i would like to say that as a beginer i found that bicycle cards are best suited for most techniques because of their softnes. all cards that are sold as casino quality are very rigid, they work well in riffle shuffle however. but thats about it. i think it has to do of course with your experience and finger strenght, i've play with cards only for a year seriously and i think that i will graduate eventually to tougher brand of cards like bees. but for practice is bikes for now.
now, cards must be broken into, i can't imagine doing anything with a deck straight out of the box. i also invested in a metal card holder or a clamp that keeps my deck straight when i don't use it. it makes a lot of difference. they are about $6 or $10 dollars each.
now, i seperate my decks into three categories, one just for riffle shuffle techniques, second for pretty much everything else and i keep them at home.
third i usually keep with me in my pocket and take it to work, practice when i have time. this last deck is usually in worst condition. my riffle shuffle deck is best or newest and it needs to be.
during practice i keep my hands very clean, but i don't like using soap of any kind, i usually just wash my hands very well in worm water. this preserves the natural oils and doesn't dry my hands or fingers to the point when i can't grab cards at all. i keep my soap for when i shower once a month whether i need it or not. :rolleyes: