Which brick of cards to purchase next for practice

Sep 9, 2017
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Over the past 2 months I've been trying Bee's - Phoenix - Bicycle 808(with the gold border on the tuckcase) and Tally-ho decks. I got no clue what the difference is between all these different bicycle decks like 807 and "seconds" or something they are called. And why I would choose one over the other.

There's linoid finish - Cambric finish - Air cushion finish and others I'm not aware of?
There's standard stock and crushed stock I believe? This has to do with the thickness of the cards and how they perform straight from the box right? If there are other things to watch for please let me know. Oh and then there might be a difference in paper quality? that I literally have no knowledge of at all.

Besides most of them having different finishes I find it hard to determine which ones I like more. And I'm almost through my brick of 808 bikes and now I'm considering buying the same or different cards.

For some weird reason I've used my 2 phoenix decks more than any of the other decks because to me it seems they have kept performing the best compared to time used with the others. But in an way I can't explain I would probably not want to buy a brick of these next. I can't quite put my finger on why I like them but still wouldn't want them as my go to deck haha.

Bee deck is just very different but it seems a solid deck that does not bend easy and therefor stays straight for a long time allowing to perform certain tricks much longer than other cards I tried. But the back design is just boring for flourishing and cardistry, it has a very practical back design for vanishes or something like that right.

I've used my 808 bikes the most since that's what I purchased a brick of first and well I mean I can't really say anything bad about these cards besides that when I make a single mistake and bend a card somewhere a little to much it's hard to get back bent back and when you hold the deck as a pack in your hand you can always see they do not connect neatly anymore. And this sometimes happens like 2 minutes after being opened. And then I look at my phoenix's or bee's that saw much more use and they do not have those problems as much.

Tally-ho I've used the least.. only a few decks so far and I have not been able to decide whether or not I like them. They are Linoid vs Air cushion and I've personally not been able to notice a difference. They say are cut differently compared to the bicycles? and that the edges are less rough?

Now I know there's a lot of things to cards.. and what you use them for is also important.
There are so many facets to it that I cannot make this decision alone.
I personally liked the phoenix's the most but I'm still kinda leaning towards get a brick of Tally because I read a lot of good things about them and it makes me think I've not played with them enough to judge them correctly. I mean I haven't used any type of card enough to judge them correctly that's why I hope you guys can help me decide :)

- One thing to note is that I ONLY practice right now and do not perform so these will be practice cards mainly.
- Also I prefer to do flourishes at the moment and not really any sleight of hand. The idea is that the cards just last as long as possible, Fan as long as possible and stay straight and smooth.

So to sum up a few things I'd like to know, which ones do you prefer and why and for which type of card magic. I mean sleight of hand and flourishing probably have quite different things you look for in a card right?
 
Jun 1, 2009
1,068
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Look at NOCs from The Blue Crown. Good price for quality. Alex Pandrea wanted them to be an every day use deck, so he's not making them super expensive. You can find them cheaper on other websites (I got mine from Art of Play, decks for 36 bucks).

Black Cherry Casino's seem to be good every day decks too.

If you feel like you'll burn through decks quickly, get something with good value. It's just practice so I'd recommend getting a good every day deck like you've been using. I like Circle back Tally's, but standard bikes will do just fine too.

Hope this helped some!
 

DavidL11229

Elite Member
Jul 25, 2015
452
223
Seattle
Just keep trying decks and see what you like. It also matters what types of things you do with them. I like Aristocrats very much. They are a good balance of price and performance. They are more expensive than bikes, but cheaper than most premium decks.
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
There's linoid finish - Cambric finish - Air cushion finish and others I'm not aware of?

Linoid, Cambric and Air Cushion are all exactly the same. The people who swear they are different are mistaken. When the USPCC purchased the BEE brand, they (BEE) called to their finish as Cambric before they were bought out. Bicycle referred to their cards as having an Air Cushion and Tally Ho as Linoid.

The actual companies can put what ever they want on the box. They could say that it is a "White Lightening Finish" if they wanted and nothing would change.

