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Playing Card Buyers Guide

What was your favorite deck "released" from 2001-2010

  • Ellusionist Black Tigers&Ghost decks

    Votes: 8 10.5%
  • Dan&Dave Smoke&Mirror 1st-3rd ed.

    Votes: 8 10.5%
  • Dan&Dave Smoke&Mirror v.4 &v.5

    Votes: 20 26.3%
  • Lee Asher's Fournier 605s

    Votes: 7 9.2%
  • Ofasson Anglo Rug Back Decks

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • T-11 White Centurions

    Votes: 11 14.5%
  • T-11 Propaganda

    Votes: 8 10.5%
  • David Blaine's Split Spade Lions

    Votes: 21 27.6%
  • Conjuring Arts Erdnase(on Casino grade stock)

    Votes: 3 3.9%
  • Expert At The Card Table Bees(on aristocrat stock)

    Votes: 20 26.3%

  • Total voters
Feb 4, 2008
The Card Buyers Guide

Welcome to my card buyers guide. The information you will find within represents a synthesis of over a year and a half of in-depth reviews and over a decade of experience with various cards for use in magic and flourishing. This will represent an ongoing project that will be updated as I get the opportunity to do in-depth reviews on more decks.
Just For Starters: The first thing you need to do before shopping for a deck is to decide who you are as a performer. By far most of you will fall into a generalists category so before we even bother to dissect the specifics of your style and the cards that suit it we should talk about the most general of generalists and the decks that will suit you.

Beginners, Restaurant Workers, and Generalist Magicians who do “a few” card effects:When you are first starting out in magic the first deck you should get is the cheapest, most common deck you can find at your local convenience store, supermarket, or retail store. Chances are, if you live in North America this will likely be the venerable Bicycle 808 Rider back or one of its cousins, Hoyle Shellback, Aviator, Bee, and Maverick brands. Another group of magicians who should stick with one of these brands are restaurant/walk around magicians who perform signed card effects at every table or group they perform for. These types of magicians might sign away a pack a gig at a busy event so it makes little financial sense to spend extra money on decks with more longevity.

The Gaff masters:
If you perform magic with a heavy dose of gaff cards you will have two primary decks to consider. The Bicycle 808 and the new Bicycle 809 Mandolin Decks . The 808s are by far the most commonly gaffed card in history. A larger variety of effects using card specific gaffs and gimmicks will exist on this deck than any other. Within the last few years United States Playing Card Company (USPCC) was forced to restrict the use of the rider back design(the 808’s back design) in gaffs and gimmicks. The issue revolves around trademark issues and is to complex for detail here. The good news is that any gaff or gimmick that does not alter the back design is still approved. Therefore the majority of gaffs on the market will not be effected by this decision and therefore will continue to be made. For those gaffs that do require altering the back of the deck(ie. Twilight Angels, Princess trick, ect) the Mandolin deck has arrived to pick up the slack. The Mandolin deck was specifically made to look like an 808 on casual inspection. Therefore, people familiar with 808s, but not as card obsessed as the average magician, probably wont notice the difference unless it was pointed out to them. Though I have yet to actually review the Mandolin it is said to be traditionally cut and printed with higher quality controls than the 808s. This should appeal to some of the more experienced card manipulators in the room.

Other cards that may interest the Gaff enthusiasts may include the Phoenix deck, ,the Anglo Poker decks, , and any of the Ellusionist custom decks, .

The vast majority of you, beginners, walk around workers, gaff enthusiasts, and magicians who do card magic but do not use cards as a core of your routines, honestly need to read no further. Get some Bikes, get some Mandolins and maybe try out some Phoenix, Anglos, or E-Decks if your feeling frisky. Other than that there is nothing else that will be as cost effective or offer as many effect options. For those of you who are, or would like to become, serious about card magic or flourishing we have just scratched the surface. Read On!
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Feb 4, 2008
Methodologies and Chart interpretation

***Those of you familiar with my reviews and methods may have an intuitive idea of how to interpret the tables I will post. I recommend skipping ahead two posts and you will get into the actual buyers guide portion of this thread. If you do get confused come back here and the information in here should clear up most questions.***
Mission Statement:

This buyers guide and the accompanying “In Depth” reviews that go along with it, are meant to give card magicians a good idea of how a particular deck of cards can be expected to handle. It is my hope to open peoples eyes to decks that they may have been overlooked by advertising hype, and judge how much hyped cards live up to their reputation.

