What does your deck say about you?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by praetoritevong, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. On the apparent eve of the release of the S&M 3rd ("Luxury) Editions, I was thinking about something interesting. As many of us are card men, and most of us if not all will have at least some history with a pack of playing cards, I wanted to talk about a subject that is very close to our hearts: our decks.

    Some of us use Bicycles. Some of us use the Ellusionist decks. Some of us use Vintages, Arrcos, Aladdins, etc., and the S&M and Arcanes are about to be released. Personally, my professional deck of choice are the Smoke and Mirror decks. I'll go into this later.

    When it comes to deck choice, there are probably two main factors, feel, and looks. I'm writing this to encourage magicians to consider a third: image.

    1) Feel. Ok, obviously, we want cards that handle well, fair enough. Actually, I have a theory about this, which is that we make ourselves believe various cards handle better than others - but under test conditions, we could never distinguish one from another (obviously Aladdins are significantly different from Studs, but I challenge anyone to be able to tell, blindfolded, a deck of Ghosts from Masters from Black Ghosts from Guardians from Centurions from Smoke and Mirrors). I'm going to try this very thing in about two weeks hopefully, and I'll post the results. But as long as you have a fairly decently handling deck, you should be happy. Which means choice often depends on...

    2) Looks. If a deck of cards looks cool, you're more likely to use them. If you like them, you'll use them. On the flip side, many professional magicians use Bikes just because the look is familiar. I've never bought into this argument, but suffice to say I've argued that elsewhere and no-one's ever rebutted me, so for now that stands. In any case, whichever way you turn, your deck choice will also be based on its looks.

    So why should deck choice be governed by anything more than this anyway? I mean, is essence, you want a deck that is nice to use, and looks good, right? That's fair enough. Well. Let's ignore feel for a moment. Let's assume that, whether or not Vipers fan better than Masters, or whatever deck you want to use, let's assume that these decks handle relatively the same - that they're all high quality decks, which they are, and don't significantly differ from deck to deck.

    That leaves us with looks. From the looks group, I'm going to ignore the ones who choose Bikes because they supposedly look normal, since they would not change their choice regardless.

    That leaves us with magicians who choose decks because "they look cool", or mysterious. That's fair enough. But this is my problem.

    Think about anyone who's "cool" in your life. I'm going to use some celebrities since I assume everyone will know these guys, rather than my uncle. Take George Clooney. For his age, the man looks pretty darn good. And whenever he appears on screen, he has this aura around him, this suave, elegant aura. Or take, for example, Ed Westwick, the guy who plays Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl. Not only do the girls swoon over him, but he's become something of a fashion sensation with certain guys too. Now, George and Ed, do they try to be cool? Do they wake up and think "Ok, now to look cool..." Do they do things because doing them makes them cool?

    No! Of course not!

    The bottom line is, if you try to do something "cool", then by default, you are not.

    If you have to think about looking "cool", or being "cool", or acting "cool", then by default, you are not cool.

    The people who really are "cool", don't do cool things - they do things, which other people then call "cool".

    The people who are really "cool", are just themselves. And other people call them "cool".

    Bear with me here. Now, say we choose a deck that looks cool. A deck is a tool for our magic. Why do we want a cool deck? Because a cool deck gives off a vibe. And this vibe will affect your performance. It affects how your spectators perceive you.

    I hope that now things become a little clearer.

    Choosing a deck simply that looks cool is not enough. If we want that to transfer to our performance, we have to think of looks within a different context: image. I believe that decks can change the spectator's perception of us, of our magic, if done thoughtfully and correctly. I mean, why else were Vodkas printed, except to market the brand? To infiltrate the spectator's thinking?

    Of course, we can get a bit more subtle than that.

    With the right thinking, we don't just look for a deck that looks cool. Actually, if we look for a "cool" deck, we only defeat ourselves. Instead we should look for something more detailed, more precise, than simply, cool. We look for an image. We analyse who we are as performers, we think about how to convey our persona, and however we want to convey our performance, and use this information to choose a deck.

    It is this image which we will aim to get the spectators to remember.

    My performance deck of choice is, as mentioned above, Smoke and Mirror.


    Have a look here for a detailed description: Smoke and Mirror Thoughts

    The deck to me is the most elegant design available. It has an element of mystery, even of haute couture, of class and style, suaveness and artistic and creative, but most importantly, elegance.

    These are the things I strive to communicate through my performing persona - it is an essential part of who I am. If the spectators buy into who I am, then they buy into my performance. That means, in short, that they become friendlier, act more open, react better, pay/tip better, and are more likely to book me again. I could go on in detail about exactly how this happens, but for the sake of brevity, as my posts are often long, I won't. If anyone is interested, I can explain my opinion on these flow on effects.

