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EndersGame
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Playing cards aren't the only thing that can make a playing card enthusiast happy. Whether you're a cardist, magician, card gamer, or just a collector, you'll already know about the joy that a lovely custom deck of playing cards brings. But the good news is that there's also a whole range of accessories and playing card related products that you'll also find tremendously helpful, and will help us enjoy our hobby all the more.

PRODUCTS FOR DISPLAYING & STORING YOUR DECKS

To begin with, there are products to help you get the best mileage out of your favourite cards and decks, including displaying them, storing them, protecting them, or carrying them around. If you are a playing card enthusiast yourself, or if you're looking for the ideal gift for the person in your life who enjoys playing cards, then this article is for you.

Deck stand & card display

With all these fantastic looking decks in your collection, you don't plan to hide them in a cupboard or bury them in a box do you? The Carat XDS single card display & deck stand ($15.99) is an acrylic stand that helps you show off your favourite and most classy deck in a stylish way.

The two main parts of this product come pre-assembled, and consist of a base panel and a display panel. You simply slide the base panel into a slot on the display panel, and you're ready to go. The base panel then creates a shelf onto which you can place your favourite deck.

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But this product can also display and protect one of your more impressive playing cards on its own. The card display panel has two pieces of acrylic held together tightly with magnets. Inside is a slightly indented interior (1mm deep) in the shape of a poker sized card, so your favourite playing card will be well protected, and also sits comfortably in the middle of the display.

Everything is made out of transparent acrylic, and it's functional and sturdy. I have one on my desk, and it really looks terrific. This assumes that you've got a beautiful deck and/or beautiful playing card to display on it - but I think for most of my readers that is a given!

Are there other options? For sure. You might also want to check out the Crystal support playing card stand ($9.99) and the Wooden support playing card stand ($9.99), both of which do a similar job of showing off your favourite deck of playing cards in a stylish way.

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Carat case

If you're really looking to show off one of your more valuable decks of playing cards, you can't really look past the beautiful Carat Case (from $9.99). A carat case is the ideal way to store, show-off, and protect your favourite deck, all at the same time.

Made out of acrylic, the carat cases are available in a range of sizes. You can get a carat case that houses a single deck, or two decks, or up to as many as half a dozen or more. The lid is secured with magnets that are made out of neodymium, which is ten times more powerful than a standard magnet - and you can tell!

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You also get four individual rubber pads which you affix to the bottom of the carat case with adhesive stickers. This makes sure that your carat case doesn't easily slide around, remains in position, and that it doesn't damage the surface on which you place it.

Everything about these carat cases is classy - so what better place can there be for your to house one or more classy decks!

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Brick box

To store a dozen decks, we might want to use the Carat XCB brick box ($11.99). If you're not familiar with the term, a "brick box" describes a container that houses exactly 12 decks, which in the playing card industry is referred to as a "brick". The reasons for this term are somewhat obvious: the result has the look and feel of a house brick!

Many of us already use brick boxes to store our playing cards. These are typically the boxes used for shipping larger orders of decks, so you may already have some of these more ordinary brick boxes. But while these budget boxes will ensure that our decks get to us safely in the mail, they aren't designed to stand up to much wear, and are quite flimsy. In contrast, the Carat XDS brick box has thick cardboard walls, and you can safely stack a few of these on top of each other, even when they are fully loaded.

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An additional advantage of these boxes is the viewing window. When playing cards are stored in a standard shipping brick box, you can't usually see what's inside. But the Carat XCB brick box solves that by adding a convenient window made out of thin (1mm) transparent acrylic.

My Carat XDS brick box came as a cardboard flat pack and was easily assembled. You just fold the sides and insert some flaps into pre-cut slots. The main part of the box then folds around from the back forwards, with a flap on each side keeping the lid down. I'm very pleased with mine, and am already considering getting more!

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Cabinet

Do you really want to take things to the next level, and combine storage with even better looks? Then you might want to consider a Wooden Playing Cards Cabinet Display ($59.99).

