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 brands, others have been resurrected and many new custom designs are available. To help the newcomer decide, various factors need to be considered:

Bridge or Poker?

Did you know that playing-cards are traditionally available in two sizes, bridge 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 (say, less than 3 inches across the widest part of your palm, and/or your middle finger is less than 3 inches) may prefer bridge cards, but there are no hard-and-fast rules. Many magicians favour poker cards regardless of hand size. In any case, cards with regular size indices (rather than so-called ‘jumbo index’ cards for those with poor eyesight) are best.

For small children learning the most basic card tricks, patience/solitaire-size cards can be used.

White-border or all-over back?

Standard Bicycle cards (bridge or poker) 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 artistic back (and face) designs have become massively popular, especially among magicians. However, there is only one criterion regarding the design of card: that the faces and backs of the cards are clearly discernible. While certain designs may make certain effects more memorable, on a general level if a face or back is not absolutely clear to an audience, the deck should not be used. This is the reason why experts do not use custom decks (except, possibly, own-brand designs).

The bottom  line

Use standard poker-size Bicycle Rider Back cards. If you search for just ‘bicycle cards’ this is what normally turns up.

[UPDATED: 07/05/20]

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