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 Post subject: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:42 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
Massa Deck Review:
Where to buy: 2.95/deck http://store.dananddave.com/massa-playing-cards.html
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For questions about how I review cards this template may explain my methods:
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=156760

Other Reviews on the Massa: http://www.penguinmagic.com/discuss/vie ... p?t=152693

For a video suppliment to this review: http://www.vimeo.com/9345095



Initial Impression:
These cards have Potential! My initial impression of these cards was pretty good. They are a lighter, slightly thinner card than an 808 which may appeal to magicians with smaller hands or those who are just beginning to explore knuckle busting moves. The stock feels a bit flimsy for a guy who just got used to the Fournier 605s but it seems sturdy enough to handle most moves. The finish is quite interesting in that it seems to try to bridge the gap between the heavily dimpled stock of the standard USPC brands and the smooth European style cards. A hybrid style finish may have been a bit of a gamble but it seems to work quite well on these lighter cards. Fans and riffle shuffles are silky smooth. Easily as good as a bike…perhaps better. My biggest beef with them is the size of the box. The box looks great but is just a bit too big for a card clip. Ironic considering the cards themselves are a bit smaller than an 808.

The Look: This is a black backed deck with a black boarder. There is design work of all four suits patterned on the backs of these cards. They have a one way back but it is subtle enough that it will not be terribly obvious. The fronts are standard white with very standard looking court cards. The ace of spades is a fairly standard design with a large spade and company info scrolled at the bottom of the card. Perhaps the most unique feature on the face of these cards is the deep maroon color used for the hearts and diamonds. It is a nice change of pace and seems to give the cards an elegant look. In all these cards have a “fancy casino” look to them. They seem like they would be a good fit for a Riviera Casino. James Bond villains and sexy bombshells not included.

Card construction:
Two things seem to stand out. It seems to use a thinner stock(I’ll confirm this once I split one) and much smaller dimple pattern than the USPC standards. Both combine to make an overall thinner deck. The thickness of the deck came to about 14.8 mm (warning: this was measured with a pretty cheap set of calipers) which when paired up against a Bicycle deck was a bout three cards thinner. The stock is not only thin but soft as well. The combination thin/soft stock and hybrid finish give these cards a real slippery, silky feel. Riffle shuffles and fans are a dream but moves like the one handed pop-over are very difficult to control.

Durability: These cards were KIA after 1 week due to poor crimp hold and recovery and it's tendancy to collect dirt faster than most other decks I have used.

Handling:

Fanning:
OOB:9
1 Week: 6(8 if cleaned)

These cards are easily the equal of the 808s but I hesitate saying they are better. My impression is that they do fan a tad better but not enough to warrant a rating. Regardless pretty fans are one of it’s better attributes.

Spring Moves:
OOB:6
1 Week:5.5
Definitely not as stiff as a Bike. That shouldn’t discourage you from checking them out. The light weight card means that you won’t need as much stored energy to get them to fly. They will flip a Diving Board Double about as high as an 808 but not nearly as high as a Fournier 605.


Dribbles:
OOB:9
1 Week:7
A nice dribbling deck. Every card comes off nice and smooth and it will not require much strength to attain nice smooth dribbles. This will be a good deck for those of you practicing the Anaconda. For magic moves dribble shifts should be deceptive and dribble forces should have good control.


Crimp hold and recovery:
OOB:6 for hold/ 7 for recovery
1 Week: 4/4
As you would expect with such a light stock these cards didn’t hold up to well in this category. After ten shuffles I could barely find my crimp. Once I found it and tried to straighten it out I could still make it out a bit. Overall this doesn’t bode well for the durability of the deck but it might surprise me.

Single Card Glides:
OOB:8
1 Week:9
Definite improvement over the bikes but not quite as thoughtless and easy to perform as with the Fournier.

