Who is Victor Jose?
If you ever do any research on a deck that you are considering buying, you almost certainly have come across the name Victor Jose, or VJose32 as he is better known on his youtube channel
Victor is a Canadian who has been collecting playing cards since around 2010, and as of today his personal collection numbers well over 3,000 decks! But Victor is especially known for his contribution to the playing card industry as a video reviewer. He began posting reviews of playing cards on youtube around 2011. To say that he is prolific would be somewhat of an understatement, because since then he has posted around 4000 videos - a staggering number! The vast majority of these are reviews of playing cards or related to playing card topics. It has often happened that I was doing some background research about a particular deck, and sure enough, there was Victor with one of his helpful reviews!
Like me, you are probably curious to learn more about him. How did he get started with this, how do these decks keep rolling in, and what keeps him motivated with this enormous output? Well, let's find out by hearing from the man himself! Victor was kind enough to agree to an interview with me, so I put these and other questions to him. Given his vast experience with the custom playing cards that have been produced over the last half a dozen years, he's well positioned to share some insightful perspectives about his work and about the playing card industry.
General Background For those who don't know anything about you, what can you tell us about yourself and your background? What you do for a day job, and/or what are some of your other interests besides playing cards?
For starters I live in Winnipeg, Canada and I currently work as a woodworker in a small furniture shop which i've been at for the last 6 months or so, before that I worked in construction for a number of years. Outside of cards I have an interest in video games and of course enjoy Youtube and Netflix. I was also previously a Toastmaster years ago. It was at this point that I discovered the Tally Ho Circle Back, one of my favorite back designs, and started discovering other decks as well. How did you begin having an interest in playing cards?
My interest in playing cards started with my interest in magic. I've always been a fan of magic since I was a kid but never became a magician. However sometime in 2010 I started watching magic videos on Youtube and came across many card tricks and tutorials, especially by mismag822. It was at this point that I discovered the Tally Ho Circle Back, one of my favorite back designs, and started discovering other decks as well.
Reviewing When and how did you get started with doing video reviews?
According to my channel my first deck reviews were in August 2011. I guess they started because I felt like showing the world my decks. Your first video review of playing cards on your channel seems to be a review of the White Lions deck
] more than 7 years ago. Was that your first ever deck review, and how did that particular deck review come about?
Yes my first review seems to be the White Lions, I don't recall exactly how or why that was. How many video reviews of playing cards have you produced altogether now? In 2014 you posted a video entitled "200 Videos"
] to mark 5 years of producing videos. How many have you produced now, almost 10 years after you started?
I believe it currently shows I have 3924 videos, I can't say for sure how many exactly are deck reviews but the majority of them are related to playing cards or magic in some shape or form. How often on average would you post a new video review?
I generally post new reviews every weekday with other card related videos on the weekend. What kind of camera do you use to film your reviews, and how do you do the actual filming?
Currently I record all my videos with my iPhone however previously I used a Canon. I film them in my room on a small table with a tripod, nothing too exciting. Also currently I record an intro via my webcam for most of my reviews. How much work is involved in doing a video review? What kind of preparation or follow-up is required beside just filming the video itself?
Most of the work for my reviews is usually doing research. I try to get any info I can on the decks I review, whether it be the stock and finish, info on the tuck case, info on the deck theme itself, or info on who the court cards represent, and so forth. Usually I obtain information from the various Kickstarter projects or whatever site that releases the deck. Of course I spend some time on editing but I try to keep things simple. There isn't much in terms of setup or editing for that matter. What is it that you especially enjoy most about doing video reviews? Given how prolific you are, what motivates you to keep this up?
I enjoy showing new decks to my viewers, I have many decks that you won't find on other channels and a large variety of decks. Where do you source the decks that you review? Do you have any sponsors that help out?
I buy the majority of my decks, which isn't cheap as i'm sure you can imagine, from a variety of sites, especially playingcarddecks.com. But I buy from a variety of card shops, just depends who has what i'm looking for. I do have some good relationships with a few known Kickstarter creators that often send me some perks in exchange for promoting projects. I am also fortunate enough to have a sponsorship with Murphy's Magic which allows me to buy decks from their site at wholesale prices. Do you keep all the decks you review? What happens with decks that you decide not to keep?
I generally keep all the decks I review. There have been some in the past that I wasn't a fan of that I did giveaways with and there are others that I have available for sale or trade or potential future giveaways. Your review of the Bicycle Gaff Deck
] has almost 10 times as many views as any of your other reviews. What can you tell us about this review and why it is so popular?
