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.