2+Card Obfuscations:
OOB:8
1 Week:7
A surprise on this one. I expected the weaker stock and ultra smooth finish would hurt performance here but it was a bit of a mixed result. The Massa seemed to handle DL fairly well. It was also fairly secure when displaying cards held at one corner. Where it gets cagy was in the spin type displays where cards are held at opposing corners. Floop, Shape Shifter, and the Jones Change al felt very insecure. With all this I decided to split the difference and call it an 8.


XCM cuts: Depending on your style and skill level this might be a good card for a flourisher. It will fan like a dream and the lightness of the deck could help some with certain aerial moves but packet cuts will be a bit less secure.

Card Splitting and Gaff construction/availability: *edit 2/16/10* Finally got around to splitting a few of these. They actually can apart rather nicely. At least as easy as splitting an 808, so if you get a bunch of these decks and could devote a pack for Gaffs without too much trouble. There are no gaffs on the market, and since we will likely never see them printed again, you will have to split some cards if you need a gaff card effect.

A Few Thoughts on Magic:
I added this section to the review to address a few aspects specific to this deck. Primarily the black boarder with a white face. As many of you know black bordered decks have a tendency to get a white edge as they age. This makes 2+ obfuscations a little more sketchy with older black decks. I have no reason to believe that this deck will age any differently. The contrast of the white face and black bordered back makes various turnovers more challenging to disguise. You had better have perfect technique before attempting a half pass or card turnover with this deck since the slightest misalignment will quickly be detected.

Who should not buy?: Me for one. While I like the deck it is a bit flimsy and out of control for some of the moves I like to perform. If you are heavy handed with your cards or just prefer a stronger feel to a deck these might be a bit to slippery for you.


Who should buy these?: Folks who have a light touch with the cards will like this deck. If your flourishing includes lots of fans and dribbles this one should be in your collection. Also newer magicians might want to give this one a try. If you haven’t built up much hand strength this deck might be good for getting a handle on knuckle busting moves.

Final Thoughts: Great deck with a ton of potential! I know…I said it wasn’t a deck for me but I’m not everybody. For what it is it has qualities that are hard to beat. It will do Okay for magic but the look and handling will make it excel for flourishes.

Here are a few more thoughts on the history of this deck. It seems to be selling for cheap right now. There was kind of a mystery as to where this card came from on discussion boards I read. Furthermore a few have claimed that this may be the next Jerry’s Nugget in terms of collection value. If you read the bottom of the box it indicates quite clearly that it is made by Casino Playing Cards LTD. CPC LTD. is a small card manufacturer (5-10) people owned by Michael Massa…thus the name. It seems as if caninovendors.com has recently pulled the listing for this company and I suspect the company may have gone under? That would explain why listings of card prices from a few years back quote a deck at up to $10.00 and within the last year or so several online shops began selling these for between $2.50 – $5.00 range. Personally I hate to start speculating on the future value of these cards but here are a few things to consider. If my assumptions are correct then these cards may begin to increase in value once the supplies grow thin. Here are a few things to consider before buying these as a collection investment. First, remember that Jerry’s Nuggets were last printed in the 1970s and it wasn’t until the last 10 years that supplies were short enough and demand great enough that their value began to shoot up. Jerry’s were also featured by many famous magicians and the “I wan’na be like Mike” syndrome helped further fuel the demand. Before these cards start to shoot up in value something similar will likely need to happen. The biggest if is the current supply. I have no clue how many of these are sitting in warehouses but obviously enough that they can be sold for a very modest price. Not being much of a collector, and the fact that these cards don’t exactly fit my style of magic and flourishing I’ll likely pass but if you fit into one of those categories by all means buy a brick! There sure is a lot about this deck to appreciate.
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Last edited by eostresh on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:50 am 
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born to perform.

Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 2753
Massa card 1 week update….it’s curtains already :(

As I had originally suspected this was not a deck with a lot of life in it. It made it about 11 hours of heavy practice before I decided to call it on this one. Basically for personal use I tend to KIA a deck when it rates below a 6 on two or more categories or drops below a 5 in one category. So here are the final scores as I say goodbye to this deck.

