So You Want To Get Decked Out? (By Guest Blogger Lou Tolentino)

Henry Cortez

The next Guest Blogger really needs no introduction, but I'll do it anyways.  Lou Tolentino, better known on Instagram as @decked_out_cards (, in my opinion has gone above and beyone the call of duty to bring fellow cardists, magicians, and collectors together through his use of various challenges and hashtags (ig: #deckstackchallenge, #igcardfam #deckedoutdayinthelife, I could go on and on...).  He was also a driving force in organizing a very successful meetup at the White Rabbit Magic Shop in Southern California.

In his article, Lou dives into the world of card collecting and offers some tips and helpful suggestions to grow your collection.  Lets face it, as a new collector just entering this world, the hobby can be a bit overwhelming (it sure was for me!).  Thank you to Lou for taking the time to write up this piece!  

So You Want To Get Decked Out? (By Guest Blogger Lou Tolentino)

So, you've taking up the hobby of collecting playing cards? Let me be one of the first to welcome and congratulate you! Collecting playing cards can be loads of fun, but with the ever growing selection of playing cards currently out on the market, it can be quite overwhelming at times. So let this serve as an unofficial guide of sorts, for those of you stepping into the world of collecting playing cards. Now please keep in mind that this isn't meant to be definitive, after all not long ago, I was in the same boat as you are now. But at the time I really had no guide to help me navigate. I've learned some things for myself through good old research and of course trial and error, now I'd like to share some of what I've learned with you my #igcardfam. So sit back take some notes, and let's get into it.

First off let me start by introducing myself. My name is Lou and I've been collecting playing cards for a little over a year. Some may know me as @decked_out_cards on social media. In my short time of collecting I've acquired just north of 350 different decks of playing cards.  I'm known in the community for my quirky challenges and live video feeds. I love supporting the card community at large and I'm always open to talking about cards with all of you, my friends. I've even put together and hosted Southern California's very own card collectors meet up.

How'd I start? I've used playing cards for as long as I can remember as most of us have. Whether used for family game nights of Poker, Go Fish, War etc. A deck of cards was never too far out of reach.  Some of us may have even learned simple magic tricks from Uncle's or cousins. I really started getting a feel for them when I started performing magic. But like most I didn't think there was much past the standard Bicycle decks or Souvenir type decks we were so used to, boy was I wrong. The magic shop that I frequented had just acquired inventory from another shop that had closed it's doors. With that inventory came a selection of custom Bicycle branded decks to the likes of which I'd never seen before. For the most part I found many decks to be kitschy (JAWS, Ghostbusters etc.) but there were also few that stood out as pretty cool. As they unpacked and placed product out on the floor, I came across other non Bicycle brands. Theory 11, Ellusionist, Mechanic Industries. Something in my brain switched on! I remember trying to figure out what my first custom deck should be, I think my first deck was the Black Tiger Deck by Ellusionist. As I began to research more I was introduced to a world I never knew existed, Card Collecting.

For whatever reason, you've stumbled upon this world yourself. But where do YOU start? My suggestion is simply this, collect what you like. To determine what it is you like, think about what speaks to you. Do you like simple, understated designs? Does something more bold catch your eye? I think for starters this is the best way to begin your journey. The hobby of collecting in it's simplest form according to Wikipedia includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining items that are of interest to an individual collector. As you get deeper into it you may find other aspects that speak to you. Maybe you like a particular designer, may a specific printer, or you found a series that you'd like to complete, that's where it can get fun and yet complicated at the same time.

Once you've figured out some of the motivation behind the direction of your collecting, the next part is actually acquiring those decks. Something to consider, what type of collector will you be? There will often be two camps for the most part, the open everything cause cards are meant to be played with and enjoyed, and the don't open their decks folks. Sure there can be a middle ground but most will sway one way or the other. Also, are you a completionist, as in do you have to have every version of every deck put out in a series? Or are you good just collecting cards for the simple love of it? Believe me these are all things to think about. Collecting for the sake of collecting is the easiest to accomplish, see a deck, like it, buy it. Easy Peasy.  The latter is a whole other ball game. With both styles of collecting I think budget should be taken into consideration. Collecting should be enjoyable in my opinion, and should be enjoyed responsibly. If you're dipping into rent money, or maxing out credit cards to supply your collecting, it might be good form to take a step back and re-assess your priorities. Setting up a healthy budget and sticking to it should make it less stressful.

Coming into the game a little late, means there may be some decks that you like, that aren't currently available in the mass market. Where do you go from here? Most will turn to eBay, Amazon or some other means of securing older, rare and harder to find decks. While auction sites can be a good source, it's also good to keep in mind that there are plenty of other alternatives. One suggestion by me is Social Media. Starting Decked Out on Instagram is probably one of the best things I could have done to help me along the way.  The simple act of reaching out to the community has put me in touch with a plethora of resources I may have not been aware of had I not started my account. I've joined a few Facebook groups as well and all have been extremely helpful.  Some decks can be acquired via direct trade, the friendships I have built have also garnered me with "good guy" pricing in some cases. Basically, talk, interact and be active within the community. For every ridiculous re-seller, there can be 3-4 people that'll cut you a better deal, just cause your friends. Of course with that said, always be weary of what you are purchasing or trading for. Whether through eBay or private sale or trade, do your due diligence and research to avoid any bad transactions.

In line with having an online presence, be active. Introduce yourself, engage, drop comments and ask questions. There are many friends to be made, many of which are actual producers, designers, and manufacturers. Enter contests and giveaways, doesn't hurt to put in for a chance to win a deck or two to add to the collection. People are more open to cutting deals if you've got a solid relationship built. Having a social media account also helps keep your ear to the ground on upcoming Kickstarter projects, new deck drops and other card related news. YouTube as one example features content creators reviewing decks of cards, allowing you to help form your opinions on whether or not a deck is a "cop" or "drop". It may also help you unlock some new skills with your cards in the form of Cardistry or Magic tutorials.

There really is so much more that I could possibly touch on (manufacturers, stocks and finishes etc.) but I think I'll leave it at this for now. I hope this can give you, the reader a fresh perspective on this wonderful hobby. If there is interest I'd love to come back and provide some more information in a new article. I hope you found this segment fun and informative. Again I welcome you to the world of collecting playing cards. Good luck in your quest and please don't be a stranger.


Lou Tolentino aka Decked Out cards

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  • AMeen FAl on

    Thank you for the notes and I didn’t expect to find fans of playing cards.

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