What this guide is not:

It is not the intention of this buyers guide to judge how well you will like a deck. Personal likes and dislikes will vary depending on how well you like the back design, what style of magic and flourishing you prefer, and sometimes even brand loyalties. I certainly have my own opinions on these topics and I happily share those in the in-depth reviews but I go to great effort to keeps those opinions out of the scores I give to various decks. This is also not intended to assess the worth of cards that are on the secondary market. Once a card becomes a “collectible” deck its value as a performance deck or a practice deck quickly becomes negligible compared to it’s monetary value. (Does anyone really think that a Jerry’s Nugget card is worth $250 based on it’s performance characteristics alone? )

How to use this guide:

This guide tries to lay these cards out in a side by side comparison of handling characteristics. From there you can judge what characteristics you value the most and select a deck that seems to fit your taste. You can also examine how I have rated a deck that you know that you like and find other cards that handle in similar ways. For instance, a person who likes the feel of the Tally Ho stock may find that Bulldog Squeezers and T11 Propaganda decks also have very similar characteristics.

Testing Methods:

I review each deck as I take it out of the box(OOB) and compare it to a few control decks of major brands that are never handled other than for comparisons. The primary control decks I use are, an OOB Bike 808, an OOB Bee Club Special, an OOB Tally-ho, and an OOB Ellusionist UV500 deck (currently using a ghost deck). Then, after each week of testing “abuse” I compare the test deck to another deck of the same brand and type that is kept in OOB condition. During a review I do my level best to put a deck through torture. I’m usually practicing techniques that are at or near my personal limits. This assures that cards will “accidentally” get dropped and crimped. I am not a stickler about washing my hands before each practice. The deck goes with me everywhere and I practice and perform with it at a whim regardless of circumstances. If a Bike 808 were to go through the same level of abuse as a test deck it would generally last a bit over a week in my hands. If a deck makes it to the end of a month I give it one final review and mention what condition it was in at the end of all this. Some decks are on their last legs at the end of the month and others are still charging on. Regardless, the longevity is not tested beyond a month. For you to estimate the longevity of a deck just imagine how long it takes you to wear out a Bike 808 deck(for me about a week) and multiply by the longevity score. Thus, if it takes you two weeks to trash an 808 then a deck that lasted me three weeks should last you 6 weeks. Naturally I give no guarantees on these dates(different decks deteriorate in different ways) and you might be pickier about the deterioration of some characteristics more than others.
Interpreting my tables:

Name: Name of the deck.

Company: What Company prints the deck. United States Playing Card Company, the biggest card company in the world, is abbreviated as USPCC. Winning Moves Ltd, is abbreviated WMLTD. and Casino Cards Ltd. is abbreviated CCLTD.

ECO’s Grade: E. Cooper Ostresh, That’s me. This is my personal ranking of a deck from 1-5 Stars. This grade is not intended to be taken as anything more than my own personal opinion. It does not necessarily follow the scores of the decks. Ie. By the numbers an Anglo Rug deck scores just about as well as a Piatnik Club, a four-star deck, yet I love the back design on the Anglos so much that I give it one of my five star ratings. A note about my five-star decks: At any given time there will only be 5 five-star decks. I have set a limit on myself to avoid being a reviewer that dolls out 5 stars every time I try out a deck I really like. None of the 5 star decks will be decks that are only found in the secondary market. If a five-star deck goes out of print and then sells out of stock from the primary retailers it shifts to “Immortal” Status. Once a deck becomes immortal it opens a spot for the best four star deck to get promoted.