The coating is different. They have the standard coating and the "Magic Finish". Magic finish is extra slick. It's also called "Performance Coating," "Performance Finish," and "Premium Finish". It's confusing to call coating finish, but that's reality.

There's standard stock and crushed stock I believe? This has to do with the thickness of the cards and how they perform straight from the box right? If there are other things to watch for please let me know. Oh and then there might be a difference in paper quality? that I literally have no knowledge of at all.

The stocks are different from what I understand. Until recently they have only had 2 stocks casino BEE and Bicycle standard. That's it. Recently they introduced the so called "crushed stock" it's supposed to be thinner.

In reality, lots of this is completely variable. The USPCC doesn't make their own paper, they order it. So a paper manufacturer could make a change and the USPCC wouldn't even know. A while ago they started making their cards more recyclable. This changes the types of paper they use but nobody seemed to notice. A playing card is basically 2 layers of paper glued together. If the glue changes at this could change the feel as well.

I'm not sure what magician's claim to feel when they say that different cards are different. At any one time there have only been like 6 combinations of cards. 3 stocks, and 2 coatings.

Because the USPCC is always updating their machines and materials there is the chance that older decks feel different from newer decks. Also, there are companies outside of the USPCC that print cards. If we compare international cards like Fournier for example to Protea playing cards then we can find significant differences but comparing an Ellusionist deck to a Theory11 deck means that you will most likely only find design differences.
 
Jan 26, 2017
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There is a few differences in the Standard 3 (Tallys, Bees, Bikes) that I think you should be aware of though:
-Bees have a full bordered design. This will affect your magic and practicing. There are benefits to it (some slights become less visible, eg. Top Change), and downsides (some slights are more visible, eg. A reverse). And normally, they are printed on the USPCC's "Casino Stock", meaning it is generally thicker (but as Josh said, there are inconsistencies. Some will be thinner than bikes because of paper issues). Casino Stock is more so used for Casino & "luxury" decks, like the one's on kickstarter

-Tallys are printed on Q1 Stock (and traditionally cut I believe). What this means is that you will have a more consistent product, and for that reason it feels slightly thicker than some bikes, though it isn't because Bikes are not always perfect. Same Stock as Bikes, more attention to quality (and I find they last longer because of it).

-Bikes are cheaper

One more thing to note is that Theory 11 cards are printed on the Bikes "Eco Stock", or so I have heard. Whether it is true or not, Eco Stock is pretty much the same as a consistent Crushed Stock, but Eco Friendly (and I think it is also a bit thinner? Not sure.). Again, I've only heard this, don't have any actual proof.

P.S. to learn more about Stocks, Cuts, Finishes, Embosses, and Coatings, check out @Magic Orthodoxy 's David's video explaining it all:

This is super helpful

Oh, and everything Josh Said is 100% True.
 
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Sep 9, 2017
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Thanks a lot guys, a lot of information here.
I also watched the video which was very informative indeed.
I've made sort of a short summary of what was said in the video.

Stock


USPCC has 3 types of stock

- Retail (Riderback) Standard)
- Casino (Bee / Aristocrat)
- Crushed stock (examples?)

Pressure used decides the type of stock. Depending on amount printed they can use two methods.
Orders below 10.000 Sheet fed press. Orders above 10.000 web fed press. Web press is supposedly of superior quality. The only way to know the thickness of a deck for sure is measure with a caliper.


Cut

USPCC has two types of cut

- Modern (non-traditional)

- Traditional

Modern cut 90% of cards are cut like this. Cut back to face

Traditional cut means that the cards are cut face to back. The face side is slightly rounded up and the backside is flat. This means they can do shuffles and faro's out of the box easier. Sheet has to be manually flipped.


Embossing

USPCC has two types of embossing

- Air Cushion / linoid / cambric

- Smooth

Air cushion / linoid and cambric finish are all the same thing. Waffle pattern.
Smooth finish cards don't fan or spread well.


Magic Finish/premium finish/performance coating/finish

It either has it or it does not. It seems like USPCC does uses this by default for small order custom decks.

