PlayingCardDecks.com's FIRST ANNIVERSARY

Lately I've been fascinated with PlayingCardDecks.com (which I'll mostly refer to as PCD in this article). Actually that's not quite true; what I'm fascinated with is playing cards. But PCD sells playing cards. Get the connection? That means I'm going to be interested in what they carry, because they might just have some good stuff that I'm interested in getting! As it turns out, they don't just have some decks, but thousands. So a few months ago I made a careful selection of a number of decks for my own collection and to give away as gifts to family and friends, and I'm here to tell you how everything turned out.

Because right now PCD is in the process of celebrating their first anniversary, and they have some great deals and specials happening, including a discount coupon that we can all benefit from as well. That's right, for one week from 24 - 30 April, you can get 20% off everything on their website using the coupon code "YEAR1" at check out.

The Man behind PCD

So what is PlayingCardDecks.com? You can see their promo video here. It's the online home and brainchild of magician Will Roya, who lives in Las Vegas. I always enjoy learning about who I'm dealing with, so ahead of writing this article I took the time to email Will to find out a little more about him and about PCD. Will himself has a background in professional magic. Like many curious kids, he dabbled with card magic in his childhood and youth. But unlike most teenagers, he was seriously committed, and turned professional already at age 16, performing at local restaurants, ski resorts, and private parties. After college studies in theater and business, he and his wife moved from Vermont to Nevada, where he continued his magic career, performing in Las Vegas and on cruise ships. With the benefit of several years experience in the magic industry, he began getting more into product sales, and has continued to build that, in recent years no longer performing but focussing exclusively on sales. He bought an office and warehouse, and after seeing how strong the market was for playing cards, made the decision to focus solely on that. At the same time, already having built up business online over several years via eBay and Amazon, he began building his online store, PlayingCardDecks.com, which was finally launched in April 2017.

But Will Roya also helps create custom decks of playing cards. With his background in magic, an interest in playing cards was a natural development. Will had been an active backer of many crowdfunded campaigns for some time, and saw an opportunity to become involved in the custom playing card industry himself. The idea of working creatively with artists had a strong appeal, and creating new decks of playing cards was a personal challenge, as well as an opportunity to cross promote his business and establish his brand. Not surprisingly, given his background in magic, he always loved playing cards, both from the perspective of a magician and as a card player. These are both interests I share, so I can readily identify with this appeal, and perhaps explains some of my own passion for playing cards! So not only has Will been involved with selling decks, but also in making and producing them. He's collaborated on a large number of products, with involvement in a variety of different ways, including being an informal consultant in areas such as design, marketing, and logistics, as well as being directly involved in organizing a project, providing financial backing, or arranging fulfilment. So in this review I'll not only be covering some of the decks that PCD sells, but also some of the decks that Will Roya himself was involved in producing.



The Decks from PCD

Since its launch, PCD has been growing slowly and steadily. With the help of a small band of dedicated staff, Will is committed to making a wide range of collectable playing cards available to the public at reasonable prices, and combining this with good customer service. While a few customers do come into the physical brick-and-mortar building, the most important part of the business is the online arm. Will sees it as essential to make sure orders are quickly fulfilled and shipped, products are regularly restocked, and new items constantly and quickly added to his inventory. To get some idea of the size of his business, I asked Will about the number of decks he stocks, and was amazed to discover that PCD has 10,000s of decks in stock, with a range of at least 1500 different decks. With literally 1000s of orders being processed monthly, literally tons of decks are being shipped out monthly, with thousands of decks coming and going weekly to the US and abroad. With such a massive range and large inventory, careful organization is absolutely necessary.

Let me warn you that gushing enthusiasm is standard fare for my reviews, because I only review things that I'm enthusiastic about. And right now I'm full of enthusiasm for the amazing decks of custom playing cards that I'm going to show you in this review, some of which have recently added to my own collection, others which I've given away as gifts to family and friends. You might want to consider doing the same, since they make ideal gifts for anyone who enjoys card games, and are quality products that are both durable, attractive, and eye-catching! So let's get to those playing cards!