Handling Characteristics:

In the original reviews I use a 10 point scale for specific characteristics of the decks. I set as my average in those a 7(my educational biases shade my thinking in terms of a 7/10 being a C) and used the Bike 808 as the primary comparison deck. I’ll continue reviewing as such for the long term reviews but for this buyers guide I have turned it into a 5 point scale because it will be easier to interpret tables, if I choose to post any, and because in the original reviews I would stop using a deck if it reached a 5 or below in any one category. Thus a five point scale was sufficient.

Longevity: How long did it last me? See the testing methods section for suggestions on how to interpret this score for you. 1=1 week, 4=4 weeks(it made it to the end of a review but just barely), 5=4+weeks(the deck completed the month of a review and was still going strong at the end of the month.)

Fanning: This score judges how smooth and even a deck fans. This score also relates to spreads and, to some extent, faro weave shuffles. Though some decks with good cutting processes may faro well but still be more difficult to shuffle. I also find that decks that fan better seem more precise for various shuffling techniques, such as riffle stacking, and tend to be better at various culls.

Spring: This is actually my shorthand for “Spring Energy” and not to be confused with the “spring flourish.” This category evaluates the overall stiffness and “pop” of a deck. A deck that is stiffer tends to store more energy . The harder it is to bend, the more it tends to snap back from a bend, the higher the spring energy.

Dribble: How smooth and easy does a deck dribble. This is a useful characteristic for some flourishes and some sleights. (Dribble force, Dribble shift, Anaconda Dribble)

Crimp: Short for Crimp hold and recovery. How well does a card hold a crimp when you want it to and how well can you bend out a crimp when you don’t want it. Decks with a high crimp score will tend to look better over the long haul whereas decks low in this stat will start looking “beat up” quicker.

1 Card Glide: Short for single card glides. In its most basic this rates how easy it is to glide one card, and only one card, off from the deck. Obviously this is a rating for the “glide” move but many modern card sleights(that I won’t mention for fear of tipping methods) use the glide in some way or another.

2+ Card Obfuscations: This rates how easy it is to pass off two cards as one. Most commonly used in the DL, we all know that, in addition to the myriad of DL varieties, there are also several techniques that try to disguise two or more cards as one. Some of the techniques I use to evaluate: Diving Board Double, Hugard an Braue Push off Double, Derek Dingle Double, Floop move, Center Double, MC spread DL, Silver Surfer, and the Elmsley Count to name a few.

Avg. score W/O Spring: This is an average of all the statistics minus the spring score. Spring was left out of the total average because I consider it a matter of taste. Some people like stiffer decks and some like softer decks. The decks with a higher spring score would thus get higher averages for a trait that is a matter of personal preference. Even with that kicked out I wouldn’t take to much stock in a decks average score. I’m a firm believer in sui generis( the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts) and think the true value of a deck can’t be reduced to a simple average but I include it for you math junkies who like to calculate.
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Feb 4, 2008
Achilles Heel, Size, and Surface

Achillies Heel:
Those of you who have read my In-depth reviews also know that I give a weekly update on the progress of the deck. That won’t happen in this consolidated review. Instead I’ll give one rating for each category. This rating indicates the deck at its peak(not average) performance and if a score is listed in red that indicates the cards “Achilles Heel.” The Achillies heel represents the category that will likely give you the most trouble. Here is a good example.

As you can see the Anglos and Fourniers both have the same Achilles heel. Their fan. The Anglos rate higher than the Fourniers because, at their peak, they perform better than the Fourniers in this area. This can be misleading. Overall the Fourniers have a fan that can be “broken in” so over the long haul they actually perform better than the Anglos. I leave it as is for consistency sake. To gain a full understanding you need to look at the whole run of numbers. For one, Fourniers will last a lot longer than Anglos, as represented in the longevity stat. The best way to evaluate it is to read through the in-depth reviews that I provide links to.

How Big is it and What is on the Surface?

You will find two more items of information under the “Where to Buy” section of each card. First is the thickness of each deck. I measure the thickness of 52 cards(no jokers or ad cards) and give the measurement of that compared to a deck of Bike 808s(+ or – however many cards). People for various reasons might find thicker or thinner cards handle better for them.

I also mention the Surface of the card. There are four main types of card surfaces.

