Prince Bertram Wrote:
"What can one do to assure one gets a truly professionally-made stripper deck and not an amateur job?"
Ask the magic shop to hand make you a pro-stripper deck, and expect to pay around $40 for the deck.
At Midwest Magic, a regular stripper deck will cost you about $7.50. These stripper decks are either bought from a distributer (the magic dealer has no control over the quality of these decks obtained from a distrubtor) or someone at the shop will crank one out for you quickly... for $7.50 a deck, don't expect anyone to spend more than five minutes to make the deck. Two or three cards will be cut at a time and it won't be done with perfect precision.
If you want a pro-stripper deck, that will take at least an hour to make it properly, and the higher price will reflect the craftmanship involved.
First a suitable deck must be used. The quality of bicycle card decks varies these days. Some brand new decks just are not suitable candidates to be made into a pro-stripper deck. On quite a few brand new decks, the edges are rough and the backs are not centered perfectly (making these effectively one way decks).
Each card is cut individually two times and cut so it perfectly matches all the others. First the taper is done and then the corner is fixed to make it rounded. Two different cutting devices are used and each device must be adjusted perfectly to make precision cuts. This takes a lot time and patience to make the cards appear like a "normal" deck.
In fact, some folks have accidentally mistaken their pro-stripper decks as a regular deck and had cards from the deck signed, torn, crimped, etc. Sucks when that happens. Replacing a card doesn't work well because it generally wont match the others, and the deck will have a tendency to cut at the replacement (stranger) card.
Again, you pretty much get what you pay for. Don't expect a $7.50 stripper deck to be perfect at that price. A pro-stripper deck isn't easy to make and the price will reflect that.