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DANA WHITBY | THE INNER COMPASS BLOG

Oracle Cards

Oracle cards have become a popular tool for people seeking guidance and clarity while navigating difficult situations in their lives. Unlike tarot cards, which allow for more interpretation, Oracle cards offer a specific message on each card. In this article, we’ll share the story of Dana Whitby, one of our clients who created the Inner Compass Oracle Deck. We’ll dive into the details of her mission and the meaning behind her oracle deck.

 

How It All Started

We have all been stuck on a project where we overthought every detail, practically becoming paralyzed by overwhelming thoughts of “what, when, where, and how.” Dana shares a similar instance, which she learned how to overcome, “This is my first card project! I originally thought that I was meant to write a book, and so I began putting pen to paper about the idea of how to use your inner compass (aka intuition) in a tangible way. Once I had written several thousands of words, I experienced writer’s block and truly didn’t know what else to say. I had to step away from the project for a while to clear my head and understand what it was that I was supposed to do with this idea. One day I had the divine download that this project was an oracle deck. Once I had this realization and committed to the new idea, the writing began to flow easily again as I dismantled the book and turned it into an oracle card guidebook.”

 

A Divine Mission

The Inner Compass Oracle deck was created to “teach readers in a tangible way how to open and follow their intuition”. Which is intriguing to new Oracle card users who are looking for guidance within spiritual work. Dana goes on to explain, ” The concept of listening to an “inner compass” is widely known, yet the process of how to do so is made difficult in our modern society. The Inner Compass Oracle is a tool which can be used to initiate or deepen one’s relationship with their higher self in order to receive clarity and guidance on their life journey.”

 

How It Was Created

Dana mentions that she collaborated with artist Jennifer Birge who owns Coral Antler. “I originally asked her to create 4 pieces of art for 4 of my cards as a trial, and I was blown away by her ability to take the mundane and make it absolutely magical. She took the visions I had for my card artwork and elevated it!”

 

“You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda The Good Witch

As all projects come with a bump in the road, Dana describes her toughest battle/ lesson. “For me, the largest hurdle I had to overcome was patience! I began writing the guidebook several years ago, and never would have dreamed it would take this long to come to fruition. But I have learned through this process that oftentimes, the best things in life are worth waiting for, and taking your time to complete in a way that honors the depth and breadth of the project.”

 

Why Shuffled Ink

Here is what Dana has to say about her experience printing her cards here at Shuffled Ink, ” I chose Shuffled Ink because I love that it is a family-owned business located here in the United States. So many Oracle deck printers are found overseas, and I preferred to support an American business, and especially one with such an amazing reputation. While I haven’t received a final copy of my deck yet, the samples I received were gorgeous, and I am so impressed with other decks I own that have been printed by Shuffled Ink”. We thank Dana for the opportunity to be a part of this insightful project! It’s always interesting to hear how these creative card decks come about and we hope this story helps inspire those who are looking to create their own custom cards!

 

 

 

POPULAR NON-BUILDER SOLITAIRE CARD GAMES BY ENDERSGAME

 

Despite the fact that the world of solitaire card games features a rich diversity of different types of games, most people are only familiar with the classic Klondike, and similar games of its kind like Spider, and FreeCell. Consider yourself more experienced with solitaire than most if you’ve ever played games like Baker’s Dozen, Beleaguered Castle, Canfield, Fan Games, Yukon, or Forty Thieves. But all of these games – and the many related ones that belong to their families – have one thing in common: they share the same basic formula for game-play, since they are all examples of builder games.

Builder games represent the largest slice of the solitaire pie, and are typically what the average person imagines a game of solitaire to be. With builder games, the aim typically is to arrange all the cards by suit in ascending order from Ace through to King. The way this usually works is by allowing players to manipulate cards within a tableau consisting of columns of cards. While rules can vary, the usual pattern sees players permitted to arrange cards within this tableau in descending order, often in alternating colours. Anyone who has ever played the classic Klondike will immediately recognize the style of game-play, and the above mentioned games are all excellent representatives of this genre.

But while builder games are the most popular archetype within the larger world of solitaire card games, there are many terrific solitaire games that don’t operate at all according to this formula. The good news for those who like variety is that there are several non-builder solitaire card games that work entirely differently from the typical builder games you’ve probably played. In this article I’ll cover some of the best and more well-known ones. I’ve used and recommend the excellent software from BVS Solitaire to play most of these.

== Classics ==

Accordion

Overview: Accordion is a classic solitaire game that you will find mentioned in most books that contain one-player card games. The name is very appropriate, since the gameplay has the sense of ironing out accordion pleats, and you’ll be moving cards together much like an accordion is played, with the goal of compressing the entire deck into a single pile.

Cards are dealt one at a time in a row, as many as space allows. If you wish, you can even deal the entire deck at the outset of the game. If a card has the same suit or value as the card immediately to its left, or the same suit or value as the card three to its left, it can be placed on that card. The aim of Accordion is to end up with the entire deck of cards in a single pile.

Thoughts: Accordion has a very different feel from the traditional building type of solitaire game, so it’s a good game if you are looking to try something different from builder games. While at first you’ll make good progress, you’ll quickly discover that it’s extremely difficult to win, with success estimated to be around 1 in 50 at best. But if you can get the entire deck down to just five cards or less, you can consider yourself to have accomplished a minor victory. The trick to winning is to find four cards of the same value that are grouped together near the end of the layout, and slowly move these four “sweepers” towards the start, eventually placing them on each other to get to a single pile.

If you enjoy this kind of game, also try Royal Marriage, which is also an eliminator solitaire game in the style of Accordion. There are slightly different rules for moving piles in this game, but a key element of game-play is that a King and Queen of the same suit are placed at the start and the end of the layout at the beginning of the game. Your goal is to get them to meet up and be the only two cards left. Push-Pin is similar to Royal Marriage, but comes with the additional challenge of using two decks. Other variants inspired by Accordion include Decade (Ten-Twenty-Thirty), where you remove adjacent cards that total 10, 20, or 30; similarly in Seven Up cards totalling multiples of seven (7, 14, 21 etc) are removed.

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Montana (Gaps)

Overview: Gaps is the name this game is listed as in older books, but it’s also commonly described as Montana. Sometimes the name Montana instead refers to a variant way of playing Gaps, as do alternate names like Spaces and Addiction.

The basic concept involves a set-up where a single deck is dealt into four rows of thirteen cards, after which the Aces are removed to create four gaps (hence the alternate name). You can move into the gap a card that is one rank higher and the same suit as the card on its immediate left. Twos can be placed in spaces at the start of each row, while cards cannot be placed to the right of a King. The goal is to arrange each row with cards in the same suit from Two through King. Whenever you get stuck, you can collect the cards that are not in a suited sequence and deal these out again; usually only two such redeals are allowed.

Thoughts: There’s more skill to this wonderful solitaire game than first meets the eye, because the order in which cards are moved can make all the difference. Rather than just move any possible card, it is better to identify a card that you want to become a space, and then figure out backwards the sequence of cards that need to be played in order to achieve that.

Variant options are numerous, and include adjustments to the rules such as: allowing more redeals; shuffling or leaving unshuffled the cards before redealing; leaving a space immediately following the remaining sequences when redealing or determining such spaces randomly using Aces; allowing a space to be filled in sequence with the card on its immediate right and not just on its immediate left (Free Parking); or using a stripped deck of just 36 cards (Four Ways). Double Montana and Paganini are two-deck versions, while Maze Solitaire is a closely related single-deck game also well worth playing.

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== Inspired By Other Games ==

Bowling

Overview: Bowling was created by Warren Schwader, and has been popularized by its inclusion in the Hoyle Solitaire Collection software package from Sierra Online in 1988. It has subsequently been implemented digitally on several websites and other software programs. Cards are dealt one at a time onto a layout with ten pin spaces (numbered 1 to 10). They can be placed onto any empty space, as long as the cards are in order of increasing value within these spaces. Any card that can’t be placed according to these rules is set aside onto a ball pile.

Successfully playing cards onto all ten pin spaces before needing to discard three cards onto the first ball pile counts as a strike. Achieving this before discarding another three cards onto a second ball pile counts as a spare. Otherwise at the moment when a third card is discarded to the second ball pile you score points for however many pins you’ve knocked over (i.e. cards placed). Scoring works the same as regular bowling, and a score of more than 150 points over ten such frames is considered a win.

Thoughts: This is an enormously fun game, and is really all about judging the probabilities as cards are turned up and placed one at a time. Your placement options become more limited as cards are placed, but you also have an increasing sense of which cards are more likely to turn up. It is addictive and enjoyable due to the strong push-your-luck element, and the opportunity to use a basic sense of probability to play the odds. The use of standard bowling scoring helps add a real sense of thematic flavour. Getting strikes or spares is very achievable, which leads to realistic scores.

This isn’t the only solitaire game with an excellent bowling theme. If you’re a fan of real life bowling, you’ll also enjoy Sid Sackson’s Bowling Solitaire, which is described next.

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Bowling Solitaire

Overview: Despite the similar name, Bowling Solitaire is a very different game from the previous one. It was created by famous American game designer Sid Sackson, and published in his 1969 book A Gamut of Games. Only 20 cards are used, with the Ace through 10 in two suits. Ten cards are randomly placed face-up in the configuration familiar from ten pin bowling. The goal is to remove as many pins as possible in each of ten frames, with scoring working the same as actual bowling. Three piles of face-down cards (five, three, and two cards each) represent your bowling balls. There are a few special restrictions involved in the game-play that I won’t explain in detail, but what follows describes the general gist of the flow of play.

You roll a ball by turning over the top cards in these three piles, which you then use one at a time to “bowl” at the pins. Each card played can remove one, two, or three pin cards adding up to its value. Only the last digit of their total is used, and suits are irrelevant in this game. You keep using cards from the ball piles in this way until you get stuck, at which point you move onto your second ball by discarding the top card in each of the three piles and continuing to play. Getting rid of all ten pins with your first ball counts as a strike, while using a second ball to do so counts as a spare; otherwise you score however many pins you have knocked over.

