Bicycle playing card quality

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
Jason Ladanye
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Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Jason Ladanye » December 30th, 2018, 12:10 pm

I still use the cheap Bikes. What do you use?

https://www.cardmagicbyjason.com/bicycl ... d-quality/

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » December 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm

Jason--what a great post. Thank you.

performer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby performer » December 30th, 2018, 2:15 pm

I find it interesting that Jason gets through about 700 to 800 decks a year. I get through about ten. And I have carried a deck of cards on my person for nearly every day of my life. That means that Jason gets through approximately two decks a day whereas I get through one deck a month (actually I think it is more like one deck every two or three months!).

How very odd. Perhaps Jason plays a lot of solitaire.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Brad Henderson » December 30th, 2018, 2:27 pm

the Sam’s clubs decks are just fine. Whomever convinced magicians that paying $8 for our equivalent to a roll of toilet paper was a genius who deserves a special place in hell. But to each their own.

Having said that, in the book i’m finishing there is a trick which will have you seeking those bicycle boxes most magicians hate.

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » December 30th, 2018, 5:22 pm

Since Jason asked: I also favor the Turner Bikes--I find push off DL's easier to do with them and the decks feel substantial. (I thought i was the only one who spent time eliminating that sticker--until I figured out it's easier just to change out the box for shows ;) ).

However, the Bike Elites are growing on me, as passes are easier for me with the softer deck.

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » December 30th, 2018, 7:05 pm

Have you tried rubber cement thinner to remove the seal? I find it works with a lot of sticky stuff.

Ted M
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Ted M » December 30th, 2018, 9:30 pm

Can any of the old-timers describe the quality of Bicycle cards in prior decades? Say, in the 60s through 90s?

There was a period in there when both red and blue backs were very light shades of those colors, yes?

Photos from 70s books show a wide variety of different backs in use. This suggests that Bicycles may have had quality issues then... (Or maybe it speaks to regional preferences and the variety that existed before corporate consolidations...)

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » December 31st, 2018, 3:55 am

Bob Farmer wrote:Have you tried rubber cement thinner to remove the seal? I find it works with a lot of sticky stuff.


I'll give that a try--thanks!

(One thing which works well on other stickers--but not this one--is hitting the sticker with the hot air from a hair dryer).

Jason Ladanye
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Jason Ladanye » December 31st, 2018, 1:55 pm

My gut tells me the thinner may mess up the ink on the card box. If anyone tries this idea please post the results.

-Jason

Joe Lyons
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Joe Lyons » December 31st, 2018, 2:24 pm

Goo Gone should work.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 31st, 2018, 2:28 pm

Rubber Cement Thinner works perfectly, and will not affect paper or cardboard. It evaporates almost instantly and does not cause paper to warp.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » December 31st, 2018, 2:30 pm

Jason:
Do you give away the deck at the end of shows? I know that Darwin Ortiz has written about that strategem and I've tried it a couple of times, but I'm not sure if it made any difference or not in the minds of the spectators.

Also, I've stuck with Bikes forever because of 1) force of habit 2) all the gaffs I own are made up in Bikes and 3) the Costco/Sam's Club thing for practice decks. However, I'm of the camp that audiences don't care much what brands they see used and I tend to think that audiences always suspect trick cards on some level unless that suspicion is mitigated by presentation or examination.

Since your routines and presentation are often based upon your overt great skill with the cards, I would think that the risk of the audience believing you use trick cards is greatly minimized. Therefore I wanted to ask: when you have performed with something other than Bikes have you encountered a lot of spectators who are suspicious because of the unusual backs or are their suspicions waylaid by your obvious skill level?

performer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby performer » December 31st, 2018, 2:53 pm

I personally am of the old fashioned school of thought that it is wise to hide your skill as much as possible. The audience will still be vaguely aware that you have it but I think it is better policy not to be too overt about it. And to this end I will often mix the sleight of hand with as much subtlety as possible. In fact I prefer the subtlety to the skill even though I have plenty of the latter. However, I view technical skill as merely a means to an end rather than the end itself.

