Who is Victor Jose?If you ever do any research on a deck that you are considering buying, you almost certainly have come across the name Victor Jose, or VJose32 as he is better known on his youtube channel.
Victor is a Canadian who has been collecting playing cards since around 2010, and as of today his personal collection numbers well over 3,000 decks! But Victor is especially known for his contribution to the playing card industry as a video reviewer. He began posting reviews of playing cards on youtube around 2011. To say that he is prolific would be somewhat of an understatement, because since then he has posted around 4000 videos - a staggering number! The vast majority of these are reviews of playing cards or related to playing card topics. It has often happened that I was doing some background research about a particular deck, and sure enough, there was Victor with one of his helpful reviews!
Like me, you are probably curious to learn more about him. How did he get started with this, how do these decks keep rolling in, and what keeps him motivated with this enormous output? Well, let's find out by hearing from the man himself! Victor was kind enough to agree to an interview with me, so I put these and other questions to him. Given his vast experience with the custom playing cards that have been produced over the last half a dozen years, he's well positioned to share some insightful perspectives about his work and about the playing card industry.
For those who don't know anything about you, what can you tell us about yourself and your background? What you do for a day job, and/or what are some of your other interests besides playing cards?
For starters I live in Winnipeg, Canada and I currently work as a woodworker in a small furniture shop which i've been at for the last 6 months or so, before that I worked in construction for a number of years. Outside of cards I have an interest in video games and of course enjoy Youtube and Netflix. I was also previously a Toastmaster years ago. It was at this point that I discovered the Tally Ho Circle Back, one of my favorite back designs, and started discovering other decks as well.
How did you begin having an interest in playing cards?
My interest in playing cards started with my interest in magic. I've always been a fan of magic since I was a kid but never became a magician. However sometime in 2010 I started watching magic videos on Youtube and came across many card tricks and tutorials, especially by mismag822. It was at this point that I discovered the Tally Ho Circle Back, one of my favorite back designs, and started discovering other decks as well.
When and how did you get started with doing video reviews?
According to my channel my first deck reviews were in August 2011. I guess they started because I felt like showing the world my decks.
Your first video review of playing cards on your channel seems to be a review of the White Lions deck [link] more than 7 years ago. Was that your first ever deck review, and how did that particular deck review come about?
Yes my first review seems to be the White Lions, I don't recall exactly how or why that was.
How many video reviews of playing cards have you produced altogether now? In 2014 you posted a video entitled "200 Videos" [link] to mark 5 years of producing videos. How many have you produced now, almost 10 years after you started?
I believe it currently shows I have 3924 videos, I can't say for sure how many exactly are deck reviews but the majority of them are related to playing cards or magic in some shape or form.
How often on average would you post a new video review?
I generally post new reviews every weekday with other card related videos on the weekend.
What kind of camera do you use to film your reviews, and how do you do the actual filming?
Currently I record all my videos with my iPhone however previously I used a Canon. I film them in my room on a small table with a tripod, nothing too exciting. Also currently I record an intro via my webcam for most of my reviews.
How much work is involved in doing a video review? What kind of preparation or follow-up is required beside just filming the video itself?
Most of the work for my reviews is usually doing research. I try to get any info I can on the decks I review, whether it be the stock and finish, info on the tuck case, info on the deck theme itself, or info on who the court cards represent, and so forth. Usually I obtain information from the various Kickstarter projects or whatever site that releases the deck. Of course I spend some time on editing but I try to keep things simple. There isn't much in terms of setup or editing for that matter.
What is it that you especially enjoy most about doing video reviews? Given how prolific you are, what motivates you to keep this up?
I enjoy showing new decks to my viewers, I have many decks that you won't find on other channels and a large variety of decks.
Where do you source the decks that you review? Do you have any sponsors that help out?
I buy the majority of my decks, which isn't cheap as i'm sure you can imagine, from a variety of sites, especially playingcarddecks.com. But I buy from a variety of card shops, just depends who has what i'm looking for. I do have some good relationships with a few known Kickstarter creators that often send me some perks in exchange for promoting projects. I am also fortunate enough to have a sponsorship with Murphy's Magic which allows me to buy decks from their site at wholesale prices.
Do you keep all the decks you review? What happens with decks that you decide not to keep?
I generally keep all the decks I review. There have been some in the past that I wasn't a fan of that I did giveaways with and there are others that I have available for sale or trade or potential future giveaways.
Your review of the Bicycle Gaff Deck [link] has almost 10 times as many views as any of your other reviews. What can you tell us about this review and why it is so popular?
I'm not really sure why but for some reason gaff deck reviews are popular on my channel, perhaps because no one else reviews them or shows the cards. There a few gaff deck reviews in my top ten most watched videos. I guess there's always someone on the lookout for a gaff deck.
How much feedback do you get from viewers, and what does this involve for you to keep up with this?
Sadly I don't get a lot of comments or feedback on most of my videos but I do occasionally get some feedback regarding video quality or audio which I have improved over the years. I always respond to any comments on my videos.
What do people seem to appreciate the most about your reviews?
People appreciate the honesty in my reviews and also the variety of decks I review. Also that I open and review extremely rare decks that many would never open, and would otherwise never know what the cards look like.
You also have a play-list of more than 100 tricks and tutorials [link]. What can you tell us about your own interest in and experience with card magic?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of magic and especially card magic. I've never really performed much outside of the channel and haven't done much magic related in a while but I enjoy it. I started off learning tricks from mismag822 and others on Youtube.
