Renos are Red, Tahoes Are Blue

Cherry Casino Cards

I have been a fan of casino style cards since I started down this crazy path of gambling sleights and magic entertainment. I have a collection of used (trimmed) decks that I brought back from Vegas years ago. At the time, they needed to be divided between my luggage so that the added 3kg (about 30 different full decks!) could be checked. I have since condensed the collection down to the Ace of Spades from each – a much easier way to store them.

I enjoy casino decks because I’m a fan of gambling sleights and cheating routines. Most of the decks produced in the USA are either USPCC BEE or Aristocrat, making them great to handle, traditionally cut, borderless and high quality.

My Random Brick

Earlier this year I wanted to try some of the new casino style “knock off” decks, many of which simulate the almighty Jerry’s Nuggets – a rare and extremely valuable deck today.

Chicken Nuggets were a fun idea, I am not a fan of the plastic finish though. Gemini cards were also a nice tribute, they were better to handle but unfortunately were about to have their thunder stolen.

One deck went the way of simulating a casino that didn’t actually exist. It wasn’t a tribute. Instead, it had all the classic familiar features of old town Vegas, on a brand new original design.

My First Cherry Casino Deck

Included in my random brick was a deck of V3 True Black “Black Hawk” Cherry Casino Playing Cards.

I instantly loved the feel, the minimal design, the casino theme and the traditional cut. I found the Coke style ribbon on each side provided me excellent shade for push through shuffles – providing a faux border to help disguise when the cards are misaligned.

As a cheeky nod to the casino world, the decks include “Jackpot” cards instead of jokers. The perfect simplicity continues with the deck including a double back card and a black face card (great for my White Out and Parabox routines!), wasting nothing.

As I write this today, Cherry Casino True Black (V3 – Black Hawk) is easily my favourite deck of cards to use due to its versatility, its quality and its durability.

And then they were Blue!

Not long after I went slightly nuts over the Black Cherry Casino cards, the pre-release for the “Tahoe Blue” versions were announced.

This was the same awesome deck with an incredible metallic sheen on the new blue back design. Another instant favourite for me.

These sold out fairly quickly but not before I got my hands on a brick for my own use.

Cherries are Red!

I was watching a Magic Live stream when I noticed some of the artists were performing cards tricks using Cherry Casino cards … RED Cherry Casino Cards! They were specially printed as a promotional preview for the event  and the trailer for the anticipated deck soon followed.

Matching the cherry logo makes this deck a mono-colour design on the back. The metallic red looks fantastic and I once again grabbed a brick for my supply.

All the Cherries …

Version 1 (2000 Decks)

Cherry Casino Cards didn’t start with black. They released 2000 decks of an Aqua version back in 2015.

Version 1 “House” Edition (500 Decks)

Along side the version 1 release was a very limited run of what was called the “House” deck. Today, both version 1 decks are rare and very hard to find.

Version 2 (2500 Decks)

Next they released a run of “black” decks which, compared to the V3 “True Black” decks, look more like a shade of grey by comparison.

Version 2 Limited Edition (1000 Decks)

The limited edition of Version 2 Black (1000 decks)

Version 3 Aqua (Sold Out)

Along Side the V3 (True Black), an Aqua Edition, resembling V1, was also printed.

Set for a Limited Time

This makes a total of 8 versions of Cherry Casino playing Cards available of which I currently have 6.

I have all but the House edition of the Cherry Casino decks. Unfortunately the House edition, if you can find a sealed deck, would cost me over AU$300 to buy and import so I won’t be getting that one. Besides, I am no longer a collector.

I will no doubt be selling the full set of these rare and sought after cards very soon but before that time I took some quick photos of them all together while I had the opportunity.


Update 7/10/18

A few days after writing my article,  there was a new listing put up on eBay that includes all 8 Cherry decks in brand new and sealed condition. With a total price tag of over AU$800 to import, it will end up way too expensive for me to even consider buying but hey … Christmas is coming! 😉

Here are the photos that were included with that add featuring all 8 versions of the Cherry Casino playing cards decks together:

 

Sorting a Deck of Cards

New Decks

There isn’t any rule that specifies the sorting of cards when packaged by card companies. A single series of card decks will remain sorted the same way within a single release, but each new brand or version of a deck may alter its order without limitation.

It is up to the card designers as to what that order is for each new deck they release. These days some decks even come ordered in magic memorised “stacks” to enable miracles to occur right out of a brand new box.

Standard USPCC Bicycle Decks come arranged in the suits Spades, Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts. The Spades and the Hearts are ordered Ace to King – Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. Then the Clubs and Hearts are the reverse – King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.