Tom Gilbert
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Tom Gilbert » December 31st, 2018, 3:00 pm

Over the years I've seen many different Bike issues. From bad cuts, oddly colored backs, court cards with horrible color, and whatever else they could come up with. But with all the gaffs and gimmicks out there it somewhat makes Bikes a standard of sorts. Easier to stick with one back design over ringing in different decks.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Brad Jeffers » December 31st, 2018, 4:43 pm

The finest cut stripper deck I ever had was a Bicycle deck which I purchased at a grocery store.
It wasn't supposed to be a stripper deck, but due to poor quality control it was!

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » December 31st, 2018, 5:22 pm

With regards to the above question about differences in the older USPCC cards, Jason England has a great article in MAGIC (in 2000, I think) with regards to USPCC that includes various facts/myths about their playing card history and manufacture. Of note, he quotes Richard Turner as stating one particular run of Bee Cards were the best handling cards ever but USPCC has no idea of the specifics of the stock and finish to reproduce that vaunted feel.

I also found this article: http://www.whoshuffleslikethat.com/almo ... lue-seals/

I cannot verify the veracity of the latter article, but it does make interesting reading.

On a semi-related note, it was fun reading about all of the hubbub in the magazines of the time about the introduction of the Mandolin deck, the Butterfly deck, etc. Does anyone out there use those Bike Rider semi-Dopplegangers? (I did find one really good use of the Mandolin in print.)

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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » December 31st, 2018, 5:29 pm

Goo Be gone should not be used--it will make a big mess. Rubber cement thinner is the solution (no pun intended, possible no pun created).

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » December 31st, 2018, 7:19 pm

Bob: Technically that should be: "Rubber cement thinner is the way to solvent".

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 1st, 2019, 10:52 am

I wish everyone a very happy and magical New Year!

For performances I use Bicycle Rider Back. I find them to be of a bit higher quality than the Bike Standards, although I do sometimes use the Standards. I have a collection of high-end custom decks, which I really enjoy, but I have found that due to the finish on the Bicycles, they are consistently at the top of the heap for fanning, spread and turnover flourishes and springing - although not necessarily for shuffling. Even when the decks are older and somewhat shopworn, they still work well for the aforementioned purposes, provided they are not greasy, gritty or really dirty (an occupational hazard of working in restaurants or special events where food and drinks are served, or of letting people shuffle and handle the cards). Generally, though, I break out a new deck for every show. I save the decks, so I have accumulated essentially 52 one-way f _ _ _ _ _ g decks in excellent condition, which I use occasionally (particularly in stand-up shows) after some effects with the non-g _ _ _ _ d deck. I use both blue and red, but am careful to ensure that the deck in use during a set matches my ID. I have used Tally Ho's, but find them to be thicker and stiffer than I would like for my touch. I like that the Bicycles are widely recognized by laymen.

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » January 1st, 2019, 12:43 pm

Any deck will Faro better if you soap the edges with a cheap soap like Cascade. Run the bar around the edge of each card then shuffle a few times to let the excess soap fall off. This is a tip from Tony Kardyro. I recall he told me this when I was a very young guy at a magic convention.

https://geniimagazine.com/wiki/index.ph ... ny_Kardyro

The cheaper the soap, the better.

I don't use flourishes, and the only trick I've used a Faro for is "Unshuffled" (incidentally, Faro tricks are based on binary base 2 math, for more advanced tricks based on other mathematical bases, see the Bammo Tarodiction Toolbox).

This discussion has prompted me to try the Turner cards. I've never been able to use a new deck right out of the box without breaking it in, so those who can do this, deserve admiration.

Jason Ladanye
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Jason Ladanye » January 1st, 2019, 4:43 pm

erdnasephile wrote:Jason:
Do you give away the deck at the end of shows? I know that Darwin Ortiz has written about that strategem and I've tried it a couple of times, but I'm not sure if it made any difference or not in the minds of the spectators.

Also, I've stuck with Bikes forever because of 1) force of habit 2) all the gaffs I own are made up in Bikes and 3) the Costco/Sam's Club thing for practice decks. However, I'm of the camp that audiences don't care much what brands they see used and I tend to think that audiences always suspect trick cards on some level unless that suspicion is mitigated by presentation or examination.