    I'd like to think of myself as a fairly interesting, outgoing guy. It's not unusual to find me in a buttoned shirt and blazer. Who I am outside of magic/mentalism reinforces this as well.

    The bottom line is that your persona, and the mood of your performance, and your communication during your performance, and the substance of your communication, are all integral parts of your performance. These things will greatly amplify the effect of your performance. I'd even go so far as to say that without these things, you cannot create a good performance. And the choice of deck reinforces all these elements. The choice of deck has the potential to either support or contradict your persona.

    These elements can all be attributed to "image".

    Any decent mentalist will tell you that every aspect of your performance must be congruent with your persona. A mentalist would, ideally, not use props that don't look like they would carry. A mentalist whose persona was that of a medium would play the part - he would not perform using his state of the art blackberry. A psychologist persona would not use high tech equipment.

    So the deck of cards for a card magician should be no exception.

    A deck of cards will not create your persona for you. But, if it fits your persona, it is one extra thing that will reinforce it, and make your performance that much more convincing. If your performance is convincing, your spectators will become more involved, and, given a good performance, you will get better reactions. In other words, a deck of cards can simply work to reinforce and amplify your magic.

    Similarly, a deck of cards will not break your persona for you. But if it doesn't fit your persona, that's one more thing that helps to build skepticism. If you're talking about one thing, but your body language, your props, your performance say another, quite simply, it screams of an unprofessional performer, and can destroy your image. If your magic is not believable, you have no chance in seriously creating an impact on your audience beyond "Oh my God!" only to be forgotten into the depths of obscurity an hour later when they meet a cute guy on the dance floor after a few tequila shots. In other words, a deck of cards can work to degrade distract and reveal the deception of your magic, and weaken it.

    So please, please realise. If you are 15, and like wearing t-shirts and shorts while performing at the mall... You do not look mysterious. Nothing you say or do will make you look mysterious. Performing with a black ghost deck will not make you mysterious. So please, choose a deck that speaks for who you are. Even if you simply perform with an orange bicycle deck, because you're particularly outgoing and orange is your favourite colour.

    In other words, what does your deck say about you?

    Is it helping to take your magic to another level?

    Or are you the only person being fooled?
  2. Thank you for this post. First off I want to say that this is very well written, detailed to everything. My deck of choice is of now STUDS.

    STUDS are probably a last resort deck to pick for most people on here, but hey, I like the feel, they look okay, not the best looking deck in the world, but face it, it get's the job done like every deck of cards does. For some reason, they just flow in my hands a lot better than bikes, tally-ho's, and other custom decks like E and t11.

    Now, speaking of the cool factor, I got the 6 deck sample pack from E for Christmas last year, thinking that it would make me cooler to my friends. Well, they said the decks were cool, not me. No in fact, these custom decks do not make you cool, just sort of appealing to others.

    Don't get me wrong, E decks and t11 decks are fine with me every once in a while, but when i do tricks to others or on camera, I use my STUDS, or sometimes Tally Ho Fan Backs (which is my second deck of choice).

    E decks and t11 decks are used by me, mostly for practice. So remember guys, don't get a deck to look cool, get it to satisfy YOU with what you do, not to satisfy others. :)

  3. Very well written thread Prae. Great read.

    About playing cards- I am a serious card magician, and feel like quality is the best thing I look for in a deck. Let me give you an example - I've had my Smoke deck for more than 1 year, flourished with it in the 100 degree weather of Arizona, dropped it in the dirt, but I can still use it today, it is THAT durable. Using the same deck is something I love, because I can always rely on it, and know exactly how each sleigh should feel / if I do something wrong, I'll know it will feel different. However, the Smoke deck doesn't fit in a porper clip, so I can't really carry it around too easily without it warping in a pocket, that's my problem... (any solutions to this problem?)

    About the looks- The best looking deck without a doubt (I own) is in my opinion, the mirror deck. It's beautiful, and I love the simplicity of the faces. The black backs contrast so well with the red pips and everything. So of course I'd want to use these, again, since they don't fit in my porper, I am limited to using bike vintages/arrcos/tallys... which is fine, but these just don't last as long/ feel as nice when they get older.

    Blind test with decks? Prae, I have to say, I've read so many threads of you saying "I'm going to do this test next week" or what not, but I don't think you've ever posted the results! :rolleyes: I however, have done this test, and I actually CAN tell the difference between a tally ho deck and a guardian deck, or a centurion vs. a guardian. There are certain sleights that just feel different with a deck, I can't really explain it, but when I'm not using a deck that I normally do, I can definitely tell the difference.

    Just my humble opinion,

  4. Mine are Absolut Vodka's. Fits me as a person - not the drinking part, but the laid back, perhaps exotic type.

    I don't do 'card magic' anymore. Sometimes I have a deck, sometimes I don't. I don't go around the city asking people to see magic.

