Which Cards to Use?

The choice of playing-card these days has never been greater. While the US Playing Card Co. have phased out some previously much-loved cards, such as Steamboat, other brands have been resurrected and many new custom designs have become available. To help the newcomer decide what to use, various factors need to be considered:

Bridge or Poker?

Did you know that playing-cards are traditionally available in two sizes, bridge size and poker size? In the game of bridge, players hold a larger number of cards (13) than in poker (only 5), and so the cards are slightly narrower.

Those with small hands may prefer bridge cards for magic, but there are no hard-and-fast rules. Most magicians tend to favour poker cards, as their added width helps with a lot of tricks. In any case, cards with regular size indices (rather than so-called ‘jumbo index’ cards) are best.

One other size – patience/solitaire-size cards – may be used by children for the most basic magic.

White-border or all-over back?

Bicycle cards have a white border, whereas the Bee brand have an all-over back. Which to use? Unless you have a specific reason to use all-over cards, stick to a white-border back design.

Custom design or standard?

In the past two decades, custom or artistically designed ‘transformation decks’ have become massively popular, especially among magicians. However, there is only one criterion regarding the design of card used: that the faces and backs of the cards allow the effect to be conveyed clearly. While certain designs can make certain effects more memorable, on a general level, if a face or back is not absolutely clear to an audience, then the deck should not be used. This is the reason why experts do not use custom decks (except, possibly, own-brand designs).

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