Card Tricks (& Where to Get Them)
By Alex J. Coyne © Gifts for Card Players 2021
The standard playing card deck can be used for thousands of individual card tricks. But every magician or cardist’s kit will eventually grow to include several types of trick decks. Trick decks allow cards to do different (and often specific) things. For many recognizable card tricks, the type of deck is the secret.
Looking for the best types of trick decks money can buy? Want to know more about the Svengali or Waterfall decks and what you can do with them?
We’ve taken a look at the most popular types of trick decks out there (and just what you can do with them). Here’s where you can find the best specialist trick decks to build or start your collection.
The Electric/Waterfall Deck
If you’ve ever seen a magician appear to “fan out” the cards between their hands (and then had them stay there suspended in mid-air), you’ve seen the Waterfall or Electric Deck in action.
While it looks like a normal card deck when held together, the cards are actually connected. For the magician, considerable manipulation is possible. To the spectator, it looks truly impossible (although in this case, it’s best they don’t examine the deck).
The Gaff Deck
Gaff Decks replace specific cards in the deck with alternates. Usually, replacement cards are ones that allow for a myriad of specific tricks. It’s versatile, and different Gaff Decks will accomplish different things. For example, some cards might rub off ink, while others can change colour.
For the magician’s benefit, cards from the Gaff Deck are mingled into a regular deck. Almost indistinguishable from the normal surrounding deck, only the magician will know which cards are switched out.
For more on how these decks work, view a YouTube tutorial from Chris Ramsay here.
The Flash Paper Deck
“Flash paper” is a specific material that’s more likely to catch fire than regular, non-igniting paper types. For the magician this means that tricks using spontaneous ignition or fire becomes possible.
Ever seen a trick that involves paper and smoke or flames from nowhere? One method for achieving this is the use of flash paper. Please note, there are many other ways – and no, this doesn’t give away any trade secrets for professional magicians just yet!
Available from Vanishing Inc, here’s a card deck created from flash paper.
Fire warning, obviously. Younger cardists will need an adult, and adults are cautioned to act like adults when using fire in the first place.
The Invisible Deck
The Invisible Deck isn’t going to disappear on the magician like a Leprechaun’s gold, Instead, its claim to invisibility is a trick that allows for cardists to “force” certain cards in the deck. Where spectators are asked to choose cards, sometimes you’re looking at the use of the Invisible Deck for the purposes of the trick.
While there are techniques to create invisible decks using regular ones, many magicians choose to buy theirs ready-made from a reliable brand like Bicycle.
The One-Way Forcing Deck
One-way forcing is a magician’s technique that allows for a literal “force” of certain cards from the deck. With sleight of hand and practice, thousands of tricks rely on the use of some type of forcing deck to work.
Upon examination of the deck, forcing decks are hard to identify as an obvious “trickery” – and that’s what makes them especially popular amongst professionals.
The Stripper Deck
The Stripper Deck is a type of card deck that looks indistinguishable from regular poker cards, but for trick purposes has some of the cards at a different length. Difficult to identify by sheer sight, the difference in the Stripper Decks can be felt (and thus used for the trick) by the magician.
Stripper Decks are popular for many different “pick a card” tricks.
The Svengali Deck
The Svengali Deck is one of the world’s most popular varieties of trick decks. If you’re an experienced card magician, hundreds if not thousands of tricks can become possible with the use of a Svengali deck – although because cards are obviously marked, duplicated, and altered, spectators are not allowed to handle the Svengali.
The Marked Deck
The Marked Deck is a type of trick or gaff deck which allows certain cards to be marked, distinguishing them from standards. When mixed with regular decks, the magician can spot the difference (but usually, nobody else knows which cards have been changed) – and thus, different tricks are made possible with it. Great for magic, but keep these away from any serious card games!