Thoughts: Sid Sackson developed Bowling Solitaire in part as a result of his distaste for traditional builder solitaire games. He certainly succeeded in coming up with a very interesting and original that feels worlds apart from Klondike, and the result is a very clever solitaire game with a lot of thematic flavour. Each frame will play out differently due to the random draw, and the fact that some ball cards are unknown ensures good replayability and adds an element of suspense.

Yet you can make informed decisions, and the luck-of-the-draw is more than mitigated by strategic choices. There’s a lot of decisions within the 20 minutes or so that Bowling Solitaire takes to play, and there’s scope for real skill and calculated play, to the point that this is very much a game you can actually become good at. To play well it is especially important to keep track of what cards have been used, and to combine this with some basic probability and risk management. A score of anything over 150 can be considered a very good effort, while the rare achievement of reaching 200 is a real success.

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Cribbage Squares

Overview: I’m a huge fan of the card game Cribbage, which originates in the 19th century but remains a popular two-player game today. So it won’t come as a surprise that Cribbage Squares had an instant appeal for me. I’m not about to explain the intricacies of regular Cribbage here, aside from saying that this is a classic game well worth learning in its own right. But you’ll have to be familiar with Cribbage scoring to play this solitaire game, which does mean that Cribbage Squares won’t be accessible to everyone.

Scoring in this game is borrowed directly from standard Cribbage, but the actual mechanics and flow of play are quite different and much simpler. Basically it just involves you dealing cards one at a time and placing them into a 4×4 grid. The seventeenth card functions as the “starter” card, and you score points according to the standard conventions of Cribbage (e.g. for combinations that make up fifteens, pairs, runs, and flushes) for each of the four rows and for each of the four columns in the grid. A score of 61 or higher is usually considered a win.

Thoughts: Fans of Cribbage will find much to like about this clever solitaire game. The fact that the “starter” card is turned up last means that your final score depends a lot on what card is revealed at the end. This can make your final score feel somewhat dependent on a lucky draw, although to be fair the same can be said about the starter card in a regular game of Cribbage.

There are variations that give some options for more skill and choice. To increase the level of strategy, one variation allows you to discard up to ten cards into two reserve piles, giving you more choice of which cards to use. An “open” variant lets you see all the cards before playing any of them.

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Cribbage Solitaire

Overview: Closely related to Cribbage Squares is the game Cribbage Solitaire. This plays much more like standard Cribbage, although neither Cribbage Squares or Cribbage Solitaire incorporates any of the pegging from the original two-player game.

In Cribbage Solitaire you are given a hand of six cards, and discard two to the crib, after which you are given a second hand of six cards, again discarding two to the crib. The next card becomes the starter and usual Cribbage scoring is applied to both hands and to the crib. Players keep a running total of four such deals, and a cumulative score of 101 or higher is considered a win.

Thoughts: There are a number of different ways of playing Cribbage Solitaire that vary things slightly. The most common variation is that besides the two cards that you discard to the crib from your hand of six cards, the crib also receives two random cards. Scoring happens for the hand and the crib after dealing a starter, which is then placed at the bottom of the deck. Six such hands are played, plus a final hand without a crib and starter. When playing this way, an average cumulative total tends to be around 85.

Regardless of which of the above variants you are playing with, there’s no doubt that Cribbage Solitaire has a very different feel from Cribbage Squares. Cribbage Squares has more of a positional and spatial aspect to the game-play, where arrangement of the cards is all-important – something not present in traditional Cribbage. Cribbage Solitaire is more about creating the best scoring combinations, and the fact that the crib is given two random cards adds an element of luck and suspense that matches some of the excitement of actual Cribbage scoring.

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Poker Squares

Overview: If you enjoy playing the odds to try to produce good scoring Poker hands, you’ll love Poker Solitaire. Since the game-play is quite similar to Cribbage Squares, it is also commonly called Poker Squares. You play 25 cards from a shuffled deck one at a time into a 5×5 grid. Points are then scored for each of the five hands in the rows, and the five hands in the columns. There are two different scoring systems in common use: American and English. The American system awards points as follows: Royal flush 100, Straight flush 75, Four-of-a-kind 50, Full house 25, Flush 20, Straight 15, Three-of-a-kind 10, Two pairs 5, One pair 2.

Unlike the American scoring system, the ranking of the hands in the English system is different, and reflects the relative difficulty of achieving the hands in this solitaire game rather than in a regular game of Poker. The English system awards points as follows: Royal flush 30, Straight flush 30, Four-of-a-kind 16, Straight 12, Full house 10, Flush 5, Three-of-a-kind 6, Two pairs 3, One pair 1.

Thoughts: Flushes are quite easy to make in this game, which immediately gives it a somewhat different feel than regular Poker. A typical strategy involves using the columns to get flushes, and using the rows to get multiples of the same valued card (e.g. pairs, full house, four-of-a-kind). Achieving a specific minimum score of 200 with American scoring and 70 with English scoring is considered a win.

A common variant is to deal all 25 cards face-up and allowing players to move the cards as desired after placing them, in an effort to find the ten best scoring poker hands. Due to the need to calculate scores for every game, Poker Squares lends itself especially well to digital versions, which automate the scoring.

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Tower of Pisa

Overview: Tower of Pisa often goes by the name Tower of Hanoi, since it is inspired by the classic solo puzzle of that name. The original Tower of Hanoi puzzle consists of three pegs, and a number of different sized round discs that fit onto the pegs. The goal is to transfer discs of increasing size one at a time from one peg to another, and end up with all the discs on a different peg, once again in order of increasing size. A key restriction on movement is that you can never place a larger disc on top of a smaller disc. With just three discs, it’s possible to solve the puzzle in just seven moves. More moves are required when there are more discs, but through pure logic a solution is always possible.

The solitaire card game based on this traditional puzzle uses the same principles, but starts out differently. You use nine cards (Ace through 9) from one suit, and begin with a starting arrangement of three columns of three cards each, in random order. The goal is to get all nine cards into a single column, arranged upwards in order 9 through Ace. When moving cards from one column to another, you may only move the top card of a column, and you can never place a higher valued card on top of a lower valued one.

Thoughts: The gameplay is effectively the same as a nine disc version of the traditional Towers of Hanoi puzzle. Since the starting set-up of that puzzle is fixed, solving it is a matter of pure recursive logic, and using optimal moves a nine disc puzzle can be solved in exactly 511 moves. In theory the Tower of Pisa solitaire puzzle takes less moves to solve than the classic logical puzzle, since you don’t begin with a starting arrangement that takes the largest number of moves to solve. But because you begin with a random arrangement, the path forward is rarely obvious. I find that this actually makes it more interesting and challenging than the classic puzzle, because no game begins the same, and you can’t simply use the same pre-set sequence of moves to solve it.

Somewhat surprisingly, this solitaire game seems to be most often found with the unusual spelling Tower of Hanoy (with a Y at the end, rather than with an I at the end like the classic puzzle). The origin of this unexpected spelling seems to be somewhat of a mystery. But you will sometimes find it spelled with an I at the end as well, or with alternate names like Tower of Pisa.

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== Adding and Pairing Games ==

Adding and pairing games are a common archetype for solitaire games in the non-builder genre, and I have covered more than a dozen of these in a separate article about popular adding and pairing games. They rightly form a subclass of their own, and are easily the most common type of non-builder solitaire card game that you will come across. Many of them are quite luck dependent, making them well-suited for casual play. The simpler ones in this genre are especially good for children.

Pairing Games

Overview: Pairing games require you to remove pairs of cards that have a matching value. I’ll use Nestor as the representative for this genre, but there are many games of this sort. The majority of them are very simple to learn and play, and pairing games like Simple Pairs and The Wish rely entirely or almost entirely on luck. Others like Concentration (Memory) require you to use your memory skills, while Nestor at least offers some decision making.

With Nestor you deal all the cards into a tableau consisting of eight columns of five cards each, along with a reserve of four cards. The aim of the game is simple: clear the entire tableau, by removing available pairs of cards that have a matching value. Nestor is an open information game, and while luck of the draw can sometimes thwart you, the layout does give room for some planning. There are also several good variations of Nestor worth trying, like Vertical and Doublets.

Related: For a fun pairing game with an interesting spatial element, I recommend Monte Carlo, which involves a moving layout consisting of 25 cards. Beehive and Pile Up (Fifteen Puzzle) are also pairing games that deserve a look, and can be very satisfying to play.

Although it is not a pairing game in the strict sense, Golf is a very popular non-builder game. The basic mechanic is similar to pairing games, but rather than removing matching cards of the same value, you remove pairs that are one higher or lower in value. Golf is an excellent and straight-forward game that I highly recommend for casual gamers wanting to try a simple solitaire game that is very different from the usual builder genre. There are many variants, with the Tri-Peaks variation being especially well-known because it’s part of the Microsoft Windows Solitaire Collection. Other excellent solitaire games that use the Golf mechanic of removing cards one higher or lower in value are Black Hole and Eliminator.

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Adding Games

Overview: Adding games require you to remove cards with a combined value of a particular total such as 13. Pyramid is the most common game of this sort, and is widely known as a result of its inclusion in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. It’s a good representative of the adding genre, and is easy to learn.

To play Pyramid, you deal 28 cards in the shape of a pyramid. The idea is to remove cards that make up a pair adding to 13, with Jacks, Queens, and Kings counting as 11, 12, and 13. Kings don’t need to be paired with another card. Any card that is uncovered can be used, and you also deal through the deck one at a time, and can pair the face-up card to remove an available card from the pyramid if those two cards add to 13. You win the game if you clear the entire pyramid. Pyramid has a lot of common variations to increase the chances of winning.

Related: While Pyramid is the natural poster-child for the genre of adding games, there are many other excellent games of this sort. Thirteens (also called Simple Addition) uses the same concept of removing cards that add up to 13 but has an entirely different layout. Other basic adding games involve pairs of cards that add to different totals, such as ten, eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and even as much as eighteen. Some of these are open information games, which allow you more planning.