I'm not really sure why but for some reason gaff deck reviews are popular on my channel, perhaps because no one else reviews them or shows the cards. There a few gaff deck reviews in my top ten most watched videos. I guess there's always someone on the lookout for a gaff deck. How much feedback do you get from viewers, and what does this involve for you to keep up with this?
Sadly I don't get a lot of comments or feedback on most of my videos but I do occasionally get some feedback regarding video quality or audio which I have improved over the years. I always respond to any comments on my videos. What do people seem to appreciate the most about your reviews?
People appreciate the honesty in my reviews and also the variety of decks I review. Also that I open and review extremely rare decks that many would never open, and would otherwise never know what the cards look like. You also have a play-list of more than 100 tricks and tutorials
]. What can you tell us about your own interest in and experience with card magic?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of magic and especially card magic. I've never really performed much outside of the channel and haven't done much magic related in a while but I enjoy it. I started off learning tricks from mismag822 and others on Youtube. Collecting When did you start collecting playing cards, and what got you started?
I started collecting in 2010 I believe and that was the result, as I mentioned previously, of watching card trick tutorials on Youtube which introduced me to decks I didn't even know existed beforehand. I was only familiar with pretty much standard Hoyle, Caravan, Bicycle, and Bee decks until that time. What are some of the things you especially enjoy about collecting playing cards?
Well what I enjoy about collecting is always finding something new to experience and to share with my viewers. How many decks would you estimate that you currently have in your collection? According to your Portfolio52 page
], as of today there are over 3500.
Not including a bunch of decks I have available for sale or trade, the figure on Portfolio52 should be fairly accurate though I have more on the way all the time. How do you organize and display your collection of playing cards?
Currently I don't display my collection or even have room to do so. I wish I had more organization but I always seem to have many decks coming in and then never organize themselves, lol. Generally I keep all my decks in boxes in my closet, I have some organized by brand, such as Bicycle, and others by company such as Theory11 or Ellusionist but i've got many other boxes that are just a random assortment waiting for some organizing. Do you have any special categories of decks that you focus on collecting, and what are your favourite types of decks to collect?
Mainly the types of decks I collect are new decks that come out, either from Kickstarter projects or card websites. I do also collect the odd vintage deck as well as some casino decks, particularly local casino decks that I find via thrift stores. In addition I like to collect some odd decks, like mini decks or jumbo decks as well as some tarot decks. How do you go about adding new decks to your collection?
As for adding decks to my collection, I look for new stuff via Murphys Magic or Playing Card Decks or search for stuff at local thrift stores or vintage decks on Etsy. If that's what you mean. Do you have any thoughts on the explosion of custom playing cards that we are seeing today?
Yeah the explosion in playing cards is hurting my wallet, lol. But I think the best thing is to sort through them and choose the best ones or the ones you like. What impact do you think crowdfunding like Kickstarter has had on playing cards and on collecting?
I think Kickstarter has opened up the card collecting to more people than ever before and has also opened the door to many new designers to get their art out. However it has also opened the door to many projects which aren't so good in design and has also opened the door to a variety of scammers. So there's both good and bad things about it. Which deck (or decks) in your collection is your favourite, and why?
I get this question a lot and with over 3000 decks it's not easy to answer but I would probably say my favorite decks would have to be the Tally Ho Circle Back, JAQK Cellars, Artifice, Split Spades, and Federal 52 among others although i've probably forgotten a few and hope I don't offend any creators if I didn't name their decks. What would the most valuable deck in your collection be, and what accounts for its value?
My most valuable decks would be the original first release Monarchs due to it's sheer limitation, White Centurions, Jerry's Nugget, first and second edition Smoke & Mirrors, and Red Artifice, all mainly due to their rarity and value. What do your family and friends think of your collection, and of your interest in collecting and reviewing playing cards?
Honestly outside of my fellow collectors and viewers no one in my family is aware of my collection though my parents know I "waste" my money, lol. I've mentioned it to one or two people who either thought it was interesting or weird. The only people who've really known about my collecting where those in my former Toastmasters group who seemed to think it was pretty cool. Do you belong to any playing card organizations, or connect with other collectors, either online or in any other way?
I'm not part of any playing card organizations but I connect to other collectors via my Facebook group, The Card Club, as well as on the United Cardists forum. If you would start collecting all over again today, would you do anything different?
Well if I started collecting all over I would definitely avoid most decks that weren't produced by known manufacturers, such as random souvenir or advertising decks, and generally try to be more specific about what i'm collecting in general. I would probably try to set some kind of a budget, which I should probably do anyway. What advice would you give someone just starting to collect playing cards today?