Like some of the other accessories featured here, this lovely cabinet is produced by the TCC Playing Card Company, which is based in China. They're also makers of popular decks like the ones shown in the image below, including cardistry decks like EDGE and Forma. But they also specialize in accessories for playing cards. And as playing card enthusiasts themselves, they know all about the kind of looks that the card collector appreciates.

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This wooden cabinet can house a total of 15 decks altogether, with three cards in each of five rows. It's made out of wood, and to ensure a quality look, they have opted for North American Black Walnut.

Decks are placed inside so that the cards are flat and won't warp. Meanwhile the top of the tuck box faces outwards, so you can easily identify your favourite decks at a glance. Semi-circle shaped notches at the front of each shelf compartment make it easy to grab the deck of your choice. As an added bonus, you can even stack two of these on top of each other, or besides each other, to double or quadruple the amount of decks you store, while still maintaining a professional look.

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PRODUCTS FOR CARRYING & PROTECTING YOUR DECKS

Besides essential ways to display and store your beloved playing cards, you also will want to protect individual decks while you carry them around. These accessories will help you do that in style, while keeping your playing cards safe at the same time.

Card clip

If you've been buying playing cards for a while, you'll already have heard about card clips and know something about them. You can read more about them in our article "Card Clips: What Are They, and Why Get One?". In short, a card clip is a U-shaped metal container, into which you can snugly fit a single deck of cards, tuck box included.

Card clips can be tremendously useful for a number of reasons. First of all, they'll protect your playing cards, effectively acting as a coat of armour that surrounds your precious deck. But more importantly, a good card clip will have a strong natural spring between the two opposite sides. This means that when your deck is wedged firmly inside, your card clip will help keep the cards flat, and it can even straighten out a warped deck. And of course it is a fashionable accessory which just looks great, and can add to your street-cred!

You can buy very cheap card clips on eBay, but these are typically made out of soft alloy, so they won't do their intended job of pressing your cards closely together. I know, because I've personally tried them, so my advice is: don't both with these. It really is worth spending a little extra to get a quality item from a reputable retailer.

That's why I recommend taking a look at the stainless steel card clips from TCC that are made out of stainless steel and leather. These are made out of stainless steel, to make sure that they do the job that they are designed for, which is to keep your cards flat and pressed closely together. But they also have a lovely leather exterior which provides a very classy look. I got the Ostrich Grain Red Leather Card Clip ($29.99), which has an eye-catching and unusual leather grain, combined with a vibrant red colour.

There are several other great options available, including a Ostrich Blue Leather Card Clip ($29.99), Lizard Grain Leather Card Clip ($29.99), and Litchi Grain Leather Card Clip ($29.99). All of these are quality card clips. I recommend staying away from the inferior quality cheapies on eBay, because you'll only be disappointed. If you're going to get a card clip, at least get a quality item like these that you'll actually be happy with.

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Deck carrier

You'll notice quite a few accessories made by TCC in this list, and the black leather-look Playing Card Carrier ($11.99) is another part of the ir product range.

Given the relatively low price point of this product, my expectations were somewhat moderate, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and attractive looks. The playing card case has a very classy leather look, and doesn't at all seem cheaply made.

When you first use it, you'll find that a deck fits inside quite tightly and can be somewhat hard to remove. But over time the material stretches a little, and your deck will fit inside snugly without being too tight, so you can remove it easily. When the case is brand new, I suggest leaving a deck inside it for a day or two, to give it time to stretch slightly, and from then on it should be just right.

This card carrier offers the deck perfect all round protection, while still looking very stylish, much like a wallet. The other side of the carrier even has room for credit cards, so you can use it to carry around more than just your deck. A magnetic closure would have made it even better, but even so I've very been pleased with this. I even ended up buying extras to give away as gifts for other playing card enthusiasts.

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Denim deck holder

Also from TCC is this Denim Jean Bag Deck Holder ($9.99) which is designed to store and transport your deck as well. I love custom cases to use for carrying around my decks, and this is a particularly good one that is practical and stylish.

The case is made out of denim fabric on the outside, so it has a casual look. Denim is a popular choice for something designed to be fashionable and durable, and that's exactly what we have here. Decks fit inside quite readily, and they are very easy both to insert or remove. The external case is not overly rigid, so it doesn't give the uncomfortable feel of a card clip, yet it ensures that your deck has some protective covering - just like a good pair of jeans!