TEXTURE DECKS

Several decks have been created, which reinterpret the classic Bicycle deck using a graphical set of textures to give the cards the very real appearance of materials like wood, metal, and denim. Max from Max Playing Cards and Collectable Playing Cards have produced a few decks like this, notably a Wood deck, a Metal deck, and a Denim deck.

Metal deck (Blue edition)

The original Bicycle Metal deck was produced by Max Playing Cards and Collectable Playing Cards in 2015 as the very first deck in their Bicycle Texture Series. Its success was bigger than anticipated, and received high praise for its attention to detail, and how the cards actually had the appearance of slightly worn metal. It really looked superb!

Given the huge success of the original, a second edition was produced two years after the original release, namely the Metal deck (Blue edition).



The tuck box is made of stunning metallic foil, with embossing that gives both the feel and look of textured metal. It has all the bling you'd expect, including a custom seal, interior printing, and card reveal on the inner flap.

It's like the original, but uses blue instead of red as the secondary colour for the colour accents on the card backs, Ace of Spades, and tuck box. The blue tone used on the card backs arguably fits better with the colour of the court cards, making this deck even better than the first edition.



Aside from the change in secondary colour, the overall artwork is unchanged, with the pips being highly textured, chrome being used for the black suits and carbon for the red.



The precise shading really does give the impression of actual metal, as you can see with these oversized Aces.



And like the original deck, small touches of detail add extra points of interest, like the corner screws on the cards, which have a flip-motion feature when riffling through them in order.



The two matching Jokers can be used for a creative reveal, with one joker having an empty metal safety pin, and the other the Four of Hearts. Magicians will appreciate the possibilities of card reveals, and the double backer gaff card that is included.





Despite the metal look, these cards are of course made entirely out of paper, with the usual high quality standards from United States Playing Card Company.

Wood deck

The Wood deck was the second entry in the Texture series, and turns from metal to wood. No effort has been spared to create a Bicycle deck that has the most realistic wood look possible, and this impression begins already with the delightful tuck case. It's beautiful outside and in, with interior printing completing the look.



The card backs feature the classic Bicycle rider back design, but have the authentic look of burned wood. All the card faces continue the wood theme, with all the Aces being oversized, but the signature Ace of Spades being of special interest given the detailed wood inlay style artwork that it features.



The court cards exclusively feature red and black colours, which creates a very natural look against the background of the faux wood look.



The same wood look has been used for all the cards, but just as with the Metal deck, the corner screws are individually positioned in order to create an animated motion feature when flipping through the deck.



Once again there are some bonus features for magicians, including a Joker reveal (the other Joker pictures the card back). There's also a card reveal on the tuck box, a double backer gaff card.



When matched with high quality Bicycle playing cards, this deck not only looks great but also handles smoothly and cleanly, and is a superb item well suited to the collector, card player, or magician.



Denim deck

Now that the Bicycle deck has enjoyed the look of metal and wood, it's time to send it into a pair of blue jeans. And what better choice for texture than denim, one of the most durable pieces of clothing material imaginable. That brings us to the Denim deck! Well placed patches of leather adorn the attractive tuck box, to give it an authentic and rugged look.

For many people, a deck of playing cards is all about getting the job done, whether it be playing a card game or doing a card trick, and so the deck needs to be attractive and stylish without coming at the expense of form or function. The Denim deck is exactly this kind of blue-collar worker, with good quality USPCC produced cards that can handle some rough and tumble action, and yet is accompanied by a stylish casual look.



The card backs have the standard rider-back artwork from Bicycle, but the artwork consists of faded markings against a denim background.

The Ace of Spades is given special attention, with a leather-look patch, characteristic of the leather that often is used on denim material.



The court cards simply use the same faded style to depict the characters with a monochrome white look, which works perfectly when set on denim. These really do look the way your favourite jeans or jacket might appear after multiple trips through the wash.



The pips for this deck have been presented with blues and reds, colours deliberately chosen because they are often used in the world of fashion to complement denim products.



The Jokers have the traditional Bicycle rider back artwork, but again feature the faded markings that makes them look truly at home on a denim backdrop.



You don't have to be dressed in denim yourself to enjoy this fantastic deck. It's an attractive product that looks and handles well, as you'd expect from a USPCC produced product, and I'm delighted with how practical and stylish it looks.




VINTAGE DECKS

I love decks that have a very nostalgic and vintage feel. Over the years, there have been several decks of playing cards that have been produced which replicate a truly vintage look, with faux aging on the cards. Here are some superb examples of these decks that PCD carries.

Expert Back deck

The Expert Back deck features a classic design that dates back to 1895.

Bicycle playing cards have been produced since 1885, so this design reflects part of the rich heritage of playing cards, since it was one of the original designs that appeared on playing cards produced by Bicycle before the 1900s. This particular design reappeared in 2010 when it was featured as part of a 125th anniversary deck set.



But there is one big difference with this particular deck - everything has been given a "distressed" look, to make it appear as if these cards have actually survived more than a century of years, and actually come to us straight from 1895, weathered by time.

This is immediately evident from the tuck box, and the card backs.



The iconic Ace of Spades is of course quite similar to the one we are familiar with today.



But these cards don't just look worn, they also have the appearance of having been damaged by water, dirt, and time, and it's a very convincing look.

The pips are larger than what we normally see on cards today, although the court cards have quite wide borders and feel somewhat condensed.



A number of decks have been produced over the years with a faux aged look, but what I especially appreciate about this one is how all the face cards have been weathered differently, making each of them feel unique. While the card backs are all identical - otherwise it would be a marked deck, and very impractical - each card has different stains and patterns.



Besides the standard playing cards, this deck also includes two ad cards. And despite the aged look, the cards have Bicycle's superb air cushion finish and quality, so handling is a dream.



Besides the red deck shown here, the Expert Back with a distressed look is also available in green and blue.

Vintage Classic deck

The Vintage Classic deck also has a false aged look, and the yellowed tones used for the tuck box already gives an indication of what we can expect to find inside. The box features the black triangles along the edges that will also be a distinctive feature of the card backs.



However, unlike many other decks of this sort, what sets this one apart is a very stylish and unique design on the card backs. It's features a very distinctive diamond shape that fills much of the canvas of the card, while a black triangle is central on all four edges. This makes flourishes like fans look very attractive and eye-catching.



As for the card faces, these all feature a classic and traditional design, but an extremely weathered and worn look. The court cards are particularly attractive, with narrow bordered, and beautiful artwork that fills up most of the card space.



As is evident from the number cards, the pips and style is somewhat traditional in style, but the cards just look very well worn. This is noticeable in the apparent scratch marks in the pips, and the colour tones and shading.

Like the previous deck, each card has a unique weathered look of its own, so it's not that an identical digital filter of some kind has been applied to all the cards in the same way, and this unique feel makes the effect more convincing. This has been created digitally, through a multi-step process of digital painting that employed multiple brushes, a palette of washed out colours, and special eraser brushes. The result is different for each card, and they all have a dirty and worn out look, just as you'd expect them to look if they had been played with over the course of a century or more.



Along with the court cards, my favourites in this deck are the stylish Aces, all of which feature oversized pips inside an ornate design.



A pair of jovial jesters completes the deck with Jokers, with the two remaining cards being a double-backer and an ad card.



Despite the vintage look, this deck is a high quality Bicycle product, with the usual high standards for printing and handling, and it's also a very practical and functional deck. It's an ideal choice for anyone wanting a deck to have a genuinely antique flavour and look.

Texan 1889 deck

The Texan 1889 deck also has a long and distinguished history at United States Playing Cards. The edition seen here is known as the Texan No. 45 1889, and was first printed in Cincinnati in 1889 by the ancestor company of USPCC, namely Russell, Morgan & Co.



After going out of production for 80 years, the USPCC brought them back into circulation, using a yellowed tinting on the cards to give them an authentic antique look.