To anyone starting collecting I would say don't buy every new deck you see, also try to be specific about what you collect or else you well spend a lot of money. Collect just vintage decks or just casino decks or just cardistry decks for instance, don't try and collect everything because there are just so many decks out there. Are there any other written or video reviewers of playing cards online that you follow or admire?
I am a fan of 2 other Youtube deck reviewers although they are both currently not reviewing anything, that being cardsrfun and sacproductions101. I also enjoy magicorthodoxy though I don't watch his videos very regularly. What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have any goals to expand or do anything different than what you are currently doing?
I'm not sure what the future holds especially with the prices of playing cards always going up but I will try to continue doing reviews as long as I can.
What I appreciate about Victor's reviews is that he gives you an excellent idea of what to expect when you buy a deck. He shows you the tuck case, runs through the cards, and comments on how they feel and handle. In the case of specialty decks, he'll even show you every single card in the deck, which can be tremendously helpful when you're thinking about picking up a gaff deck, or wondering what some specific cards in a deck look like. As such, he provides a very valuable service and helpful contribution to the playing card community.
So if you're ever wondering about what a deck of custom card looks like, want to check out the tuck box from all sides, or are wondering what exactly is inside the box, definitely check out his channel, to see if it's covered by one of his reviews. Thanks Victor, for your extensive contribution to the industry, and for all the work you've put into this in the past years! Where to find Victor Jose? The best place to find Victor is over on his youtube channel (VJose32). You'll also find him over on the Facebook group that he created in 2012 for fans of playing cards, and which now boasts over 200 members. To see his collection, head over to Portfolio52. Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks.com here.
2018 Ultimate Playing Card Holiday Gift Guide NB: I posted an off-site link to this last week, but figured I'd just re-post the entire Gift Guide here. I've edited it slightly, and also included some information about Black Friday specials.
The end-of-year holiday period is just around the corner. And for many of us, holidays means gift-giving and gift-getting. As they say, it is better to give than to receive. But we all know that receiving gifts is great too, especially if it involves playing cards! Playing cards make great gifts, if when carefully selected to suit the tastes and style of the person that you're buying for.
It's always good to plan ahead, and to think about the kinds of playing cards that would make good gifts for others. But we also have to think about the kinds of gifts that others will be buying for us, because we really don't want Uncle Bob or cousin Mary getting us yet another unwanted pair of socks, toiletry set, or ugly t-shirt. So let's be smart about this: a well-timed and careful whisper in the right person's ear can help get things moving so that a lovely deck of custom playing cards ends up heading our way these holidays.
We're in this together, and at the suggestion of the good folks over at PlayingCardDecks.com I have done some hard work for you by putting together this 2018 Ultimate Playing Card Holiday Gift Guide. It's not a comprehensive list, nor is it intended to say that these decks are necessarily the "best" or the only ones out there - so please don't go screaming about decks that aren't on this list. I haven't seen every single deck that's come out in the last year or two, and obviously these are my own choices based on my own personal experience - you might suggest others that are equally as good. But it will give you some great ideas for playing cards you can pick up as gifts. It's also the kind of thing you can post on your social media, or email a link to your family and friends, as a small hint of what they might want to consider getting for you. This is really about showing them love by making their job easier in finding you the perfect gift, right?!
So whether you're a keen playing card enthusiast already, or whether someone in your life sent you a link to this list as a not-so-subtle hint, I'm here to help you out. I'm confident there's something on here for almost everyone. I've especially focused on playing cards that were released in 2018, but haven't limited myself to that entirely, because I want to give you lots of choices. PS: Don't miss the very bottom of this Gift Guide, where you'll find some great promo codes for the upcoming Black Friday weekend, which will give you up to 25% off the regular price for these decks!
For the Card Gamer
Once in a while, what you're looking for in a deck of playing cards is pure class. Whether it's for playing a game of poker or for a game of traditional cards, it's nice to have a deck that looks classy and sophisticated from the moment that its tuck box makes its first appearance. And when the cards do emerge from the box, the feeling of refinement is only confirmed by the classic beauty and style within. If you are looking for something sophisticated and elegant that is also very functional, with clearly recognizable indices and suits, the decks in this category are for you. These decks are practical, while at the same time making a stylish statement.
● Visa Playing Cards
(2017) - These lovely decks (available in several colours) have a luxurious look from the tuck box onwards, and the metallic gold and silver used for the card backs and court cards makes them look super stylish and elegant.
