Sunday, April 20, 2008


My obsession with cards started when I was three. I had a sherbet tub filled with different cards, and I used to play with them like crazy. I've collected cards ever since, although I didn't start a serious collection until I was in my 20s. My collection led me to a deck called the Ghost deck, and that led me to magic. Lately, magic companies have been introducing a slew of new cards, so here's a catchup of the newest decks I've bought over the last few months:

ELLUSIONIST'S SHADOW MASTERS: This is an all-black variation of Bicycle's Rider back, and it is sweeeeeeet-looking. Very dark, very gothic. Each card has a gradient design that makes the pips glow. Seriously... I've never in my life looked at a 10 of Clubs and said, "Wow," before this deck. See for yourself. I did a few tricks for a girl at Ground Xero on Valentine's Day, and I think she was more impressed with my cards than my magic. Because the card stock is white, so are the edges, but I fixed that with a black Sharpie. It's a sharp-looking deck, but it got clumpy after a while (before the Sharpie, even more so after). I'm also finding that the ink wears off near the edges on the faces. But it's durable, still fans well and the clumps help with flourishing.

THEORY 11'S BROWN WYNNS: OK, they are not exactly Theory 11's cards... they came from the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. As the story goes, these cards were the rave at some magician's convention. They were intended for use on the casino floor, but never made it there. The guys at T11 made a deal for a few, and sold them in limited quantities. That makes this one of the rarest decks I own, in theory. TLP got me a deck for Valentine's Day (That's why she is THE ONE... she knows me too well.)

I'm not so sure the deck is worthy of all the hype: First off, they are casino Bees, which are some of the best cards on the market. But I'm skeptical why these would be better than any other Bees intended for a casino. I doubt the Wynn commissioned a special recipe of card stock. Anyway, they feel like Hoyles, pre-U.S. Playing Card Co. The fibers in the deck remind me of corduroy pants zip-zopping as I walk. They don't fan very well, either. But they are tough, the design is elegant (as far as corporate logos go) and they clump well enough for flourishes. The jumbo indexes make color changes startling. Sad story: I've lost my seven of Diamonds.

For grammar nerds: "Bee" is the proper trademark name for Bees. With the quotes. Check it out. I have no idea, but the Ace of Spades and box all say "Bee." Why? Who knows. Looks weird, like "Bee" isn't really the name.

THEORY 11'S CENTURIONS: Following up from the Guardians, T11's latest offering is a worthy successor. T11 improved the printing quality and style with this latest deck. I tested a deck out on my cousin Susan with a series of card tricks, and they performed well. Fanning, faro shuffling and most sleights went without a hitch. They are still a bit too slick for flourishes, but I'm more of a fanner, so that's not a problem for me. Some of the design foibles are strange: The jokers are better designed than the Ace of Spades and the lack of blue ink on the face cards is puzzling. I also wonder why T11 doesn't incorporate a joker reveal into the design. That being said, I love the face cards, which are done in black and red inks. I'll be using this deck often on the streets, once I start hitting them.

UP NEXT: Ellusionist is releasing the second edition of the Black Ghost, T11 is selling David Blaine's Split Spades Lions and Dan and Dave Buck are coming out with a deck. Good thing I'm getting a raise soon.

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