The court designs are typical of the pre 19th century period in which this deck first appeared, being a genuine reproduction, and all the card faces and pips also originate from this time period.



The overall impression these playing cards are intended to convey is a Texan style deck from the wild west.

The card backs feature a "lone star" emblem, to strengthen the idea that they have travelled forward in time, and have been taken straight from a nineteenth century El Paso saloon.



Naturally, we're not to be fooled by the aged look - these cards handle as beautifully and smoothly as any new Bicycle deck.

Given their origin, this is one of the oldest brands of playing cards still being produced today!



They are enjoyed and appreciated by both card players and magicians, and their signature back design also makes them a good choice for card flourishing.


SOPHISTICATED DECKS

Sometimes you're not looking for a deck of playing cards that is too different from the usual. You just want something that has the look of something immediately recognizable and familiar, and yet makes an immediate statement of style and class. PCD has a large range of sophisticated looking decks that meet those criteria, and here are two very fine examples.

Monarchs deck (Blue)

The Monarchs deck (Blue) is a super usable deck of cards that has the look of complete class and sophistication, in fact so good that they are fit for a king, hence the name. These cards are widely hailed by many people, and are very highly regarded as one of the best decks in the business. They are produced by Theory11, one of the largest custom playing card and magic companies around, and are available in several colours, the most popular one being the blue deck featured here.



These beautiful cards are found in an absolutely amazing tuck case, laced with royal gold foil all over a navy blue tuck case. This exquisite work of art comes complete with amazing embossing touches that create a classy box that will catch the attention of anyone who sees it.



The back design features two swords in white on a very dark navy blue background, with snakes entwining around them, and leafy branches coming off the swords. The single colour keeps the cards from being too distracting, and makes them seem standard - hence ideal for card games or magic. At the same time the design is very visually appealing and intricate to look at.



It is a super classy design that is usable for all kinds of uses: it’s not too complicated and distracting for magic or games; it's great for cardistry; and even collectors can appreciate the great design.



The faces of these cards are mostly standard, making them a very practical, since they are quickly recognisable and identifiable. The Ace of Spades has an enclosed crown depicted in rich gold metallic ink, fitting in with the royalty theme of the deck.



The court cards are standard, but composed of a red, black and gold metallic ink which again creates that regal feel to the deck, and looks super classy.



The two Jokers are a man on a penny-farthing, which creates a more vintage feel of joker.



The regal presentation is finished off with a gorgeous red seal that stands out from the gold and blue of the tuck box, and is labelled with a gold crown to show how royal this deck of Monarchs is.



These cards are made in the USA on a FSC-certified paper from sustainable forests, and are a nice and durable stock that fans and spreads great. It’s usable in all ways, in design and quality, for anyone who has a use of cards.

A cool trivia note about these cards is that they were actually used in the movie "Now You See Me”, which is a cool film about some magicians. Theory11 even released a special deck in connection with the film, a black edition of the Monarchs, but the deck actually used in the film is the standard blue edition featured in this review.



It won't come as a surprise that whenever I'm looking for a deck that exudes sophistication, and yet is very practical, the Monarchs deck is one of the very first that I'll turn to.

Queens deck

The Queens deck of playing cards has been created by Murphy's Magic, and exudes style and sophistication from the moment you first set your eyes on the tuck case. With loving touches of red and silver foil, it features a Queen chess piece, standing tall above a couple of knights.



But that is only the harbinger of what is to come, and the back of the tuck box features a stunning design that is quickly going to become a familiar friend once we see the card backs, namely a chequered pattern in red and white that immediately brings to mind the image of a chess board. When held up to the light, the red and silver foil beam back a shining reflective image, which features a diagonal red swath of colour, the queen again playing central role, alongside a bishop and rook.



It's obvious of course, that this deck has been inspired by the classic game of chess. The official ad copy alludes to the special rule of chess in which a pawn which reaches the end of its file is promoted to a queen. "With enough blood and sweat, even the simplest Pawn can become the most powerful piece on the board. The Queens Playing Cards embraces the inner fire and unrelenting drive of those brave enough to chase their passions. It speaks to the underdog who dares to defy the doubters with 10,000 hours of unbridled focus. It stands for those who realize that the most powerful piece is always the one they never see coming."