One of my favourite parts about this product is the magnetic seal. The top flap just folds over and a magnet keeps the flap in place. It's satisfying to open and close ... and open ... and close.

If you're fussy about coordinating your deck choices, you might also want to consider pairing this deck holder with the perfect deck: Bicycle Denim Playing Cards ($4.99). But regardless of which deck you put inside, this is a very trendy deck holder that does a good job of keeping your deck safe while you're carrying it around.

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Deck sleeve

I am always looking for ways to protect my decks better, and the Carat Deck Sleeve ($17.99 for a 10-pack) is perfect for the job. It's made out of a very durable plastic that is 0.3mm thick.

This product comes packed flat for easy shipping, and you simply fold over the flaps, which lock into each other at the base, and then you can slip your deck inside. Basically it wraps around your deck like an outside jacket, to protect it from spills and from getting banged up during regular use. To get the cards out, you just open up the top flap of both the sleeve and the deck. This means that the tuck box itself can remain in the deck sleeve as long as you like, until you're ready to switch out the deck you're using with another one.

The beauty is that the sleeve is completely transparent, so you can still enjoy all the visuals and artwork of the tuck box design. The sleeve is almost invisible unless you're looking very closely, and yet it does a terrific job of keeping the deck itself well-protected. The edges of your tuck box will normally get quite worn and damaged as a result of regular use, but all that damage comes to an end when a tuck box is inside one of these deck sleeves.

I've previously used the Clear Playing Card Deck Case sleeves ($29.99 for a 10-pack) produced by Patrick Kun, but those are now out of stock and unavailable. That deck sleeve had a top flap that cleverly integrated the tuck box lid, while the Carat deck sleeves use a simpler system. But for the price, the Carat sleeves do a terrific job of protecting your deck.

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One-piece deck box

Here's another way to give your playing cards excellent protection, but at a bargain price. This PCD Clear Plastic Box ($0.99) is made of thick plastic, so it offers good protection from anything that is sharp or that would damage your deck. This is a one-piece design that has a hinged lid which stays shut courtesy of a snap closure, keeping the box securely closed. The hinged design also means that you don't need rubber bands to keep it together, as is the case with some similar two-piece boxes. It's been custom made especially for PCD by Carat Case Creations, and has the PCD logo on the bottom of the box. The boxes themselves are transparent, so you can clearly see the deck inside.

I'm loving these plastic boxes, and so are my decks of cards! I use them in several ways:
To protect my decks when storing: Nothing can damage my favourite decks when they're inside these plastic boxes, which ensures they get looked after. Otherwise it's easy for the tuck box to get accidentally damaged when it's stored besides or between other decks.
To protect my decks when travelling: When my deck is rattling around in a glove compartment, being bounced around at the bottom of a bag, or squashed between other items, it will stay in top condition when it is inside one of these boxes. I nearly always put my decks in boxes like these when I'm taking them with me in my car.
To protect my decks when shipping: I don't want a deck to get damaged when I'm mailing it to someone. Putting it in one of these plastic boxes ensures that it is pretty much invincible, and will travel through the postal system safely and arrive in pristine condition.

They're also cheap, and you can pick up a dozen of these for under eleven bucks, or individually for around a dollar each.

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Two-piece deck box

In the same price range is the generic Clear Plastic Box ($0.99), which is also made of thick protective plastic. These boxes are also transparent, so that the deck inside is clearly visible and identifiable.

This product consists of two halves: a lower half into which your poker-sized deck fits perfectly, and an upper half which fits on top like a lid. If you want to, you can easily keep the two halves together with a rubber band. That's the solution I've used, although for this reason I tend to prefer the similar box that has a one-piece design with a hinged lid (see above).

But these two-piece clear plastic boxes are terrific, and I have had excellent use out of many of them, and can recommend them. Given the low cost, these plastic boxes are outstanding value, and have proven very useful in extending the life of my playing cards. These are available individually or by the dozen.