Adding games with some more interesting aspects to the game-play include Ninety One, which as the name suggests requires you to make an arrangement of cards adding to 91. Arguably the best in the genre is David Parlett’s terrific Exit (alternative name Gay Gordons), which gives a lot of room for planning ahead and decision making.

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Conclusion

There is a good reason why builder games are so popular, one being that a deck of cards naturally lends itself to collecting sets according to suit in order from Ace through King. But one disadvantage of the genre of builder games is that they can feel somewhat alike, and despite all the many variations in game play, ultimately you are trying to achieve the same kind of thing.

In contrast, non-builder solitaire card games offer something completely fresh and different. With games like the ones featured in this article, you are guaranteed to find yourself with a solitaire challenge that will require you to think quite differently than with the traditional Klondike. These are great games that will have you thinking outside of the box, and exploring completely new and interesting ways of game-play.

Since these non-builder solitaire games typically take you somewhat outside of the realm of the familiar, I recommend finding a good digital implementation of them, because it will make it much easier to learn the rules correctly. The excellent solitaire software and apps created by BVS Solitaire make an excellent choice. In the case of the non-builder games based on existing games like Cribbage or Poker, you’ll likely already be familiar with the basic mechanics, and many of these lend themselves well to be played with an actual deck in hand.

If ever you’ve wondered if there’s more to solitaire than the version found on most desktop computers, then you really owe it to yourself to try some of these fantastic non-builder games, to see how different and rewarding solitaire really can be!

About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

POPULAR SELF-WORKING CARD TRICKS FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS

Popular Self-Working Card Tricks for Complete Beginners

by EndersGame

If you have a deck of playing cards, and are completely new to card magic, the first tricks you should learn are self-working tricks. No trick works completely automatically, of course, but this is a term that refer to tricks that don’t rely on sleight of hand. That makes them super easy to learn and perform, so you’ll be having fun showing these to your family and friends in no time!Many magic teachers recommend starting with self-workers, because then you can focus entirely on your presentation, which is essential to make card magic entertaining. We’ll kickstart your magic career by introducing you to several popular and simple self-working card tricks, and we’ll even provide a direct link to a video performance and tutorial for each, to help get you going immediately!

10 Simple Card Tricks

These classics of card magic are easy tricks that almost every magician has learned early in their career. They will also introduce you to some important principles of card magic, like the “key card”, and the “one ahead principle”. There’s one “classic” which I haven’t included, and that’s the “21 Card Trick”. It’s one that most people know already, and although there are ways to make this card trick interesting, the method primarily involves mindless dealing, and it can be quite boring for your spectators. You’re more likely to have fun with the card tricks in the list below:

● Quick Two Card Catch

The effect: Your spectator inserts a black 9 and a black 10 anywhere into the middle of the deck. You toss the deck from one hand to another, rapidly pulling two cards out while doing so. Amazingly, the two cards that you’ve pulled out from the deck are your spectator’s black 9s and 10s!What’s good about it: This requires a small set-up, but it’s worth it for the big pay-off. It relies on the fact that because there are two cards that are quite similar, spectators will remember only the color and the value of the cards, and they won’t remember the suits other than that they were both black. It’s a very simple method, and yet the impact can be very strong, because it is a remarkable feat that you appear to accomplish, by pulling out two cards that have been placed into the middle of the deck by a spectator!Background: This trick is also known under other names including “Friction Toss”, “Friction Production”, or “Two Card Catch”. If you use a simple cross-cut force (described later in this article) at the start of this trick, this trick can seem even more amazing. Any two cards will work, but it’s best to use cards with a similar appearance of values, like black 9s and 10s, or black 9s and 6s, and refer to them as “black 9s and 6s” rather than mention the actual suits. You can also use this method to produce all four Aces, two at a time.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8fqwsQO_iY&t=21 (featuring Will Roya)

● The Four Robbers

The effect: You show the four Jacks, which you introduce as four robbers. You then tell a story about how they attempt to burgle a bank, doing their dirty work at different locations in the building. You place the Jacks in various parts of the deck while telling the story, corresponding to different floors of the building. When the police arrive unexpectedly, the four Jacks can escape in a helicopter, by magically appearing together at the top of the deck!What’s good about it: The strength of this trick is that it has a fun story to go with it. You aren’t following the same-old story of having a card selected and finding it, but you are simply describing a story, and then something magical and impossible happens. The method is very simple, and how entertaining this trick turns out will depend entirely on how good you are at dramatizing the story, which you can have a lot of fun with!Background: This is another common trick that many young magicians will start out with and has been around since the 1850s. After a simple secret set-up, it’s very easy to perform. It might not fool thoughtful adults, but it’s an ideal trick for children to learn, and they can really fool others of their own age with it.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0Jxe9lilB8&t=52 (featuring Hester23BearsCH)

● The Piano Trick

The effect: From two piles of cards, you magically make a card move from one to another. A common way to do it is to get your spectator to stretch out both hands like he’s playing the piano – hence the name of the trick – and place pairs of cards between his fingers, plus an “odd” card. These are distributed into two piles (e.g. between you and your spectator). Remarkably, although everything is shared out evenly, the odd card moves from one pile to the other pile!What’s good about it: Once again, how you present this makes all the difference. Nothing physically moves, and yet by clever misdirection and proper scripting, it will really seem to your spectator’s mind that a card has been transferred from one pile to another.Background: This trick is more than a hundred years old, but it can easily be given a modern twist – I’ve heard of magicians performing this with knives and forks, with different kinds of fruit, and even with socks! See a great variation by Alan Hudson performing the piano trick with cutlery hereWatch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IICrrKEgWpo (featuring Peter McOwan)

● Spectator Cuts To The Aces

The effect: The spectator does all the work in cutting the deck into four piles. Amazingly, at the end of this process, the top card in each of the piles turns out to be an Ace!What’s good about it: It’s always a good idea to turn the spectator into a magician, and that’s what happens here. They are the ones doing the cutting, so the magic apparently happens right in their hands. It is important to find a way to perform this trick in a way that makes things entertaining, however. Like many self-working tricks, since there’s a small set-up involved, the effect can be strengthened if you can precede the trick with a simple false cut or false shuffle.Background: Numerous versions of this trick exist, including more complicated variations, but the basic version is very easy and can be performed by a complete beginner. It goes under various names, including “Poker Player’s Picnic” (The Royal Road to Card Magic) and “Belchou Aces” (Roberto Giobbi’s Introduction to Card Magic). One of the finest versions of this trick is Chad Long’s “Shuffling Lesson”. This takes it to the next level, as both you and the spectator use half the deck, and you deal four Kings while the spectator deals four Aces – an apparently impossible finish! Chad’s version is so good that some magicians even use it as a closer in their professional magic act.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2NjS5bDFh4&t=21 (featuring Will Roya)

● The Circus Card Trick

The effect: After your spectator has selected and remembered a card from a shuffled deck, and returned it to the deck, you start dealing through the deck, claiming that you can find it. You deal several cards past their chosen card, and then propose a bet that the next card you turn over will be their card. Thinking that this is a safe bet since you’ve already gone past their card, most spectators will agree – at which you point you proceed to turn over the already-dealt card that is theirs!What’s good about it: Usually a trick presented as a “challenge” for your spectator isn’t the best idea, because it can turn magic into a contest rather than something entertaining and magical. This trick is a good exception to that rule, because it’s super light and quick, and is ideal for a casual setting. Don’t use it to actually swindle people of anything valuable, but when performing it as a fun gag effect, you’ll usually have the whole room laughing at the result – even the person who has become the butt of the joke.Background: This trick relies on a common method known as the “key card” principle, and you’ll find a variation of it in almost every introductory card magic book. The basic principle can be used for many other tricks, like the next one in this list. The real appeal of the Circus Card Trick is the humorous presentation; it also goes under many other names, and is often presented as a bar bet or con.Watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t_3jOZ6Fjs (featuring Daryl)
Learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU_K3k-lr1E&t=90 (featuring WonderPhil)


● The Pulse Trick

The effect: Your spectator selects a random card which is returned to the deck. But can you find it? Of course, you’re a magician! You feel their pulse while they move their hand across a face-up spread, and by the picking up subtle changes to their heart beat as their finger moves over their selected card, you’re able to identify it!What’s good about it: What makes card magic interesting is when it has a good presentation, and while this is a very easy trick to perform, it has a very entertaining presentation. You just need to do a lot of acting to make it convincing, and since the method is so straight-forward, you can really focus on your showmanship. The method here is basically the same as the Circus Card Trick, but with a different presentation it feels like an entirely different trick.Background: Another interesting presentation that relies on the same secret, is to have your spectator put their fingerprint on their card, and you then identify their chosen card by `finding’ the card which has their matching fingerprint. Yet another presentation is to frame it as a lie-detector test, getting your spectator to point at each card one at a time while saying “That’s not my card”, while you `detect’ when they are lying by looking into their eyes or identifying subtle signals from their body language. Pick whatever presentation suits you best – either way it can be quite impressive and believable, especially for children witnessing this trick.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Tpm6rVLM3s&t=50 (featuring Sean O)

● Do As I Do

The effect: Both you and your spectator each have a deck. After shuffling your decks, you both select a card, which you remember, and return to your deck. You then trade decks, and each find your selected card in the other person’s deck. Because you’ve been in sync with each other, the two cards are revealed to be … exactly the same!What’s good about it: This trick appears completely baffling to someone who has never seen it, because the odds of two people selecting exactly the same card is 1 in 52. The method is easy, yet well-disguised by the concept of “Do As I Do”, where you and the spectator have to synchronize your moves and do exactly the same thing. This also gives opportunity to have some fun as well, so it lends itself to enjoying the presentation. Because the spectator is part of the magic, it is engaging for them as well.Background: Early versions of this trick were already performed in the mid-1800s, under titles like “The Sympathetic Cards” and “Marvellous Coincidence”. This now common trick has been around in its current form since the early 1900s.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOnrhGrr9Aw (featuring Brian Brushwood)