Fanning: 6 without cleaning/ 8 with cleaning
More so than any other deck I have used this one seemed to collect the dirt quickly. As soon as this deck gets dirty its fan goes as well. Taking a que from my experience with Fournier 605s I tried washing these cards. It did work to some extent but not well enough to restore the cards to their full potential. Furthermore, the finish is not quite as bombproof as what you will find on the Fourniers. The Fournier deck was able to be washed a total of three times over 4 months. This kept the cards alive until the finish literally wore off the cards. The Massa’a on the other hand are not nearly so resistant to moisture. After one wash moisture was already impregnating the stock. You can certainly try carefully cleaning these cards but don’t expect to be able to do it more than once before ruining your cards.

Spring Moves: 5.5
No real detectable reduction in stiffness between a card to card blindfold test but I was able to feel a sleight reduction with a full deck. The lightness of these cards still gives them plenty of travel on these moves.

Dribbles: 7
Huge reduction here. Cleaning the deck seemed to have little impact on this category.

Crimp hold/recovery: 4/4
The biggest reason I’m calling this quits. When unintentional crimps show up due to heavy use…or misuse…this stock just doesn’t seem to have the ability to repair itself. This is likely due to the thin stock but also may be due to the oversized box. I find that cards in a well fitted box and a box in a tight card case seems to help repair decks overnight. Any benefit to a card case is lost when the case itself is too big for the cards. Overall too many bends, crimps, and dings have showed up in this deck to keep it going any further.

Single Card Glides: 9
For whatever reason as this deck ages it gets better at these moves. The added friction possibly helps the cards in the stack remain together as the intended card is slid aside.

2+ Card Obfuscations: 7
A sleight reduction here. The uneven consistency in friction that develops with this finish makes DL hit and miss. Weather using a slide based push-off, as in the Derek Dingle DL, or a pressure based push-off, as in the Hugard/Braue push-off DL, you may find a tendency for extra cards to follow or be left behind. It will still do a Diving Board DL with no problems and any DL off of a break. It actually improved it’s security in corner to corner spin displays.

General comments:
The deck still works fine for just about all my needs as a magician, however, the filthy look and beat up stock are causing me to pull the plug on this one. After seeing me kill this off in less than a week you may think I would not recommend this deck. On the contrary I think this is a deck that many of you will appreciate. Its handling characteristics are distinct enough from a Bicycle that I think many of you might enjoy this deck a lot. Having learned several false shuffles I can say that the soft flex of these cards is ideal for learning some of these moves. It’s OOB fanning is beautiful and if you treat this deck with care(which I do not) it should serve you well. The contrast of white faces and all black backs could be nice for flourish moves that display spinning cards or packets. All in all if you like the look of the cards I recommend you pick up a deck. If you choose to by I would recommend you use this for a performance deck and not a practice deck. It’s fragile but beautiful.

As for the Don’ts? Don’t buy this deck buy the brick until you have tried out an individual deck first. Don’t buy this deck and expect to use it for day to day practice. Don’t buy this deck if you are particularly rough on cards.

Here is a final thought on how much to pay. If you are purchasing as a collector you price range limits will be a bit different than most who are purchasing for magic performance. As I said in the first post there is no way to tell when and how much this card will raise in value. For a performing magician/flourisher I would say this deck is worth up to $5.00. Any more than that and you are paying for the collection value of the card and not the quality of the card.

My Final Verdict: At it’s peak it is a good card for most performers and a great card for some performers unfortunately it suffers in the from durability that even the Bike 808 can beat.