    I just don't care anymore, and that's why I like Vodka's. They don't claim to be the best.

  5. I use Stingers because I think they look cool.

  6. Regarding the Porper - you could get the Ellusionist Porper deck, which is slightly larger to fit their custom decks.

    Regarding the blind test - I know, I know! I'm sorry!! Haha. The people I want to do this with are currently sitting their finals, known here as the HSC, which decides what they can study and where at Uni, so yeah. But exams finish in two weeks for all of us, and we're pretty much jamming immediately after.

    Regarding feel - that's really interesting actually. Well, it's just my theory, so I'll keep it in mind. Can't wait to test it out for myself.

    Thanks for the positive replies everyone. Thanks for the personal experiences. Good to see people thinking - and I know it's not easy to read some of my long threads -.-
  7. MagicSanj, I think i know your solution. You might have to buy a Porper clip off of E to fit yours. They sell them as regular size, and a size larger for their custom decks, you might want to check that out. The larger size will most likely solve your problem. Remember, I'm just trying to help. :)
  8. My deck of choice are the Wynns or Jerries.
    Although I love the way Mirror's look for the reasons you have pointed out, I find the black and white design questionable to some spectators as they rarely see one. I also find some spectators who love the swirls and what not and start asking me the designer, why its called smoke, and all that stuff. I use it when performing for a group of people for a long time as I get past that stuff easily, then I perform.
    But if it is the spur of the moment thing, then Wynns or Jerries are my choice. They are simple, straight forward, and oddly comforting to look at. The color is slightly darker than normal bikes, which creates a more "out of the blue" feel, portraying something thats not normal, but not suspicious. The design is bold and straight forward. Easy to look at and understand. It doesn't drag from the trick but it still holds an aura of elegance and recognition. There are no random curves, fades, or dots, creating an easily recognizable design but never seen to the eyes of a laymen.
  9. I had a few favorites until the Raider deck came out now I just use either Raiders or Tsunamis dependant on if its night or day.
  10. The number of people who have completely missed the point (or unwilling to think) seems to be steadily increasing.

    Congratulations, you have a favourite deck? Have a cookie. Leave this topic for people who have the capacity to think for themselves.
  11. Dude, nice post. I agree with you completely, especially when you said if your try to be cool, your not. I have a few friends who are always trying to be cool, and they are just the opposite. Anyway, I love red and blue Fanback Tally Hos. They are casual, and yet are a cut above the norm. I also use Ghosts every once and a while.

  12. What my deck says about me is that I like using a marked deck.

    Feel is of no importance, I use them for effects and they last fine after some time airing off. Great effects with it, and i like everything I carry to have some sort of effect.

    That's about all of my thoughts on cards.
  13. Prae, I'd love to do the blind test with you. PM it?

  14. That's a well written post, I like it :) I've started learning magic about a year and a half ago, and I have been trying to find the deck that suits me best since then. At the moment, I use Black Ghost 2nd Edition from E for both magic and flourishing. Some people complain that these cards have rough edges, but these edges will be smooth after a few practices with the cards. I feel that these cards are not too thick or thin, and not too smooth.
  15. Prae, This was very well written. Bravo!

    If more people used these custom decks for image over form, function, or a self delusional sense of "coolness" I think the impact of these decks would be a lot greater.
  16. I think some light bulbs went off in alot of these kids heads now. Or at least dimmed.

    I use smokes when I wish to perform stylishly and cleanly dressed.

    And Guardians when im more into my dark,mythological at times,side.
  17. What does my deck(s) say about me?

    - I like having more than one
    - I like to switch them up frequently
    - I like them black, I like them white, I like them any colour of the rainbow if they look right.
    - I'm not afraid to turn away a deck that I don't think looks or feels good enough for my tastes, even if everyone else is salivating over it.

    Ironically, that sounds a lot like how I think of women.....
    (or rather, used to. I'm actually pretty committed right now.)
  18. What does my deck say about me?

    1) I don't use them often, since I can probably count the number of full decks in my possession on two hands.
    2) If I do use a deck, and I'm not "in character" then it's usually a bike. Red or Blue. Nothing special.
    3) If I need to use a deck for a gig, or show then I'll select something that adds the extra gothic, mystique feel to complete my image.
    4) I prefer to use tarot cards over normal 52's when able. And for the reason pointed out in 3.
  19. Fourth thing to consider: price

    lol I know that wasnt the point of the original post but i just thought id mention it
  20. Yes, yes, and yes.

    Smoke and mirros look nice and think they will fit me because the way I dress, but I can't pick these up because I'm broke(as usuall)

    Once again great thread Prae and yes they are very long but they speak the truth.

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