Dimpled: a series of dimples printed in the cards in even rows and columns.

Dimpled Cambric: Same dimples as above but the pattern resembles the hatch work pattern of a cambric linen. (by far the most popular surface used by USPCC)

Mini Dimples: These are a series of very tiny dimples and they rarely have the same depth as what we are used to from USPCC cards. They almost have the look and feel of a smooth finish deck.

Smooth Finish: As stated, this is when no dimples are used on the surface of the card.
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Feb 4, 2008
Baseline Decks

The Baseline decks:

These are the decks that I use as a basis to evaluate all the other decks that I review.

Test decks.jpg

Bicycle 808 Rider back:
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $2-$3/deck
Width: 15.5 mm Surface: Cambric Dimple
The most important one to know is the Bicycle 808. When I started this review I arbitrarily set the 808 at a 7(in this guide it was downgraded to a 2) but realizing that there are few cards that fan and dribble as smoothly as an 808 I bumped up each of those scores to reflect that.

Where to buy:
Going Rate: $2.50-3:50/deck
Full Review:
Width: 15.2 mm(-1 or 2 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
The Tally-ho is a card that feels very much like a Bicycle on first inspection but has a tendancy to last a bit longer and handle more precisely. That, and the fact that it is comparable in price to the 808, has made it a favorite among serious card magicians. If you decide to embark on an quest to find the perfect deck of cards for you I would recommend you start here. I may not be the end of the journey for a budding card connoisseur but it’s a good beginning.

Bee Club Specials:
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $2.00-$3.00/deck
Width: 14.5 mm(-3 or -4 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
I use this deck as a baseline for what I call the “Artists.” These decks tend to fan smoother and have a softer flexing stock(low spring). They are also a bit thinner than an 808 and come in a borderless back design, all factors that make them an excellent choice for Gambling Demonstrations and table magic.

Ellusionist UV500:Where to buy: STOCK DISCONTINUED Most of these can only be purchased on the secondary market. Some may still be available in the Bike Masters Edition at E. I recommend you contact customer service to verify before ordering.
Going Rate: $3:50-$10:00??
Width: 15.8 mm(+2 or +3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
This was my first introduction to a custom deck and I haven’t looked back since. Both a thicker and stiffer stock than the Bike 808, I use this as the baseline deck for what I call “The Workers.” These decks tended to withstand the abuse of heavy practice sessions much better than the 808s, Bees, or Tally-hos. Though I never did an official review of these deck I hold these decks in high regard.

The following three posts are categorized based upon my three main groupings of cards. Each of those groupings are based upon the spring score. The spring score, by it’s nature, rates the stiffness of the deck. The preference for stiffer or looser decks is entirely a matter of preference so it does little good to compare the virtues of a Fournier 605 or a Piatnik Club with the virtues of a Bee Aristocrat or a Smoke and Mirror v.4. Each lend themselves to a different style of card magic.

The Artists: These are decks that rate under a 2 on the spring score. They generally have a very soft flex. The finish being equal, a softer deck will tend to fan better than a stiffer deck. If the two cards are cut in the same way at the same standards the softer deck will tend to shuffle, false shuffle, and faro shuffle better than the stiffer decks. I call these decks the artists because they are a good choice for people with a very elegant style. As flourishing is concerned, people who perform lots of fans, spreads, long dribbles, and spring flourishes will generally prefer an “Artist.” As magic is concerned, the table masters and the Gambling Gods may tend to prefer an Artist.

The Generalists: The largest category, this is for those who have a very balanced style or do a little bit of everything. Cards whose spring score falls between 2 and 3 fit into the Generalist category. If you are a beginner or you have a flourishing or magical style that is well balanced you should begin your card collecting here.

