by BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame
Here at PlayingCardDecks we know that you love playing cards. And chances are, because you love playing cards, you also know a thing or two about about them. For example, you'll know that a USPCC printed deck typically includes two extra cards besides the Jokers, so you aren't going to be surprised or confused when you find a couple of extra cards inside the tuck box. Sometimes these are used for ad cards, and other times they are used as gaff cards. So when you open your deck and see a couple of bonus cards inside, you're going to be happy with these extras.
But what happens when your average person, who knows little about playing cards, gets a deck like this? What is their reaction to these extra cards going to be? Let's find out by taking a look at one specific deck, the Vintage Series 1800 Deck, a deck produced by Ellusionist and designed for magicians, but readily available on the mass market.
Features of the Vintage Series 1800 Deck
You can pick up a copy of these decks right now and right here on PlayingCardDecks - of course. They cost just $10 and are available as a Red Deck or Blue Deck.
But there's a few things you need to know about these amazing decks first:
1. Vintage look
First of all, the Vintage Series 1800 Deck looks like it is more than a century old - literally! Even the tuck box is designed to look genuinely ancient and warn. They have a standard Bicycle rider-back design, but it's been put through a faux aging process that looks very convincing. Yet despite the old, rustic, and grungy look, which makes the cards look cracked and worn, the cards themselves are the same high quality as a normal Bicycle deck. As the ad copy rightly says: "The cards look older than your aunt, but handle better than anything out there." A magician friend has a couple of decks of these, which he uses from time to time for his card magic, and this vintage look never fails to impress people.
2. Gaff card
As with many USPCC printed decks, the Vintage Series 1800 Deck comes with extra cards, which you can use as gaffs for magic tricks. The red backed deck includes an extra Queen of Hearts with a blue back, while the blue backed deck includes an extra Queen of Hearts with a red back. Both of these are versatile cards that magicians will be able to put to good use as part of a simple colour changing deck effect (e.g. the classic Chicago Opener).
3. Marking system
There's one special secret that the Vintage Series 1800 Deck holds. Promise not to tell anyone? Magicians know how to keep secrets, so I can trust you on this. Actually the Ellusionist website says it very clearly about this deck, for the whole world to know, and even the Amazon listing states it too: these cards are marked. The back of every card has a special marking system built in, so that at a quick glance you can tell the value and suit of the card, just by looking at the card backs.
What the General Public Thinks
So what happens when you put a stunning deck like this into the hands of the unwashed masses, who are unfamiliar with the world of playing cards, gaff cards, and magic, and who don't know what is "normal" for a USPCC produced deck of cards? To find out, I headed over to Amazon, to check out some of the reviews there, to learn what people had to say about this marvellous deck. You're an expert, remember, so you can already see the beauty and possibilities of this fantastic deck - but what does the average person think?
First of all, people were super impressed with the vintage design, and they loved the weathered and worn look. Most have never seen anything like this before, and found it outstanding - some even picked up this deck to use for craft projects that required old looking cards. Admittedly, some of the quotes below are from people who aren't ignorant about all this deck's features, but even so these sample quotes give a sense of the praise and enthusiasm for the vintage look:
● "Just a GORGEOUS, artificially aged deck. VERY authentic looking."
● "They look like the deck your great grandmother had in the back of the knick-knack drawer, but handle smooth as any deck of new cards."
● "So damn cool. I wanted some really nice cards that looked gnarly and old and 1800ish. Showed them to my room-mate, who plays poker constantly. His exact response was "wow those look old as hell" and was shocked to find them slick and brand new!"
● "What a great idea! They look absolutely trashed and very old, but they handle like a new deck."
● "These cards were perfect. They look so lovingly worn but feel brand new."
● "I love these cards they look like they're 200 years old they are the best deck of cards I have ever owned!"
So far so good. But now for the fun part. It is hilarious reading some of the negative reviews on Amazon for this deck. Clearly many buyers didn't realize that the Queen with a blue-coloured back (in the Red deck) is an extra card, and that the deck does have a red-backed Queen of Hearts as well. So they complained that the deck was defective and that there was something wrong with it! For your entertainment, I've quoted some good examples from those negative reviews:
● "Kind of hard to play Poker when the Queen Of Hearts is the only card with a blue back. Item was not as described and is worthless as a playing deck with this printing mistake. I would like a refund."
● "Came with one blue card in a deck of red cards. Kinda annoying."
● "I spent almost 20 dollars on these cards and waited a week for them. I got them today and opened them after work. They’re cool, but one card is blue and the rest are red so you can’t play Poker with a known card. "
● "The only problem is the Queen of Hearts is a blue card making the deck useless for playing cards. "
● "I ordered two decks of these cards. I receive two brand new ones nicely closed. When I opened them I found that in both decks there were two cards (Queen of Hearts in each deck) with the back in blue (the rest of the deck has the red back). What can I do? If I play with them anyone will know who has the Queen of Hearts. Please help. "
● "Received cards only one problem there is 1 blue card Queen of Hearts. "
● "Came with extra cards from another deck and missing cards from original deck. Going to send back to Bicycle. Very inconvenient."
● "Bought these cards to change up our poker tournaments a little. Opened the deck and they looked awesome. Flipped em over and 1 card was blue and the other 51 were red. "
● "The Queen of Hearts is blue while the rest of the deck is red."
● "Love the look of the cards...why did I get a blue-backed Queen of Hearts? This deck is now useless to me...I can't even play cribbage or poker with it. Very disappointed customer."
● "Well, this was a complete waste of money. The cards I got are absolutely beautiful, but the Queen of Hearts in blue....in a red deck.....kinda hard to play with."
But it gets better. Some people actually ordered a second deck, hoping it would fix the problem, and were amazed to find the same "fault"!
● "I have received the wrong cards 2 times now."
● "The first deck of cards (blue) that I ordered contained one red Queen of Hearts, so i ordered a second deck. Same thing with the second deck."
So what about the fact that these cards are marked? The description on Amazon does mention this clearly: "The 1800 Vintage deck now holds a very special secret. Each card is individually marked with a covert system entwined into the natural design, allowing you to instantly read the suit and value simply by peeking the back." Many purchasers were aware that the cards were marked; it's why many magicians opted to get this deck, and were pleased with how the marking system worked. But not everyone is "in the know", as these quotes clearly indicate:
● "Very cool looking cards ... especially for a Poker night with friends."
● "Cards are a little pricey but worth it. They were the talk of the table at my monthly Poker game."
● "Nice. Poker guys like em."
● "Used two decks for Texas Hold em and the winning pot was the third deck."
● "These cards are hands down the most unique cards I have every played with. I play Texas Hold-em every week, and now everytime I go I have to bring this deck."
● "Ordered these for a 20's themed Poker night. Everyone loved them."
And here's my favourite:
● "I just bought these cards to play Poker with my dad. Some people say you can’t play Poker because there is a blue Queen of Hearts but it also comes with a red Queen of Hearts."
Can you imagine playing a game of Poker or cards with marked cards? As they say, let sleeping dogs lie - sometimes ignorance is bliss! Oh the perils of selling magic products to the mass market!
Meanwhile, why don't you check out one of these decks for yourself?
I wouldn't recommend that you use the Vintage Series 1800 Deck for your next Poker night, mind you. But it is a great conversation piece, terrific for card magic, and will make a wonderful addition to anyone's collection!
Where to get them? You can pick up the 1800 Vintage Bicycle decks right here on PlayingCardDecks - they are available in both red and blue:
- Vintage Series 1800 Deck (Red)
- Vintage Series 1800 Deck (Blue)
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known and highly respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.