● X-Ray Vision

The effect: The cards are all laid face-down on the table in a spread or in a shuffled mess. In a demonstration of x-ray vision, three people (including you) point to a random face-down card, and you correctly identify all of the selected cards.What’s good about it: There are various ways of presenting this trick, and you can also perform it by naming a card that your spectator then has to try to find at random. But it packs a punch far greater than you might think, because to actually be able to correctly identify three face-down cards – some of which are genuinely selected by your spectators at random – would be a true miracle!Background: This trick is found in many books with beginner card tricks, and goes under names like “Seeing Through the Deck” (Scarne on Card Tricks), “The Three-Card Pick by Touch Test” (Magic for Dummies) and “One Ahead” (Joshua Jay’s Amazing Book of Cards). It’s a good introduction to the one ahead principle which is used more often in card magic.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAjVh69bD_o&t=15 (featuring Exit707)

● Mutus Nomen Cocis Dedit

The effect: Twenty random cards are divided into pairs, and several spectators secretly select and remember any pair of their choice, which are then put together in any order. You lay out the cards in grid with four rows of five cards. Each spectator merely tells you the row(s) that their two cards are in, and you can miraculously identify their chosen cards!What’s good about it: This trick becomes most entertaining when you incorporate a fun presentation, for example when you pretend to use muscle-reading to identify the chosen cards (as described in “The Pulse Trick”), or use a lie detector presentation. Naturally the true method is much simpler, and although you’ll need to memorize some words (only four!) to make it work, the effect seems truly impossible! Involving multiple spectators makes it even more engaging and seem more astounding!Background: This is a very old trick that goes under various titles, like “Houdini’s Double-Talk Card Trick” (Scarne on Card Tricks). and fortunately you don’t have to use the Latin words in the title used here, because there are simpler English-language mnemonic aids that do the same thing.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1Qk8ymwSFw&t=40 (featuring Brian Brushwood)

● The Slop Shuffle

The effect: The deck is mixed up completely in small packets of face-up and face-down cards. After a final cut, all the cards are magically corrected, and now face the same way!What’s good about it: This is a nice change from the usual “pick-a-card” type of trick, since the magic happens with the entire deck. Even though it is basically self-working, the illusion is very natural and convincing, and the deck really does seem to instantly change from something that is completely mixed up, with cards haphazardly face-up and face-down, into all the cards being the right way.Background: This trick is a common beginner trick that can be found in many magic videos and videos, and while most commonly known as “The Slop Shuffle” (Complete Idiot’s Guide to Magic), it’s also called other names like “Self-Reversing Pack” (Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic). There are ways to take this trick to the next level by having a card selected by a spectator, and all the cards are face-down after the “slop shuffle” except the chosen card.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fotDfIwoHGM&t=21 (featuring Will Roya)

2 Simple Card Forces

The concept of a “forced card” is a very useful technique in magic. Once you master it, you can perform all sorts of miracles very easily, with many options for how you reveal the card that you have `forced’. There are ways to force a card with sleight of hand, but here are two very simple ways to accomplish this in a self-working manner.


● The Ten-Twenty Force

The effect: You write a prediction for a card to be selected, then get your spectator to freely choose any number between ten and twenty. They deal some cards based on their chosen number, thereby selecting a random card which they reveal. Then your prediction is shown, and it matches the selected card perfectly!What’s good about it: Being able to correctly predict a card apparently chosen at random by a spectator is a very powerful technique in magic. In fact, the selected card has been predetermined in advance, but by presenting it as a feat of prediction, you really give the impression of being able to tell the future. You can even give the paper with your prediction to a spectator to look after, to prove that nothing is written after the fact, making the prediction feat seem even more convincing.Background: The principle underlying this is a simple mathematical one, and yet it can be surprisingly deceptive, especially for the average person who has never come across this before. Besides using a card force as a prediction, magician Jay Sankey offers various ways to reveal a forced card in his video here.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8e1BPNe_f4 (featuring The Card Ghost)

● The Cross Cut Force

The effect: You write a prediction for a card to be selected, and get your spectator to cut anywhere in the center of the deck that they like. The prediction is revealed, and remarkably it turns out that the spectator has cut to exactly the card that was predicted!What’s good about it: Having a `hands off’ approach where you put the cards in the hands of your spectator always makes a magic trick seem more convincing. You couldn’t have possibly done anything to the cards, because you didn’t even touch them! This makes your magic seem like a real miracle. And yet this trick will work every single time to produce the predicted card!Background: The “Cross Cut Force” is sometimes underestimated by magicians, but it can be extremely effective when done well. It works best when you pay attention to subtle details, especially by introducing some time delay before revealing the cut card. You’ll find some excellent tips for using this force, and some great tricks that utilize it, in John Bannon’s excellent “Move Zero” series of DVDs. A related and similar method that takes the Cross Cut Force a step further is the “Cut Deeper Force”. You will easily find information about it online, and it can be used as an alternative way to accomplish the same effect.Watch it and learn it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysInSl0-AYY&t=63 (featuring Xavior Spade)
There you go: ten simple card tricks, and two simple forces! So what are you waiting for? Grab some playing cards, check out some of the videos, and you’ll be amazing people in no time! And no matter how much they ask, keep the secret to yourself, and don’t repeat a trick to the same audience!About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

THE 2 SISTER BEES BY APRIL & JENN

Meet The Sister Bees

April and her sister Jenn are the sister bees behind the card deck called “Busy Bee Savings Challenge Cards.” They created these cards to help promote smart financial savings. “This all started out last year as just a way for my sister and I to track our own finances and hold ourselves accountable.” They even have a Youtube channel called @2sisterbeesstudio where they take part in a budgeting community that practices the “cash stuffing method” A method where after each paycheck, a person will start portioning the cash into labeled slots whether it’s for bills, personal use, etc. Many viewers love to tune in to cash-stuffing videos to help better their financial habits as this method helps you become more mindful about spending. “In just over a year our channel has grown to over 7k subscribers. Every day it continues to grow. It’s overwhelming and amazing all at once.”

Their Busy Bee Journey & Design Process

April shares how her sister helped inspire the idea behind the savings cards, “Watching her play the savings games with random objects she had on hand made me think how fun it would be to roll that into a card game.” With many creative ways to design custom cards, some creators are able to illustrate their own, work with designers, or both. We asked how the 2 Sister Bees designed their cards and how the experience went. April explains her design process by sharing ” I used lots of bees. Lots and lots of bees. And that all stemmed from our brand name, 2 Sister Bees.” 

“Although I am a designer, I wanted a professional artist and a professional company to help me with the cards. I enlisted the help of an amazing artist I found on Fiverr and then the search for the card manufacturer began. I really wanted a US-based company, so I was so happy to find Shuffled Ink!” A project can also involve troubleshooting many different solutions until the design or product comes out just right. April mentioned how her passion for her card deck made it difficult to be patient while waiting for the final product result. “Being patient was rough. But the artist and the whole team at Shuffled Ink were amazing through the whole process”.

 

Working With Shuffled Ink

We wanted to know April’s experience working with Shuffled Ink and this is what she had to share. 

“I came into this with zero experience doing anything like this before. I really wanted to work with a US-based company and when I did the initial inquiry with Shuffled Ink, the staff was so extremely helpful and insightful that I knew I found my place.

The card quality is outstanding. The holographic details and crisp printing really brought everything to life. I could not be happier with the quality and service I received throughout the manufacturing process.”

 

 

Advice to help Those Looking To Custom Print

We receive many questions on how people can get started creating their own custom cards as there are so many different paths to take. April had wonderful advice to help guide aspiring custom card designers who are navigating this journey for the first time. “Find an artist who can really bring your idea to life. And trust the process of both the artist and the card manufacturer. You just focus on being ready to launch your idea and taking care of your customers.”

 

We’re in bees-ness now!

If you are interested in following up on the 2 Sister Bees, they have listed below their main channels & websites where you can also find the cards for purchase! They ship within 3 business days of purchase!

Ko-Fi shop: https://ko-fi.com/2sisterbees/shop

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/2sisterbees

YouTube channels: @sisterbees and @2sisterbeesstudio

Cheers from 2 Sister Bees!

April & Jenn

MNEMONIC LETTER FLASHCARDS BY JAN SHANDERA

 

 

Meet the Creator Jan Shandera

We had the opportunity to interview Jan Shandera to hear about the creative process behind her card deck called “Mnemonic Letter Flashcards”. The title is pronounced: ne-mon-ic and was inspired by a third-grade student, let’s call him Sandy, who had a difficult time learning most of the alphabet sounds. Jan shares about the first time meeting Sandy, “When I met him he stood before me with his head hung, unable to look me in the eye. I was a special education teacher at the time and was not allowed access to his special education records. The staff were puzzled about how to help him. He looked so sad, so embarrassed, and had so little self-esteem.”

 

About The Design

Jan had read about how the “mnemonic alphabet” had been discovered to be the best method to help kids learn letter sounds. “In a mnemonic alphabet, the letter is an integral part of the picture and this is supposed to make it more memorable. I concluded this was the way to start helping Sandy, but I couldn’t find such an alphabet anywhere. So I started making one for him.”  Jan was able to create the card design using the Adobe Illustrator program. “Using it, I could change shapes easily, dragging points. I don’t consider myself to be an artist, don’t feel I can easily visualize and then draw. The computer frees me to design and ‘fix’ until it looks right. I’m not a graphic designer. I did a lot of color sampling to come up with the brightest, most attractive colors I could.”

 

Helping Develop Important Skills With Creativity

“I began working with Sandy in late September, it seems like it was just three days a week for 30 minutes and later 60 minutes. As he learned letter sounds, he learned to sound out words and begin reading. By Thanksgiving, he was not only a beginning reader but accomplished his first-ever independent writing. His classroom teacher shared with me a copy of his written response to an assignment, and said he had carefully sounded out his words! I still have it. When I left, Sandy could proudly look me in the eye. It was so rewarding to help this child.”

