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 http://www.theory11.com/playingcards/bicycle.php http://www.ellusionist.com/playing-cards/regular-decks/normal-decks http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=126 and the new Bicycle 809 Mandolin Decks http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=2417 . 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, http://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/magic-accessories/phoenix-deck ,the Anglo Poker decks, http://www.anglocards.com/anglopokeredition09.html , and any of the Ellusionist custom decks, http://www.ellusionist.com/playing-cards . 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!