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Learn how this businesswoman’s morning routine inspired her to create custom affirmation cards designed to help motivate other like-minded female entrepreneurs.

A morning stretch, an early jog, eating a hearty breakfast, pouring a giant cup of black coffee: quintessential tasks to start your day right and prepare for a successful day in the office. For Alison Hartrum, her favorite morning activity of shuffling through a deck of custom affirmation cards which inspired her to do the opposite – leave the corporate world for good in the search for something more fulfilling.

Alison Hartrum was climbing the corporate ladder with ease it would seem. Winning several awards recognizing her achievements and hard work, outwardly she appeared to be an exemplary businesswoman, but looming behind her many accolades was the imminent burnout corporate employees have come to know all too well.

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Louisville, Alison spent 8 years working for a Fortune 75 company and was awarded Partner of the Year locally and Top 20 Partner Nationally. While she was reaching new heights in her career, she secretly longed to search for inspiration left behind by stressful corporate culture.

Seeing How The Cards Play Out

Taking a step away from corporate life, Alison found a way to inspire other female entrepreneurs: “I left the accolades and success of my lucrative corporate career in coaching sales professionals to pursue my true passion: travel,” Alison says. It was while she took a step away from her career to see the world that she realized her mentorship was in need. “I started being approached by female entrepreneurs requesting help with their businesses. My drive to assist others in achieving their own success in the business world is what inspired me to start Abambyh Business Coaching.”

Always focusing on positivity, Alison is a firm believer in the law of attraction. Once Alison’s business coaching started taking off, she was trying to figure out a creative and efficient way to convey the importance of keeping a positive mindset to her clients. While Looking through a deck of activity-inspiring cards as part of her morning routine, Alison was struck with the idea that there must be such a deck for business owners. This is how the affirmation cards came to be!

Affirming What’s Possible: Business Prompts for the Motivated Entrepreneur

Business Prompts for the Motivated Entrepreneur are activity-inspired cards that challenge unmotivated thinking. Tailored to helping chaotic corporate and help the everyday professional

The card deck boasts six categories: Action, Business, Feel Good, Prospecting, Reflection, and Visionary. The user can shuffle the deck and choose a card at random, choose at random in a category that feels right for them at that time, or they can look through the cards and choose one with a prompt that inspires them. Alternatively, the manager of a sales or customer retention force could assign the cards as needed. There’s no wrong way to use the cards; it all depends on the user’s needs.

Alison hopes to catch people who are down on their luck, out pursuing their passions, and in search of inspiration. Alison envisions her cards sold in retailers everywhere:  offices,  airports, bookstores,  and coffee shops. While the main purpose of creating these cards was to inspire female entrepreneurs, Alison hopes that they will also help lead change in corporate environments. After all, optimistic mindfulness matched with taking breaks increases levels of productivity. Are you an entrepreneur looking for inspiration? Purchase your own deck of Business Prompts for the Motivated Entrepreneur here!!

On Working With Shuffled Ink

An expert in her field, Alison trusted Shuffled Ink to create high-quality card decks for her business. When asked why she chose to work with Shuffled Ink, she explained: “[Shuffled Ink] communicated with promptness, patience, and thoroughness. They accommodated changes and answered questions at a level of customer service that left me feeling absolutely confident in their professionalism and knowledge.”

Shuffled Ink loves collaborating with visionaries like Alison. Our goal is to deliver a high-quality product, customizable to your specifications. “Shuffled Ink had the most friendly and prompt responses to her initial inquiries, which made a very favorable impression on someone who was embarking on an entirely new venture in creating this deck.”


For a long time I had the mistaken impression that customized playing cards were a relatively modern innovation. Ignoring for a moment all those cheap souvenir decks of bridge sized playing cards, most of us associate the traditional deck of playing cards with a Bicycle ride-back deck with a standardized set of court cards. Perhaps we’ve seen some minor variations, but this is what we thought a deck of cards has always looked like.

But then at some point, we discovered customized playing cards. And we found ourselves getting excited about the possibilities this opened up. I suspect that many of us also see these creative decks as a new development in playing cards. Certainly it’s true that for much of the 20th century, a very fixed and standard deck was dominant in the world of professional magic and gambling, with its immediately recognizable set of court cards and other face cards.

It’s also true that recent decades have seen an explosion of sorts in the playing card industry, with the emergence of customized playing cards as an established and rapidly-growing branch of its own. This has been accelerated with the arrival of crowdfunding about ten years ago. Platforms like Kickstarter have enabled creative individuals with good design ideas to get access to the financial backing needed for them to make their projects a reality. Other factors contributing to this growth include improved technology in digital design and manufacturing, and easy access to all these resources in a global community connected by the Internet. The rise of cardistry as an emerging art-form in the last half a dozen years has been a further catalyst to this process. With social media playing a lending hand, there is not only an increasing demand for highly customized playing cards, but also an increasing range of published decks available to meet this need.

If you’ve been a spectator to these exciting developments that have a radically changed the landscape of the playing card industry in the last 5 to 10 years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the customized deck of playing cards is something not seen before. But it would be a mistake to think that customized playing cards are a new phenomenon. Nothing could be further from the truth, and when researching something of the history of playing cards in the 1800s, I discovered that in fact there have been previous times in history where customized playing cards were very common.

So over the course of two articles, I invite you to join me in a time machine, and let’s travel back to the 1800s and learn what role customized decks from yesteryear had in the culture of their time. They may not have had Kickstarter back then, but creative designers and publishers certainly did exist, and so did their customized playing cards. So let’s take a look at how playing cards were used in previous eras.

Centuries Old Card History

For Card Games

From the very beginning, the primary use of playing cards has been for playing card games. Adding gambling and alcohol to card games only served to accelerate their popularity. Some historians have observed that until the 18th century, hardly any games were played without gambling. Given that card playing was so closely linked with gambling, and almost inevitably resulted in drunkenness and fighting, it is not surprising that the church strongly condemned all card playing. Among the most important historical documents about the history of playing cards are countless sermons which deride cards as a tool of the devil and as an evil influence upon humanity. Edicts were passed that forbade playing cards, and fines were imposed on those who violated such laws. In the 15th century, card playing was forbidden in England except on the 12 days of Christmas. There is even one recorded instance in 1423 where playing cards were burned in a public bonfire.

But playing cards weren’t inherently the cause of moral decline, however, despite the many prohibitions against them across time by religious preachers, starting as early as the 14th century. Like so many created things, playing cards are not in themselves evil, and can be used for well or for woe. It is the fallen human condition that accounts for the many unsavoury contexts in which playing cards have played a role. But in themselves, playing cards are intrinsically a tool that can also be used for good ends. Card games can be attached to virtues just as much as they can to vices. Mankind has long enjoyed recreation and play, and playing games of cards is simply a way to give structure and rules to such activities of leisure.