The tuck box flap invites us to enter this world with the words "Make Your Move". And you won't be disappointed when you do, because one of the first things that will strike you is the sophistication of the ornate Ace of Spades, which has beautifully garnished with touches of sparkling silver foil. Photos really don't do this beautiful deck justice, with all the silver you see here actually being metallic foil silver that gleams in the light.



But my favourite cards in this deck are unquestionably the court cards, which have a thoroughly traditional look, but have been given a new lease of life with the addition of silver foil. I've especially enjoyed using these cards for family games of Poker, and getting a pair of Queens in my hand for a winning two pair has never as satisfying.



As this terrific Ivan Choe image from Kardify shows, the number cards have a relatively standard look despite some small customization, and it's alongside these cards that the royalty of this decks looks even more stunning.



Our Jokers are a matching pair of friends whose artwork has been inspired by the classic knight. Once again classical iconography is evident, and these shapes are deliberately engineered to combine with bold modern design, and unchecked passion, "created for the underdog whose raw talents and have yet to be realized. Why should you fear the underdog? Because outthinking them only makes them smarter. Because beating them only makes them work harder. Because the most powerful piece is the one they never see coming."



Unlike most of the other decks featured here, these have been printed by Expert Playing Card Company in Taiwan. But that doesn't make them inferior, because EPCC is considered an industry leader that produces quality playing cards that are the equal of USPCC decks. In terms of size, EPCC might be considered a Pawn, but in terms of quality, they are Queens on the board of the custom playing card industry, and these cards are extremely durable and handle beautifully. They feel different than a standard Bicycle deck, but have a greater snap and durability, and spread and fan in a most satisfying way.





GAFF DECKS

If you enjoy doing some card magic as I do, then you'll appreciate the value of a good gaff deck. While it's certainly important to develop basic skills with card manipulation and handling so that you can even do card tricks impromptu with a borrowed deck, some gimmicked cards will at times allow you to perform true miracles. For those who don't know much about card magic, I should mention that by far the majority of card tricks are performed with a regular deck, and "trick decks" aren't as common as you might expect. The majority of the most amazing card tricks you may have seen on TV or in performances are done with an ordinary deck of playing cards, through sheer skill with sleight of hand and showmanship. But once in a while a gaffed deck can be handy.

Super Gaff deck

When I first began exploring the world of packet tricks a few years ago, I began hunting for a good gaff deck, which would contain a collection of gimmicked cards, thereby being much better value than buying a few individual sets of cards here and there. The Super Gaff deck from 1st Magic Studio is that kind of deck.



Back in 2014, 1st Magic Studio produced the first version of this deck, entitled "Bicycle Gaff Effect Deck". It is now apparently sold out, out of print, and not readily available. There's an ongoing demand for gaff decks, so in the last year or two 1st Magic Studio produced a second version of this deck, which is the Bicycle Super Gaff Deck featured here. According to one source, "This deck includes many of the favorite cards from the first version, plus about a dozen new designs."

This gaff deck is available with either red backed cards or blue backed cards, both with the usual quality air cushion finish from USPCC's Bicycle brand. Containing 56 different cards altogether, it is a very diverse collection, like some of the ones shown here.



Some cards are only slightly different from regular playing cards, whereas others can be truly described as "outrageous", including cards with "double prints, crazy court cards, misplaced pips, missing heads and much more." There's double-headed queens and headless queens, as well as a 21 of Spades, and the classic 52 in 1 card.



There's certainly a huge amount of variety in this deck, unlike some other gaffed decks I've seen, including the Ultimate Gaff Deck, Packet Killer, and Carnival Tricks Cards, all of which are excellent, but emphasize packet tricks more.