The Workers: These are decks for people with a powerful style. Though they rarely fan as well as the other cards they are usually the best option for knuckle busters and complicated flourishes. All other things being equal a Worker will hold a double, perform glides, and stay together in packets(both for XCM cuts and passes) better than softer decks. Flourishers who style is heavily influenced by complicated packet cuts and aerial packet tosses will likely prefer these stiffer stocks. Magicians who are performing modern high end sleights, particularly one handed techniques(one handed dl, one handed shifts, clipshifts, one handed pop-outs), will probably appreciate the security the stiffer decks offer.
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Feb 4, 2008
The Generalists

The Generalists:

The Generalists.jpg

Arrco U.S. Reg. Deck:
Where to buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: $3.00-$5.00/Deck
Width: Surface: Dimpled Cambric
Arrcos are an odd deck. In feel almost identical to an 808 except for the final finish, yet some how this finish makes a difference in performance of this deck for high end sleights. Add to that the beautifully detailed artwork on the back design and somehow a mid range, non-custom, deck snagged a four-star rating out of me. Don’t listen to just me, this is also the favored deck of up and coming card star Chad Nelson. Warning: the Green and Black Arrcos that hit the market recently are not the same deck and have not gotten good reviews. Be sure you are getting the real deals and those are only available in red and blue.

Aladdin 1001 Smooth Finish:
Where to buy: Secondary Market- to my knowledge this is not a discontinued card though it is sold by USPCC for a foreign market, Singapore.
Going Rate: $3.00-$5.00
Width: 15mm (-1 or -2 Bikes) Surface: Smooth
The best “Fanning” smooth finish deck I have tried. Many people like these and even the Buck twins used them on their AndThenSome DVD. I think they are a good deck and they prove that USPCC can make decent smooth finish decks but honestly there are much better cards on the market that take more advantage of what smooth finishes have to offer. If you can buy them for $3.00 or under don’t hesitate to pick up a few but don’t go searching high and low for them or spending high prices for them. They are not worth that much effort.

Angelback Squeezers:
Where to buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: ????
Width: ????? Surface: ?????
This is a requested review. Word is that the Angelbacks are on standard Bicycle stock. I’ll let you know as soon as they arrive.

Anglo Poker Edition:Review:
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $6.00/ deck depending on exchange rate
Width: 15.5 mm (Same as Bike) Surface: Mini Dimpled Cambric
This is the younger, uglier, dumber, brother to the Anglo Rug Backs. If I was an English Lord and the Anglos were my sons this is the one I would send off to the Army. Offason decided to listen to some magicians(who apparently muct have been Bicycle fans) and what they wound up with was a card that seems to be trying to hard to be like a bike. The stock is thicker than the Rug deck but softer as well. They switched to a cambric pattern finish but somehow it didn’t seem to help this one. It lost many of the qualities that made the original Anglos great but failed to improve on the Anglos “Achilles Heel”, its poor fan. There is a line of gaff cards available for Poker editions but for a guy who does little gaff card magic and what I do I gaff on my own, this deck held little appeal for me. Would I prefer it to a Bike 808? Sure. But when you add in the price, $6.00 vs. $3.00, I’ll pass.

Bulldog Squeezers:[/B
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $3.00-$4.00 / pack
Width: 15.2mm (-1 or -2 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
This is the only 5 star deck currently residing in the Generalists category. This is an outstanding deck of cards performance wise, and it helps that I like the looks too. It has a very bold one way design that some claim is bad for magic performances but I have yet to have spectator get suspicious. Mostly they just think they look really unique. If you are a fan of Tally-Hos and Bees then this deck is your baby. This feels like a “best of” deck incorporating all the best feature of the Bee and the Tally. These have just been taken off the market but the stocks are still flush(final Printing 2009) so you have a year or two to fetch these at a cheap price. I strongly recommend you do so. Quick heads up, some people have claimed they smell funny? Got no clue as to why but it may have something to do with the final printing that came out of the Kentucky plant. I didn’t review the Kentucky Bulldogs so I can’t really comment.

Conjuring Arts Bee “Erdnase” Acorn Backs(Cambric):
Where to buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate:$8:00-$10:00
Width: 15.5 (Same as Bike) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First Impression: Promising deck printed on Bee Casino Grade stock. Will update after review completed.

