These are the SINGLE greatest deck of cards in history. Basically, they have a stock that is thinner
and with more of a "snap" than other cards. So, in a sense, these are similar to manipulation
...but these are so durable that I used on deck of hardcore flourishing and
performing (dropping, things getting spilled on them, etc.) without having them show any signs of
wear for MONTHS. I LOVE these cards, and the lack of border makes them PERFECT for any sort of
second deals, bottom deals or center deals.
These are the red ones; these are still GREAT
cards, however the blues are better (and higher in demand) than these. The red ones, while offering
a "warmer" air, just don't look as proffesional as the blue ones in my opinion. The stock remains
the same on both decks, and both will work for the same purposes. It all just comes down to
Oh, and I should point out... Steamboats are one of the decks that
they cut from production; these will NEVER be printed again, and I HIGHLY advise you pick some of
these up if you can find them!
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Initial Impression: I have seen Steamboats on shelves of dime stores and gift shops for years but
never bothered to pick a deck up. Boy do I regret that now. This is easily the best deck of cards
USPC has ever produced! These things fan like a Bike and pop like a Fournier. I was amazed when I
felt these cards. Amazed that they dont have the same cult following as the Tally-Hos! In every
single category they beat or matched the Tally-Ho. They fell just shy on a few categories vs. the
Fournier but if you need a beautiful fanning deck and want the power the Fournier is touted for then
this is the deck for you. Most decks need a bit of breaking in to hit an optimum but this one is
ready to go out of the box. This is love at first site.
The Look: This is the Wild West
baby! You wont feel complete dealing doubles with this card without a derringer in a holdout and a
stiletto in your boot. Its a no boarder back with flowers centered in diamonds. The busy back will
help hide any poorly pulled double when viewed from the back. The court cards are standard USPC art
and the Ace of spades was fairly boring but the backs really make this card. There is one joker card
with a fairly nice sketch of a steamboat and another card that says can be used as a joker
not just print another joker? Anyways I think those of you doing a gambling demo might really
appreciate these cards.
Card construction: This is a smooth finish card with a similar
looking texture to the Aladdin cards. Basically, its has some feint texture visible but nothing like
the defined dimples of the an 808. On the other end it is not as smooth as the Fourniers but overall
I would class this as a smooth finish card. The stock is distinctly stiffer than an 808 but at the
same time the overall deck is a bit smaller. The thickness was about 15mm which was 2 cards thinner
than an 808.
Easily as good as a bike coming out of the
box. Smooth finish cards tend to lose their fan first so we will see how long this lasts.
Spring Moves: 9.5
In blind fold tests testing for the thickness of a single card the
Steamboat and the Fournier were almost impossible to distinguish. When blindfolded holding and
entire deck the Fournier edged the Steamboat out but just barely. When flipping Diving Board doubles
in the air the Fournier seemed a bit better but again a close call. Overall I rated it a hair less
than a Fournier 605 but it was a really hard call. What you need to know is that this deck will out
match both the 808(by a mile) , and even the UV 500 stock.
Not one of
its strong points but it dribbles well.
Crimp hold and recovery: 8
have scored a 9 if it had a boarder but for some reason the busy colors visible on the side of the
deck made the crimp a little more difficult to detect.
Single card glides: 8
Not quite as carefree as the Fournier 605 but a definite improvement over the 808s.
2+Card Obfuscations: 8
If you perform high end DLs(one handed, push off, etc) and spin based
obfuscations with Tally-Hos you will find similar performance with this deck.
With a smooth fans and a stiff powerful stock this would seem to be a great deck for flourishers.
Perhaps the only thing keeping this from becoming a favorite amongst flourishers in the back design.
Unlike the bold designs of the Tally-hos and the various E decks the multi packet cuts will seem
almost a blur with its borderless back. Never the less the deck should perform admirably if you
like the look.
Card Splitting and Gaff construction/availability: TBD
not buy?: Ill defer to my recommendations for the Fournier 605. The stock may be a bit stiff for
beginners or folks with weaker hands. You will need good strength to perform deceptive false riffle
shuffles and spring flourishes.
Who should buy these?: Anyone who likes the UV500s and the
Tally-Hos will probably love these cards provided they can get used to the smooth finish. People who
have been interested in the Fournier cards but have hesitated because of the price will get a good
idea of way a Fournier handles by using this deck.
Final Thoughts: This was definitely the
surprise hit of the review. When I first decided to take on this project I was mostly interested in
the Aladdin 1001s and the Massas. The Tally-hos and Arrcos were obvious choices as comparative
decks. It was just on a whim that I decided to throw these in as well. Boy was I glad I did! Ill
admit to some bias towards these cards. Any card that handles similar to a Fournier and costs
$3:50 will win me over quickly. Some people will never get used to a smooth card so perhaps that
accounts for the scarcity of reviews and lack of interest in these cards among Magicians. It seems
that antique collectors are the ones who know the most about these cards. Perhaps it was a
reputation tagged to this card over 110 years ago that biased magicians against it? Back in the
1890s Russell, Morgan & Co.(that eventually evolved into The United States Playing Card Company)
produced several cards in their inventory. The Steamboat 999s were originally their cheaply produced
line, much as the Aviators are today. So from its early days it was considered a low quality card.
The Steamboat 999s and the Russell, Morgan & Co. have gone through several changes in the last
century. When exactly the processing techniques of the modern Steamboat was created I was unable to
find out. What is sure is that at some point it went from a low quality card to a high quality card.
As I said before I believe it to be the highest quality card in the USPC line.
Now the sad
news. Rumors out say that the Steamboats are being discontinued from the USPC line. I assume someone
pointed out to USPC management that they were accidentally producing a quality deck of cards so they
needed to put a stop to that quickly! Furthermore, there have been rumors that the last run of
Steamboats was printed on 808 stock. That puts buyers of Steamboats in a weird position. If you are
buying in the hopes that they will become a collectors item you want that 808 stock as it will
likely be a very rare item. If you are buying to get some quality cards before they disappear for
good you might wind up with a card that looks like a Steamboat but acts like a Bicycle. If you are
interested in this card for either reason I would recommend get only one or two decks to be sure
what you are getting and then order in the quantities you desire.
In summary, this is a
unique deck of cards. I regret not having found them sooner and will regret seeing them go. With its
discontinuation USPC joins the ranks of many other American corporate giants (Walmart, McDonnalds,
ect) that continually seem to choose quantity over quality.
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