In fact, in Europe card games were originally a respected activity of the aristocracy. Initially, due to the high costs in making playing cards, each card was hand painted and made individually. That meant that they could only be afforded by the nobility, who typically used them for playing games that required skill. For the upper class, playing cards were primarily used to demonstrate real abilities to memorize cards and clever play in games of skill. One recorded example dates from 1643, when Cardinal Mazarin proposed a series of card games to help stimulate the royal mind of the eight year old Louis XIV, with a published explanation of these games as prepared by Jean Desmarets following in 1644.

It was the advent of the printing press around 1440 that made mass production of playing cards a real possibility. Their popularity for card games is what made playing cards spread rapidly and led to them being widely used throughout Europe. But for the lower classes, playing cards were often closely associated with and used for gambling – hence the previously mentioned religious prohibitions that often accompanied their spread. They also became a concern for military leaders, who found that playing cards would easily distract soldiers from their duty. In the 16th century, King Henry VIII complained that his bowmen were being distracted from their practice by too much card playing.

Today we witness a similar challenges as a consequence of technological advances. The invention of computers, the internet, and smart phones has facilitated new uses for games, both for well and for woe, and for purposes both noble and ignoble. This includes potential pitfalls, such as online casinos and addictive gambling. But the rise of online gambling doesn’t negate the fact that technology has also opened up wonderful new possibilities for impacting the playing card industry positively. These positive developments include the ability to exchange and share information about playing cards with fellow collectors; the rapid rise of cardistry as a separate art-form largely with the help of social media and modern videography; and opportunities to use crowd-funding platforms to create a myriad of custom decks by connecting playing card designers with quality printers and with financial backers. If you enjoy playing card games, whether it is a game like Hearts or Poker, there are many wonderful websites and apps that allow you to enjoy these games with people across the world via your internet connection. Playing card games has always been a primary use of playing cards, and clearly this is still the case, even in our digital age.

Centuries Old Card Art

For Art

Playing cards especially enjoyed a place of honour at the tables and in the parlours of the wealthy upper class so they could be used for games of skill. But the truly rich could also afford very luxurious decks that were decorated with highly ornate illustrations, and even adorned with precious metals like gold.

The usage of playing cards as works of art is closely connected to the way in which they were made. Prior to playing cards being produced by printing on paper, they were typically made by woodcuts or engraving. While the faces were usually blank, the designs of the faces were typically very ornate and varied. Medieval artists were fascinated with colourful and elaborate images, and so playing cards in many instances became their own art form. They were usually produced by card makers who were considered artists and tradesmen. Playing card artwork was considered to be a wonderful exercise of the miniature artwork. As a result, highly imaginative cards were produced, sometimes as a result of commissions.

This attention to detail and luxury continued with the production of playing cards via the printing press. While the vast majority of playing cards from then on were produced for the masses to use for card games, high end playing cards continued to be produced as works of art for the rich and famous.

These artistic influences also lie behind the trend that produced transformation cards, which are sometimes also denoted as harlequin cards. With these ingenious cards, which are still popular today, the pips have been cleverly incorporated into a larger artwork or picture. Transformation playing cards primarily have artistic merit or are intended for amusement. They were especially common throughout the 1800s, and some delightful examples of transformation decks from this period have been reproduced in quality editions today.

Slightly less lavish – but still artistic – are the playing cards that pictured the rich variety in the clothing worn by the court card figures. In the 19th century there was a period in which there was a real fascination with costumes, and this is reflected by some of the splendid playing cards produced in that era. Royals and nobles are depicted dressed in elaborate robes, tunics, or tights; dresses with collars and frills; various shoe styles; and a range of accessories including hand held fans. As such, playing cards were not only works of art in themselves, but they also have become their own record of the art and fashions of previous eras.

Today playing cards still have an important role as works of art, and it is an important reason for the success of the modern playing card industry with its many customized decks. Popular creators like Steve Minty, Jody Eklund, and Uusi, are highly respected for their artistic creations, and enthusiastic collectors who appreciate their style of art quickly snap up each and every new project they produce. Such collectors would never dream of using these decks for game play, but purchase them simply to appreciate them as miniature art galleries with 54 individual works of art. Something similar can be said of many modern cardistry decks, many of which feature designs and colours that are intentionally geared to produce an aesthetic beauty when used for card flourishing. With the growing popularity of such custom playing cards, the time-honoured tradition of appreciating playing cards as works of art is set to continue in future years.

Centuries Old Card Design

For Education

Mankind has always wanted to make a record of the information he learns, in order to preserve it for the future, or even in order to pass it on to the next generation through instruction. So it is no surprise that already in the 1400s and 1500s, there are many examples of decks of playing cards that were created specifically for the purpose of serving as teaching tools. After all, why not use this new canvas now available in the form of a playing card, to a good and noble end?

Already from an early time in the known history of the playing card, instructive playing cards were created. One of the first known examples is a deck produced in 1507 by Dr Thomas Murner, who created a customized deck of playing cards as a new method of teaching. Educational cards were only more generally accepted much later, but it was only a natural development that playing cards would be produced to record basic tenets of botany and heraldry, and to summarize the important facts of astronomy and chemistry, history and geography. A series of self-study courses on a range of subjects was even created, with attention being given to subject areas like the alphabet, arithmetic, astronomy, proverbs, natural history, music, and much more.

Here are some examples of early decks of playing cards that fit into this category:

Heraldry: Due to the importance of heraldry as a branch of education in this era, in 1655 a deck produced by M. Claude Orence Fine appeared which displayed the rules for painting heraldic devices and coats of arms. Several heraldic decks appeared in subsequent decades, some of which showed reigning families in parts of Europe. M. Daumont similarly created decks intended to teach military science, each card having different scenes that illustrated a particular military operation.

Geography: From 1665 onwards, a whole series of decks was printed in England that taught geography. For example, one deck featured different cities of foreign countries on each card. Another deck had a map of an English county, complete with chief towns, rivers, a compass, and details about the county. A deck published in 1799 by J. Wallis illustrated the geography of England and Wales, including boundaries, products, and more of each county.

History: Several decks were created which pictured famous historical personages, or renowned members of royalty from the past, as a way of educating young nobles. Decks exist from the 17th and 18th century with titles like “The Events of the Reign of Queen Anne”.

Often the imagery on these educational playing cards had a moral or instructional content. But there were also instances where the artist took the liberty to express his own political or religious views, in the form of satirical artwork that functioned as a political or social commentary, or reflected elements of the popular culture of the day. That was especially the case with playing cards depicting historical personages, and some artists were rather unkind to their subject material, and used these as opportunity for political satire or even propaganda. Many of these playing cards give us an insightful glimpse into how the past and the present were viewed by the people of the time, and so these playing cards continue to be an important resource for historians.

Today there are still creators producing playing cards with an educational element, with Jody Eklund being one of the best examples from our modern era, having produced decks on themes such as important inventors, influential businessmen, famous airmen, or railroad tycoons. In most cases these modern decks don’t have the primary purpose of being educational, however, but are collectors pieces and works of art that portray important and interesting historical information at the same time. But in the large range of modern decks that are readily available, you will find many wonderful examples of decks that depict birds, animals, cars, and much more.