Skip to where I teach my method of sorting cards ↓

Kissing Kings

Arranging the Cards in the A-K then K-A order places two kings in the centre of the deck in positions 26 & 27. These are commonly known as “Kissing Kings”. If fact, when you split the whole deck arrangement in the middle (between the kings) you get a mirror of each card on the opposite side. The Ace of Spades is opposite the Ace of Hearts and so forth.

Shuffling the Deck

If you perfectly shuffle a deck of cards (splitting the deck into equal 26 card  halves and accurately interlacing every single card one after the other) 8 times in a row, the deck will return to its original order. If you imperfectly (randomly) shuffle a deck of cards, they can be arranged in one of more combinations than there are atoms on earth.

That’s 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (67 zeros) ways to arrange a deck of 52 cards!! So any time you pick up a well shuffled deck, you are almost certainly holding an arrangement of cards that has never before existed and might not exist again.

Back into order

It is documented that the fastest way to return a deck into order is to deal out the cards into four piles (one pile for each suit) and then arrange each pile before reassembling the deck. The internet is littered with record claims and videos of people demonstrating their fastest deck resorting efforts. You will no doubt find them amongst those solving Rubik’s cubes and stacking cups.

Skip to where I teach my method of sorting cards ↓

The Game

So cursed I am with continually sorting decks back into order (most likely for false shuffling) I have been crafting methods to make the process more interesting for years!

Below is one of my first attempts at making the card sorting process more entertaining. It is a video I created that turns sorting a deck of cards into a game. The idea is to use the method defined by the name “SOLVE” (flipped 37JDS) and try to complete it in the fastest time possible without dropping cards.

Skip to where I teach my method of sorting cards ↓



My Sorting Method

The main purpose of this article is to teach you my way to quickly sort a deck of cards without needing a table.

Quickly, Whenever, Wherever

The main movement for my way of sorting the cards is spreading them from one hand to the other while arranging them into simple, easy to manage categories. Reordering cards in your hands is much more versatile for anywhere you might need to prepare or perform.

This method will not only get you quicker at sorting your decks, it will strengthen your hands for other sleights as well.

– Step 1: The Colour & Suit Positions

Start by cutting to the Ace of Spaces (face up). This isn’t vital, but just makes things better no matter how the cards are shuffled.

In this first step you are going to align them according to their colour and suit as they move across.

Black cards are pulled to the front and their positions are:

  • Front/Top – Clubs
  • Front/Bottom – Spades

Red cards are pull behind and their positions are:

  • Back/Top – Hearts
  • Back/Bottom – Diamonds

– Step 2: Separate the halves.

Once you have sorted the cards into their colour and suit positions, align them so that both the sides are neat but the bottom half and top half remain separate.

By rotating the top half you can strip out that half of the deck and separate it from the bottom half. The half you stripped out contains the clubs and the hearts. They are grouped together but not yet in order.

Place the half  that was stripped out from the top of the deck, behind the other half and straighten everything up.

– Step 3: Ordering the Suits

One by one spread through the cards again but this time paying attention to the values.

The first two suits should have the Ace to the right and count up to the King to the Left. Then the last two suits start with the King to the right and count down to the Ace on the Left. Once a suit is ordered, move it to the back of the deck.

There is no trick this. I simply look at each card one at a time and determine if it is in order. If not, I move it into position.

For example I’m holding a 3, I’m sliding across an 8, is that in order? Yes – it can slide into place. Even though there are cards missing still, one is greater than the other in the correct order.

Alternatively if I’m holding a Jack and I spread across a 9, I will have to shift the 9 into its correct position. At this stage it may be between a Jack and a 6, so long as it is in order, the other cards will be along shortly.

In my experience it is easier to concentrate on just moving one card at a time rather than shifting blocks of cards around as this can be harder to keep track of. Although this process seems quite manual, the one by one sorting actually becomes a lot faster once you get into a rhythm.

Grab your cards … get set … go!

From Sorting to Practice

Another method I use to sort a deck of cards is slower but more focused on practising some sleight of hand. There is an advanced card move known as a spread cull that is a very effective way to secretly locate and control cards. Sometimes instead of using my standard method above, I will use a spread cull to collect and move each card into a simple “Ace to King” order.

If you are familiar with the Spread Cull move and would like to try what I do, here is the order I run with to get my preferred Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Ace to King order:

  • Spread cull all of the 2s to the top.
  • Go back to the start and cull the 3s
  • Continue this with the 4s right up until you have culled the Kings (The Aces will be all that remains and will be in order by default)
  • Next spread cull all of the Hearts to the top.
  • Go back to the start and cull the Clubs
  • Lastly, cull the diamonds.(The Spades will be all that remains and will be in order by default)

After completing the above steps, the deck will be in order and you will have practised spread culling 15 times!

