In my personal experience I have had spectators shuffle and examine my absolutely ordinary red Bicycle playing cards, and after impressing them with an effect such as Ambitious Card, found that they occasionally ask where they can buy such a deck so they may perform the trick as well. Yes, spectators may suspect that a Black Deck is gimmicked when its not, but this suspicion is usually on their minds when we perform any card trick. In the end, I think that the visual impact of the black cards and the potential new themes that they offer far outweigh any suspicions on the part of spectators.
In The Cards
Some gaffs lend themselves to taking an established effect and giving it a different feel. This is certainly the case with The Web gaffs that feel creepier in black. Some, on the other hand, such as the three-and-a-half gag, are probably superfluous in black.
Most intriguing are the artistic cards. Theres a tiger on a four-of-spades as well as a slashed (as if by a tigers claws) four of spades. A death card depicts the Ace of Spades with a skull. And an impressive voodoo card and a king with a bloody sword are downright creepy. Its fun to let your imagination run wild with these gaffs.
Little Black Book
The book provides a variety of well-conceived effects. Taking good advantage of the black decks edgy look, many involve themes of the occult and voodoo, as well as cold reading. Other effects are based on color changes to transform ordinary cards into Black Tiger cards, and theres mind-reading work that relies on stacked decks.
The book is well written and illustrated and offers good suggested patter. Theres a wealth of information here and some solid effects. I think that most magicians who are interested in the Black Deck can find an effect or two that they can use.
The book does not provide background on the necessary sleights to perform the effects, but references Ellusionist products that teach the techniques. The book does tip a few sleights that include an Open Finger Change, Bob McAllisters Bet-A-Dollar Color Change and Ed Marlos Standing Deck Switch. This book is not for beginners.
Black Tiger Decks cost a lot more than conventional Bicycle decks, but they have the potential to add a different, edgier feel to your card effects. If youre looking for something different, and particularly if you like to perform creepy effects with cards, Ellusionist.coms Black Tiger Deck and accompanying products are definitely worth checking out.
-Wayne N. Kawamoto