● Cobra Playing Cards
(2018) - The tuck case immediately impresses with blind embossing and gold foil, with serpents decorating both the box and the fronts and backs of the cards, and a graphic design that is just all round classy. Courtesy of Cartamundi's B9 Cardistry Finish, the cards are supremely soft and inviting, while still having a standard look that ensures they are very practical.
● Hudson Playing Cards
(2018) - This recent release is a tribute to the Hudson Playing Cards that were produced alongside the Hudson River until the factory wound up operations in 1871. While the card faces are fairly standard, the card backs are very stylish, and the tuck box - as to be expected from Theory11 - is super classy, with extensive use of foil accents and embossing.
For the Cardist
Card flourishing has a long history in the magic industry, but in recent years the art cardistry has developed an independent existence, and is gaining legitimacy as an art-form in its own right. For best results, cardistry benefits from a deck of cards that is colourful and has striking patterns, which will enhance the visual aesthetics of card flourishing. These cards need not necessarily be very functional for playing games or card magic - although often they can serve a dual purpose of being used for this as well. But of primary importance in card flourishing is the visual appeal, and having a design and pattern that looks great when the cards are being handled.
● Virtuoso FW17 Playing Cards
(2017) - When it comes to cardistry, it's hard to look past one of the dominant forces in this growing art-form: The Virts. Based in Singapore, they were the first produce a deck entirely optimized for cardistry, and their Fall/Winter deck is the latest version of their popular and smooth performing series.
● School of Cardistry v4 Playing Cards
(2018) - Any mention of cardistry is hardly going to be complete without the lively presence of Jaspas Deck, the bubbly personality behind the New Deck Order and the School of Cardistry. This is the fourth edition of their deck, which continues their exploration of what they describe as a new standard for cardistry: non-standard faces that are all identical! Optimized entirely for cardistry, this hypnotic design and energetic purple and orange colours of this deck won't go unnoticed.
● NOC Summer v2 Playing Cards
(2018) - The NOC decks have been popular with cardists for half a dozen years already, since their minimalist design is ideal for the simplicity and elegance of card flourishing. For the summer of 2018, these snappy decks were released in three great new colours: blue, orange, and a limited edition pink.
For the Collector
There are people who collect decks out of sheer love for their variety and novelty - you may even be one of these people! The decks featured in this category are creative decks that have extra touches that make them particularly appealing to the card collector, such as an individually numbered tuck seal. They often have lavish tuck boxes, other intriguing features that generate interest, and have been produced by well-known designers with a solid reputation of creativity and success.
● Top Aces of WWI Playing Cards
(2018) - One of the latest decks from popular designer Jody Eklund, noted for his attention to detail and history, comes a deck that is a tribute to the flying dare-devils of the first world war. As always, Jody's artwork is exquisite, and each court card features a notable historical figure from the era. In this Signature Edition each deck comes in an elegant tuck box that is individually numbered.
● House of the Rising Spade Playing Cards
(2018) - Stockholm17 is a designer from Sweden with a large following, and this deck represents his latest effort to hit the market. A limited edition two deck set, it consists of two different decks: Cartomancer, which is a tribute to the tarot deck; and Faro, which features cards without indices and a one-way design, just like the vintage decks of the 1800s.
● Planets: Saturn Playing Cards
(2018) - This is the sixth and newest addition that makes up the popular Planets
series, representing all the planets in our solar system. The collector will be in love once he sees the luxurious tuck box, which is arguably the best yet, and features gold holographic foil, white foil, interior foiling, and embossing.
For the Connoisseur
At times we might be looking for something stylish and classy that we can use for anything involving playing cards, whether it is card magic or card games. The important thing is that we want to show class and style. Certainly the custom playing card industry has produced some very original and stylish decks, bursting with character and energy, while still having somewhat of a traditional or more serious look. Here are some examples of such classy decks that are on offer.
● Green Wheel Playing Cards
(2018) - Green and brown are the dominant colours in this elegant deck, which has a lush split-pip design. The bicycle theme and look is inherited from its popular predecessors, the Red Wheel Playing Cards
and Blue Wheel Playing Cards
, which both have an elegant use of metallic inks, and which I also highly recommend.
● Aphelion Luxury Playing Cards
(2018) - Created by Italian team Parama Playing Cards, this deck has a box that makes an instant statement of style with its gold foil and embossing, while the metallic gold inks of the court cards ensure that any standard deck placed alongside it looks very ordinary.
● Makers Blacksmith Playing Cards
(2017) - From publishing house Art of Play comes one of the finest tuck boxes you'll see, with elegant gold and silver foil in intricate lines stamped all over a jet black box. Oh, and the cards are great too - highly detailed characters inhabit the court cards, with a simple black and red colour scheme emphasizing the customized artwork!