Centuries Old Card Imagery

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 here.


GNK Founder Christina Wilkerson

Sealed in a handmade, travel-sized pouch, Game Night Kit adds a refreshing twist to the classic card games you know and love.

Game night is back! Are you ready to play?

Game Night Kit Founder, Christina Wilkerson.

Time Together is Magic

Playing cards have a magical way of bringing us together and prompting halcyon days of the past. During the pandemic, Game Night Kit creator, Christina Wilkerson, found comfort and connection in playing cards.

She and her kids made the most out of these unprecedented times with the help of games like Onze, Gin and Rummikub. It reminded her of vacations spent by the seaside, where her grandmother hosted some of the best game nights.

Gameplay protocol hasn’t changed much over the years. Just like her grandmother, Christina searches for complete card decks, enough score pads, sharpened pencils, and official game rules. But this was one tradition Christina couldn’t pass on. Instead, she scrapped such tedious tasks and created an all-in-one pack of game night necessities.

Each kit includes:

  • A standard deck of playing cards bound by a GNK rubber band and complemented with custom card back artwork by artist Michele Bell
  • Instructions & game history
  • Score pad and pencil
  • Zippered, handmade canvas pouch
  • Delicious snack and drink recipes

Christina and friends sharing an evening with Play ONze!

Shop Kits

Play ONze (Available Now)

During the 1980s, Onze was a very popular card game in France. Onze translates to the number 11 in French. Eleven is an angel number … notice the wings on the cards? According to numerology, an angel number is a thumbs up from a guardian angel telling you that you are seen and heard.

Hearts At Play (Available Now)

When your hearts are at play, you can get hurt or you can win big if you shoot for the moon, but you’ll never know unless you play the game.

While Hearts was founded in America during the 1880s, it actually dates back to 18th century Spain, where it evolved from another card game called “Reverse.” In the 1990s, Hearts soared in popularity as an app on most personal computers.

Christina launched Hearts At Play on January 31st to honor her dear friend who lost a courageous battle with breast cancer. In February 2022, a portion of this kit’s sales was donated to Wig Out, an organization that helps women undergoing chemo reclaim their feminine identity, confidence and dignity with items like wigs, headscarves and hats.

We Dig Spades (Available Now)

First introduced in the Midwest during WWII, Spades’ attractiveness during wartime stems from its simplicity. After the war, veterans brought the game back home to the U.S. where, due to the GI Bill, it became popular on college campuses. It remains widely popular in countries where U.S. troops were stationed during the Second World War and later deployments.

MAD GIN (Pre-Sale)

Elwood Thomas Baker (reporter and cartoonist for a Brooklyn newspaper) and his son, Charles Graham Baker, (writer and producer of movies in Hollywood) invented the game of Gin Rummy in 1909 at the illustrious Knickerbocker Whist Club in NYC.

Its title is rumored to be inspired by the Baker’s go-to liquors to drink while playing cards, as well as a not-so-subtle jab at the Anti-Saloon League (an organization that lobbied for prohibition in the early 20th century). Can you picture this campaign being advertised by Don Draper and the Sterling Cooper team?

Make Game Night ~Extra~

Pair game night with show-stopping snacks or serve it on the rocks – that is the GNK way. Each kit comes with a recipe for any type of player to enjoy. There are easy-to-make apps, bubbly cocktails and even kid-focused mocktails. And, for the wonderful hostess who certainly does the mostess … GNK offers pre-made Spotify playlists to kick the party into full gear!

Game On, Play On!

Family traditions and weekend getaways often revolve around a pack of 54. Christina hopes these kits will further inspire quality time with loved ones, long-lasting friendships, and perhaps, creativity to invent a game or two of your own.

So, what are you waiting for? Snag a kit and let the games begin!



Dedicated to the sixth Major Arcana, #ShuffledInkLovers spotlights talented client creators’ custom tarot deck designs, specifically their Lovers Cards.

These artists carry on the classic Rider-Waite Tarot legacy. How? By adding to it. Read on to explore each Lovers Card through the lens of its creator.

An Embodiment of the Modern Day Woman

The Lovers card in the Moonroot Tarot deck represents love in all forms. It asks us to focus on the pure essence of love and to lead with our hearts. New relationships or opportunities in love are abundant when we choose to be vulnerable and keep both an open heart and an open mind. Alexandra Anthony, creator of the Moonroot Tarot Deck

Personalities of the Wild West

The Lovers card of the Desert Illuminations Tarot portrays the unusual relationship between outlaws Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. Love is intense, mystical, and one of the most complex emotions. To love someone is to release all fears so one can share intimacy with others in their own unique way. Love can also drive us to do unimaginable things, create art, drive our desires and dreams. The power of this feeling, energy, and emotion is beyond the self, and that is what makes it so powerful. Lindsay D. Williams, creator of Desert Illuminations Tarot

Love as it Prevails

The Lovers card as it relates to tarot, not only encompasses romantic relationships, but also important and strong friendships and familial bonds. It also speaks to open and honest communication, which is a value that I try to apply to my everyday life. The whole deck was made to depict different characters from a game that I play. In this card, we see one of the most prominent couples in the game. They fell in love rather quickly and they had a bit of a rocky start, but they are the longest-running couple in the game and a fan-favorite pairing to be sure. The characters depicted belong to my sister, so they are close to my heart. Melanie Vanderford, creator of the First Blood Tarot Deck

To Love Oneself

When the Lovers comes up in a reading, I see it as an invitation to check in with the relationship you have with yourself. I’ve found that when we are able to honor and accept ourselves fully in all of our darkness and our light, we are then able to show up and pour more love into our relationships with others. The Lovers is a card that asks us to find our own sacred balance and feelings of home within ourselves before searching for it in someone else. Alexa Villanueva, creator of The Future Ancestors Tarot Deck

Rooted in Relevance to the 21st-Century Reader

My interpretation of The Lovers card is the concept of choice in relationships; whether it’s choosing to maintain relationships in your life or leave them behind. The ability to discern what continues to support you and what is no longer serving you. I believe this card is about love in all its aspects: friendship, family, and romance. Self-love is another huge component. Through relationships we learn and grow, even when it’s messy and toxic. It can be extremely painful, but continuing to love yourself will save you, fight to be authentically you, know yourself better than anyone, and create a home with peace in your mind and body. Love takes on many forms and teaches us many lessons, but it’s up to you to choose what is best. Delilah Miske, creator of Adapt Tarot

Tarot Mythology

My deck loosely depicts the story of Persephone and her journey from maiden to queen. The Lovers represents her growing connection to the Underworld and its King, Hades, through which she starts to find her true self. Ivy Kwan, creator of Asphodelon Tarot

Looking to share insight into your tarot psyche? Our team at Shuffled Ink offers complete personalization in the palm of your hand. Let us make your custom tarot vision a reality!




Where inspiration awaits.”


Since 1999, Shuffled Ink has printed for countless playing card designers whose decks find a home on collector’s shelves, under the spotlight of a magician’s stage, or in a family’s weekly game night rotation.