Unlike the just-mentioned decks, the Super Gaff deck doesn't come with a DVD or online video tutorials. To some extent that's to be expected, because it's not a collection of ten packet tricks each requiring a set of cards, but is a much larger collection with many individual cards, and it will be up to the performer himself to come up with ways to use these. But if you are looking for ideas, check this video which contains 10 tricks performed with the first version of this deck.

While this gaff deck isn't suitable for an absolute beginner, if you can master some basic card sleights, it won't be hard to think of applications with the gaff cards included. Considering the wide selection it includes, and the amount of fun you can have with it, it is an excellent value product.




CONCLUSIONS

The Decks

So why are some things I really like about these decks of custom playing cards?

Variety: I love the variety of different decks available, like the ones featured here. Within the range that is stocked by PCD, there's tremendous variety, in terms of style, colour, and design. Playing cards can be used for many different purposes, and depending on what they are used for, they will also have different qualities that are important. Whether you need cards for playing card games like Poker or Hearts, or for doing card magic, or card flourishing, you'll find something to suit your needs.

Creativity: I just love the creativity that has produced many of the designs featured in this article. Unlike an "ordinary" deck, there's a great deal of creative and artistic qualities that have contributed to some unique designs, and that's something I really appreciate and enjoy in decks of custom playing cards like these.

Quality: The majority of the decks carried by PCD are decks are printed by United States Playing Card Company, makers of the well-known Bicycle brand, with their standard air cushion finish. The quality of these decks is consistently wonderful - these are by no means the cheap quality playing cards you'd typically find in a corner store. USPCC produced cards have a well-deserved reputation for quality, and are rightly respected highly for their consistently good card-stock, clear printing, good handling, and durability which ensures they last longer than a regular deck of cheap playing cards. Even though PCD has an enormous range of decks in stock, Wil Roya especially has a fondness for limited edition custom decks printed by USPCC. But you will also find decks in his range from other industry leaders, like Expert Playing Card Company, and these decks are also superb.

Suitability - Card games: I love playing a large variety of card games with a standard deck of playing cards, and while an "ordinary" deck of Bicycle playing cards does do the trick, I do find the experience so much more enjoyable when using a custom deck of playing cards. At the same time, the cards must be functional and recognizable, so the amount of customization can't get in the way of usability. Fortunately there are lots of decks at PCD that fit these criteria perfectly, yet look sophisticated and classy, often starting with an exquisite tuck box touched with foil accents and embossing.

Suitability - Card magic: One of my long-time hobbies is card magic. While in the past magicians tended to restrict themselves to Bicycle decks, in the crowdfunding era we now live it is considered quite acceptable to use a custom deck of playing cards, and these won't typically arouse the same level of suspicion that they once did, because they are becoming much more common. Just as with playing cards for card games, cards used for magic need to be instantly recognizable and can't distract too much. Many of the above decks work ideally for this purpose, having a very familiar look, and yet adding elements of class and sophistication via small amounts of customization, and stylish tuck boxes. And of course there are the magical possibilities that gaff cards offer, and many of these decks include at least a couple such bonus cards.

Suitability - Card flourishing: Many of the decks now available were created for the explicit purpose of being used for card flourishers. Card flourishers tend to have exacting requirements for the decks that they use, and for good reason, since the visual aesthetics of their art-form will be magnified when combined with colours and patterns that accentuate the movement of cardistry. Many custom decks have been specifically designed for this purpose, making them perfectly suited for this art-form due to designs that make the most of colours and patterns.



The Retailer

So what are some reasons why my experience with PlayingCardDecks.com was a positive one?

First impressions: This was my first order with PCD, but I was very impressed at how smooth everything went. I'm particularly impressed with their amazing selection. Not only do they typically have a large number of each deck in stock, but they also have a great range.

Service: I did have some questions prior to making my final decision about which decks to get, and my email correspondence with Will was always positive. He communicated quickly and pleasantly. I also found the website very professional, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. The fact that it includes images of many of the decks also ensures that you can see in advance what you're getting, so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Packaging: The decks arrived in a package that was well-packed, to ensure that the decks would be well-protected en route. I received a tracking number, and everything arrived safely, so that opening the package proved to be an exciting exercise for me and my children.