Queen’s Slipper

There are multiple card printing companies in the Northern Hemisphere – all of which produce fine quality decks on top grade stock. Down here in Australia, when it comes to playing cards, we have very few locally made options. Even our souvenir koala and crocodile decks are made in China.

Australian Made

The one brand that stands out in most supermarkets and toy shops is “Queen’s Slipper“. I am unsure how well known they are up north of the equator, but here in Australia they are one of the most well recognised locally made decks around.

Developed by Tom Johnson, Queen’s Slipper have been making cards since 1919. This nearly 100 year old brand of deck can no doubt be found in the cupboards and garages of many Australian houses. I located a few that I picked up prior to becoming a playing card enthusiast and, even though I am not a collector, I always find myself picking up any new designs I come across in stores.

According to their website they provide the facility to produce Custom Playing Cards. They don’t have online uploading and building facilities like Make Playing Cards but rather invite you to contact them to discuss producing your design.

High Quality

The printing on the tuckbox claims the cards are “High Quality” and they are indeed well made. The finish is called “Casino Slip” and when handled, the cards have a very glossy and plastic feel to them.

I recently bought a brand new Poker deck and tested it out.  My first impression was that the cards resembled many of the cheaper decks available but, unlike those, Queen’s Slipper cards fanned, faro shuffled and dealt quite well. They feel sturdy and will no doubt last a long time in even the greasiest of hands.

Regardless of how these cards stack up in comparison, most Magicians here in Australia still prefer USPCC Bicycles and associated brands. Even though I found the cards very usable over all, I will still be importing my main supply of decks for practise and performance from the USA.

Cosentino CardsOne magician who has put his name behind Queen’s Slipper is Cosentino – a previous “Australia’s Got Talent” contestant turned prime time performer. Cosentino has produced his own design that includes a secret marking system. The advertising website prompts you to enter a code to uncover the tricks.

More Information

The Queen’s Slipper website promotes a “community” you can get involved with. However on the Community Page, there doesn’t appear to be any option to subscribe to anything – other than using their standard contact form. I later located a Subscription form on the Game (Play) page here.

So it seems for now, the best way to keep updated about these cards is on their Facebook Page. As of June 2018 they have over 16,000 followers.

 

Gold Seal Standards

So many options

It is hard for card fanatics like myself to limit yourself to one deck. I stay away from cheaper brands and those sold at souvenir shops. They are fine for fun but they lack the quality required for effective sleight of hand.

As I mentioned in my previous article “I am not a collector“, I only purchase cards that I will open and use.  If I do buy a deck with the intention of keeping it sealed, it is usually included in a bulk purchase.

Often I’ll buy a brick where I’ll open some and sell the rest. Due to the limited supply in Australia, I can end up recouping a lot of the initial cost. These days, for me to consider purchasing any single decks to store, the investment would have to be significant.

One of my Favourite Decks

One of my favourite decks of cards (for both performance and practice) are the “Bicycle Gold Standards”. They are also known as “Gold Seal”. They come in RED and BLUE and I cannot recommend these highly enough.

These were designed in collaboration with the renowned card cheat  Richard Turner and are printed at USPCC.


As Advertised:

Each deck of Gold Seal Bicycle Cards is constructed using Bee stock, world renowned for its flexibility, yet long-lasting durability. They are stamped to a caliper/thickness that facilitates classic moves like bottom and center dealing and are embossed to a depth that does not break down the structural integrity of the card, yet still allows each card to breathe properly, thereby reducing the gum-up and hangers often caused by finger moisture. But, most importantly, since these cards were manufactured to Richard Turner’s demanding personal specifications, they are Traditionally Cut!


For me, these cards bring all of the advantages of my preferred casino style decks to the standard “magic” design of Bicycles. Much of my work is focused on gambling demonstrations and cheating, so I find casino card stock is much better for shuffle and dealing.

They also seem to last a lot longer than standard USPCC decks. I would destroy standard Bicycles in a day or 2 but could use one of these decks for up to a week. When you consider their resilience vs their cost they end up being quite good value.

Buy In Bulk

As always, down here in Australia, there isn’t a steady supply available in stores. If you want to try these awesome decks, you’ll most likely have to get them imported.

eBay is reasonably affordable for 1 or 2 decks but I recommend saving up to buy in bulk and avoid those excessive shipping costs!

 

 

Cards vs Chords

I have been a professional musician for decades. A few years of piano lessons early on led me to my love of guitar. I have been practising, playing and performing guitar for as long as I can remember. Recording and writing my own music, playing at pubs, bars and restaurants and always challenging myself with difficult fingerstyle arrangements.