As a nod of appreciation and respect to all who share their artistry with the playing card community, our team is thrilled to sponsor Portfolio52’s 2021 Deck of the Year Awards with complimentary production prizes.

Showcasing the Best Decks and Art of 2021

Portfolio52, the world’s largest online playing card database, hosts the annual Deck of the Year contest to celebrate and honor creatives who strive to redefine what it means to be playing card designers.

For the second year in a row, Shuffled Ink is offering complimentary production prizes to all 1st-place category winners. The official ‘2021 DOTY’ winner will receive one hundred free decks and each additional 1st-place category winner will receive five free decks.

This year’s nominees are nothing short of extraordinary. Voting closes on Feb. 9.

DOTY Categories

The Best:

We look forward to continuing our fierce support in building and guiding those who take great pleasure in playing card innovation, collecting, and manufacturing.

Now’s your chance! Let your voice be heard on which deck deserves the coveted title: Deck of the Year.



At Shuffled Ink, we turn clients’ custom card visions into tangible, high-quality products. Though, our care and services are more than just printing and shipping. We also take considerable measures to protect clients’ intellectual properties, which is why manufacturing domestically is always our #1 choice. However, like most companies that must accommodate larger quantities and special orders, we partner with Chinese manufacturers to make this happen.

Generally, the supply chain runs smoothly. But since COVID-19, turnaround times have more than doubled, and prices have risen dramatically when outsourcing goods like board games, card games, and playing cards to China. Why?

In an interview with BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame, Charles Levin (Shuffled Ink’s Founder & President) shares decades of insight and perspective on his experience working with partners in China.

The foundation of my company is built on transparency, integrity, quality and 1st-class service. Conversely, this is what we look for in our affiliates. Now sometimes, we come across bad apples. And while a few bad apples do not make the whole barrel spoiled, it does keep us on the lookout to protect our clients. Charles Levin, Founder & President of Shuffled Ink

To read the full interview, visit



Top Traditional Card Games For Just Two Players

One of the best uses for playing cards is … for playing card games. This primary usage explains why playing cards spread rapidly throughout Europe after they first arrived there in the late 14th century. Add gambling to the mix, and you get a winning catalyst. Over the centuries that have elapsed since then, we’ve learned a lot of secondary uses for playing cards, like card magic and cardistry. But card games continue to be as popular as ever. Casual poker tournaments are found around the world, and the game is even played professionally, receiving television coverage. While classic card games like Bridge may be waning in popularity, at least as far as the everyday person is concerned, over the last century many wonderful new card games have emerged and added to the diverse options for playing a game with a traditional deck of cards. The choices are many: classic trick-taking games like Pinochle or Whist, modern trick-taking games like Hearts or Spades, partnership games like Canasta or 500, social games like President or Palace, and children’s games like Slap Jack or Go Fish.

But what about if you only have two players? In reality, most of us find ourselves with exactly two players, especially if you are looking to play a game with your significant other, or with a friend. Suddenly the options become more limited. A lot of card games can be played with two players, like Canasta. But in many instances the game experience is inferior to the same game played with more people at the table. Fortunately there are a lot of fantastic card games that are terrific with exactly two players.

Here is a carefully curated list of popular two-player games played with standard playing cards. I have focused on traditional games that have already proven themselves, and focused especially on games that are most loved and well-known. Although there are some contemporary two-player card games that are very good, these still need to stand the test of time. I’ve consulted a lot of sources in making this list, and have also drawn on my own extensive experience in playing card games. But it is a subjective choice, so I’ve included a longer list of “Honorable Mentions” at the end, as well as a “What next” section following each game, to point to other strong contenders that are worth looking at. To keep things simple, games are listed in alphabetical order. So find yourself a friend or companion, grab a deck of cards, and see what fun can be had playing one of these fantastic two-player card games!


Cribbage is instantly recognizable due to the iconic board used for scoring. It’s a classic card game that goes back to the 1600s, and despite some quirky rules, is easily my most played two player game of all time. How it works: You each get a starting hand of six cards, from which you both select two cards that are put face-down into a “crib” that will be revealed at the end of the hand. You play cards in turn, keeping a running total of what their combined value is, until you can’t play more cards without going over 31, at which point the cumulative count starts over. During this process, you score points for things like bringing the count to 15 or 31, as well as combinations of cards like pairs and triples of the same value, or runs with three or more cards of consecutive values. After you’ve both played your hand, a random “cut card” is added to your hand and you each score points for similar combinations, and one player also earns the points in the “crib”. The goal is to be the first player to score 121. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: Cribbage, let me count the ways that I love thee. In fact, in another article I suggested twenty reasons why Cribbage is a great game. It is a little quirky, and you’ll probably need the help of an app or some “how to play” videos to learn the rules. But it has the perfect mix of decision making and luck, which ensures it is rewarding and yet casual. Much of the tactics and strategy revolves around what two cards to choose for the crib, and how to play the four cards in your hand, taking advantage of probability and anticipating likely plays from your opponent based on what he’s played. The asymmetry of game turns, the race-like feel and multiple mini-battles, the perfect mix of luck and skill, the myriad of point-scoring combinations – there’s so much to love about this game once you’ve got over the initial barrier of learning it. What next: There’s nothing that is really remotely like Cribbage, but you might try two solitaire versions that are both good: Cribbage Squares, and Cribbage Solitaire. If it’s forming scoring combinations in sets and sequences that you enjoy, then take a look at David Parlett’s Abstrac, which is one of his most popular original games.

German Whist

German Whist is the first example of a trick-taking game on this list, a popular genre where game-play revolves around everyone playing a card, and the “trick” going to the person who played the highest valued card. Also called Honeymoon Whist due to its suitability for two players, German Whist is in the tradition of the classic Whist. How it works: The initial face-up card of the stock determines the trump suit for the hand. You each get a hand of 13 cards, and in turns play a card to decide who wins the top card of the stock, which is always kept face-up, while the loser of a trick gets the face-down card underneath it. In that way both players each get a replacement card each trick, with the winner leading the next trick. Once the stock is depleted, you play out your hand of 13 cards, and the person who gets the most tricks from these 13 tricks wins the game. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: Most trick-taking games require at least three or more people to work well, but German Whist is a rare exception that works perfectly with just two players. Games play very quickly, and hand management is very important as you try to set up a strong hand for the final 13 tricks that will determine the winner. You’re constantly working with partial information, because although you know the top card you are both playing for, the face-down card below it that goes to the loser could be an unknown power card or a dud. So there’s a definite element of luck, and yet there’s significant decisions to make that allow real room for skill, especially if you try to remember what cards have been played and which ones remain in the game. What next: David Parlett’s Duck Soup is a very fun variation of German Whist that adds some thematic flavour and novel twists, which make it stand up well as a good game in its own right. Other solid trick-taking games for two players are suggested below under Le Truc (a bluffing game) and under Schnapsen (a more calculating game). Honeymoon Bridge and Bridgette are other options, but these are both two-handed Bridge variants that require considerable investment into the game, just like their ancestor Bridge itself. For three or more players, Knock-out Whist is an excellent casual choice that scratches a similar itch to German Whist.

Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy is the king of the large number of Rummy games, at least when playing with just two players. The core concept of Rummy involves you drawing and discarding cards, while you try to create “melds” that consist of cards of matching values (a “set”) or of consecutive values (a “run”). Gin Rummy originated in the first half of the twentieth century under the name Poker Gin or Gin Poker, and became a craze after it was popularized by celebrities in Broadway and Hollywood. How it works: Players each receive a hand of ten cards, and the object is to collect sets and runs. On your turn you take the top face-up card from the discard pile, or the top face-down card from the draw pile. Unlike most other forms of Rummy, in Gin Rummy you keep melds in your hand until the end of a hand, which is triggered by a player “knocking”. You earn points for the completed sets and runs in your hand, with cards worth their value and court cards worth 10. The aim is to achieve a certain score over multiple rounds. There are many minor variations to the gameplay, such as adjustments to the number of starting cards. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: This is a terrific two player game that has stood the test of time well, and many people would consider it to be one of the top games on this list. The fact that it could be paused and continued at any point made it perfect for actors killing time while waiting for their cue to come on stage, which accounts for some of its popularity. There’s constant tension because you don’t really know how close your opponent is to laying down his hand. Meanwhile you’re waiting for the right cards to come around, which can produce jubilation or frustration, depending on what you draw. The game is very easy to learn and play, and still holds up well today. What next: Basic Rummy is also popular. There are some excellent thematic Rummy games published commercially that are fun for two players, such as the Mystery Rummy series by Mike Fitzgerald. The Rummy inspired Canasta became a real hit in the 1950s, and while it’s best as a partnership game for four players, there are two player variations that some people enjoy a lot.

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Golf is one of the more casual and lighter games on this list. Its name reflects the fact that it is often played as nine “holes”, with the aim of getting the lowest cumulative score. How it works: Each of you is dealt six random cards that you play face-down into a grid consisting of two rows of three cards. You each turn two cards face-up to begin, and the aim is to have the lowest total value of cards visible by the time all cards are face-up. Matching cards of the same value in a column cancel each out, while Kings count as zero, and 2s as minus points (a good thing!). On your turn you take the top card of the face-up draw pile (or the top card of the face-up discard pile), and either discard it or use it to replace one of the cards in your grid, thus sending that card to the top of the discard pile. Lots of gameplay variants exist, but start by looking up six-card Golf. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: As the game progresses, you’re trying to minimize the face-up points in your 3×2 grid, but discarding a card always has the risk that it could help your opponent. So at times you have to take your chances, hoping that getting a matching card will cancel out some high valued cards in your grid. But there’s always an element of press-your-luck, because the end of each hand is triggered when one player has all six of their cards face up, which effectively functions as a timer that you can use in your favour or that works against you. You also have to be careful that whatever you discard doesn’t help out your opponent, and sometimes you’ll play a card only to realize that what you gave up was even better. It’s a very light game full of moments of both angst and frustration, as well as lucky draws and triumph.


GOPS owes its name to an acronym, which stands for “Game Of Pure Strategy”, since it is billed as being a game without any luck. It uses just three suits from a standard deck. How it works: You remove all 13 Diamond cards, which are shuffled and revealed one at a time, and are up for bid. Each of you gets another suit (e.g. Clubs or Spades) which functions as your hand, and which you’ll select a card from to bid for whichever Diamond is currently up for auction. You simultaneously reveal your chosen card, and whoever played the highest gets the Diamond currently on offer. A tie is resolved by revealing the next Diamond and playing another card from your hand to win both it and the previous one. Diamonds won count as points corresponding to their value (Aces count as 1, Jacks count as 11, Queens as 12, and Kings as 13), and the aim is to get the highest cumulative score from the Diamonds you win. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: GOPS arguably distils trick-taking to its basic essence, although it could equally be considered a game of bidding and bluffing. The fun lies in trying to outguess your opponent, e.g. if you think that he’s going to concede a trick by playing a low valued card, perhaps you can save your better cards for later in the hand by trying to win the Diamond currently up for auction with a relatively low valued card. And the further into the game you get, the more information you have to work with, both about how your opponent plays, and more importantly about the cards remaining. The entire game is all said and done after playing just 13 cards, so it’s over before you realize it. Let’s play again! What next: Definitely try taking your bluffing to the next level by trying Le Truc, which is the next entry on this list.

Le Truc

Le Truc is descended from the much simpler English bluffing game Put. While it is related to the Spanish Truc (best enjoyed with four players as a partnership game), Le Truc is the French form of the game that goes back to the 19th century. Sid Sackson helped popularize it by including it in his book Gamut of Games. Remove 2s through 6s from a full deck to play, because it uses a 32 card deck with a somewhat unorthodox ranking of values. How it works: Suits don’t matter at all in this simple trick-taking game. You each get three cards that you’ll use for only three tricks, each of which goes to the highest card played, and tied tricks going to whoever wins the next trick. Winning the hand requires winning two out of three tricks, and earns a point, and the goal is to be the first player to 12 points. But the genius is that before playing a card you can propose to increase the amount of points that the current hand is worth; your opponent can fold and concede rather than increase the stakes. To prevent too much luck, the person leading can also propose a redeal before the first card played. What’s good about it: Le Truc has to be one of the ultimate bluffing games, because it’s amazing how much bluffing it packs into the play of just three cards. In fact, it’s all about the bluffing, because it can happen that a player concedes with hardly any cards played. Even the proposal to redeal can be a bluff to disguise a strong hand. Much of the game-play happens in the mind, because when folding, neither player reveals their unplayed cards. If you like bluffing, this is sheer brilliance! What nextPut has a similar feel to Le Truc, but is much simpler. For a next step, you really should head next to Watten, a classic trick-taking game usually played with four players in partnerships, but also spoken of highly when played with just two players. Some describe it as having much in common with Le Truc, but with some additional complications and aspects to think about.


Schnapsen is the national card game of Austria, and continues to be a popular game in Europe and around the world. This is one of the more challenging games on this list, both in terms of rules and gameplay, but it’s well worth the effort to learn. Like Le Truc, it’s a trick taking game that has a long history, and uses a stripped deck, in this case only 20 cards. Sixty Six is basically a variant with only some minor differences, the main one being that it uses a 24 card deck, with a player hand size of six instead of five cards. How it works: You deal out half the deck to the players, each getting a hand of five (Schnapsen) or six cards (Sixty Six). The other half of the deck becomes the stock, and one card is turned up to determine the trump suit. In the initial phase of the game you don’t need to follow suit, but once a player decides to close the stock, you must follow suit from then on. The basic idea is to capture point-scoring cards in tricks. A special feature of the game-play is how points are scored for King-Queen pairs, called “marriages”. The goal is to be the first player to 66 points, hence the name of the game. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: This is the third trick-taking game on this list. Le Truc is the lightest of the bunch and full of bluffing, German Whist strikes a good balance between luck and skill, and Schnapsen is by far the most serious of the lot. As far as two-player tricking games go, it is arguably the very best there is, in terms of how much depth and variety it affords with so few cards. There are some rule variations, and it can be a bit knacky to play well, given how important each decision is. Card counting is critical, and there’s scope for real skill. Deciding when to close the stock involves a real risk and adds significant tension to the game. What next: Other more serious trick-taking games that are good with two players, in order from more accessible to more challenging and skilful, are: Briscola (perhaps better with more players, but still well worthwhile with just two), Ecarte (a good two-player alternative for fans of Euchre), Bezique (a Pinochle style game), Klabberjass (also called Clob), and Piquet (has some complications, but is quite deep).