Shipping: Shipping is free in the USA for orders over $50, while free shipping to Canada applies to orders over $100 (otherwise a flat rate of $10) and select international countries for orders over $150 (otherwise a flat rate of $15). For more details, see here. Most orders are shipped by USPS within one business day, along with tracking, and I have no complaints how this worked.

Range: New custom playing cards are hitting the market all the time, so it can be a challenge for a retailer to get the right balance of ensuring that they have all the latest and greatest products, while at the same time also carrying stock of previous favourites. PCD has a very well-rounded selection, and of all the online retailers that I've had experience with so far, they easily have one of the largest selections I've seen.

Prices: Prices compare favourably to other large online retailers. Of course, the fact that they currently offering a 20% discount site-wide for their first anniversary makes the prices even more attractive, although be aware this runs for only one week, from 24 April to 30 April 2018.



The Specials

20% off Anniversary Sale: Because PlayingCardDecks.com was launched on 20 April 2017, with its first sale that week, Will has decided to have a special sale to mark his first anniversary, with 20% off all stock, site-wide. He obviously has extensive experience in selling products prior to the launch of his website, including selling magic products and playing cards via Amazon and eBay. But even so, April is the official anniversary date of PCD, and from 24 April to 30 April 2018, we get the opportunity to get 20% off any purchase. Use the code "YEAR1" to get this fantastic discount.

Anniversary deck: To help celebrate the first anniversary of the site, Will is also creating a special promotional deck, which is going to be available in a super limited print run of only 500 units. Details about what this deck looks like remains a secret at this stage, and the only information available so far is that they are printed by Gemaco with an ivory finish, standard faces, a custom tuck box, and have gold foil on the backs. Supporters of a special Kickstarter to launch the initial Pip Box Club memberships will receive this mystery deck in their first box.

Pip Box Club: Will has just begun a new initiative in conjunction with PCD, which he has called his "Pip Box Club". It's a monthly subscription service which gives members an opportunity to get decks, samples, and more, at a discounted rate. There are multiple options for joining, including a Small Blind subscription level and Big Blind subscription level. For example, the Big Blind membership costs $30 a month, and this includes getting three surprise decks shipped to your house (at a minimum, these include two newer releases), sample cards from other new releases, a 15% discount code, and access to unlisted products like uncut sheets and limited version decks. Subscriptions outside the US cost more, but all the rates include shipping. For more details and how to sign up, check out pipboxclub.com



Recommendation

So is PlayingCardDecks.com something for you? It's exciting to discover another terrific retailer that can connect me with so many wonderful decks of custom playing cards, like the ones reviewed here. I love a great deck of custom playing cards, and use them for playing card games and for card magic and cardistry. I also enjoy collecting some of the more unusual designs. Furthermore, a quality deck of custom playing cards makes a terrific gift, and I've given away many decks as presents over the last year or so, and they've nearly always been well received and much appreciated.

So if you're looking a high quality deck of playing cards, PCD is definitely a terrific online retailer to check out. And getting 20% off with their anniversary sale, now is a great time to discover this site. I'm very pleased to recommend all the decks featured in this review!



Want to learn more? Check out PlayingCardDecks.com
- Online Store: playingcarddecks.com (use code "YEAR1" to get a 20% discount site-wide during the first anniversary sale 24th to 30th April 2018)
- Related links: Blog, Kickstarter projects, Loyalty Rewards Program, Pip Box Club
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Textured decks: Metal - Blue Edition ($17.99), Wood ($14.99), Denim ($12.99)
- Vintage decks: Expert Back ($5.99), Vintage Classic ($9.99), Texan 1889 ($6.99)
- Sophisticated decks: Monarchs (Blue) ($9.99), Queens ($11.99)
- Gaff decks: Super Gaff ($13.99)
NB: prices listed in brackets are prior to applying the 20% off anniversary sale discount.




BoardGameGeek reviewer

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