Since your routines and presentation are often based upon your overt great skill with the cards, I would think that the risk of the audience believing you use trick cards is greatly minimized. Therefore I wanted to ask: when you have performed with something other than Bikes have you encountered a lot of spectators who are suspicious because of the unusual backs or are their suspicions waylaid by your obvious skill level?


I always give the cards away. It says to the audience that they can't be trick cards or else he wouldn't give them away. Plus, it's a nice souvenir for your guests on stage. (And, what am I going to do with a 48-card deck with a few signed cards?) I've never used any deck that a lay audience wouldn't recognize.

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby erdnasephile » January 1st, 2019, 9:53 pm

Thanks--that makes perfect sense.

I just read a rather well-thought out essay on the subject by David Malek in one of his recent books. I'm thinking I may have to change my views.

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » January 2nd, 2019, 12:31 pm

I've never worried about the trick cards question. If someone asks if the cards are trick cards, I say, "Of course! These are very special cards made from belly hair plucked from the belly of the Himalayan yak and manufactured in the lower steppes of the Hindu Kush by monks who have been doing this for thousands of years."

I don't see what the issue is: if they think you use trick cards, but they're still fooled, so what?They believe the cards did the magic.

If they think you use regular cards, then you did the magic.

Either way, it's magic and they were fooled.

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Bill Marquardt
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bill Marquardt » January 2nd, 2019, 1:26 pm

In my experience, Bicycle Standards from Sam's or Costco are okay but seem to always have a few decks with off-center backs or slightly rough edges. Phoenix decks handle great and Card-Shark makes a number of gaffed cards. Magicians argue about such things as "what is the best brand?" frequently on other boards. Heck, just use what you like.

performer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby performer » January 2nd, 2019, 1:37 pm

I think you are far better off if they do not think you are using trick cards. If they do think that then the effect you have on them is diluted. That is why it is a very good thing to use a borrowed deck if possible. Of course most of the time it isn't possible! Who the hell carries a deck of cards around with them that you can borrow? Except magicians of course but they are not normal human beings so of course don't count.

For impromptu work the way I get around this is to make sure the cards are as grubby and well worn as possible.That does tend to dispel suspicion of trick cards to some degree. The other thing is that after a while people somehow get to know that you never use trick cards especially if they have seen you work in the past. They know. They just know. If people have never seen me work before they will often question the cards but of course that is no problem since the cards are regular cards anyway and they can examine them to their heart's content. If they say as they sometimes do, "Can you use my cards?" then I can say "sure". Mind you, I find it rather a daft question since they never have cards with them anyway. I will concede that trick cards are the first thing people think of when you perform card magic but that is perfectly fine as it gives them more avenues to ponder and that is a good thing. A bit like the too perfect theory.

When I work professionally I have to go a different route. I can't use grubby cards so I have to forget that ploy. Somehow the question does not arise in the same way as it does when you perform impromptu. You are only performing for a short period say 5 or 10 minutes at the most for each group so who the hell cares anyway? If you are in a situation where you are performing for a longer period you can give the cards away as suggested or if you are working to repeat groups over time they will get to know you are not using trick decks.

If working on television you can't really borrow cards and have to use your own. I once innocently purchased a deck of cards in Belfast before flying to London to do a television show. The backs of the cards showed a bloody great big red hand. Before I went on a cameraman said, "You can't use those cards" I asked why not. The reply was "That is the Red Hand of Ulster". I had no idea what the hell he was talking about and since they were the only cards I had anyway I decided to use them. Naturally when I did all hell broke loose at the BBC switchboard. A long story. Perhaps I should have used bicycle cards.................

Of course at trade shows and other venues I DO use trick cards. The svengali deck of course! So how do I get around that problem since they see so many identical cards and must suspect I am using a trick deck? Do I switch the cards? Good God no! I simply say before I start "This is a trick deck I purchased in a magic shop". Problem solved and it doesn't make the blindest bit of difference to the reaction.

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » January 2nd, 2019, 3:02 pm

"Are those trick cards?"