For the Magician
Magicians definitely have their secrets. Admittedly, most magicians prefer to work with a standard deck, and have developed such skills with sleight of hand that you can hand them an ordinary deck of quality playing cards and they can work miracles with it. But once in a while, there's a need to perform miracles of an extraordinary nature, and they're looking for something with that added extra that gives them the means to accomplish the impossible. Here are some specialized decks that will be ideal for anyone interested in serious card magic.
● Mechanic Optricks Red Playing Cards
(2018) - This brand new release features card backs with hypnotic flip-book animation. Yes, really! But the real draw-card lies in the innovative gaffs that are included, especially the Optibox Gaff (makes your tuck box look empty even when there's a full deck inside), and the Anamorphic Gaff (creates an optical illusion that a card is being seen right through the deck!).
● Marked Maiden Back Playing Cards
(2017) - Don't tell anyone, because it is top secret, but yes, marked decks are really a thing - but only for card magic, not for cheating! This looks like an ordinary Bicycle deck, but the markings are very easy to read, so you don't have to strain to figure them out or decipher them, and many consider it the best modern marked deck for exactly that reason.
● Bicycle Magic Playing Cards
(2018) - This deck isn't so much a deck to be used for card magic, as it is a tribute to the art of magic itself. The card backs and faces include mischievous imps, along with various items long associated with magic, like wands, top hats, gloves, and dice, while the court cards feature delightful images depicting different magic acts. The art style/colours have a distinctly vintage feel, making this an ideal collector's piece for a magician to appreciate.
For the Artist
Even if you're not an artist, you can still enjoy something that is artistic. A deck of playing cards is the perfect canvas for showcasing some colourful and artistic designs, whether they have been created by famous artists, or by artists who have just used playing cards as their chosen medium to create something colourful and beautiful.
● Mondrian Broadway Playing Cards
(2018) - These playing cards pay tribute to famous Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, and the card back design is based on his 1943 work "Broadway Boogie Woogie", which expresses his fascination with New York. Colourful and playful, it is ideally suited to card flourishing.
● Untitled Playing Cards
(2018) - Along with the sequel Untitled V2 `Reflections' Playing Cards
(2018), this vibrant deck was created by noted photographer Adam Borderline. It is a tribute to abstract art, as well as to the creativity and fluid motion that are essential to cardistry.
● Masterpieces Playing Cards
(2017) - More than a deck of cards, this is a miniature gallery of individual works of art. Created by Bocopo Playing Cards, it was a collaboration that involved 8 artists, 348 hours of work, and 58 illustrations. Each face card has a unique and fresh design that is its own work of art, and tells a different story.
For the Animal Lover
Do you love animals? Or do you have an animal lover in your life? How about a deck featuring dogs, or cats, or else some great artwork of animals from around the world? These beautiful decks are sure to please anyone who appreciates our four legged friends, whether they are family pets or the kinds of animals you'd normally only see at the zoo.
● GAIA Playing Cards
(2017) - With stunning and realistic artwork by talented young artist Ben Sinclair, these playing cards feature delightful hand-drawn pictures that showcases animals in different ecological habitats and biological communities. Amazing art, and a beautiful deck that is also available in a Moonlight Edition that offers a nocturnal perspective.
● The Dog Playing Cards
- Friends of canines will love this deck, which features a close-up of a dog on every single card, not just the court cards. And each single card pictures a different dog, making this deck a real treat to look through! ● Sweet Cat Playing Cards
- Created to help support abandoned cats, this is a deck that friends of felines will appreciate and enjoy. Much like the Dog deck, it features a gorgeous photo of a different furry friend on each and every card.
For the Children
Children especially like decks that are colourful, and that are lively and fun. Here we have some more light-hearted decks that are sure to amuse kids and adults alike. If you're looking for something playful, and that is designed to keep the inner child happy, then these are decks for you.
● Rainbow Unicorn Fun Time Playing Cards
(2018) - This deck first started as a joke, but has gone on to become a legend in the card playing world, and has even appeared on TV. When noted cardist De'vo is involved, you know that it's going to be special, and this quality deck offers a whole lot more than rainbows and unicorns, and is fun for all ages!
● Chicken Playing Cards
(2018) - I've been amazed by how popular this deck has proven with children and teenagers, who find the playful feathered friends pictured on this deck irresistible. A whimsical deck with extensive customization, the highlight has to be the delightful court cards, which feature our fowled friends in all manner of exalted poses.