Quality indication

- Q1 to Q4

Different Combinations of all of the above.

Eco type decks Theory11 prints on these.

- Stock is FSC certified
- Vegetable based ink
- Starch based glue


So that's what I took from the video and what was mentioned here.
I am only left with a few questions now.

First question: I am uncertain how to determine whether or not a deck has Magic finish. I looked at my tally ho - bee and bicycle decks and I cannot find mention on the tuck boxes of these finishes. I cannot find that info on any of my more expensive decks either actually. So it is mentioned here and there that most custom decks have a magic finish does this mean that all the standard (cheap) cards like bikes bee's and tally's don't have the magic finish then?

Second question: It is still unclear to me what the difference between a Q1 and a Q4 deck would be. I mean I can imagine it a bit but not specifically and I don't know if that information is even available.

After some googling I found this information posted by "Endersgame" On unitedcardists.com. And he said the following.

"USPCC also has different standards of quality control. Q1 is their highest standard, and where they check closely for the best results in areas like centering, print registration, cutting, colour, and flaws. Q4 is their lowest standard, and is considered "tolerable" - it basically means that more margin is given for error. Ellusionist VP Jason Brumbalow explained this in 2010 as follows: "USPC has a quality grade standard for each of their deck runs. This standard is a threshold benchmark for things like centering, registration, cutting, color, flaws, etc. The quality grade ranges from Q1 (best) to Q4 (tolerable). I’ve long listened to dozens of people talk about how Q1 doesn’t exist, Q1 is only reserved for Chuck Norris’ casino cards etc, etc. Spoiler Alert: (Straight from the upper deck of USPC) All Ellusionist decks are graded and printed at Q1. All of them. End of story."

Conclusion: In short, this means that the playing cards from Ellusionist are of the highest quality possible. In fact most decks produced by USPCC are of similar quality, and the differences between certain decks that some people insist on are largely just a matter of different branding, as well as normal variation to be expected in different batches of paper. Most custom decks feature an embossed texture with a Magic finish, with the only significant difference between them being the paper stock.


Third question: I recently bought the bicycle Ombre edged deck they only printed 2500 of these. So probably they were manual sheet fed pressed then. It makes me wonder if such limited edition decks are actually of lesser quality because of that. Since the video claims that web press could be of more consistent quality? The video says that web pressed could be of higher quality but then again:

"Endersgame" at unitedcardist.com mentioned that the sheet fed would actually be of higher quality.

"This sheet-fed press gives greater precision in printing and cutting, and a consistently crisp and bold printing registration, and also enables the use of narrower borders than normal."


Fourth Question: Examples of a Crushed stock deck. I thought maybe my phoenix's could be crushed stock.

Fifth Question: Is magic finish worth the extra dollars to make a deck last longer when considering using it only for practice. I doubt it myself I guess since a single premium deck can cost between $10 and $20+ dollar right. And depending on where you live you could get a half or full brick of standard bikes.

In the end what I take from this the most is that breaking in a deck properly seems to be important and which ink is used and besides that a lot of it is just personal skill or imagined preference. And well breaking in a deck is not something I've really done.. I mean I do my tricks and things but when I see how other people suggest to break in a deck I almost cringe because it seems like you are destroying the deck by doing so many riffle shuffles or Lepaul spreads. I watched a how to break in a deck video from Dan & Dave.

I don't if people can still make heads or tails out of this *coin magic pun inserted* But this is what I compiled so far. And I just cannot do things in a short and to the point post :p But I also hope that future search requests land on this topic so that other newcomers can reference maybe. Though the current title would not suggest such an in depth approach.
 
Jan 26, 2017
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Ok so first thing is that the "Crushed Stock" Is found in almost all non casino stock cards printed after they started using the crushed stock. Standard Bikes use it.

The Magic finish is put on by the Order. Tallys might have it since they are Q1, but generally you'll find it in Kickstarter decks, And decks produced by companies like TXI, E, Art of Play, etc.