Carta-Mundi Casino deck:
Where to buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: $3.00-$4.00
Width: 15mm (-2 or -3 Bikes) Surface: Smooth
The Carta Mundis have an excellent, long lasting, stock and finish. While this card wont fan as well as most USPCC cards in the same category(generalists) it will hold together much better in complicated cuts, aerial flourishes, and for difficult sleight of hand. To bad this particular deck is ugly as sin! Keep your eyes out for ascetically pleasing decks on the Carta Mundi Stock.(Hint: Magic Castle Cards)

Split Spade Lions (1st ed.)Review In Progress
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $3.00-$7.00
Width: 15.2mm(-1 or -2 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First Impression: Slightly stiffer than a Bike 808 but it manages to fan as well as a Bee Aristocrat card. No wonder it is so well loved.

T-11 Bicycle Centurions:
Review in Progress
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $5.00/deck
Width: 15.5 (same as Bike) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First Impression: This seems to be a deck on standard Bicycle stock but printed on a higher quality press and with more stringent quality controls.

T-11 Bicycle Guardians:
Review in Progress
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $5.00/deck
Width: 15.5(Same as Bike) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First Impression: This seems to be a deck on standard Bicycle stock but printed on a higher quality press and with more stringent quality controls. Pictures don’t do the back design justice. When you see it up close this is a beautiful design.

T-11 Propoganda:
Review in Progress
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $5.00/deck
Width: 15.2mm(-1 or -2 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First Impression: The best performing T11 deck for magical purposes. If you like the looks you probably will love this deck. The performance reminds me of Bulldog Squeezers.

T-11 Sentinels:
Review in Progress
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $6.00/Deck
Width: 15.2 (-1 or -2 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
First impression: These things are super smooth. So much so that it’s hard to hold a secure double. Likely it will break in once I get into the review. Artistically a masterpiece of modern card design.

T-11 Deck OneReview in “Planning”
Where to buy:
Going Rate: $6.00/ Deck
Width: ???? Surface: ?????
I know nothing about this deck. This is on the list by request. I had assumed, based on T-11’s advertising, that it was the same stock and finish as the Sentinels but several are claiming that is not the case. I’ll let you know as soon as I get some.
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Feb 4, 2008
The Generalists (continued)

reserved for future growth
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Feb 4, 2008
The Artists

The Artists


Bee “Expert At The Card Table”
Where to Buy: 2nd editions 1st editions only on secondary market.
Going Rate: $5.00/deck
Width: 14.8mm (-3 or -4 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
These are printed on the Bee Aristocrat stock. If you like Gambling demos there is simply no better stock than the Bee Aristocrat. These are printed with a white boarder and the backs and box are the same green as on the original Erdnase book. The box is a miniature reproduction of the original book. This is one of my Five-Star decks as I love how they handle and I love how they look. If you are a student of the classics in magic and you enjoy tabled magic this is a must have deck.

T-11 Bee Stinger Backs
Where to Buy: Currently “Out of Stock” but scheduled for re-release.
Going Rate: $5.00/Deck
Width: 14.8mm (-2 or 3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
Exact same stock and finish as the Bee EATCT cards. It got 4 stars instead of five because I liked the looks of the EATCTs better. It still is a good looking deck and the word is that it will be more colorful in it’s re-released form.

Texan ’45 Palmetto Backs
Where to Buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: $4.00-$5.00/ Deck
Width: 14.8mm (-2or -3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
This is a great looking back design placed on a standard Bee Club Special stock. Texan ‘45s are about the same quality as a Club Special but nowhere near the quality of the “Aristocrat” Bees. Originally sold only in Canada I believe these are now completely discontinued, making a once rare card even rarer. I wouldn’t recommend searching high and low for these but if you happen across some for a reasonable price it’s worth it to have a few in your collection.

Dan&Dave Smoke&Mirror v.4 (Greens)
Where to Buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: Fluctuating to fast to predict.
Width: 14.8 (-2 or -3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
Who would have thought such a great card could be made on recycled paper. They take longer to break in than many other cards but when they do they are a thing to behold. The minimalist, retro look worked well with these. This is a fantastic deck for flourishers and general magic as well. This card just edged out the Bee EATCTs as my favorite of the “Artist” class. Now that they have slipped into the overpriced abyss of the secondary market they have been retired to “Immortal” status.

