Peter Mares

Jul 2, 2021

4 min read

Where to buy playing cards in 2021 and beyond

Playing cards have been a staple in homes, bars and other places of leisure for as many years as I can remember. Their versatility is understated at the best of times as can be seen when they are handled by a skilled sleight-of-hand artist (aka magician), a croupier in a casino or a cardist.

Over the past decade, interest in playing cards has grown, dragging what was a niche subculture further into the eyes of the mainstream public. With advent of XCM (or what we know as cardistry today), the number of inspired designs and customisations of playing cards has grown exponentially year on year. Where an “adequate” print run of 2,500 decks used to be sufficient in previous years, in 2021, that would be a very limited run if it was designed by one of the many renowned artists and published by a well known distributor.

A cardistry flourish being performed

With the growth of the community and industry, we have also seen growth in the number of online retail stores that sell playing cards as their sole focus. This means that we as collectors and enthusiasts have more places to look apart from eBay or Amazon to find the decks that we lust for. I use the term ‘lust’ specifically since we can see that the retailers and resellers are aware that certain decks are very much sought after and this demand is reflected in after-market prices. This also means that with the growing number of resellers, retailers and collectors, stock of a newly printed, sought-after deck are gone within minutes of going live. Think about any of the recent Fontaine, Lotus in Hand or Organic Playing Cards or Card Mafia decks that have gone on sale. Most have sold out in minutes, sometimes seconds. This means most of us need to resort to buying these decks from the retailers or resellers who have swallowed up vast quantities of stock.

To ease the pain of finding these much-lusted-for decks of paper, I decided to build a site to help locate decks across as many online retailers as possible. find-cards.com offers enthusiasts, collectors, magicians and cardists a way to find the decks that they are looking for (if available) as well as compare prices, keep their collector spreadsheet up to date and so on. The site has been running since February 2021 and it has been a lot of fun working with the community to make it as valuable to them as possible.

find-cards.com being searched for Fontaine decks across all known online retailers

Sometimes it’s not enough to have a resource that you can search manually for the decks you want; sometimes you need to be told that a specific deck has just gone on sale. To address this need, the site also supports ‘deck alerts’. These work similar to Google Alerts where you enter a phrase or word that describes what you’re interested in (for example, ‘Fontaine’ or ‘Lotrek’ or ‘gilded’) and whenever the site finds a newly listed item that matches your search criteria, it sends you a mail telling you what the product is, which shop it was found at, as well as the price. While the email itself is pretty bland, it serves its purpose and has helped a few people cop (community speak for “buy”) some decks ahead of anyone else.

A Fontaine deck was newly discovered on a vendor’s site and my deck alert was triggered!

So where to from here? Well, if you haven’t checked out find-cards.com yet, I invite you to do so. In fact, do it now! You are not required to sign-up to use the site however, registering does give you access to the Deck Alerts feature and any future features (like wish-lists, price drop alerts etc).

At the time of this writing, I have pushed a survey to the community to understand their needs and wants better. I firmly believe that listening to the community (through the results of this survey), the site will evolve and improve quickly to become even better at helping everyone find the decks that they lust for.