● Sharks Are Wild Playing Cards
(2017) - Aimed at preschoolers, this deck isn't just a collection of playing cards, but is also an award winning game, designed to help youngsters learn sequencing (i.e. counting forwards and backwards). It has colourful cards where various sea creatures replace the usual pips.
I'm a real sucker for decks that look highly unusual, and have a great amount of novelty. Admittedly, not many of these are the kinds of decks that would quickly make it to the table for a card game, although many of them are certainly functional and playable. But the prime appeal of these kinds of playing cards is to the collector who appreciates the unusual elements that decks like these bring to the table. Here are some prime examples.
● Music Box Playing Cards
(2017) - Novelty doesn't come much bigger than this: the Music Box deck doesn't just have the luxuries of gold foil, a custom numbered gold key, and a cherry wood look. This deck's real claim to fame is that it plays music! It has a unique tuck box design that plays 30 seconds of "Claire de Lune" when opened, and has the genuine sound of an old fashioned music box with a metal comb flicking over metal teeth.
● Burger Playing Cards
(2017) - Part of the Deliciousness series from Flaminko Playing Cards, this deck celebrates the almighty burger. The design suggests two halves of a bun, complete with sesame seeds, which have a tactile feel courtesy of UV spot printing on the box. Each suit has been individually customized to depict foods that you'll find on an actual hamburger bun, including the patty, lettuce, tomato, and cheese!
● $100 Bill Gold Foil Playing Cards
- Looking for high bling at a low price? The tuck box and all the cards in this deck are entirely made out of gold or silver foil, depending on which deck you choose. The card backs feature the image of a US $100 bill, and the shiny surface of gold or silver catches the light, and is sure to make an immediate impression of luxury. Yet all this shiny-ness can be yours for under $8!
Are looking for something with softer colours or a more feminine look? Just because they're heavy on pink doesn't mean that these decks are strictly "girlie" decks - guys might like them just as much! So regardless of whether you're male or female, if you're looking for something pretty in pink, you'll find something here for you.
● Sakura Spring Playing Cards
(2018) - This unique all-pink deck is dedicated to the Japanese cherry blossom. It is entirely done in different shades of pink, with a simplified look that is a true exercise of harmony and beauty.
● Hanami Playing Cards
(2018) - Another wonderful deck that captures the elegance of cherry blossoms, the Hanami deck features a palette of soft colours and a captivating design that will especially be appreciated and enjoyed by cardists.
● Madison Rounders Pink Playing Cards
(2018) - Daniel Madison's highly popular series of Madison Rounders finally arrives in a colour that everyone has wanted to see: pink! Thin crush stock ensures that it handles as smoothly and softly as it looks.
Not only does PlayingCardDecks sell playing cards, but over the last couple of years the man at the helm of operations, Will Roya, has also used his expertise and experience in the magic industry and the playing card industry to produce a number of high quality custom decks. Here are several great decks that have been produced under the PlayingCardDecks banner in 2018.
● Ancient Warriors Playing Cards
(2018) - This is great as a limited edition and matching two-deck set, one in a red/gold colour scheme, and the other in black/silver, with metallic inks. Each suit represents a different culture of ancient warriors (Crusaders, Japanese, Zulus, Aztecs), with gorgeous detail, and aspects of each civilization are also reflected on the Aces and pips.
● Strigiformes Owl Playing Cards
(2018) - One of my favourite decks from 2018, this deck is full of owls. It has just the right colour combinations to give a true nocturnal feel, and the artwork is incredible, especially on the court cards. Every card has highly customized pips, along with intricate and ornate details, and a terrific graphic design.
● Royal Vortex Playing Cards
(2018) - Looking for bling? Look no further! This deck was created in honour of PlayingCardDecks' first anniversary. To celebrate, it has a gold and black colour scheme on the card backs with an enormous amount of gold foil. The card backs are also designed to give the impression of a hypnotic and eye-catching optical illusion.
It's amazing how many different decks have been created that are based on your favourite characters from TV shows, films, comics, books and more. You can check out the entire range of licensed decks
, but here are some of my favourites.
● Bruce Lee Playing Cards
(2018) - This is the second and completely revised edition of a deck that is a beautiful homage to a popular martial artist. The vivid black and yellow will appeal to cardists, and one notable feature of this updated deck is that each card features a different philosophical Bruce Lee quote in easy-to-read white capitals!
● Saturday Night Live Playing Cards
(2017) - It's a famous TV Show, and now it's a deck of cards! All the customization in this deck is inspired by the show. And because it's a Theory11 deck, you can count on a spectacular tuck box, with lots of foil accents and embossing!
