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.