I get a lot of questions about what decks I use and why so I figured I’d write a blog about it.
I use bikes. I like both red and blue equally. For the price you can’t beat it. I buy them at wholesale clubs like BJ’s or Sam’s Club. I can usually get a dozen for around $14.00. Wholesale clubs offer sales around the holidays so I usually wait until then and buy $400-$500 worth of cards. (No, that’s not a typo!) Then I’m usually set for the entire year. At the bulk prices, each deck costs about $1.20. So, stop buying your decks at the grocery store for 5 bucks.
Why so many? I don’t want to feel like I have 8 decks left in the house. I like the feeling of an unlimited supply. That way I can break open new decks to practice with. I don’t want to feel like I must use an old deck over and over because I’m running low. Typically I ruin 1-2 decks a day with practice. Palming and shuffle work can ruin a deck in a few hours. The plastic coating wears off and the cards will bind during shuffles and seconds. When I have a walk-around show, I can use about 10-15 decks of cards. Between performing and rehearsing, I’ll do effects that fold or tear cards. Also, quite often in the material I do the cards are signed on the faces or backs. That’ll ruin a deck right away. So, I end up going through about 700-800 decks a year. Right now, I have about 3500-4000 decks in my home. (The first step is admitting you have an addiction.)
When a deck is completely worn out I’ll practice card folds or pitching/throwing stunts. When the deck is completely unusable I’ll finally throw it in the trash. I keep decks that are new, yet missing a few cards. That way I can rebuild another deck that’s missing a card or two.
My other favorite brands that I practice with are Bees, Aristocrats, and Tally Hos. (I like the Tally Ho circle backs, not the fan backs.) The quality and the finish are outstanding. And, they are consistently good out of the box. However, I only treat myself to these decks from time to time. At $4.00 a deck I don’t want to perform and practice with them all the time. My idea of a good time is a $25.00 cigar, a nice $100.00 bottle of scotch, and a fresh deck of Tally’s. I can’t say the same for bikes. Over the last decade, I’ve seen the quality of bikes diminish. The cards will split during shuffles, the cards are so thin that they bend easily, and sometimes the edges are like sandpaper. This makes faro shuffles nearly impossible. (If you’re familiar with my work, you know I love my faros.) If I get a deck with the bad edges, I’ll put it aside to practice just folds, seconds, and riffle shuffle work. I’d say 90% of the time bikes are fine. So I’m not too bothered by an occasional defective brick.
The only decks I won’t use in live performances are any of the vanity decks from Theory 11, Ellusionist, Dan and Dave, etc.. Honestly, I like the tuck cases more than the cards themselves! These decks pair nicely with the cardistry guys. They look great in stylized videos and photography. However, I’m a card mechanic. I prefer the traditional look of a deck of cards. Laymen will recognize bikes right away. When a layman sees a deck of vanity cards, they may suspect that it’s some sort of trick deck. The advantage I have is at the end of my shows I always give my cards away proving it’s a normal deck. What do I care? It’s a regular deck and it costs me about a dollar. If you love your red JAQK’s, you might not want to give them away (or tear them up and have the backs and/or faces signed.)