 

 

Issues Faced During The Design Process

Jan first faced issues during the creation process, as she explained “Creating a mnemonic alphabet is a challenge because letters just don’t magically look like an object you can illustrate while keeping the letter as part of the picture. When it comes to vowels, there’s only a limited number of words that start with a pure short vowel sound. Many vowels are slightly altered by the following consonant.” She also had to figure out how to design the “X” card as “I had to put the x at the end of that picture. Think about it, a xylophone starts with a z sound. X-ray doesn’t work, either (it starts with the short e sound ‘eks’).”

The next issue she faced was with the printing process. “At first I printed and laminated my cards myself. Printing at home is fraught with frustrations since I’m a perfectionist. If the printing went well, then there were the bubbles and such with the lamination to deal with. I wanted them to look professional so I could share them with others. Getting the colors right was a challenge too, as was making sure that all parts kept their proper size in relation to the other parts. The letters all had to be traced. Now I don’t have to worry about all that!

Introducing The Deck To Others

“My granddaughter was only 2 or 3 years old when I gave her a deck of my letters. It was such a delight to watch her play with them. She had her favorites, especially p-pig, and m-mouse, and would exclaim their names when she found them in the deck. She was just so tickled with them! It was playing for her, but she was learning letter names and sounds at a very early age. I love the photos I took of her playing with them.”

If you would like to learn more about Jan’s journey and her wonderful site click here:https://www.thecardinalconcepts.com/

 

Working With Shuffled Ink

We asked Jan about her experience working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say, “I researched a variety of companies online and asked for samples. I liked the quality of the samples from Shuffled Ink. It was a big step for me, but everyone at Shuffled Ink treated me like I was one of the family. When the first order came, they were perfect. Now I’m on my third order!”

 

HOW SHOULD I LOOK AFTER MY DECK?

24 Tips for Making Playing Cards Last

by EndersGameLet’s say you’ve got a nice deck of playing cards. Naturally you want to enjoy it, and you want to look after it to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. So how should you look after your deck?First of all, it’s important to realize that it’s not an inherently bad thing to have a deck that shows signs of wear, because that usually means you are enjoying your deck and using it! But obviously you don’t want to accelerate this process of wear any more than necessary. So is there anything you can do to preserve your deck, and make it last as long as possible? As it turns out, there most certainly is, and you can start by considering the suggestions made in this article.Here are two dozen tips about how to care for a deck of playing cards, gleaned from the world of hard knocks, worn out decks, and experience.external image

Good Storage

No rubber bands, please! We’ve all seen it: a deck of playing cards, secured tightly with a rubber band. Don’t do it. Why not? Well first of all, over time that rubber band is going to become brittle and break. Worse, when you add some heat it’s going to melt, and you’ll have bits of rubber actually stuck to your cards. Yuck! Furthermore, there’s a real risk that the rubber band will damage the cards at the top and bottom of the deck, because it puts pressure at those points. A rubber band does help keep your deck together, but it offers zero protection for the cards themselves – and we can do better than that!No pants pocket, please! Sure, it’s nice and warm in there, and it seems to be a safe spot to put your cards. And sometimes you’ll have no option but to put a deck inside your pocket. But think about it: a deck that’s pressed tightly against your body is going to warm up. It may feel romantic, but when romance is in the air, things can start getting sweaty and hot, and that’s a sure-fire way to make your deck start warping. Pants pockets also tend to put pressure on the deck when you walk around or even when you sit, and this can quickly cause damage to the tuck box, or cause the whole deck to bend. If you do need to carry your deck inside an item of clothing, try putting it in a jacket pocket instead. And if you really have to resort to using a pants pocket, try putting your deck inside a card clip or some other deck case or protector first.Use the tuck box. There’s a reason why playing cards usually come in a tuck box. Tuck boxes are certainly important for marketing and branding, and especially in the case of more classy decks that feature embossing and foil accents on the tuck box, they make an immediate statement of style. But they also serve a very important and practical function in protecting your cards. If you leave your cards out in the open, they are vulnerable to moisture, and will also attract dust – and perhaps even some spider-webs or other nasties that really don’t belong in your deck! So use the tuck box, and look after it! You can always patch it up with duct tape if you really need to! Remember that your tuck box is your first line of defence against playing card enemies like dust, dirt, and even against sunlight and moisture.Store your decks flat. You’ll find that opinions on this subject do vary. But it can make a difference whether or not a deck of cards is stored in an upright position or flat. When stored flat, gravity is on your side, pressing the cards flat against each other in a natural way. When stored upright or at an angle, there is a greater possibility that your playing cards will warp over time. Whether or not this is an issue for you can depend a lot on your environmental conditions, like the temperature and humidity of the place where your cards are being stored, but you can help combat those other playing card enemies by storing your deck in a flat position.external image

Good Environment

Avoid humidity. Sometimes you really can’t do anything about the environmental conditions where your deck is stored. But humidity is particularly known to have quite an impact on a deck of playing cards, so if there are ways to store your deck in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and humidity, and with a relatively stable temperature, definitely that’s the preferred option. Wait a moment, does that sound like your fridge?! I have heard of people who swear that putting a deck in a fridge overnight is the best way to improve the condition of a warped deck, and that it’s also an unorthodox fix for cards that have that undesirable “click”. I haven’t tried the fridge treatment myself, because there can be a lot of moisture lurking there too, so it sounds like a bad idea to me, and I can’t speak from experience. But if you’re really desperate, have exhausted all other options, and are willing to experiment with a particularly rebellious deck, you may want to give that a shot as a last resort! But generally speaking, try to avoid storing your deck in a high moisture area that encourages your cards to curl and warp. Fluctuating humidity is even worse, because cards will expand and shrink, and quickly become damaged. A cool, dry, well-ventilated area is always the best. If you live in a climate with high humidity you might want to put your decks in the same room as your household dehumidifier if you have one.Avoid sunlight. Sunlight has a tendency to bleach, and if something is left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time, it will inevitably get damaged. You can’t buy sunscreen for cards, but you can keep them away from the sun, by ensuring your cards are stored safely in the tuck case when they’re not being used. This also applies when your playing cards are inside the tuck case – don’t leave it on the ledge of your bedroom window or on the dashboard of your car, where the tuck case is going to sit for hours in the full sun.Avoid heat. Direct sunlight also invites another enemy of playing cards: heat. And of course there are other sources of heat besides the sun, and adding heat is another sure-fire way to damage your playing cards. This isn’t rocket science, obviously, but I wouldn’t want to be standing underneath the burning flames of rocket engines, would you? Similarly, it’s hardly ideal for your playing cards to be exposed to significant amounts of heat. Heat can accelerate chemical reactions, and changes in temperature will cause things to expand and contract. Inevitably, this will lead to problems like warping, which you really want to avoid. The solution is simple: if you can, try to keep your cards at a constant temperature, and don’t store your deck right beside your fireplace or on the window-sill.external image

Good Hands

Wash your hands. Now it’s time to open your deck and use it. Go wash your hands please! Yes, really – just like your mother taught you! She probably didn’t have playing cards in mind, but was more concerned about your hygiene. But the reality is that one of the biggest enemies of playing cards is all that dirt and grime that quickly attaches itself to our skin in the course of normal life. When you handle a deck of playing cards, this filth has a habit of unattaching itself, and along with the oils from your skin, finding a new home on your playing cards. Before you know it, those crisp and clean white edges start to look yellowed, or have flecks of grime mysteriously appearing on them. So before doing an intense session of cardistry or practicing your card magic, take a moment to wash your hands carefully.Dry your hands. You know that guy that you always see leaving the bathroom, shaking his hands dry? Make sure that’s not you, and don’t be that guy! Your hands can easily become sweaty and clammy at the best of times, and while a good wash of your hands before using your cards is always a good idea, it’s equally important to dry your hands. Because playing cards are made out of paper, they love moisture – but for all the wrong reasons! Your cards will inevitably find a way to transfer that sweat or soapy water onto your deck, which is bad news for their longevity. They won’t suddenly swell up or immediately look like they have been damaged, but over time this will cause damage to your cards, and affect their performance, particularly the consistency of the handling.external image

Good Handling

Handle with care. Maybe this goes without saying, but it’s possible to be rough with your cards. We’ve probably all seen people shuffle cards so crudely that we visibly grimace! If your hands are tense, and you grip the cards too tightly, or bend them excessively while shuffling, you can cause unnecessary damage. Of course it’s equally possible (and perhaps even likely!) that you know how to handle cards carefully, but your friends or family don’t! As a result, if you give them your beloved deck to shuffle, they might be very rough with your cards, and that could simply be because they have never learned the proper techniques for shuffling or handling a deck. Be gracious, of course – but you might want to offer to be the designated shuffler or dealer for the card game.Spring the cards. Not only is springing cards an impressive visual flourish, but it can also play a very practical purpose of actually helping your cards stay in shape. A card that is being used positively is a happy card. Cards that just sit there and are never used can run the risk of being warped, just like being laid up in bed for weeks will make you stiff and out of shape. In contrast, a good workout with the help of a spring or shuffle can assist in making the playing cards keep shape, by clearing out all the cobwebs or dust (literally!), air them out, and give them some valuable restorative exercise.Be bi-directional. If you do springs and riffle shuffles, make sure that you don’t just do them the same way all the time, e.g. only face up or only face down. Spring and shuffle them in both directions from time to time, otherwise the cards will always be under pressure to bend the same way. This constant pressure from the same direction will affect the fibres of the cards, and can cause them to be permanently bowed in the long run.Don’t drop them! This may sound obvious, but dropping your cards is asking for trouble. The first casualty of a dropped deck will usually be the corners of the cards, which risk becoming bent in the process. If you want to fast-track your deck to becoming one of those dog-eared items, throwing your cards around is definitely going to speed up that process. Furthermore, any time your cards spend on the floor means that they’re likely to come into contact with dirt that has been tracked in on the carpet, linoleum, concrete, or grass, or wherever you happen to be using your deck of cards. Getting sand in between your cards is especially something to avoid, because this will cause extra friction in the wrong places, and will speed up the wearing process when you shuffle the cards.Practice above carpet. If you are a cardist attempting a range of new moves of fancy aerial moves, you don’t want to be doing this above a filthy ground or a hard wooden floor or concrete. You are going to drop cards. Yes, I know that this conflicts with a previous suggestion where I said that you shouldn’t drop the cards. But dropping cards occasionally is part of the cost of progression in cardistry or magic. Every good cardist will drop cards in the course of learning and attempting new and challenging moves. If you never drop cards, then you obviously aren’t challenging yourself or pushing yourself to new heights. And if you know that you are going to drop cards, then it makes sense to have them fall on a surface that is going to be as friendly to them as possible. A clean and soft carpet is best. A hard and dirty wooden floor, or a muddy puddle outdoors most definitely isn’t!Do nothing. There’s an old saying that “time is a great healer”, and it can apply to playing cards as well. Of course, if your two year old nephew has chewed off the corner of your favourite Ace of Spades, no amount of time is going to make that corner grow back – not even your best Torn and Restored magic routine! But sometimes when a deck of playing cards is starting to feel clumpy or spread unevenly, it just needs a break. Just like a car can overheat, sometimes a deck that has been handled for a long period of time simply needs a breather. So put it back in the box, and maybe in a card clip if you have one, store it in a cool and dry place, and give it a chance to dry out and get back to normal. You may find that in an hour, a day, or a week, the cards handle better again. Just like a holiday can do a stressed person a world of good, an overworked deck can benefit from having an occasional break, so give it a well-deserved and therapeutic rest from time to time!external image