Dan&Dave Smoke and Mirror v.5 (Blue)
Review: Pending…But it is basically the same stock and finish as the v.4s
Where to Buy: Secondary Market (slight chance of a re-release)
Going Rate: Unpredictable
Width: 14.8 (-2 or -3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
Basically the same card as the v.4s but with a different color. The box has changed and people who get excited about card boxes may get excited about that. This one only got 4 stars from me and that is honestly because I’m not a real fan of blue decks. All and all, anyone with a real smooth style will love a Smoke and Mirror deck.

Massa Deck
Where to Buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: $2.00-$3.00 / Deck
Width: 14.8 mm (-2 or -3 Bikes) Surface: Mini Dimpled
Massas have a very elegant design that is both modern and classical at the same time. These cards perform well “ Out Of The Box” but deteriorate faster than any other deck I have reviewed. The stock and finish of this deck is a real disappointment. I don’t care how rare these cards get on the secondary market, if you pay more than 3 bucks you are getting screwed.

Waddingtons No. 1 Poker Deck
Where to Buy: Secondary Market…or in England.
Going Rate: 2-3 English Pounds
Width: 15.5 mm(Same as Bike) Surface: Dimpled Cambric(though distinctly different than the USPCC Version)
A lot of POHMys like to jump on forums and trash this deck from time to time. I honestly think that is unwarranted. Certainly this isn’t a great card by any stretch of the imagination but it is every bit the same quality as the Bike 808. If you can find this deck for prices similar to what you would pay for a Bicycle by all means try it out. It should match an 808 in quality and give similar performance to a Bee Club Special.

Richard Turner “Gold Seal” Bicycle Review: Pending
Where to Buy:
Going Rate: $3:50-$5:00 / deck
Width: 14.8mm (-2 or -3 Bikes) Surface: Dimpled Cambric
Initial Impression: A deck of Bees printed with a Bike Rider Back design, given a more precise “traditional” cut, all under the supervision of the legendary Richard Turner. Gee let me think on that…AWSOME! Can’t get into further detail until the review is complete but these performed just as well as the Bee Aristocrats in my “ Out of The Box” evaluations so you might go check out those reviews for specifics.
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Feb 4, 2008
The Workers

The Workers

the workers.jpg

Anglo Rug Deck
Where to Buy: and some secondary market sellers.
Going Rate: $6.00/Deck
Width: 14.5(-4 or -5 Bikes) Surface: Mini Dimpled
Would you perform magic at a black tie affair(wedding, private party, …Magic Castle) wearing a Casio watch? Probably not. So why then do we think nothing of taking a deck of Bicycles to the same event? If you really want to impress upscale clientele then learn to accessorize! Get some Anglos Rug Decks. With 6 different colors to choose from you have plenty of options. The combination of thin but stiff stock and a modern yet classical design easily won this deck a five star rating. This deck is a fantastic choice for difficult sleight of hand and flourishing that is heavy on the aerials and packet cuts. It’s one “Achilles Heel” is it’s poor fan. Though it starts out great it clumps and deteriorates rather quickly. No matter, there is plenty of beautiful card magic that you can do with a deck of Anglos. Leave it to the Swedes to know “class.” Classy magic(21 DVD set), classy chewing tobacco(Sweedish Snuf), and classy cards(Anglo Rug Backs). I could go on…and do…just read my review.

Conjuring Arts Bee Erdnase Acorn Backs(Ivory)
Review: Pending
Where to Buy: Secondary Market
Going Rate: $7.00-$8.00/Deck
Width: 15.5(Same as Bike) Surface: Smooth
Initial Impressions: With the death of the Steamboats and the increasing rarity of the Aladdins this is about the best smooth finish USPCC card available. It is printed on Bee Casino Grade stock but the lack of dimpling the stock allows this stock to retain a bit more stiffness. It does seem to have a few issues with crimping but wait for the full review to get a better picture.

