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Pierre Cardinlemon
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Budapest, Hungary, EU
38 Posts

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I would like to know more about the different types of decks. Is there a good summary somewhere on the topic that can answer my numerous questions including:

What are pros and cons of different finishes, sizes, back designs, back colors, etc? What decks are "must try"? Why are forcing decks and marked decks are much more expensive than the ordinary cards with similar characteristics? Why some decks are said to be better for specific moves, e.g. the faro shuffle?
Pierre Cardinlemon
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Budapest, Hungary, EU
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Since I've received no answer so far, I share the results of my research. Maybe someone can extend it or correct my mistakes.

If one want to write on the back of the cards, it is more visible on red backed cards. I don't see any advantage of blue back cards, but they are useful for two deck tricks and color changing deck. Cards with back and face both black conceal threads better, but they are quite exotic, therefore more suspicious.

Borderless cards are better for hiding double cards (e.g., double push-over) and for false deals. Bordered cards are better for hiding reversed cards in the deck. The design can be symmetric or one-way. I don't see any other importance of the actual design, besides aestetic preferences.

In the Amateur magician's handbook Henry Hay names four different finishes: ivory, air cushion, linen and Steamboats. He mentions that nobody he knows prefers the linen finish. His list might be outdated, since it seems to be several other popular finishes nowadays: linoid, cambric and smooth. Some say that there are only two types of finishes: smooth and embossed, i.e., linen, cambric and air cushion are basically the same. I'm wondering maybe the different finishes influence making the cards rough or slick...

Henry Hay also claims that bridge size cards are easier to handle than poker size ones. I don't know whether this is always true, and isn't it more difficult to bend narrow cards which influences e.g., riffling and pinky count.

It seems that the cards can be cut from different directions and this makes a difference in whether faro shuffle is easier done face up or face down. But I don't feel any difference in the difficulty of faro shuffling face up or face down (using Bicycles). And I don't see any advantage of faro shuffling face up anyways.

I haven't found any info related to the quality of the papers used for producing the cards.

The most widely used cards seem to be Bicycle, Tally-Ho, Bee and Aviator, with Bicycle by far the most popular. I have experiences only with Bicycle and Aviator. I've found this latter more stiff, therefore more difficult to handle (except for some moves I rarely use, like the D'Amico one-handed double lift). I prefer the Bicycle, but I sometimes practice with Aviators in order to increase difficulty.

So I've drawn the following conclusions:
- I'm going to try Tally-Ho and Bee, but I will probably stick to Bicycles.
- I'm not interested in the exotic, flashy playing cards (however unique their ace of spades are). They contain the same 52 cards for higher price.
- I have to practice with cheap noname bridge sized cards as well, because those are the ones I will most likely meet as borrowed decks.
Sebastian Oudot
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Somewhere Between Two Worlds
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Hi Pierre,

These videos might also help.



Pierre Cardinlemon
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Budapest, Hungary, EU
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Thank you, these videos have indeed helped me, now I see a lot clearer.

I suspect there are some "confusion marketing" ideas behind using a lot of different names for the same thing. And the pricing of the cards are also quite arbitrary: I don't think that a unique design requires so much more ink that justifies the price difference. (Not to mention the double blank cards, which don't require any printing, but cost two times as the normal decks.)

So as an amateur cardician, I think I don't need to dive too deep in the subject. I cannot go wrong with using the most popular Bicycles, they seem to offer the best price-to-value.
Sebastian Oudot
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Somewhere Between Two Worlds
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Quote:
On Mar 27, 2019, Pierre Cardinlemon wrote:

I suspect there are some "confusion marketing" ideas behind using a lot of different names for the same thing. And the pricing of the cards are also quite arbitrary: I don't think that a unique design requires so much more ink that justifies the price difference. (Not to mention the double blank cards, which don't require any printing, but cost two times as the normal decks.)


Some very special project or design (and especially when it's done on the card box), can justify a higher price.

Other than that, I think the price of a deck only depends of the number of deck produced, then like everything else on supply and demand.



Quote:
On Mar 27, 2019, Pierre Cardinlemon wrote:
I cannot go wrong with using the most popular Bicycles, they seem to offer the best price-to-value.


Other than a few considerations that you've mentioned in your post above, the choice of a deck will mainly be determined by how you feel it in your hand.

The regular Bicycles seems to be the perfect balance, as it is the choice for a majority of people.

But you might want to prefer a deck that is slightly thicker, thinner, or simply feel different for you.

.
Tortuga
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Ballwin, MO
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Pierre, you cover a lot of ground in your posts. There is a ton of information to be had on the internet. There are also a number of forums for playing card fans and collectors. Playingcardforum.com is but one example.

There are two types of coating and within those two are some variations. The major categories are smooth and embossed. Embossed coatings on playing cards have been given various names for marketing purposes. Air Cushion, Linen, Linoid, Cambric, etc. are some of the names. USPCC came out with two big changes in recent years. They introduced "Magic" finish for custom playing cards. Magic finish is a coating that is more slippery than the typical Air Cushion finish which aids in card handling, particularly fanning. Embossed finishes help prevent cards from "clumping up" as they get used. Smooth cards get sticky due to oily skin or dirty hands. The second big change was crushed card stock called "Thin-Crush". This is paper stock that is rolled and crushed in order to make it thinner and denser.
Before that there were only two types of paper for all of the Bicycle cards, that used for Bicycle Rider Back and that used for Bee.

Speaking of Bee, you mentioned possibly using Bee. In the old days that would have meant mostly cards that had no border. Nowadays there are a variety of cards printed on "Bee" stock that have borders. This makes it better for any tricks involving reversed cards. Obviously they stick out like a sore thumb if the cards are borderless.

Bee stock is what is used for many of the casino cards and is stiffer, slightly thicker and lasts longer than the standard Rider Back stock.

Regarding faro shuffles, cards can be cut face up or face down. Decks that are "traditional cut" are cut face up and definitely faro better. You say you can't tell much diffence in decks you have used, but that is not my experience. You can faro a face down deck two ways, bottom-up or top-down. Whichever works best tells you how the deck was cut. It is usually obvious. No, there is no reason to want to faro a deck face up that I can think of.

We are living at a great time for lovers of the pasteboards. There are more different decks available than you can count. I went to a local bookstore just today and they had no less than 7 different versions of Bicycles, most of which I had never heard of. And I thought I kept track.

Before I forget, if you are interested in Bee cards, you owe it to yourself to try the Gold Seal Bicycles as promoted by Richard Turner. Basically a traditional cut Bicycle Rider Back but on Bee Stock. So you get a deck that faros well (especially tabled faros) and lasts. And it looks like a normal Bike if that matters to you.

I haven't even mentioned Expert Playing Card Company, Carta Mundi and the many others that are popular. They all have something to contribute. EPCC in particular features silky smooth edges on many of its cards. There is certainly something for everyone out there.

Hope that helps a bit.
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