Good Accessories

Use a deck protector. Don’t have your deck rattling around in the glove-box of your car or in your pocket without any form of protection. That’s not what you’d do with your pet gerbil either is it? No, you’d give him a nice carrying case, or put him inside some kind of container. Well as it turns out, you can get protective containers for playing cards as well. One option is a card clip, but it is important to realize that this tends only to protect a couple of sides of the deck, leaving the other sides unprotected. We’ll cover the benefits of a card clip later – they are best used for a different function. A plastic carrying case is probably a better option to use for transporting a deck, and there are products available like clear plastic playing card storage boxes that work well. Whatever you do, don’t just let those tuck boxes fly around loosely while you are travelling, because they are sure to get dinged and dented, potentially damaging the cards in the process.Use a card clip. So you’ve given your cards a good workout, and you’ve noticed that they have a slight bend or are warping? A card clip is a utility item, often made of stainless steel metal or alloy, that fits around your tuck box to help with this. Once again, opinions can vary on the benefits and advantages of a card clip, and whether they really make any difference. These are typically claimed to increase the longevity of your playing cards, by providing extra protection and thus ensuring greater durability. A quality card clip typically doesn’t come cheap, but the quality is usually evident immediately. They should have a strong natural spring that ensures that your deck is wedged firmly between two pressure points. In practice, because playing cards can have different thicknesses depending on the stock used, you may need to take some cards out in order to fit a deck inside a card clip – there’s even potential for the tuck box to be damaged if you find yourself trying to squash the deck inside. As far as protection goes, card clips typically only protect a deck from a couple of sides. They certainly offer some protection for a deck that’s in your pocket, but don’t expect them to be bullet proof, because your tuck box will still get banged around and somewhat damaged. In my experience, a card clip is particularly useful for straightening out a deck that has become warped. You could try the more primitive method of placing a deck under a heavy book or table, but placing a deck in a good card clip overnight can work wonders. Besides that, card clips are great accessories, and can make their own statement of style and class.Use a play mat. I may be starting to sound like an overprotective mother here, but a play mat can really make a difference to the health of your playing cards. Of course a good plain-coloured table cloth might do the trick, but there are better options. Whenever we play card games in my family, we use a very large table sized neoprene mat that we purchased specifically for this purpose. Not only does this protect the table, but more importantly it protects the cards. It makes them stay in position nicely on the table, and it also makes them very easy to pick up. Many of our visitors who have played card games or enjoyed card magic at our dining table have been super impressed with this neoprene mat and wanted to get their own! Magicians have been using close-up mats for card magic for a long time, and the principle is the same. There’s a good reason why poker tables at casinos are typically made of a felt-like material. Even a tablecloth is a better option than playing on a hard wooden table, because invariably cards can be hard to pick up on a hard wooden surface, and have a much higher risk of being damaged that way. You can even purchase a roll of thick felt from a fabric shop, which will do the trick too.Use fanning powder. All good quality playing cards are given a coating at the end of the production process, and what that does is helps cards fan and spread evenly, and promotes their longevity. Depending on the publisher or creator, this coating can be called things like Magic Finish or Performance Coating. But over time this coating will wear, and as a result the cards will no longer slide over each other as smoothly, and the deck will start to become “clumpy”. One solution to this is to use fanning powder or talcum powder, which can help minimize the extent to which the cards stick together, and restore some of the smoothness to your fans and spreads. For black cards you can’t use white powder, because it will leave a noticeable white residue behind, but it’s definitely an option for non-black cards. Fanning powder is probably much less necessary today than it was in the previous centuries, given the advances of technology and the improved quality of cards today, particularly the coating used. So you’ll likely only need to give this a shot with a cheaper deck of cards, or with one that is very worn.external image

Good Decks

Get quality decks. When you buy, choose your decks carefully. The writing is on the wall for some decks before you even use them, and a shorter life expectancy for them is almost guaranteed before you use them! This is almost always true of a cheap papery deck from your corner store. In contrast to a quality deck of Bicycle playing cards from USPCC, such a deck is doomed to wear out quickly. So it is worth the time to research the publisher of your deck before making a purchase. A more expensive deck will still wear out in the end, but you will get more mileage out of it due to the quality of the playing cards and the technology used in the production process.Avoid black decks. This is a bit of a sneaky tip, because playing cards with black bordered backs or faces actually don’t wear out any quicker than playing cards with white borders or faces. I have read that the black ink can pick up dust and absorb moisture more quickly than white cards, but I’m not aware of scientific evidence that backs that up. But what I do know is that the signs of wear will be much more noticeable with black cards. Why? Like most playing cards, cards with black borders/faces are made of paper, and as the cards are used with any kind of frequency, the edges tend to chip and show signs of wear, because these are the parts of the cards that are handled the most and have the most contact. Unfortunately, that means that with black cards the white underneath will naturally show up more quickly. White bordered cards wear in the same way, of course, but since the wear usually shows up as white, it is far less obvious. There are techniques you can use to breathe new life into a deck with black cards, and a simple fix can be to use a black permanent marker on the edge of the cards. You’ll find other tips for extending the life of decks with black cards in the Black Deck Book from Ellusionist, which you’ll find here. But if you are going to choose a deck with black borders, just realize that it won’t look pristine for as long as a deck with white borders.Save your custom decks. One thing you might want to consider is reserving your higher end custom decks with fancy artwork for special occasions. If you are practicing some new cardistry moves, or trying to learn some new card sleights that you know are going to be hard on your cards, then it’s probably not the best idea to use your prettiest deck. You may want to have a ready supply of cheaper decks for “training” purposes. These decks still offer quality handling and performance, but don’t cost as much money. Sure, they won’t win a Miss America contest for playing cards any time soon, but if you are going to wear out a deck through some rough handling during practice, it might as well be a budget deck like this. Save your custom decks for that special performance, that special games night, or when you want to treat yourself to something special.Rotate your decks. Someone I know has a fairly large collection of different decks, and has a self-devised system that ensures he “rotates” through his decks, to give them all a chance of hitting the table. Many cardists tend to work with a rotational system of some kind. Not only does this help ensure that all of your decks get “air time”, but it can help extend the life of certain decks that might otherwise get used constantly.external image

Final Thoughts

Accept the inevitable. The bad news is that a deck of playing cards will wear out. Most playing cards are made out of paper, and paper wears when it gets used. It’s just a fact of life, so you need to accept it. If you plan to use that beautiful deck of playing cards, whether for card magic or for playing card games, it is inevitable that your prized deck is eventually going to show signs of wear. There’s a good reason that finding a century old deck of cards in pristine condition is a rare thing – not that we don’t have many decks from that time period, but it’s just that most decks that go the distance have been played and used, and you can tell at a quick glance that the cards look worn. The same will be true of your decks of playing cards – at least if you actually take the cards out of the box and actually use them.Not that a deck which shows signs of wear is cause for sadness or grief. A deck that is being used and enjoyed is a happy deck! So actually signs of wear are usually evidence that you are using a deck of playing cards for its intended purpose, and enjoying it for what it is – and that’s often better than leaving it untouched in the fear that it might get hurt. By all means go ahead and use those decks!Retire the irrepairable. Magicians and cardists are known to use a brand new deck for each performance, and can often wear out a deck of playing cards quite quickly. Most of us will find that we won’t go through decks at quite that level of frequency – especially if you keep the above tips in mind. But eventually a deck will have overstayed its welcome, and you know that it’s time to put it into retirement when cards are sticking together, when fans turn into ugly and clumpy messes, when individual cards look dog-eared or bent, or perhaps when you’ve had spectators sign cards (which they’ve kept as a souvenir) and it’s no longer complete.Enjoy the perishable. Playing cards are perishable, but don’t let that stop you enjoying them. But hopefully if you keep some of these ideas in mind, you can make your decks last a little longer than they otherwise would. Who knows, perhaps someone will be admiring one of your decks a hundred years from now, silently thanking you for the good care you took of it. But more importantly, with a bit of loving care and attention, you can get extra enjoyment and mileage out of those playing cards already!external imageAbout the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

PLAYING CARDS AS WEAPONS OF WAR

We all know that playing card games can become super competitive. As a great quote from Finley Peter Dunne goes: “There are no friends at cards or world politics.” Similar is this wisdom from Charles Lamb: “Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.But how about using playing cards as an actual weapon of war? Certainly you could injure someone seriously if you can throw playing cards like past and present world record holders Ricky Jay or Rick Smith Jnr, who can throw a playing card accurately and quickly enough to slice fruit. But there are more subtle ways that playing cards have genuinely been used in wars, and what follows are some fascinating case examples!external image