Fournier 605 (Lee Asher's Signature Series)
Where to Buy: And at the websites of other magicians who happen to be cool. Wayne Houchin, Aaron Fisher. (note these are not available at Chris Angels website….not that I am implying anything by that)
Going Rate: $8.00 – $11.00/ deck depending on size of your order.
Width: 14.5 (-4 or -5 Bikes) Surface: Smooth
These are hands down my favorite deck of cards ever. If playing cards were high performance street bikes than these are the Ducati! This is a precision instrument that will appeal to experienced card handlers. Some have complained about the price of these but frankly I feel it keeps the Rif-Raff away. If few of you buy this deck then that leaves more for the people who appreciate quality. In addition to their excellent performance they have a durability that, as of yet, has been unmatched by any other card I have reviewed(though Piatniks came close) These have some fanning issues like the Anglos do but if you break them in properly they will actually fan quite nicely. My comment about wearing Casio watch and using a Bike 808 in a Tuxedo applies to these as well. If the Anglo looks like the perfect accessory for the “Nouveau Riche” then the Fourniers are the perfect accessory for the magician performing for the “Old Money” crowd.

Piatnik Club
Where to Buy: Secondary Market and various retailers throughout Europe.
Going Rate: $4.00-$6.00/ Deck
Width: 15.5(Same as Bike) Surface: Smooth
Tommy Wonder was no slouch and neither are his most favored card. These are similar in stiffness and overall feel to the Fournier 605s but they are a bit thicker. Personally the thinner Fourniers felt more precise to me but if you prefer a thicker deck check these out. This is another very long lasting deck.

Rally Card
Review: Completed but will not be released until April 1st 2011
Where to Buy: Secondary markets
Going Rate: $3.00 - $5.00 / deck
Width: 16mm (+ 3 or +4 Bikes) Surface: Smooth
This deck has an interesting old world design that they stole from USPCC when USPCC let the trademark expire on a back design from the early 20th century. The neat design doesn’t save this deck however. At 16mm these are thicker than the UV500s! These are stiffer than the Fournier! The combination of the two make for a deck that performs less like playing cards and more like manipulating a block of oak! If Shaquille O’neal ever retires from basketball and picks up card magic I might recommend this deck to him. Other than that….Don’t bother.

Steamboat 999
Where to Buy: Secondary market
Going Rate: $5.00-$10.00 / deck
Width: 14.5(- 4 or -5 Bikes) Surface: Smooth
A true Immortal. Somehow this card existed for over a hundred years with very little change and was sold at very reasonable prices. Then one day someone pointed out to USPCC that they were accidentally producing a high quality card at a cheap price. They put an end to that and to the shock and sadness of many “in the know” card men the Steamboat was no more. How cool was the steamboat? Imagine a card that matched the Fournier in almost every category except for longevity being sold for $2.50 / pack. The look of the card was perfect for anyone doing a gambling show, especially one with a wild west or riverboat theme. I can’t say enough about these cards….R.I.P.
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Feb 9, 2010
This is an awesome thread. I have read all of your reviews and I love them because I am a little sissy with cards. I won't let them get damaged. So, in terms of knowing how long they will last me, I can usually multiply your time by say, 6.

Please continue your awesome reviews.
Feb 4, 2008
Thanks for the kind words SG!
As you can see by all the TBD(to be determined) on the charts there definitely are more to come. I have at least 8 with OOB score all lined up for longevity reviews. I could be busy for most of 2011! Oh well...everyone has to have a hobby. Mine is trashing cards!
Dec 11, 2010
Great stuff. I read some of your reviews and they are amazing and definitely something I will now reference to when I go out and buy more decks. I was wondering if you were going to review the new Tallys anytime soon.
Quick question: how do you know that your deck is "trash"? Could you post a picture of one of your trash deck?

Here's a pretty trashed deck. You can't really see it at first glance, but you'll know when it's trashed by how it feels. Like this one is comparable to a piece plain paper you get out of a notebook in comparison to stiffness, maybe just slightly stiffer. I still keep these decks though to make gimmicked cards:

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