● Princess Bride Playing Cards
(2014) - This deck is a wonderful tribute to the classic comedy film of the same name. The court cards all feature characters from the film, such as Westley, Princess Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and the giant Fezzik, and include memorable lines from the film like "Prepare to Die!" and "Inconceivable!" The number cards are also absolutely exquisite, and the entire deck is heavily customized, really captures some of the magic of the film.
Some of the most eye-catching decks are the ones which look the oldest - even though they are made of high quality playing cards that are brand new. Whether it's a result of a vintage or a deliberately distressed look, or whether they are a modern replica of a classic deck from the past, these decks look like they have arrived into the present straight from the past, and yet look and feel fantastic. You'll find more by checking out the full range of vintage decks
● 1883 Murphy Varnish Playing Cards
- This is a high quality replica of a 19th century deck originally created to promote Murphy Varnish. It is a famous transformation deck, which means that each card features clever artwork that incorporates the pips as part of a larger picture, which in this case is both entertaining and ingenious!
● 1889 Texan Playing Cards
- Want an authentic look straight that's more than a hundred years old? The Texan deck was first printed in 1889, and USPCC has brought it back into circulation, using a yellowed tinting on the cards to give it an authentic antique look, and with court designs that are typical of that period.
● Vintage Classic Playing Cards
(2017) - This deck is brand new, but looks much older than it really is, courtesy of the faux-aged look and yellowed tones. A black triangle on the edges of the cards creates beautiful fans and spreads that card flourishers will love, while each card has a unique dirty, weathered, and worn out look that will instantly grab attention.
Yes, I know we already have a For the Cardist category earlier in this list. But you didn't really think I could get away with having only three cardistry decks in this list, did you? Plus you might just need a cardistry deck for yourself as well as for the cardist in your life! There are lots to choose from, but here are some of the favourites that came out this year and have made it into my own collection.
● Off the Wall Playing Cards
(2018) - This unconventional deck comes from Art of Play, and has a surf-skate theme that opts for a deliberately styled casual look, yet with a bold choice of energetic and vivid colours include a vibrant blue, orange, and yellow, along with some black. The stylish and borderless card backs are loud and dashing, but isn't that exactly what cardistry is often all about?
● Superfly Spitfire Playing Cards
(2018) - Inspired by modern streetwear, fashion, and culture, this deck is the third in the Superfly series from Toomas Pintson. It has eye-catching colours with a vibrant teal-green, yellow, and black, plus a unique card back design that reminds me of a finger-print, and of course the distinctive "Superfly" branding on the cards themselves. I love the fact that each card has one pip that picks up the finger-print style design of the card backs.
● Casual V2 Playing Cards
(2018) - One of the more elegant and sophisticated cardistry decks I've ever seen, the luxurious look and feel of the tuck box already impresses. The card backs have a clean geometrical design consisting of triangles and parallelograms, and use complementing tones of brown, mint green, and gold. The gold uses pantone/metallic inks for a truly elegant look, and also returns in heavy doses on the court cards. Thin crush stock completes the perfect cardistry package.
Occasionally what you're looking for is something absurdly expensive and over-the-top. Something with lots of bling. Bring on the gold foil, the embossing, the iridescence, the UV spot printing, the exotic tuck case, and whatever other luxury you can think of! And especially: gilded edges. Here's a few examples of such gilded luxury.
● Unicorn Rainbow Gilded Playing Cards
(2018) - This exclusive deck was created for the Magic Live! 2018 event, and is a limited edition with a tuck box that has embossed glitter, and an iridescent foil. But the best is inside the box: the cards have metallic gilded edges for a stunning and shiny iridescent/rainbow look. Unicorns don't get better than this!
● Ombre Edged Playing Cards
(2017) - Unlike most gilded decks, the Ombre Edged deck doesn't feature gold or silver edges, but the gilding uses red and blue to match the card backs and courts. These colours are carefully blended together with a gradient look that makes this deck like no other, and the tuck box is cleverly designed to show off the gilding even when the deck is inside the box.
● Spirit II Gilded Playing Cards
(2018) - These stunning decks have all the bells and whistles collectors love: embossed tuck boxes with foil accents, individually numbered seals, and fully customized artwork on every card, which is inspired by the mystical stained glass windows of ancient cathedrals. Gilded edges in gold and silver just add to the feel of luxury.
While most of us love customization, there are times where we don't want much in the way of customization, but are looking for something more ordinary, with a standard and traditional look. Decks like these will fit the bill perfectly! All of these selections are available in both red and blue backed cards.