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MORE GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE COLLECTOR

There are also other great accessories available that will be of interest to connoisseurs of playing cards, besides decks and solutions for storage or protection. If you love playing cards, you're almost certain to find at least one of these related items to be of interest!

Puzzles

Maybe you have people in your home that enjoy puzzles. My family loves doing them, so I really couldn't pass up the opportunity to get the Piatnik Playing Card Puzzle ($24.99).

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This is a beautiful 1000 piece puzzle that comes to us from Piatnik, which is a big European playing card manufacturer. Piatnik is especially known for their wonderful playing cards that feature European style designs, with stylish artwork on the court cards. They also produce many playing cards with German suits, namely Hearts, Bells, Acorns, and Leaves.

This delightful puzzle allows us to enjoy a wide range of Piatnik playing card designs, without breaking the bank by needing to buy all of the decks themselves. Not everyone in my family enjoys playing cards quite as much as I do, but because they love puzzles, this is a great way for us to enjoy their hobby and mine, both at once.

That's the appeal of this quality jigsaw puzzle product - it has the potential to produce hours of enjoyment for anyone who enjoys puzzles, not just for the playing card collector. But of course for playing card enthusiasts like us, it will be a special treat!

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Books

My real love for playing cards lies not in the playing cards themselves, so I didn't think I'd be all that interested in a book about playing cards. But I surprised myself when I included the book Playing Cards in Photographs ($14.99) in a recent order. I originally intended this as a gift for someone else, but found myself loving it, so I ended up keeping it. Other books are available too, but this is easily one of my favourites.

This book is written by Laurence H. Lubliner, an antique dealer who has had a long time interest in collecting playing cards and related items. As part of his love for collecting and for playing cards, Laurence had been compiling a collection of old photographs about playing cards. He found himself wondering what he would do with them, and hit upon the idea of publishing a book with the photos, so that others could enjoy seeing them too. This book, published in 2014, is the result.

Somewhat unexpectedly, I found myself enjoying every moment I spent with this book. It consists of nearly 100 pages, and is a fine hardcover volume that is beautifully presented with glossy pages. Every page contains one or two photographs, along with commentary from the author. The generous dimensions (11 x 11 inches) ensure that you can really enjoy the visual delight of each picture.

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The photographs are arranged by topics: Card Games, In the Act, As a Prop, In Costume, and At War. For example, one section contains photos of people playing games with playing cards, and another a section showing people wearing playing card themed costumes. Many of the photos date back to the 1800s or the early 1900s, and it is fascinating to see how playing cards have been an important part of peoples lives over the last 150 years.

What really makes this book a treat is the author's text that accompanies each picture. In some instances we get a summary that recounts the circumstances of the picture. In other cases all information about the individuals and setting has been lost to history, and the author has had to speculate about what might have occasioned the photograph. He does a fantastic job of asking questions that force us to look at the details of each image, and I found myself getting increasing enjoyment out of each picture and each page as a result.

This book does much more than just show us vintage playing cards, because it especially focuses the people that have used and enjoyed them. In other words, people very much like ourselves, playing card enthusiasts who just happened to live in a different time and place. And that's especially what makes this book a true visual delight, because it doesn't only get us thinking about playing cards, and but also about ourselves and about those who have gone before us.

Several other great books are also available, including Lewis Ganson's A New Look At Card Fans ($4.99) and Albert Field's Transformation Playing Cards ($19.99). Enthusiasts of card magic will want to check out Jason Ladanye's excellent Game Changer ($49.99), but besides this you will also find other titles relating to playing cards and card magic.

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Dealer coins

In recent years it has been popular to see crowd-funded playing card projects include all kinds of trinkets, like pins and stickers. These aren't always terribly useful. But the dealer coins that some creators include have quickly become among my favourite add ons. Fortunately for us, these Dealer Coins are often available for purchase separately as well. Some of these, like the Dealer Coins ($9.99) by Home Run Games, can be as large as 2 inches in diameter, and have quite some heft to them. Their coins are made of antique brass, and also make great souvenirs.