I was always driven by how much there was to learn. Practising was fun and I was lucky enough to be friends (and related to) some fantastic musicians – with whom I often performed in bands.

I have switched channels in the last couple of years. As much as I love music, I am not chasing it any more. I still love writing, playing and performing but I no longer have the drive behind learning it. For me, that void has been filled with cards.

Something that I have become aware of is the amount of “cardicians” that are also musicians. Many played music to begin with. I even know of some who have taken a break from magic to try an instrument. Not all of them were professional in both forums, but there is certainly an undeniable link between the two pursuits.

This connection is represented within a deck of cards called “Sharpers“. Drawing on the use of the word “Sharp” to both mean an augmented music note and a card cheat.

Here what is written about the deck:

Conceived by Gianfranco Preverino, known as the Italian leading expert in gambling, this deck reflects the two passions of its author: card sharping and music. The deck therefore combines both meanings of the word, mixing gambling elements with music, and the dominant theme on the back is the sharp symbol in music.

Find out more information about Sharpers playing cards HERE.
If you would like to learn more about my music, visit ChrisAnnable.Com

 

Backs Without Borders

Most of the card work I enjoy uses false dealing, blind shuffles and cheating sleights. This is much more easily achieved when using a “borderless” deck. Most if not all of the moves can still be done with a bordered deck, but the angles and shade are much more limited.

While practising the gambling moves, there was a time where I thought the use of a borderless deck was “cheating”. So … I was cheating at cheating! The  expectation I put on myself was to be able to work with any deck of cards. Everything should be as hard as possible and the more margins the merrier!

Yes, it is good to be versatile and I encourage everyone who is interested in studying work such as false dealing or blind shuffles to get their hands on as many different deck types as they can.  However, I have since come to the realisation that if I get to choose the deck, and I am in control of the environment (as I would be for a performance), there is no shame in using a deck that more effectively hides the dirty work behind its edges.

The classic borderless deck, and one of my favourites, is the trustworthy USPCC Bee deck. A standard among many casinos, the traditionally cut cards with their cambric finish always perform. They are often seen used by card masters such as Richard Turner and Ricky Jay for their own gambling demonstrations.

These cards are not readily available to purchase in Australia so I mostly have to import what I use. I especially enjoy the decks made in the OHIO factory 10 or more years ago (yes the same cards can feel different). So I keep my eye out for “New Old Stock”, often outcast from casinos.

There are also some more modern borderless decks that I enjoy working with:

Of course bordered decks do have their advantages. Double lifts and Triumph routines come to mind. So if you need to, or you simply enjoy working with bordered decks, there is a hybrid borderless-bordered option. All decks with a minimalist white back work really well in both scenarios. Daniel Madison has produced some excellent examples of this:

I have also seen some experimentation with partially bordered decks, where only some of the sides are bordered. I am sure these cards have some advantages in both ways but my experience using them is limited.

I am not a collector!

I am not a collector!” … This is what I have to tell myself whenever I browse my usual vendors for playing cards. USPCC standards, ex-casino, cardistry patterns, boutique designs, original artwork, brand names, celebrities, speciality finishes, magic reveals, private reserves, red, blue, black … the list goes on! There are just so many variations out there! Too many!

I used to have a substantial collection of rare, out-of-print, limited release decks that decorated the inside of my cupboards and drawers. It was an investment? No … for me, it was a waste of time, money and space. Especially here in Australia where the shipping cost for decent cards is often higher than the cards themselves! I am not against card collecting by any means – I really enjoyed it. I still think it is worth holding on to one or two valuable gems as trophies. I’ve just recognised that my personal goal of collecting everything ever made by everyone was a tad futile.

Unfortunately here down under, I don’t have the luxury of walking into any shop and purchasing some everyday USPCCBicycle” or “Bee” decks so readily available in the northern hemisphere. For me the standard retail cost is well and truly above the currency conversion rate. They are often cheaper online but then we are slugged with  that dreaded shipping cost!

For a steady supply I have found that Cosco (still fairly new and limited in Australia) supply the best value bulk playing cards for general use. Their AU$30 brick of USPCC “Standard” Rider Back cards are more than good enough for magic or gambling demonstrations and are sturdy enough to last a while. $3 per deck is a lot better than the alternatives (so long as you have a $60 annual membership or know someone who does).

Outside of that I have discovered a few online stores offer free shipping when you purchase over a certain amount in one transaction. This is usually expensive, but it is a great way to buy speciality bricks (boxes of 12 decks) in bulk.

Over all, my recommendation is to simply have a decent stockpile on hand of great cards you intend to use. I would rather invest my money and time into my skills – only purchasing items that I intend on opening and using.