Category Archives: Magic and playing cards

Crafty work: Homemade close-up pad feels better than it looks

This is my close-up pad. There are many like it but this one is mi– WAIT, there are none like it, because I made this one.


It measures 24-by-12 inches, so I have good length for spreads but not a lot of wasted depth. It is large enough to give me ample room for a great table spread, or for some of the table effects I do.

I have a love-meh relationship with that surface material. The chessboard look is kinda cool. The dark squares are a “short-haired” velvet, the lighter ones are the un-velvet-covered fabric which looks like a very thin pleather. Because the squares are smaller, there’s a slight distortion created that helps hide things, too. Keeps eyeballs just a bit buzzed, so if I’m off placing a double as a single, I get a little bit of forgiveness. PLus, I was just told it looks kind of like a carbon-fiber surface, and that sounds bad-a**.

For all the meh about its looks, the surface feels awesome. Gives me a perfect slide and grip. LOVE IT.


The innards are a double layer of fleece (thanks for that idea, Irving Quant) and a 24-by-12 piece of balsa wood. Underneath is a hot mess of staples and a foam rubber surface for grip.

Purveyors of carcinogens release addicting playing cards

Here’s a quiz for you: What do these three sets of playing cards have in common?

As much as I detest cigarettes, and the companies that make them, those companies made some killer decks of cards. Each of these sets is a promotional item from well known cigarette brands. Most promotional decks feature simply the brand and logo of a certain smoke; the handling and quality is nothing special. But these three decks stand out for their unique design and superb handling.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best of both worlds: Liquid Blue deck a perfect mix of design, quality

One of the most vivid, colorful decks of playing cards ever printed started as simple black-line drawings.

“We knew that if the art held up in just black, then it was great design,” said Paul Roidoulis, CEO and art director of Liquid Blue. “If it needed a color, then that color was probably a crutch. We wanted to make sure that when the color was applied, it would give the illustration even more.”

The company in 1992 produced the Liquid Blue deck, one of the most enigmatic, beautiful decks of cards I’ve ever found. The deck features superb card stock, clever design and bold colors — a combination not often found in playing cards before 2006.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost deck led to discovering sleight of hand

My playing card collection has plenty of significant, cherished decks because of personal reasons — from the office seat in the new Geek Central, I can easily spy the deck that got me interested in collecting, the deck that got me through a bad year, the deck I used in my first paid magic gig, etc. There’s no better way to start a series of posts about my decks than with the Ghost, for a number of reasons.

The Ghost deck, designed by Ellusionist, is unique for its lack of color. The pips, court cards, aces and everything is black, except for the indices of the red cards. The cards were printed on UV-500 cardstock, which handled so beautifully and really set Ellusionist head and shoulders above the competition, before the U.S. Playing Card Company went all bonkers with its cardstock options. Those were the days.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

Card collection rebuilt slowly but surely

I’ve loved playing cards since I was 3. I had a big sherbet tub filled with five or six loose decks, and I used to play with them for hours. Some of the decks were standard Bicycle Rider backs or Hoyle shell backs. One was a bridge deck with a picture of an old woman wearing purple — I always thought it was a picture of MaMere, an old French lady that lived near us in New Jersey.
Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Internet is changing magic, not killing it

This pic is from my wedding. It is NOT a promotional shot.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a magician. I work mainly with playing cards, the things I have loved since I was 3 years old. In my 20s, I experimented with magic: I used tricks I bought at a Wal-mart to perform for kids at a McDonald’s. I wasn’t hired properly as a magician — I was a swing manager at the time, known for being good with kids, so the store owners milked me. Point is that I had no idea about the larger world of sleight of hand.

When I found it in 2005, my world was forever changed. I found a deck of cards called Tally Ho Vipers at a Tower Records in Nashville. An ad card inside led me to an Internet site called On that site I watched videos of people marketing custom decks of cards by performing incredible sleight of hand. I was hooked.

I am an Internet magician. I have learned my art from the Internet, and taken it to the streets. I have been paid for magic shows.

According to, I’m one of the people killing magic. Continue reading

Spades are cool, but skulls suck

I love huge posters that look like cards. Skulls are dumb. But this one looks kinda badass. Don’t know if I should frame this or hide it. Can you empathize with my dilemma?

Tagged , , ,

Joe: Geeked out about his new blog

I’m enjoying the fresh digs around here.

For those of you who followed me on Show You State, my apologies. I was recently promoted to Features Editor, and my understanding editor agreed that I had my hand in too many cookie jars. So no more Show You State… expect it to be deleted soon.

This blog is going to stick pretty close to the features world. Updated once every whenever-I-feel-like-it, I’ll post all about pop culture, from the major Hollywood releases to the latest viral videos. Should be fun.