Scopa is a classic Italian card game that shines with just two players, although its four player partnership version (Scopone) is also excellent. Variations are popular in countries like Argentina and Brazil. Scopa is considered a “fishing” game, which represents a mechanism where you match a card in your hand with one or more face-up cards on the table. Cassino is like Scopa but increases complexity and tactics. How it works: You use a 40-card deck stripped of the courts, with cards Ace through 10 each worth their numbered value. Four cards begin face up in a central pool, and both of you start with a three card hand, which is replenished from the stock after you’ve both exhausted your hands. You use the cards in hand to “capture” cards from the pool, either by capturing a card of that matches the value as the one you play, or by cards that add up to its value. At the end of a hand, you earn a point for four categories: most cards, most diamonds, most 7s (the actual rule here is a bit more complex), and 7 of diamonds. You get bonus points during play if you “sweep” (= scopa) cards on the table to clear the pool. The first player to score 13 points over several hands is the winner. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: This is an enormously satisfying to play, and relies on a mechanic that most people don’t have experience with, giving it a very different feel from more common trick-taking games. Captures should never be done on auto-pilot, because you need to be careful not to set-up your opponent for a free “scopa”. Achieving a scopa can be a real highlight of the gameplay, and the chance of this happening helps keep games lively and suspenseful. Keeping track of cards played will also help you make better decisions. Scopa still falls into the casual category, but there’s enough going on that makes it rewarding to play as well. Playing it with an Italian 40-card deck adds authenticity, but it works equally well with a stripped down French-suited deck.


Spit! is sometimes called by the alternative name Speed, but strictly speaking Speed is a game with different rules. But they are closely related, and the alternative name captures the essence of both games. This is a very high energy game that dispenses with player turns, and sees both players simultaneously playing cards as quickly as they can. It’s especially great for younger players. How it works: You deal the deck evenly into two halves, one for each player. You each get a starting tableau of five piles consisting one to five cards respectively, with the top card of each turned face-up. Your remaining cards form your personal “Spit” pile. On the count of “1, 2, 3, Spit” you both play a card from your Spit pile onto the center of the table, and from this point the game goes into crazy mode, as you simultaneously play cards from your tableau that are one higher or lower on these two cards in real time, ignoring suits. If you both get stuck, you resume gameplay by simultaneously playing a new card from your Spit piles. Once someone’s tableau is exhausted, you both slap the two pile you think is smallest, which is then shuffled with your remaining cards to become your new Spit pile. The entire process is repeated multiple times, and the aim is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: Spit! is easy to learn, making it ideal for children and families, or even as a casual game between friends who enjoy quick gameplay and trash talking. You’ll need lightning reflexes to play well, and that’s exactly a big part of its charm. To prevent things being too chaotic, it’s customary to insist that you may only use one hand when playing. Sometimes you’ll be playing card after card, but there will be moments where you get stuck, and you’re just waiting for your opponent to lay down the card you need so that you can play one of yours. What nextSpeed is a very closely related variation, a key difference being that instead of having five rows of piles, you work with a hand of five cards. If you enjoy real time games like this, Nertz is essential, but the frenzy of its fast-paced gameplay is best enjoyed with more players.

Spite and Malice

Spite and Malice can handle up to five players, but is at its best with just two. Like Spit!, it’s well suited to playing with children as well. It descended from the 19th century two-player game Russian Bank (Crapette), which in turn is a more complex derivative of Double Solitaire (also known as Double Klondike). Also called Cat and Mouse, Spite and Malice well known to many people via its commercially produced variation Skip-Bo. How it works: Using two decks, this is effectively a competitive form of classic solitaire (patience). You each get a pile of 20 face-down cards, with the top card always face-up. The goal is to be the first player to work through this pile. On your turn you first draw (or replenish) a hand of five cards, and then play or move cards into one of two areas: shared building piles that build up from Ace through Queen (suits are irrelevant), playing cards from your face-down pile whenever you can; or four personal discard piles. Kings are wild and can represent any valued card. Depending on the desired game length, you can deal ess or more cards to each player at the start of the game. Quite a number of different variations of game-play exist. [VideoHow to play] What’s good about it: There’s something addictive and satisfying about the classic Klondike Solitaire, and this does a good job of simplifying it significantly, and turning it into a competitive game. Other attempts to turn Klondike into a multiplayer game, such as this game’s simpler ancestor Double Solitaire (Double Klondike), are not nearly as satisfying. Spite and Malice is easy to learn and play, and there are moments where you can play many cards in succession, making rapid progress through your starting pile. Careful use of Kings and of your discard pile adds some room for strategy, but there’s always the tension of needing to draw the right cards. Yet there’s good interaction, because a card your opponent plays to a shared foundation pile may just be what you need to unleash a series of cards on your way to victory. What next: Spite and Malice has turn-based play, but ramp up the energy level in the competitive patience style game Nertz (also known as “Racing Demon” or “Pounce”, and published commercially as Dutch Blitz or Ligretto), which is a competitive multiplayer solitaire game where all players play simultaneously in real time. It also introduces more skill because your personal discard piles become a tableau where you can arrange cards downward by alternating colours, just like in Klondike Solitaire. While Nertz can be played with just two players, it is admittedly at its best when played with more players. Kings in the Corner is another game that offers somewhat of the feel of classic solitaire in how cards are built.

