By Paul Hewson
Modiano has been making playing cards since 1884, but the Italian company made some rookie mistakes at the 2015 World Series of Poker. This was Modiano's first WSOP since taking over from Bicycle, and the first batch of cards to hit the tables was met with disapproval – some found the cards too thin and too easily marked, others found that the clubs looked too much like spades. Corrections were made and new cards were sent out, but the company’s reputation took a hit.
Modiano does make some high-quality cards, so sales could climb once the WSOP starts generating some more positive reviews. In the meantime, Bicycle remains the most popular card brand, at least according to the rankings at Amazon.ca. But if you really want to impress your poker buddies, or you just really enjoy a good deck, why not consult the experts? These experts happen to be magicians because for them, a playing card isn't just a suit and a rank. It has to look and feel exactly right for a successful act.
With that in mind, here are the five best-selling playing card decks at Ellusionist. Don't worry, Bicycle fans, you are well represented here.
1. SWE Deck
An author going by the name of “SW Erdnase” published The Expert at the Card Table in 1902, telling the world how card sharps were pulling off their sleight of hand. Whether the author was a con man or a magician remains a mystery, but this book became the bible of the magic community, and several companies have issued Erdnase cards in the same vibrant green as the cover. These cards take the extra step by reproducing the entire cover on the back.
2. Absinthe Playing Cards V2
Speaking of vibrant green, absinthe has made a comeback over the past 20 years, and its image fits in with a large sector of the magician demographic. The Absinthe deck was originally available only as part of the Prohibition six-deck box set, which includes another deck on this list. It's since been issued separately with some small changes made. These sexy cards are very easy to work with.
Based on a concept by Daniel Madison and designed by Oban Jones, the Sleepers deck features a minimalist motif and looks particularly amazing when shuffled. No green this time, just the red of the hearts and diamonds. This deck’s a big hit with the more cerebral crowd.
4. Bicycle 52 Proof
Bicycle cards have been printed continuously since 1885 by what is now known as the United States Playing Card Company, based in Cincinnati. The 52 Proof deck was part of the Prohibition box set; the cards carry a whiskey theme, and look pretty slick next to a bottle of Jack Daniels.
5. Bicycle Black Ghost
This is a variant of the Ellusionist-deigned Bicycle Ghost deck that tops all standard playing card sales at Amazon. The Black Ghost deck was first issued as a promotional item and can fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay. The second edition will only set you back about eight bucks.
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