The first time I saw a dealer coin, I had no idea what it was for. But with a bit of research, I soon discovered that you can use it for card games. For example, you might use it as a visual indicator to keep track of who the dealer is, thus serving as a visual reminder to make this obvious to everyone at the table.

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Alternatively, you might use a custom coin like this as a "poker card guard". Also sometimes called a card protector, this use is primarily poker-related. By placing your coin on your cards, you ensure that the dealer won't take your cards by mistake, thinking you have folded. Dealers tend to act speedily during a game, so you won't typically have a chance to stop this happening if ever it happens in error. But a coin placed on your cards indicates that you're still in the game and prevents it from happening in the first place. Searching for "poker card guards" or "poker card protectors" will turn up a lot of different customized coins created specifically for this purpose. Some people even consider the use of a special coin for this purpose to function like a "lucky coin".

Regardless of how you use it, a dealer coin that has been made in combination with a specific playing card project is usually created to complement the design of the playing cards. Some lovely ones are available, and regardless of whether or not you pair them with a matching deck, or use them independently, they are nice novelty items, and can add a personal touch to your card games or to you playing card shelf.

Other sized coins are also available, including 1.75" and 1.5" coins. A few specialized sets are available which include a customized deck and matching collectible coin. My favourite is easily the Princess Bride set ($19.99), which comes with both a customized dealer coin and an attractive deck of cards that fans of the film will really appreciate and enjoy.

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Cardistry trainers

Anyone who has tried learning cardistry, will be familiar with the experience of 52 playing cards scattering onto the floor. Dropping your playing cards is just one of the hazards that comes with the cardistry territory! But it's not good for your playing cards, and that's where cardistry trainers come in. Several different types are available, including Pure Cardistry Trainers ($9.99, available in color or black), and the Wooden Cardistry Trainers ($23.99).

So what's the point of these? To begin with, you can spare your actual playing cards from some damage by substituting them with these trainers.

But perhaps more importantly, cardistry trainers will help you develop cardistry skills using packets of cards. Whether you're learning packet cuts for the very first time, or if you're experimenting with new moves and developing new flourishes, it is all the more challenging when you're using packets of actual cards - especially if they don't stay together consistently. Cardistry trainers remove that difficulty, and ensure that you are operating with an actual packet. Once you've refined your moves and mastered the technique with these trainers, you then progress to doing the exactly same moves with actual playing cards.

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The plastic cardistry trainers pictured above are the more budget option you could start with. These come with plastic packets (your choice of several colours), which are even washable. Serious cardists may well prefer the wooden cardistry trainers, which have smoother edges and a performance that is even closer to real playing cards.

Most of these products come with seven packets, that together make up the approximate size of a regular deck. They're designed to have the feel and weight of a similar sized packet of actual playing cards, so that the transition from these to playing cards will be smooth. In contrast the Jelly EDGE Cardistry Trainers ($17.99) have just five packets. These also have a more pleasant look for cardistry, and are inspired by the EDGE deck of the same name.

If you want the top of the range, you can always consider the Jerry Nugget Cardistry Trainers ($39.99). These feature the card backs of the iconic Jerry Nugget Playing Cards, and are handcrafted with hand-polished edges for a smooth feel, of course with the famous looks. Whichever you choose, these cardistry trainers are bound to help improve your cardistry skills and flourishes.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

It's great news that today's playing card industry is producing much more than simply a growing number of custom decks. But besides these playing cards themselves, the market is also seeing a growing number of different accessories available.

Some great products are available for the modern playing card enthusiast to help preserve, protect, store, and display your precious decks of playing cards, or to help protect and carry around an individual deck. Most of us invest quite a bit of money buying a quality custom deck of playing cards. So it makes sense to make sure it is well looked after when we're using it, and preserve its life as best as possible. Accessories like the ones featured here do a great job of helping us protect our playing cards, and get as much mileage out of them as possible!

So if you have a special occasion coming up, like a birthday or anniversary, you might just want to send your family and friends a link to this series of articles, as a small hint about the kind of things you'd like! Or else why not just treat yourself to some of these lovely accessories and oddities?!

Where to get them? Check out the full range of accessories on PlayingCardDecks here.

Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks.com here, here, and here.
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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
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