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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:07 am 
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Joined: 24 Apr 2007
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Dang Eostresh, you have written such an in-depth review on these Massa cards that the review that I wrote seems kind of weak compared to yours! :lol:

And after reading it all I think that I'll skip my review on these cards and work on: Erdnase Bee Cards, Bee Stingers, 1001 Aladdin Deck of Cards, Wynn Casino cards and possibly some of the decks sold at Theory 11, like the 909 Propaganda Cards, Centurions and the Bicycle Guardian deck of cards. Then once I get my first deck of the white Arcane deck of cards that I might also give those a try and reviewing them as well. But if you think it would be good to hear from two different perspective's on the Massa cards along with the Arrco Deck of Cards, then I might just finish up the review I have typed so far.

Also, after reading your extremely in-depth review on the Lee Asher 605 Fournier cards, I'm going to save up a little bit so I can two of each color. It must be an O.C.D thing or something, but I always have to buy two every deck I decide to buy, and sometimes I'll buy even more than just two.

Anyways, back to putting some stress tests on the cards I just mentioned above so that I too, can write a very well written review with closer attention than I did when I reviewed the English Laundry Cards.

Keep up the good work. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:56 am 
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Joined: 28 May 2007
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Cool thanks for the kind words. As for your Massa review, definitly post it or at least post any additional thoughts, both pro and con, that I may have left out...or you disagreed with. Cards are as quirky as the magicians using them. The more opinions the better. Hope you enjoy those 605s. They will take a bit to get used to but they are practically indestructable.


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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:34 am 
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Joined: 20 Jun 2007
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I got a deck of these for free from a contest. I've just kept them in my drawer for collection's sake. I'm glad I didn't decide to practice with them and then ruin them!


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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:22 pm 
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evanbishop wrote:
I got a deck of these for free from a contest. I've just kept them in my drawer for collection's sake. I'm glad I didn't decide to practice with them and then ruin them!


The Massa cards are noticeably thicker than most other cards and also work well under stress test conditions, and I personally think they would not be quite as easy to ruin as say, Bicycle cards or other cards that are thin and have no finish. Then again, that all depends on exactly how rough you are with the cards. A major reason why one out of the 5 decks I purchased has lasted for quite awhile for me is because I haven't learned any XCM as of yet, and I've only used them for your regular card effect performances. I should start to learn how to do some of the XCM sleights so I can make my decks go through more rigorous practice sessions to see how long they last when used other than close-up card effects.

But if you have just one deck then I would do the same thing you're doing and not use them and only keep them in my collection. Also, I'm not sure if you're familiar with handling Aladdin cards, but they feel somewhat the same, just not nearly as stiff or as thick.

So with that said, I'll be sure to bring those points up once I finish my review with the Massa cards; which I seem to enjoy playing with them as times goes by, then again that's just my opinion. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Massa Deck Review: Casino Playing Card LTD.
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:30 pm 
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born to perform.

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evanbishop wrote:
I got a deck of these for free from a contest. I've just kept them in my drawer for collection's sake. I'm glad I didn't decide to practice with them and then ruin them!


Don't get too hung up on the low durability. If you want to keep them pristine in the hopes that their value will increase then by all means leave them in the box but if that's not your style then I highly recommend you pull them out and play around with them a bit. They are a high performance deck. I have said it before but I'll remind you that Bikes under similar conditions only last me a week to a week and a half....two weeks tops! Under performance conditions, where I am using well practiced moves that I rarely mess up, a Bike 808 can last me a month easy. I have no reason to doubt these cards will last as long in similar conditions. If an 808 lasts you for 2 months of heavy practice then these should as well. Nevertheless, because of durability and potential as a collector's item I wouldn't use them for day in day out practice or for practicing sleights, cuts, and flourishes that you don't already have a handle on from practice with other decks.

Rozzerdog makes a really good point about the Alladins. While I didn't like the Aladdins as much on the initial OOB review I am in the process if doing it's longevity review and finding that the two decks do handle quite similarly. So if you want to get a rough idea of what these are like without opening your box an Aladdin might be a good deck to try out.


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