace of Spades is a key indicator of [standard Bicycle playing cards](link to rider back vs standard blog).

Blue Seal Deck of Cards vs Black Seal Deck of Cards

While the USPCC started in Cincinnati, Ohio, they eventually relocated to Erlanger, Kentucky in 2009. Prior to the move, they produced Bicycle decks with a blue seal, as opposed to the black seal that is used now. Since this new seal was accompanied by a switch to new machines for printing, finishing and cutting the cards, many experienced card handlers claim to also experience slight differences in handling with these decks of cards. As a result, some magicians and cardists will seek out older blue seal decks of Bicycle playing cards that were printed in the Ohio factory.

However, these changes are so minor, they are largely unnoticed by the average person. The biggest difference between a blue seal deck and a black seal deck of cards is mostly personal preference.

Other Playing Cards from the USPCC

While Bicycle Playings Cards are definitely the most popular, they are not the only playing cards produced by the USPCC. Over the years, the USPCC has absorbed, and continues to print, other exceptional brands like Bee Playing Cards, Aviator Playing Cards and Tally-Ho Playing Cards.

While some magicians and cardists may prefer one brand over the other, there is almost no perceptible difference in quality and handling. The names of each brand have been maintained mostly to continue the established legacy they had before joining the USPCC family. For the most part, the card quality on every USPCC brand is the same as the signature Bicycle Playing Cards.

Are Bicycle Playing Cards Worth the Money?

While not expensive, Bicycle Playing Cards are not always the cheapest in the store. However, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” is extremely true in the world of playing cards. Many of the cheap, non-USPCC brand playing cards are often printed with inferior, low-quality materials that makes them difficult to handle. While they might be ok for an occasional poker game, they should be avoided by magicians and cardists.

Standard Bicycle Playing Cards are an affordable, high-quality deck of cards that can be found almost anywhere. They’re going to last you through countless card tricks, card flourishes and card games and are well worth the slightly higher price than cheap corner store decks. As they handle the same as most fancier custom playing cards, at a much cheaper price, they are the perfect playing cards for anyone just starting to learn card tricks or cardistry or those looking to practice their favorite sleight of hand card magic.


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