The smooth finish does NOT make them spread or fan bad. Generally, you will see "Smooth finish" or plastic finish on super cheap decks (which are Q4 probably) so people assume it's bad. It is not. Take the Aladdin 1001 Smooth Finish decks for example. It glides and slides perfectly. The difference between smooth and air cushioned is the embossing. If you look at a card, it'll have little divets on it, meaning it is air cushioned. Smooth finish does NOT have the divets. But if printed at a good quality, it is amazing (and holds up better than the air cushioned finish). Infact, Aladdin Smooth Finish is really good for Cardistry (perhaps even better than standard air cushioned) and performance.

For Q1 vs Q4, the difference is huge. Pick up a custom deck, or Tally s, even bikes (which might not even be Q1). Then get your hands on the super cheap decks that you might find at a dollar store (not the reused ones, the actual cheap decks that feel like trash). You will instantly feel the difference. Bikes are either Q1 or Q2, and they feel great.

Magic finish is just a performance coating that makes it a bit smoother.

Hand fed vs machine fed doesn't matter. The only difference it creates is a cut. A hand fed sheet will be manually flipped over for Q1 decks, giving you the Traditional cuts which help magicians out with faros.
 
Sep 9, 2017
76
27
Ok so first thing is that the "Crushed Stock" Is found in almost all non casino stock cards printed after they started using the crushed stock. Standard Bikes use it.

The Magic finish is put on by the Order. Tallys might have it since they are Q1, but generally you'll find it in Kickstarter decks, And decks produced by companies like TXI, E, Art of Play, etc.

The smooth finish does NOT make them spread or fan bad. Generally, you will see "Smooth finish" or plastic finish on super cheap decks (which are Q4 probably) so people assume it's bad. It is not. Take the Aladdin 1001 Smooth Finish decks for example. It glides and slides perfectly. The difference between smooth and air cushioned is the embossing. If you look at a card, it'll have little divets on it, meaning it is air cushioned. Smooth finish does NOT have the divets. But if printed at a good quality, it is amazing (and holds up better than the air cushioned finish). Infact, Aladdin Smooth Finish is really good for Cardistry (perhaps even better than standard air cushioned) and performance.

For Q1 vs Q4, the difference is huge. Pick up a custom deck, or Tally s, even bikes (which might not even be Q1). Then get your hands on the super cheap decks that you might find at a dollar store (not the reused ones, the actual cheap decks that feel like trash). You will instantly feel the difference. Bikes are either Q1 or Q2, and they feel great.

I see yeah I did know that smooth would mean without the waffle pattern. I did not know it could potentially be better than air cushioned because that seems to make no sense after all I've read. Because then you mention "if printed at good quality". I would think that every company would do smooth instead of air cushioned because it can only seem like an easier production process while making a better card and making it cheaper?

I will need to get my hands on a deck like that so that I can compare that. Which I already see will be very very costly and hard to get because here in The Netherlands they don't sell it. At least not the common vendors I use. Getting 1 alladin 1001 deck is going to cost me as much as getting a brick of anything else :p It costs at least 15euro without shipping for 1 deck. Well then I can imagine aladdins are much better yes if they are that expensive they must be higher quality. I can't really put an aladdin deck with the standard practice decks anymore now. Besides gathering information it was also about figuring out which of the common cheaper decks I would want based on all the information about cards. if I'd pay 20 bucks(+shipping) for a deck of aladdins I would probably rather prefer to check out an ellusionist deck for example since they tend to go for around the same price and there is less confusion about the fact that these decks are most definitely Q1 right?

It just seems very confusing to me why a lot of high end decks would use air cushion then if smooth finish beats it.
It seems like a complicated matter to really compare smooth finish to air cushion since the other variables like embossing and stock and Q1-Q4 comes in to play as well. But of there is the matter of using it for Sleights or for Cardistry I guess?

Thanks for the added info.
 
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Sep 9, 2017
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And btw I will be buying a brick of tally ho's :p
I would love to have the luxury of using premium decks for practice but I will have to be content with just looking at them all sealed up because they are too expensive :D
 
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