When did you start collecting playing cards, and what got you started?
I started collecting in 2010 I believe and that was the result, as I mentioned previously, of watching card trick tutorials on Youtube which introduced me to decks I didn't even know existed beforehand. I was only familiar with pretty much standard Hoyle, Caravan, Bicycle, and Bee decks until that time.
What are some of the things you especially enjoy about collecting playing cards?
Well what I enjoy about collecting is always finding something new to experience and to share with my viewers.
How many decks would you estimate that you currently have in your collection? According to your Portfolio52 page [link], as of today there are 3223?
Not including a bunch of decks I have available for sale or trade, the 3223 figure on Portfolio52 should be fairly accurate though I have more on the way all the time.
How do you organize and display your collection of playing cards?
Currently I don't display my collection or even have room to do so. I wish I had more organization but I always seem to have many decks coming in and then never organize themselves, lol. Generally I keep all my decks in boxes in my closet, I have some organized by brand, such as Bicycle, and others by company such as Theory11 or Ellusionist but i've got many other boxes that are just a random assortment waiting for some organizing.
Do you have any special categories of decks that you focus on collecting, and what are your favourite types of decks to collect?
Mainly the types of decks I collect are new decks that come out, either from Kickstarter projects or card websites. I do also collect the odd vintage deck as well as some casino decks, particularly local casino decks that I find via thrift stores. In addition I like to collect some odd decks, like mini decks or jumbo decks as well as some tarot decks.
How do you go about adding new decks to your collection?
As for adding decks to my collection, I look for new stuff via Murphys Magic or Playing Card Decks or search for stuff at local thrift stores or vintage decks on Etsy. If that's what you mean.
Do you have any thoughts on the explosion of custom playing cards that we are seeing today?
Yeah the explosion in playing cards is hurting my wallet, lol. But I think the best thing is to sort through them and choose the best ones or the ones you like.
What impact do you think crowdfunding like Kickstarter has had on playing cards and on collecting?
I think Kickstarter has opened up the card collecting to more people than ever before and has also opened the door to many new designers to get their art out. However it has also opened the door to many projects which aren't so good in design and has also opened the door to a variety of scammers. So there's both good and bad things about it.
Which deck (or decks) in your collection is your favourite, and why?
I get this question a lot and with over 3000 decks it's not easy to answer but I would probably say my favorite decks would have to be the Tally Ho Circle Back, JAQK Cellars, Artifice, Split Spades, and Federal 52 among others although i've probably forgotten a few and hope I don't offend any creators if I didn't name their decks.
What would the most valuable deck in your collection be, and what accounts for its value?
My most valuable decks would be the original first release Monarchs due to it's sheer limitation, White Centurions, Jerry's Nugget, first and second edition Smoke & Mirrors, and Red Artifice, all mainly due to their rarity and value.
What do your family and friends think of your collection, and of your interest in collecting and reviewing playing cards?
Honestly outside of my fellow collectors and viewers no one in my family is aware of my collection though my parents know I "waste" my money, lol. I've mentioned it to one or two people who either thought it was interesting or weird. The only people who've really known about my collecting where those in my former Toastmasters group who seemed to think it was pretty cool.
Do you belong to any playing card organizations, or connect with other collectors, either online or in any other way?
I'm not part of any playing card organizations but I connect to other collectors via my Facebook group, The Card Club, as well as on the United Cardists forum.
If you would start collecting all over again today, would you do anything different?
Well if I started collecting all over I would definitely avoid most decks that weren't produced by known manufacturers, such as random souvenir or advertising decks, and generally try to be more specific about what i'm collecting in general. I would probably try to set some kind of a budget, which I should probably do anyway.
What advice would you give someone just starting to collect playing cards today?
To anyone starting collecting I would say don't buy every new deck you see, also try to be specific about what you collect or else you well spend a lot of money. Collect just vintage decks or just casino decks or just cardistry decks for instance, don't try and collect everything because there are just so many decks out there.
Are there any other written or video reviewers of playing cards online that you follow or admire?
I am a fan of 2 other Youtube deck reviewers although they are both currently not reviewing anything, that being cardsrfun and sacproductions101. I also enjoy magicorthodoxy though I don't watch his videos very regularly.
What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have any goals to expand or do anything different than what you are currently doing?
I'm not sure what the future holds especially with the prices of playing cards always going up but I will try to continue doing reviews as long as I can.
What I appreciate about Victor's reviews is that he gives you an excellent idea of what to expect when you buy a deck. He shows you the tuck case, runs through the cards, and comments on how they feel and handle. In the case of specialty decks, he'll even show you every single card in the deck, which can be tremendously helpful when you're thinking about picking up a gaff deck, or wondering what some specific cards in a deck look like. As such, he provides a very valuable service and helpful contribution to the playing card community.
So if you're ever wondering about what a deck of custom card looks like, want to check out the tuck box from all sides, or are wondering what exactly is inside the box, definitely check out his channel, to see if it's covered by one of his reviews. Thanks Victor, for your extensive contribution to the industry, and for all the work you've put into this in the past years!
Where to find Victor Jose? The best place to find Victor is over on his youtube channel (VJose32). You'll also find him over on the Facebook group that he created in 2012 for fans of playing cards, and which now boasts over 200 members. To see his collection, head over to Portfolio52.
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards.
He loves card games, card magic, and card collecting. You can see a complete list of his playing card reviews here.