Battle of San Jacinto

When General Sam Houston led Texas to freedom in the battle of San Jacinto (1836), the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution as part of the war for independence from Mexico, there were Mexicans fighting on both sides. So how could the Mexicans who were fighting for freedom with the Texan army be distinguished from those who were part of the Mexican army fighting to maintain control of the land?Here’s the solution General Houston apparently came up with: He instructed the “Mexican-Americans” to put playing cards in their hat-bands so that the Texans could easily differentiate them from the Mexican soldiers. Doesn’t that give a whole new meaning to “showing your hand”?!external image

World War II

In World War II, playing card manufacturer USPCC teamed up with military forces to create decks of cards that had a full escape map printed between the two paper panels that are stuck together to make each card. Each one had a segment of the overall map, and after soaking the cards and peeling apart the two layers to access parts of the secret map, these could be puzzled together to create a complete escape map that Allied prisoners could use to help them escape from German POW camps and out of Nazi Germany. The decks were delivered to POWs in Red Cross packages.Even today you can buy an Escape Map deck which celebrates this ingenious “map deck”, although fortunately the map of this commemorative deck is on the card faces, so you don’t need to ruin the deck to make the map!external image

Vietnam War

In the Vietnam War, decks that consisted solely of Aces of Spades were produced for American soldiers, since this card was considered a symbol of death to their opposition forces, and soldiers would wear them on their helmets. The idea was that the Viet Cong was superstitious, and seeing this Ace would terrify them.In retrospect, this practice appears to have been based on a false belief about the Viet Cong. But regardless of whether or not this psychological warfare actually worked on the enemy, it certainly did help improve morale of American troops! (For more on this story, see a detailed discussion here.)external image

Gulf War

During the Gulf War, troops that were part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq were issued playing cards that featured pictures and information about the 55 most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s government, with Saddam himself featured on the Ace of Spades. Given that troops would often play cards during down time, they would become familiar with the names, faces, and titles of wanted Iraqis while playing card games, and thus could more easily recognize them in the field. (You can learn more about this “Most Wanted deck” in several places, e.g. here. You can even see a list that documents the eventual status of the 55 most wanted men as of 2010, e.g. here.)This is not the first time that playing cards have been used in this fashion, with previous instances including the US Civil War, World War II, and the Korean War. There have also been reports of US soldiers handing out playing cards as “calling cards” during Operation Iraqi Freedom and during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; these cards would include an anonymous tip line phone number that locals could use.external image

Ordnance Recognition

Multiple decks of playing cards have been created as Ordnance Recognition decks, and were designed with an educational purpose for identifying unexploded ammunition and weapons that the public might stumble upon by accident in war zones. These decks are aimed at assisting people at risk (e.g. soldiers, civilians, aid workers, de-miners) to identify and learn about the threats they face from unexploded ordnance.Such Ordinance Recognition decks are still in use today. They are typically bought by UN and government agencies to distribute to their staff and to local people, and it is believed that they actually help save lives and limbs.external image

Airline Spotters

Airline Spotter decks have also been used in times of war to assist anti-aircraft gunners recognize aircraft silhouettes, ensuring that they fired only at the enemy and not by mistake at allies. The cards identify 52 different aircraft including Allied bombers and fighters, as well as Axis aircraft from Germany, Japan, and Italy. Each card features detailed silhouettes from three different angles: front view, side view, and a view of the bottom of the aircraft, as it would be seen by a ground observer. Also produced were Naval Spotter decks, which featured cards with silhouettes of U.S. and foreign warships from the 1940s–1960s.These decks served a dual purpose as entertainment and as a teaching aid. Soldiers inevitably would play cards during moments of down time, and using the card faces as a way of making them familiar with important information is genius. Replicas of these spotter decks are still available today from US Games Systems.external image

Cold Cases

Finally, there’s the ongoing war against crime. Playing cards have been used to help solve actual cold cases in the fight to bring criminals to justice. Details from unsolved crimes were printed on the faces of cards along with victim photos, and these decks were given to prison inmates in many states across the United States.Did it work? Absolutely, and at least 40 cases have been solved directly as a result of this initiative. (For more on this story, see an article here). Who ever would have thought that a prison poker game could have this kind of pay-off?external imageSo there you have it: playing cards have actually been used as weapons of war! So maybe you should just stock up on some of your favorite custom decks – you never quite know when war might break out, and when you might need them!About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

THE GEEKY GIRL ORACLE DECK BY SANDRA BARTHOLOMEW

 

The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck By Sandra Bartholomew

We had the chance to interview Sandra to hear about the story behind The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”. Sandra’s previous career was teaching and writing about the Zentangle method of drawing. She had made “Tangle Card” packs to teach others how to draw patterns and she wrote books. She focuses her art on drawing comics surrounding the topic of mental health, Inner Demons, and being neurodivergent. Sandra mentioned that she had been participating in the Inktober Challenge every October for the last five years. Each year she would add some more rules for herself as she would include a word prompt to practice lettering, include her own character to practice consistency, and add Zentangle patterns as a special detail. For Inktober 2021, she began adding the word “The” before each word prompt to create a tarot-inspired card. “I used that art to create a tarot deck, The Faux Tarot, with Shuffled Ink last year and I had thought I would do another one this winter. Instead, I went back through the five years of drawings and selected 32 of my favorites. I challenged myself to turn them all into paintings that would become an oracle/journaling deck.”

 

 

The Material Used To Create Each Piece

“I sketched each drawing onto mixed media paper with pencil then inked with various fine liner pens (I.e: Microns). Washes of acrylic inks filled the larger areas. The inks can be used watered down to look like watercolor or full strength as acrylic paint. Some details are added with Posca acrylic pens, Derwent Inktense, and Prismacolor colored pencils. The paintings are only 5″x7″ so I worked on two at a time, on each sheet of paper.”

 

“Start Small, But Start.”

We asked Sandra for some great advice to pass down to aspiring custom card creators. Here is what she shared, “Start small, but start. Once you decide what size cards you want, find out how many cards will fit on the printing sheet – and make that number of cards (or multiples). You will be paying for all the cards, even the ones that are blank – so you might as well make some extra art!”

 

 

Navigating Creative Risk

Sandra also mentioned an issue faced during the creation process which was dealing with her “insecurity” in calling it an Oracle Deck. She says “When I made The Faux Tarot, I called it a “neurodivergent tarot” – not exactly a parody, but definitely intended to be a bit different. Still, there were a few people who were offended that I wasn’t following the rules. So I was worried that some would feel that way about my oracle deck too. And I wanted people to use the cards however they wanted to – as an oracle, as a way to prompt journal writing, or just pretty cards they stuck on their fridge!” She goes on to say “I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but it was funded in four hours on Kickstarter, so… I took that as a good sign!”

 

 

 

Working With Shuffled Ink

We asked Sandra how her experience was working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say: 

“Shuffled Ink was really good at getting back to me to answer questions and send samples. The card quality is lovely.” Sandra also mentioned what she liked about the coating and how it was easier to shuffle and clean off if any messes or accidents happened. We thank Sandra for taking the time to answer our questions and tell us about the creative process behind “The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”.

If you are interested in purchasing “The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”, you can find it in Sandra’s Etsy shop here: www.Bumblebat.com. Make sure to follow her on social media @beezink on Instagram.

THE LEGEND OF THE DEAD MAN’S HAND

Playing cards have been part of our culture for hundreds of years, so we can expect some great stories surrounding them. One of the most famous stories of all is the legendary tale of the Dead Man’s Hand. Gamblers are a rather superstitious lot, and we’ve all heard people talk about lucky dice and lucky cards. Many hands of playing cards have even acquired their own names, and perhaps none as famous as the Dead Man’s Hand: a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights.So what is the story behind this apparently unlucky hand, which could be an omen of death? And which elements of this tale are history, and which are myth? I’ll tell you the story, and you can decide.

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Wild Bill Hickok

First let me introduce you to the famous gunman and gambler that is at the center of our story: Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876). His real name was James Butler Hickok, but when you’re a famous gunman in the wild west, “James” doesn’t sound quite as impressive, so “Wild Bill” it was. Apparently, his long nose and large lips gave rise to the nickname “Duck Bill” in his youth, but the addition of a fierce moustache and a somewhat wild reputation eventually saw this moniker evolve into Wild Bill.Wild Bill’s fame was well-deserved, because he was a celebrated veteran of the Civil War, and a respected lawman and gunfighter in the American West. He earned respect through his involvement in multiple shoot-outs, the iron hand by which he ruled the lawlessness of his day, and his skill as a professional gambler. The papers followed him closely, telling stories of his many gun fights and conquests.His exploits were often sensationalized, mixing fiction with fact. So we’ll never know exactly how many men Wild Bill actually gunned down. Some journalists from his time claimed it was over a hundred, but a respected biographer suggests that the truth is closer to half a dozen. The numbers, exploits, and stories were often exaggerated by his contemporaries, and Wild Bill seems to have lent a helping hand to his growing legend by contributing some outlandish reports of his own about his achievements.

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The Death Of Wild Bill

Let’s fast forward to 1876, when Wild Bill is almost 40 years old. By now he has earned a pretty penny from his gambling and from his other feats. But he is no longer quite the crack shot of his younger years, and his health is also starting to decline. Wild Bill joins a wagon train heading for South Dakota, and arrives at the town of Deadwood. There he entertains himself with one of his great loves at the local Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10: Poker.A skilled player, Wild Bill rakes in the money as he has done so often throughout his life. On this occasion, one of the unfortunate losers is a drunken buffalo hunter named Jack McCall, whose losses are so big that he needs to rely on Wild Bill’s generosity to buy breakfast. McCall might just have considered this gesture as a grave insult, as the events of the next day would show.The next day is August 2, 1876, and Wild Bill again heads to the saloon for some more poker. Only one seat is free at the poker table, and our hero repeatedly but unsuccessfully asks to switch seats with another player, since his preference is for a chair with his back to the wall, giving him a full view of the saloon and its entrance. So it is that Wild Bill is taken by surprise when Jack McCall steps into the saloon, yells “Damn you! Take that!”, and shoots him from behind at point-blank. Wild Bill is killed instantly, and falls from his seat, with his cards clutched in his hand: a pair of black Aces and a pair of black Eights.McCall was initially acquitted, but was eventually tried for murder, and convicted and hanged the following year. But the story of Wild Bill’s final hand would live on. The poker game being played was a five-card stud, and there’s less certainty about the identity of the fifth card, but the other four were clearly described by a witness present at the scene as pairs of black Aces and Eights. And so began the legend of the Dead Man’s Hand.

