Cardistry has really exploded in popularity over the last couple years, and if you’re interested in learning crazy cool stunts with playing cards, you’ll need to know the best cardistry decks for the job.
What is the best cardistry deck?
The best deck for cardistry depends on your skill level. Beginners will drop and bend their first cards so there’s no point buying an expensive deck; instead try a more durable pack like the classic Bicycle cards or maybe just some Tally-Ho’s. Once you improve, you can invest in a real cardistry deck; Virtuoso’s or Artisans will do you pretty well.
Let’s go into a little more detail on each of the above categories.
What are the best cardistry decks for beginners?
Cardistry is hard.
Seriously. You’re going to be picking up cards EVERY day. You’ll question why you ever got into the hobby. You’ll throw your playing cards around. You’ll lose some under the sofa. You might even rip some of them up (yes, it can be that frustrating…).
I’m not trying to dissuade you from learning cardistry, but just warning you that your first pack of cards is going to be VERY heavily used; you’ll lose cards, bend them out of shape, maybe even lose them.
For that reason, don’t buy an expensive deck of cards as a beginner. You might be seeing a lot of people recommending cool looking decks like Virtuosos or Monarchs, but there’s no point wasting money on these as a beginner.
So, what should you use instead?
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. As a beginner, the more important aspect is your hands; getting the motions and moves right and developing the muscle memory. Any deck that facilitates this will do the job.
That being said, don’t just pick up a 99p set of cards from your local toy shop. Try Bicycles to get a feel for the standard size and weight of most cards without worrying about ruining them. As I mentioned earlier, the Tally Ho decks are also pretty good for beginners; and they are around the same price as Bicycle cards. Both these decks can be bought through Amazon.
Once you get more and more involved in cardistry, you’re going to want a cool looking deck. You can still perform incredible cardistry with cheap decks, but the design and style of the higher end decks are made specifically to add to the overall aesthetic effect of your cardistry.
What are the best cardistry decks for advanced cardists?
The answer to this question tends to vary based on who you ask, but there are definitely a few common mentions. Here they are…
– Theory 11 Decks
You really can’t go wrong with most of the decks in produced by Theory 11; they look great, and handle even better. Some of my personal favorites are:
These have a reputation for being one of the smoothest handling decks you can buy; and they definitely deserve it. They should also be much easier to ‘break in’ than a lot of other decks you buy. I personally really like the minimal back design; it lends the cards a timeless and classy feel. Plus, there are plenty of different colorways you can trial to get a feel for which you like best.
Find them on Amazon HERE.
This picture shows you how the Monarchs look in motion…
These are also produced by Theory 11 so they’re pretty similar in regard to their handling and card quality. The only difference is the design; a more circular design that works nicely for fans. I personally prefer the Monarchs but there’s not a whole lot between them.
Find them on Amazon HERE.
The symmetrical back design of the Rebels is somewhat similar to the Artisans in style, but with a more metallic, high tech feel. Again, the handling is superb.
All the above decks also come with a custom designed box; another nice touch.
I couldn’t write an article about the best cardistry decks without bringing these up. The Virtuoso decks were designed specifically for cardistry.
Whilst Bicycle cards and Theory 11 decks work great; they are also built to cater for magicians and layman. The Virts are made for cardists, and this fact shines through in their playing cards. The most recent release in this line is the FW17 deck.
FW17 (Fall/Winter 2017)
These are the most current Virtuosos and are quite possibly the best cardistry deck in the world right now. As I mentioned before, the reason Virts stand out against all the other great playing cards is that they not only deliver on card quality and handling, but the design is incredible and looks amazing for cardistry.
However, they are much more expensive than your usual cards and will definitely be harder to find (although not impossible.) That’s why I don’t think it’s important for beginners to spend much time worrying about buying them; wait until you have the skills to really make these cards look good.
Where can I buy cardistry decks?
Most of these decks are available at either the Theory 11 store, or through Amazon. 52Kards also has an online shop where you can pick them up. Penguin Magic is more geared towards magic than cardistry but there are definitely a decent number of decks you can buy there too!
Luckily, most of the decks mentioned are pretty easy to find.
For example, Bicycle cards are all over the place. You can find a pack of two decks for under five dollars at Amazon (or you could get even higher value for money by buying a 12-pack for only $15!). Similarly, Tally Ho decks aren’t difficult to get your hands on; but they are slightly higher cost at ten dollars for a pack of two.
The more high end cards for cardistry are a little bit more difficult to get hold of but they shouldn’t pose you any major problems; a combination of Amazon, Theory 11, and the Ellusionist store should be more than enough to secure them.
In fact, whilst actually procuring the cards is the easy part, the hard part is learning how to use them…
As I talked about earlier, you’re going to be dropping a lot of playing cards. No matter how good you might already be with playing cards, cardistry is a whole new game.
In fact, a lot of beginner cardists might even lose all motivation to practice after the hundredth time picking up each card.
That’s why I always recommend buying a set of cardistry trainers to start you out (before you start using ANY cards!).
What is a cardistry trainer?
A cardistry trainer is a ‘deck’ of cards that uses wooden blocks instead of actual cards. These wooden blocks are made to look and feel almost exactly like a group of playing cards; but with none of the downsides that come with playing cards.
You can practice freely without worrying about ruining cards by dropping them or wearing them down. They also cope much better with water and are just a whole lot more practical in general. They can be carried around easier; just hold a few blocks in your pocket instead of taking fifty-two cards everywhere you go.
You might want to experiment with different training sets; some trainer decks have more individual packets than others.
For example, if you want to learn one-handed cuts, you only really need a two-pack trainer deck. Whereas more complex cuts and flourishes that require six or seven packets would benefit from a trainer deck that has much more individual packets; perhaps seven or eight.
How expensive are they?
Luckily, these definitely won’t break the bank.
Whilst some options are cheaper than others, the average seems to be around $20-30 or so. More expensive than a deck of cards but a hundred times more durable.
Check the price of official Murphy’s Magic cardistry trainers HERE.
Here’s a great video explaining exactly how to use these cardistry trainers…
How to create your own cardistry trainers
If you don’t want to spend money on cardistry trainers, don’t worry. There are some really original ways of getting around it.
For example, you could simply loop a couple of elastic bands around packets of playing cards. This will prevent individual cards from falling out and should do a pretty good job of acting like a cardistry trainer block.
If you get REALLY desperate, you could even glue playing cards together to create blocks. I think this should only be a last resort though; the elastic band solution is the best as you can then move between treating your cards individually and in blocks.
So, to recap:
– For beginners, stick to cheap yet quality cards like Bicycle, Bee, or Tally Ho.
– Consider investing in a cardistry trainer to help you out during this process.
– Once you have the skills, pick up a nicer looking deck; either from the Theory 11 or Virtuoso line.
Thanks for reading! Make sure to share this article with friends if you found it useful!
Do you still have any questions? Make sure to leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.