"No--these are regular cards--but I'm a trick person."

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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 2nd, 2019, 4:25 pm

"Trick person." Is that the modern-day, politically correct term for a practitioner of the world's oldest profession?

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » January 2nd, 2019, 6:10 pm

Correction: magicians are the world's second oldest profession.

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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 2nd, 2019, 6:40 pm

Yes, but i was not referring to magicians...

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EndersGame
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby EndersGame » February 19th, 2019, 8:08 pm

I often write articles for a playing card blog, and have written several pieces about the quality of Bicycle playing cards. These articles may be of interest to people reading this thread, and in answer to Jason's original question:

The Bicycle Brand: Is it Really Worth the Money to Get a Bicycle Deck?
https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/all- ... -the-money

Factors That Affect the Handling of a Deck: Part 1 - Bicycle Playing Cards
https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/all- ... -of-a-deck

USPCC-produced cards tend to handle consistently well, but are notorious for poor registration, hence inconsistent borders. In terms of the competition, cards produced out of the Taiwan factories used by Legends Playing Cards and Expert Playing Cards have a better registration and are high quality. But these playing cards do feel and handle quite differently, so they aren't for everyone. Over the last year or two Cartamundi in Europe has also been trying to get a bigger share of the playing card market, and their B9 True Linen finish stock is thick and durable but surprisingly soft. I've covered cards from these aforementioned publishers in a separate article here:

Factors That Affect the Handling of a Deck: Part 2 - Non-Bicycle Playing Cards
https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/all- ... eck-part-2

This article may also be helpful to people wondering if there are ways to extend the life of a deck:

How Should I Look After My Deck? 24 Tips for Making Playing Cards Last
https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/all- ... cards-last

And for an alternative viewpoint, don't miss what Harry Lorayne has to say in this interview about the playing cards you should use for performing magic:

Interview with Magician Harry Lorayne about Playing Cards
https://playingcarddecks.com/blogs/all- ... ry-lorayne
Click here to see all my reviews: Magic Reviews Playing Card Reviews Board Game Reviews

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 20th, 2019, 9:12 am

Very informative. Interesting that Harry Lorayne always stipulates that the host is to provide two new decks, one red, one blue, and announce to the guests at the beginning of the performance that he/she is providing the decks. Harry said he used to give away the deck(s) at the end of a gig, but that it didn't dispel suspicion. He would get comments like, "I'm not a magician, so I won't be able to find the trick in the deck." I never thought that would be effective anyway, since if they believed you were using trick cards, then they would entertain that belief all during the performance - when it counted.

Also interesting that he doesn't designate what brand the cards are to be. He doesn't seem to care, because in his impoverished childhood, he used the cheapest he could get his hands on. I would hate having to perform with so many of the decks that are plastic or just bad quality. I would also feel hesitant to tell someone who hired me that they needed to go out and buy two new decks for me, but maybe I should re-evaluate. I don't know...

Bob Farmer
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Bob Farmer » February 20th, 2019, 2:01 pm

In the comments above about treating decks well, there is a suggestion that fanning powder might be used. I disagree: fanning powder--zinc stearate--attracts dirt like a dirt magnet and gums up the cards. Instead use powdered Teflon available from piano repair suppliers:

https://www.howardpianoindustries.com/m ... fe-powder/

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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Tourdemagie cartes » March 12th, 2019, 5:18 pm

Hi all,

I’m new to this forum and it’s pretty awesome in here, so many valuable ressources.
I personally use the cheap bicycles as well as the aristocrats for special occasion. My mates disagree with me and don’t like them too much.
I’m thinking about creating our own deck for our french magic site, anyone has done it before and is it worth it?
https://tourdemagiecartes.com/jeu-de-carte-magie/
Any feedback on the page is appreciated.
Thanks,
Marc

Smurf
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Re: Bicycle playing card quality

Postby Smurf » March 13th, 2019, 4:50 pm

For a lot input on creating your own deck, I suggest you visit this site and take some time to read some threads about the creation of decks.

http://unitedcardists.com/index.php?sid ... cb9b84ec8f


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