Honorable Mentions

Many other great candidates could have made a list like this, and I’ve already mentioned some under the “What next” sections. Here are some other good two player card games worth trying if you want to explore further. Trick-taking games One of the most popular families of card games, trick-takers are games where each player has a hand of cards, and in turns plays a card following the suit played by the first player, with the winner of the suit winning the trick. Trump suits and point cards can add extra elements of interest to game-play. ● Bezique – A classic trick-taking game for two players from France that was all the rage in the early 20th century, and bearing some resemblance to the two player version of the popular American game Pinochle. ● Briscola – An Italian trick-taking game using a 40 card deck, where you’re playing tricks (without needing to follow suit) from a three card hand to win point-scoring cards. It’s better with more players, but still an excellent game for just two, and is easy to learn and play. ● Ecarte – An excellent two player only game of French origin that has a lot of resemblance to its close cousin, the popular partnership game Euchre. Climbing games Climbing games are a type of shedding game, where the objective usually is to be the first to empty your hand of cards, sometimes earning points for cards captured by playing the highest ranked cards. Multiplayer climbing games like PresidentTien Lien, and Big Two are very popular, but some good two-player climbing games also exist. ● Dickory – A lighter two player climbing game of recent origin, that was specifically created to fill a gap in this niche. ● Durak – Usually played with four but also good with two, this popular and fun Russian game has the aim of not being the player left with all the cards. ● Haggis – A climbing game designed just for 2-3 players, and a highly acclaimed game that has proven very popular with serious boardgamers. Rummy and Fishing games Gin Rummy and Scopa are already on the list above, but many great card games are related to these two archetypes, including several that also work well for two players. ● Cassino – A fishing game where you capture face-up cards in a common pool by playing matching cards from your hand, and a more tactical game that is a good step up from Scopa. ● Canasta – Normally best as a partnership game for four players, this Rummy style game from the 1950s has a good two player variation enjoyed by many. ● Rummy – The granddaddy of the many Rummy games, straight Rummy caters for 2-4 players and is a melding game much like its popular descendant Gin Rummy. Instead of waiting till your hand only consists of sets or runs, on your turn you can meld and optionally lay off on opponent’s melds.

Children’s games Some classic kid’s games like Go Fish and Old Maid aren’t ideal with just two players, but the following all work well as two player games, although some of these tend to be very simple games that will only amuse younger children. ● Crazy Eights – The game that UNO derived from. The objective is to be the first to get rid of all your cards by matching the number or suit of the previously played card, while certain cards have special abilities like Skip or Draw Two. ● James Bond – A more recent children’s game that is growing in popularity, also called Atlantis or Chanhassen. You’re trying to be the first to collect a set of four matching cards by exchanging cards with four face-up cards in the middle. ● Slapjack – Try to be the player with the most cards, by being quickest to slap the pile and get all its cards each time a Jack is played. It’s somewhat similar in feel to Snap, and easier to play than the related game Egyptian Ratscrew, which is best with more players. ● War – An entirely luck-based game but still very popular with kids, where players simultaneously turn up cards, and have a “war” each time they play cards of the same value, with the cards going to the player who then plays a higher card. Combat games These combat games are more contemporary titles that use cards in unorthodox ways, to attack or defend against other players, in a manner reminiscent of the gameplay from popular trading games like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh. ● Cuttle – A surprisingly quick and satisfying game where the goal is to be the first to 21 or more points in cards on your side of the table. ● Dueling Nobles – Somewhat math heavy, this is an innovative game that uses cards, tokens, and dice, and was also inspired by trading games. ● Regicide – A cooperative fantasy themed game designed for a regular deck. It has become a huge underground hit in the boardgame community, and has great potential. Wild cards Games in this category are lesser known titles that are a little more off the beaten path, and yet have proven to be very rewarding to those who have taken the time to learn and play them. ● Kings in the Corner – You’re trying to be the first to get rid of all your cards by playing them in a solitaire-style layout, with eight piles that build outwards with alternating red and black cards in descending order. For a more traditional solitaire fix in a two player game, try Double Solitaire. ● Lamarckian Poker – A fun filler for 2-6 players about evolving the best Poker hand. This blind bidding and drafting game was first issued as part of the excellent Poker Suite from Cheapass Games. ● Sedma – An out-of-the-ordinary trick taking game recommended by David Parlett, and originating from Eastern Europe, where a card can only be beaten by a card of equal value or by a seven. ● Twenty – An interesting adding game where you must either draw a card, or play cards adding to the total of 1, then 2, and so on until 20. If you like arithmetic games of this sort, then David Parlett’s games Give or Take and Dracula are also worth trying.

You won’t always be able to find a group willing to play your favourite multiplayer card game, and sometimes it’s just you and a partner. But as you can see, if you’re looking for a two player game with a standard deck of playing cards, there are plenty of fantastic options, including the personalization route. Consider bringing to life your own two-player card game or designing the perfect playing card back with standard faces at

So what are you waiting for? Grab your favourite deck of cards, and grab your lover, your brother, your friend, your colleague, your neighbour, or anyone willing to join you, and get playing!

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 here.


Ultimate guide to cardstock with Lisa Papez

Download the printable reference guide here.

We offer a special thank you to YouTube content creator & tarot reader Lisa Papez for asking Shuffled Ink to be a part of her incredible project, The Ultimate Guide to Cardstock.

The mind behind the guide shares several factors to consider when designing or collecting a deck of cards. This includes card size, paper type, core, weight and thickness, finish and decorative touches.


custom-designed playing cards for magicians It may surprise you to know what group of people purchases the largest number of decks of playing cards. It’s not collectors, but magicians. But the good news is that you don’t have to be a magician to perform card magic. Everyone who owns a deck of cards can give it a go. And when learning card magic, or any magic for that matter, it’s important to realize that your goal should not just to be successful. Of course everyone wants to be a success. But when you’re performing magic, you’re part of an ancient art-form that has a long history, and an unwritten code of ethics. You probably already know the often quoted adage “A magician never reveals his secrets“. There’s much truth to that, but without further qualification it can get us thinking wrongly about magic. In fact many magicians reveal their secrets all the time. You only need to look at the wide range of books and DVDs produced by professional magicians, which anyone can buy! And we’re glad that magicians make these resources available to us in this way. Their aim isn’t just to tell you how magic is done, but to share their secrets with fellow practitioners of the art. And they want to promote this art form and ensure that it continues to grow so that future generations can also enjoy it. But it is important for us to realize that when we learn and practice magic, we need to promote magic as an art form. Because in the long run, hurting magic will also hurt ourselves and the people we are performing our magic too. Official magic organizations like The International Brotherhood of Magicians and The Society of American Magicians have even issued ethics statements about this. These prescribe how their members must deal with secrecy. They also cover other issues like intellectual property, commercial rights, and humane treatment of animals. You don’t need to be a member of an organization to think about the unwritten rules of magic. That’s good for everyone involved in performing magic to consider, whether you are a professional or just a hobbyist having fun with your deck of custom playing cards. I began thinking about this when introducing some young teenagers to magic recently, and was teaching them some tricks. What guidelines and advice should I give them about how to approach magic, both as an art-form, and to enhance their own development? There’s no official and globally accepted code for magicians, but here is my attempt to suggest some Golden Rules for Magic. These relate both to the ethics of magic, but also include tips to help improve your magic so that you can perform in a way worthy of this noble art form.

1. Never tell the secret

Most people asking you to show them how a trick is done are merely curious. But this curiosity and amazement is exactly what makes magic so powerful and astonishing! If you tell them the secret, the mystery of the magic will be gone, and whatever sense of astonishment they felt will quickly deflate. “Oh, is that all? That’s easy!” No matter how much they beg, don’t give in to the temptation to share the methods of what you’ve performed. Even if it’s a close friend or family member! Otherwise you will shatter the illusion and destroy the magic. Note that this rule doesn’t count if you are sharing magic with a fellow magician to help each other learn and improve. Just be sure that someone is genuinely interested in performing magic, and not wanting to know how a trick is done.

