Q&A with Collector, Consultant, and Card Gaffer Don Boyer (The Deck Tailor) Who is Don Boyer? I first came across Don Boyer a few years ago. It was in the early stages of my own hobby in collecting playing cards. I'd found a number of playing card communities and forums online, one of which was PlayingCardForum.com. When I asked what made this forum unique from others, I was told by several people: "Well, the advantage of PlayingCardForum is that it has Don Boyer". After joining there, it didn't take me long to figure out what they meant. Don Boyer is one of the most active members of the community there, and is very involved in running the forum and participating in it. Not only that, he is incredibly well informed about playing cards and the playing card industry. Whenever a question appeared, he would often be one of the first to post a response, typically with a tremendous amount of accurate information. Clearly he is a source of knowledge like few others, and he's more than willing to share it. As time progressed, I began to learn a little more about this incredible contributor who could be relied upon as a wonderful and knowledgeable source of information about playing cards. Don is a long-time collector of playing cards, and heavily involved in the American Playing Card Collectors Club, also known as 52 Plus Joker, which he currently serves as a Vice-President. He also runs a business making gaff cards and custom alterations to playing cards for magicians. But I'll leave it to Don to tell us all the details about this and more. Given his expertise and interests, I figured he would be an excellent person to interview, and when I approached him for this article, he kindly agreed. So, over to Don it is! The Interview General background For those who don't know anything about you, what can you tell us about yourself and your background? I’m just your average 52-year-old guy who really enjoys playing cards! I always had a fascination with cards as a kid - what other product out there is so versatile in terms of the number of things you can do with them? So many games, plus magic and divination? Sold! I dabbled with magic as a kid, but didn’t get serious about it until 2010, around the same time I started getting into collecting playing cards. That summer, I was thinking about getting my old poker game back together when I saw an ad on TV for one of the new online poker websites. They were playing cards with an all-black deck, which I thought looked really cool. After a little poking around with Google, I learned that the deck in question was a Bicycle Black Tiger deck with the red and white pips, so I wound up on the Ellusionist web site. They had some pretty cool-looking custom decks, and at the time, they were still not terribly common (remember, this was before the Kickstarter revolution in playing card projects). Arcane was still relatively new. I looked over that website many times over the next few months, but kept holding off because of how much the decks cost - they were notably more expensive than your typical pack of Bicycles. Come December, I found myself with some extra cash and decided to take the plunge, ordering some decks and a handful of magic tricks to go with them. The order showed up in the mail on Christmas Eve, I was working overnight shifts at a job with a fair amount of peace and quiet, so I brought the gear with me. By Christmas morning, I was making cards levitate, among other pretty cool tricks! It was the launch of my career as both a magician and a playing card collector. What do you currently do for a day job and/or what are your other interests? My day job is a night job - I’m a concierge for a residential building in Manhattan. On the side, I’m running a business, a sole proprietorship called Don Boyer Magic, of which The Deck Tailor is the biggest “division”: custom alterations for magicians and mechanics! My other interests are film, science fiction and fantasy, pop culture, reading and practicing a Japanese martial art called aikido. I’m currently ranked ikkyu, or “first grade,” which is the final rank before you take the test for black belt. I hope to test for black belt in perhaps one or two years. What sparked your interest in playing cards to begin with, and how did you get immersed in the world of collecting? I started collecting cards in 2010, and eventually wandered into a card forum called the Discourse at AetherCards, which became what’s now known as PlayingCardForum.com. The owner of the forum was a newbie playing card designer who created a deck and made the forum initially as a way to promote the deck, but kept it going as a way of promoting custom cards in general. At the time, United Cardists was in a bit of disarray and there were no other thriving playing card forums, so the Discourse started to really take off. Hanging out on the forum, I started learning more about playing cards. I eventually wandered over to Lee Asher’s website and noticed that his information on dating USPC decks was a little out of date, so I contacted him and let him know this. We kept in touch, eventually leading to me taking a trip up to Toronto with my then-wife to meet him, which led to me meeting his neighbor, the well-known Tom Dawson, who was president of 52 Plus Joker, the largest playing card collecting society in North America - possibly even the world. I got the chance to browse through just a portion of his collection - and it took hours! He offered to give me two decks from his collection, some less-expensive decks he’d set aside for trading, in exchange for me joining the club. How could I resist? It was roughly around then that the “Kickstarter revolution” was taking place. Until then, it was nearly impossible for anyone except those with pretty deep pockets to make their own deck of playing cards - suddenly, nearly any artist with a quality concept could sell that concept to backers and raise the money needed to make a deck. It started slow, with maybe two or three playing card projects running at any given time, to eventually reaching something more like thirty! USPC went from requiring minimum print runs of 5,000, down to 2,500 and eventually to a mere 1,000 - with higher per-deck costs, of course. How did you get involved with the 52 Plus Joker club? In due time, I was approached by Mr. Dawson with some proposed changes to the club’s charter, largely adding about how the club wanted to increase its online presence. I knew that the owner of the Discourse had been in talks a year earlier to sell to the Blue Crown, but that the deal fell through as he felt TBC would commercialize the forum, something he didn’t want for its future. I got the two talking and within a few months, the club announced that it was buying the forum. By this point, I was spending so much time there, learning from others and teaching others, I’d reached a point that with about 100,000 posts, I’d written about one in six of them! I’d been named the forum administrator just before the sale and Tom Dawson kept me in charge of it after the ownership transition. As 2015 rolled around, I went to attend my first 52 Plus Joker convention, in Orlando. I drove the entire trip solo - it was supposed to take 18 hours, but due to South Carolina being heavily flooded due to a recent storm, I had to detour and it took 20 hours, driving non-stop except for food and restroom breaks. (It helps to have a good selection of Pandora channels on your phone!) I arrived around midday and barely had time to get my bags into the room when I was being scooped up by club treasurer Steve Bowling and whisked off to a conference room. It seemed that the club decided to name me to the Board of Directors and the Board was holding its pre-convention meeting… The convention itself was a blast. It was at a turning point for the club - in addition to the increasing presence of playing card designers coming to the convention, it was also attended by a growing number of people involved in manufacturing playing cards - Liberty Playing Cards, Expert PCC and USPC all had representatives at the convention, all talking about the growing world of custom playing cards. It was a great deal of fun being among people involved in both ends of the world of making custom playing cards. So yeah, my history with the forum and my history with the club all contributed to what I know about playing cards. For the first two years, I was also the editor of the club’s first all-digital magazine, Card Culture.