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The Dead Man’s Hand

Was Wild Bill really holding a pair of Aces and a pair of Eights? Some historians question the authenticity of the account. It has been suggested that the association between Wild Bill and this particular hand was only popularized some fifty years later, when a book about Hickok appeared. By then the story was already turning into legend, and the publication of this story certainly helped spread the legend. But it does appear that prior to the 1920s little was said about it. In fact, at one time in the 19th century the story of a Dead Man’s Hand was even reported to be connected with a completely different individual, and a completely different hand of cards. Now that we’re more than 140 years removed from the original event, it’s not likely that we’ll ever find out the truth!Regardless of the historicity of Wild Bill’s actual hand at the time of his death, there’s no doubt that his story has become the stuff of legend. For the last hundred years, a hand with a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights has commonly been called the Dead Man’s Hand, and has been connected with Wild Bill Hickok’s death. This particular hand has become firmly entrenched in popular culture, with many references to it in countless novels, films, and even computer games.Today there is a small casino called Saloon 10 located at the site where Wild Bill was killed. There you’ll find a historical exhibit of the Dead Man’s Hand, and signs that tell you about the story behind it. Wild Bill may be long dead, but his legend lives on, although in modern poker a pair of Aces and a pair of Eights is actually a decent combination, and is not exactly likely to get you killed!

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The Dead Man’s Deck

As a special homage to this tale, the folks at Vanishing Inc Magic have produced a special deck of playing cards. It’s a limited edition deck geared to collectors, and commemorates the story of Wild Bill and his unfortunate demise. The tuck box has a plain and sober look with muted black and yellowed borders, that makes it appear to be an authentic relic from yesteryear.Be ready for a surprise when taking the cards out of the box, because the entire deck literally has a hole that goes all the way through the very middle of all the cards, for a very fun novelty look. A round metal musket ball is inside the hole, to complete the dramatic effect. The cards look deliberately weathered and worn, while burn marks surround the bullet hole on both sides of each card. This isn’t a deck for the squeamish, because there are apparent smears of blood on the black Aces and Eights that constituted the legendary Dead Man’s Hand, while blood splatters also adorn several other cards.The card backs are identical, so you can still use this as a regular deck if you wish. These have a one-way design, and careful observers will notice details connected to the tale of Wild Bill, such as references to his initials JBH, as well as to the cards of the Dead Man’s Hand. The design of the face cards employs a vintage style, while the artwork of the court cards follows the older French styled look rather than the classical Bicycle look that we’re used to today, including the use of indices on all four corners. Two extra cards are included, one with a photo of Wild Bill, and the other telling a short version of his story. The printing of the deck was done by Expert Playing Card Company, so the cards look great and handle smoothly.This is a very original and fun deck that stands out from others in my collection due to the novelty value, and the great story behind it. You could certainly use it for a card trick that has a Wild West story line, and it might especially appeal to magicians that do gambling routines. People who have the book Scarne on Card Tricks should check out the trick “Wild Bill Hickock’s Hand” (p.298) which is a Henry Christ routine that uses the Dead Man’s Hand as the background and plot. Of course you could also use it for a game of Poker or for any other card game too. It’s also a great conversation piece and collector’s item. Just remember to keep your back to the wall!Where to get it? The Dead Man’s Deck is available here.

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About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

The 4 Essential Tips For Selling Custom Cards

If you’re asking “how to sell custom cards” and don’t want general advice, you’re in the right place!  To help save you time and money from learning by mistakes, we asked our clients to share their secrets! Here you will learn the most essential tips for selling custom cards and emphasizing your brand’s uniqueness!

 

Lindsay Williams 

Shop: The Desert Illuminations

Website: www.lindsaydwilliamsart.com

Social: @desertilluminations

 

1. The Power of Human Connection.

“The Desert Illuminations Tarot was created with the intention to have an interactive and spiritually charged body of work that connected with others through my personal language of illustration, tarot, narrative, and design. I believe a lot of my success with this tarot deck was because it resonated with a lot of different types of people all over the world. My followers noticed that The Desert Illuminations Tarot came right from my heart and that I was having a lot of fun during the creative process. They really enjoyed watching the deck form from just an idea into a physical reality via my Instagram presence.”

“For anyone starting out as a deck creator, it is important to figure out your niche and utilize a wide variety of social media outlets to grow an organic following. The more you are personally engaged, show your unique personality, and communicate with those who admire your work, the more they will become invested in continuing to support your art and ideas. People love to watch the creative process and are inspired by an artist’s personal journey. The power of human connection through social media engagement is a huge contribution to making your dream of a successful deck a reality. Stay authentic and present and the rest will surely fall into place.” – Lindsay D Williams

The Importance of Connecting With The Right Company

 “It was super important to me to find a printing company that understood what I was going for design-wise and that was communicative throughout the whole process especially when it came to the design layout and making sure the proofs had very little editing at the end.” – Lindsay D Williams

 

Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.

Shuffled Ink was the right choice because I loved that they are based in the United States and is a family-owned business. Knowing this, I knew I would be getting a quality product and communication would be easier for me with my project manager. I was so glad I chose this company because of the extremely high-quality product and because they made the whole process of creating my first tarot deck really easy and enjoyable” – Lindsay D Williams

 

 

 

Kristin Hey 

Shop: All Things Intuitive 

Website: https://allthingsintuitive.com/

Social: @allthingsintuitive

 

 

2. Invest As Much As You Can Afford

“The best advice I can offer small business owners selling custom cards: When you’re ready and able to scale your business, invest as much as you can afford into larger quantities of cards. This will reduce costs and increase your profits. We started by ordering about 25 to 50 decks of The Hidden Truth Oracle, and we now order 5k at a time.” – Kristin Hey 

The Importance of Working With The Right Company

“Finding a high-quality and responsive US-based manufacturing partner was essential for All Things Intuitive. We produce some of the hottest decks among influencers on YouTube and TikTok and quality matters. We feel that we set ourselves apart from a lot of other oracle card creators because we use a better card stock — 330 GSM and 410 gsm — depending on the deck, and we add the aqueous coating for a longer-lasting product.” – Kristin Hey 

Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.

“We needed a reliable manufacturer. We sell on Amazon and can’t afford to have a production lag that many of our competitors working with overseas providers experience. Especially during the pandemic, using a printer based in the United States was critical for our business.” – Kristin Hey 

 

Kelly Hamm

Shop: Blooming Flowers Creative Arts Healing, LLC

Social: Instagram @bloomingflowersbykh.  

 

3. Learn to Reach Your Target Audience.

“As a small business owner that’s just beginning to get my feet wet – for the most part, is knowing first, how I can reach those who have shared in some of the same experiences/journeys that I have been on. Next, is finding and building alongside like-minded individuals who have similar interests, passions, purposes, or goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in sharing what you’ve created, however, there may be a small percentage of individuals that don’t understand why you have created custom cards. Only you as the content creator know why. Patience is certainly a good thing and worth the wait!” -Kelly Hamm

The Importance of Working With The Right Company

“Personally, it was extremely important to connect with a quality partner that would be timely in responding to what I was envisioning my product to become and also to have the flexibility in manufacturing, to distribute the custom cards deck(s) timely.”-Kelly Hamm

Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.

“After my first initial conversation with Lisa Levin and other outstanding team members at Shuffled Ink – my experience with Shuffled Ink has been nothing short of Superb Exquisite Excellence! From the eco-friendly materials, packaging options, questions, responses, e-mails, phone calls, digital proofs, hard copy proofs, production time turnaround, shipping, delivery, and then follow-up. It was more like a dream, but after pinching myself, very real, indeed! I can honestly say it was one of the most magical experiences to journey with Shuffled Ink on. To see the vision coming into fruition alongside a company of highly professional team members, that put just as much heart and soul into bringing the highest quality of custom cards to life as the photographic lens did, at times, no words, just awe. The graphic design team – “Wowza”! Every step of the process was beautiful! Therefore, without hesitation or reservation and with the sincerest heart of gratitude – Shuffled Ink will be the number one company I turn to for every custom card created.” -Kelly Hamm

 

 

Alison Hartrum

Shop: Abambyh Business Coaching

Website: www.abambyhbusiness.com

Social: Instagram: @abambyhbusiness

 

 4.Your Enthusiasm & Excitement are Contagious!

 

“Get out there and talk about your product often, with everyone you meet. Carve out strategic, scheduled times to promote it, with specific goals to reach a planned number of people. Have an elevator speech prepared so you know what to say if you only have a short time to speak.

But also take advantage of opportunities to spontaneously talk about your business/product. Be prepared to promote it at all times! Have whatever promotional materials you need (samples, brochures, etc.) with you. You never know who might be interested, or whom you might run into unexpectedly.

Your enthusiasm and excitement are contagious! Having an elevator speech prepared is a good idea, but always let your passion for your product shine through!” -Alison Hartrum

 

 

The Importance of Working With The Right Company

“It is crucial! I needed to feel the partnership, I needed to feel that this was not just a transaction for the company with whom I was doing business. It was important to me that I truly felt that I had a partner in this, who cared about the product and was as enthusiastic and excited as I was about it. I put so much into designing and developing and proofing these cards, so many hours of planning and careful work, that it was vital for me to feel that their manufacture was in safe hands.” -Alison Hartrum

 

Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.

“Absolutely, without a doubt, Shuffled Ink was who I needed. They were excellent communicators, and patient with both my questions and my answers when they had questions. I could not have asked for a company to be more forthcoming and understanding of my vision and what I needed. I have a product that I’m immensely proud of because of their professionalism, friendliness, and outstanding customer service. They were truly partners in this project, and I will always be grateful for their amazing work.” -Alison Hartrum