2. Never repeat the same trick for the same audience

The reason for this is obvious: if your audience has already seen your trick, then they know what is going to happen. You’ve lost the key element of surprise, and any misdirection that may be important to accomplishing your method will be lost. When this happens, there’s a real danger they will figure out how the trick is done. If people do ask you to perform something again, take it as a compliment: they are enjoying your magic! What’s more, it’s a great opportunity to show another trick. A perfect follow up for a request to see something again is to say: “Let me show you something else” and then go into another trick.

3. Don’t announce the end result in advance

This rule follows from the previous one. In most cases the reason people ask to see something again is not because they want to repeat that feeling of astonishment. Instead, they want to deconstruct the magic and figure out the method. For the same reason there is a much greater chance your audience will uncover the method if you tell them in advance what will happen. Keep things surprising, and use this surprise as a weapon to make the final outcome all the more astonishing and amazing.

4. Practice, practice, practice!

There are few things more painful to watch than a poorly performed magic trick. Unfortunately, there’s a good reason why many high school magicians are seen as nerds. Often it’s because they are more wrapped up in their tricks than in entertaining people. To truly amaze, you need to know your trick inside out. That applies not only to your moves and technique, but also to what you say – so practice! Don’t perform a trick until you have practiced it and know it properly. You’ll feel far more comfortable and confident performing, and your spectators will love the results all the more.

5. Don’t pretend you have actual super-powers

There is no such thing as a person who can do real magic. We all know that, so don’t do magic in a way that suggests that you actually want people to think you can do impossible things. Why are people amazed when they watch your magic? Because they know that no human actually possesses the powers you have demonstrated. That’s why they ask: “How did you do that?!” You don’t want them going away thinking you can actually bend spoons or make coins vanish and appear at will. You want them to be astonished at the illusion you created. It has well been said that a magician is only an actor pretending to be a magician!

6. Don’t do magic to show off

Performing magic can certainly be a good confidence booster. But your magic should never be all about you. If you’re using it as an ego booster, or because you have an inferiority complex, the day will come where your magic won’t go well, and you’ll feel crushed. What’s more, your will audience see below the surface, and will detect an undercurrent of self-centeredness and arrogance. So be humble, gracious, and remember that performing magic is about others, not yourself. Use it to improve the day of the people around you, and put a smile on the face of the people you come into contact with, not to make yourself look good.

7. Remember that the aim is to entertain

Sometimes younger magicians can think that magic is all about fooling people. They have the idea that if you fooled them you succeeded, and if you didn’t fool them you failed. The name and premise of Penn and Teller’s wonderful “Fool Us” show can inadvertently reinforce this misconception. The important thing is not whether people were fooled by your performance, but whether they enjoyed it. You might fool someone badly, but if the trick was poorly performed and boring, you have not succeeded in performing magic. On the other hand, a trick performed and presented beautifully by a master magician is highly entertaining, even if you know the method. So work very hard on your presentation!

8. Respect your fellow magicians

You are not the first person in the world to perform magic, nor are you the only person. If someone else is performing magic, don’t too quickly see them as unwanted competition. Should you criticize them publicly, or tell others “I know how he did that“? Then you are only making it obvious that you are misguided, and are seeing them as a threat to your own ego. The world’s population is big enough to sustain more good magic. So be kind to your fellow brothers in magic, offer encouragement and support, and do what you can to make their magic go well. And if you are a better magician than they are, let others say that, not you.

9. Give credit where credit is due

When you are performing magic, you are standing on the shoulders of giants. Many wonderful and creative thinkers have gone ahead of you, and you are benefiting from their creativity and experience. So don’t give the impression that you are the first person in the world to have come up with what you are doing. Instead, gratefully acknowledge your indebtedness to others. What if you are asked if you invented something yourself when you learned it from a book or video? Then it’s perfectly appropriate to say something like “I learned it from another magician.” And if ever you are publishing anything about magic, it’s extremely important to credit your sources very carefully. We all know that magicians hate unnecessary exposure, but what they hate just as much is when a magician passes off someone else’s work as his own. This is especially true when it happens in a commercial context like a published book or a teaching video.

10. Leave them wanting more

Don’t wait till your spectators are sick of what you’re doing. It’s easy to fall into the trap of performing trick after trick, especially if things are going well, and your audience seems to be enjoying it. You could do this all day, right? But make sure you stop before people get bored. Especially if it’s family and friends you’re performing to, you want to save something up your sleeve for another day. There is a natural corollary to this: don’t force magic on people who aren’t interested. It is true that when you start with magic you will need to pluck up the courage to offer to do a magic trick. But over time you want to build a reputation so that people actually ask you to perform for them. So keep these rules in mind and be a good ambassador of the art of magic. Now go out there and amaze!
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. 


5 STEPS TO CREATING YOUR OWN TAROT DECK If you’re passionate about sharing your knowledge and insight through tarot and oracle cards, allow the Shuffled Ink team to print your custom designs.


In addition to tarot cards, we also print oracle, affirmation and healing decks. Truly, the possibilities are endless. You think it, we print it. If you plan to sell the deck that you’re designing, we suggest writing down or sketching some ideas. Think about who your target audience is. What theme would prove most successful? Where is this appeal and why would this attract customers? There is a great rule of thumb for creators. It is often mentioned in relation to novelists. If you are bored or unamused by the content you have created, it’s very likely that others will share the same feeling.

Design something that excites you, from the first card to the last, and everything in-between.

Some Client Examples:

For Tarot Readings:

Add a distinct theme to your deck for readings. Tarot and oracle readings can become quite deep and personal, so consider adding your own original designs to the deck.

Shuffle Up! Tarot

Designing your own tarot deck means applying creative liberties as you see fit. Most tarot decks follow a standard formula: 78 cards with 22 Major and 56 Minor Arcana. Client Latoya Marquez’s Shuffle Up! deck holds 78 hand-drawn, unlabeled cards as well as one dedication, which reads:

For every day we blink and breathe, the sun will always set. And when the sun rises, we have a new day to reset and be better than we were yesterday.

Longmania Space Tarot

Longmania Space Tarot, created by Shuffled Ink’s Creative Art Director, Daniel Longman, is a deck of space-themed paper art pieces designed for intergalactic explorers. The Major and Minor Arcana feature saucer vs. rocket ship battles, explosive shuttle take-offs, daring comet riders and more!

His constantly growing collection called Longmania Cards is available in our client shop.

Showcase Your Art Portfolio:

If your art fits well in the spiritual realm, market using tarot-sized cards. These decks include however many cards you desire, which allows for an endless supply of art concepts to dabble in.

Reinvent, Reproduce, Modernize:

Tarot has an extensive amount of history. Some clients enjoy reproducing decades-old decks. This allows modern tarot designers to reflect on the past and remember where the art form originated. Artisan Tarot’s