● Honeybee Elite Playing Cards
(2018) - This is a new edition of the popular Honeybee series from Penguin Magic. It has a honey-comb style borderless back design, the super-soft thin-crush stock from USPCC which handles smoothly, and has been receiving raves from card handlers world-wide.
● Arrco Playing Cards
(2018) - The Arrco decks are an iconic and practical deck, with a signature back design and superb handling that made them popular with everyone who used them in the late 20th century. Now this classic and beloved deck is back in print, with the air-cushion quality and handling from Bicycle.
● Copag 310 Playing Cards
(2018) - Cartamundi has been making a real splash with their new B9 True Linen finish card stock. It's slightly thicker than a normal Bicycle deck, but is amazingly soft, and handles fantastic straight out of the box. These decks have been receiving rave reviews, and with good reason! As an added bonus, you can also get popular gaff decks (e.g. Svengali deck
, Stripper deck
, Gaff deck
) with the same Copag card-stock and designs.
Cheap decks (under $5)
Fortunately you don't have to spend a huge amount of money to get a top quality deck of playing cards. To keep things in balance after some of the more exotic decks available, it's good to know that there's a solid range of low-cost decks that are under $5, and yet are high quality playing cards. Here's a few fine examples of great decks from this budget price range, that offer something cheap without sacrificing quality. These make the ideal stuffing stocker, and there's a whole lot more available - see a complete list in the under $5 range
● Stargazer Playing Cards
(2017) - For this price, this deck can't be beat. Not only do you get a tuck box with shiny silver accents, but the cards have a stunning borderless design that creates amazing fans and spreads. The cards have an inky black background, while the artwork features bursts of light touched with purple and pink, inspired by a classical design transported to a colourful starry night sky.
● House Blend Playing Cards
(2018) - Need some more caffeine in your life? The House Blend is a play on the classic Bicycle rider-back deck, with alternate coffee-inspired art on the card backs. The tuck box has novelty embossing reminiscent of a coffee filter, while the courts cards and pips have adjusted colours in shades of brown to fit the coffee theme.
● Wild West Playing Cards
(2017) - At a bargain price, you can travel back in time to the Wild West, where all the familiar names are represented among the court cards, including famous names like Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Jessie James, Belle Starr, and more. This is a fully custom deck with a real wild west feel.
If a deck is very popular, it's often a strong indication of quality. After all, there must be something special about it that draws people in, whatever that magnetic quality might be. These decks have proven to be best-sellers in the past year, and it shouldn't be difficult to see why!
● Cherry Casino (Tahoe Blue) Playing Cards
(2018) - The popular Cherry Casino series has a retro casino feel, and this versatile and practical deck has an immediate touch of style and class courtesy of the bold metallic ink that is used for the signature "tahoe blue" colour on the tuck case. Inspired by the clear colours of Lake Tahoe, this inviting pearlescent blue is also found on the card backs in a metallic ink, while the card faces are standard enough to make them ideal for card games or card magic. Also don't miss the newest addition to the family, Cherry Casino (Reno Red) Playing Cards
● Memento Mori Blue Playing Cards
(2018) - Created with the involvement of popular magician and youtuber Chris Ramsay, this best-selling deck has an elegant tuck box with a wrap-around design featuring the shape of Ramsay's own skull. The card backs return to this design, which gives interesting possibilities for card flourishing, and the courts are designed in a similar style. The blue version of this deck was released in 2018 and is like the original, but has a more subdued and cooler colour palette.
● Monarchs Blue Playing Cards
(2012) - One of the all time most popular decks from Theory11, and even featured in the film Now You See It
, this best-selling deck has a stylish navy blue tuck box laced with royal gold foil that exudes class and sophistication. The card backs and faces have a classy design that is not too complicated or distracting, and gold metallic ink emphasizes the regal feel of the court cards.
Happy shopping, and happy holidays! Promotions for Black Friday weekend at PlayingCardDecks.com as posted by Will Roya:
] ● Nov 22/23 - Black Friday - promo code: black18 - 25% off entire purchase plus 3 free random decks on all purchases over $100. Nov 22 5:00pm - Nov 23 11:59pm. ● Nov 24 - Small Business Saturday - Starting at 9am, over 100 items will be added to the clearance section for 24 hours only, with savings of up to 50% off. ● Nov 26 - Cyber Monday - promo code: cyber18 - 20% off entire purchase plus 1 free random deck (no minimum purchase required). Promo codes are good for one use per account and not valid on Pip Box Club or gift cards. Promo codes can not be combined with any other codes or offers. All times are in pacific coast time. Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks.com here.
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