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25 Things to Love About PlayingCardDecks.com: A Fifth Anniversary Appreciation Post

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25 Things to Love About PlayingCardDecks.com: A Fifth Anniversary Appreciation Post

So PlayingCardDecks.com is celebrating its fifth anniversary. The official date is 20 April 2022, which marks the exact day five years ago when the very first sale was completed back in 2017. The site is run by Will Roya, who left a career as a professional magician in order to dedicate himself to going into business as an online playing card retailer. This article is intended as a celebration of sorts, about why PlayingCardDecks (or PCD for short) continues to be one of my favourite playing card retailers, and about the many things it has brought to us over the last five years.

A Personal Story

Let me get one thing straight: I am not Will Roya. I'm just some guy out there on the internet that loves playing cards, and loves writing about them. That's stating the obvious, perhaps, but there are some people who think that I'm him. But I'm not him, and can't take any credit for what he has achieved. When people see Will posting blog articles on his site, they sometimes incorrectly assume that he is the EndersGame who writes the articles. But "EndersGame" is just the online handle I've used ever since I started writing game reviews over a decade ago. And Will has more than enough to keep himself busy running a business without complicating things by writing articles too. So if there's any content that upsets you, I'll take the blame for that, not Will.

I first got in contact with Will in late 2017, when we started corresponding about some of the first Kickstarter projects that he was working on at the time. I was already writing about playing cards - purely as a hobby and as a labour of love, and because I like helping out creators and sharing helpful information with other collectors and enthusiasts. I did a couple of write-ups to help spread the word about his early Kickstarter projects. One thing led to another, and he offered to post some of my articles over on his blog. I was happy to agree, and I've been doing that for the last four years, writing about playing cards, card magic, card games, and other playing card related subjects, whenever time permits me to do so.

Now I am not officially part of PlayingCardDecks, and I also publish what I write on other playing card platforms. Occasionally I even purchase playing cards elsewhere. In the end, I'm just a passionate playing card enthusiast like so many of my readers. But I do feel a strong sense of loyalty and appreciation to Will Roya, and I am a satisfied repeat customer. I personally placed my very first order with PCD around April 2018, which coincided with their first anniversary event, which ran for almost a week. They say that first impressions are everything, and I was quickly hooked, and would return often. Since then I've placed more than 30 orders with PCD, some of significant size; something that many other playing card enthusiasts will be able to identify with. Just last week I placed an order and spent over $100 of my own money to pick up several collectors decks which I simply couldn't get from other retailers.

I'll describe this as an appreciation post, because the fifth anniversary of PCD is a good time to reflect back on what Will Roya and PCD have accomplished. It's also an opportunity to share some of the things I particularly appreciate about them, and why they remain my #1 choice as online playing card retailer. As mentioned already, I will occasionally buy playing cards elsewhere too. Any playing card enthusiast knows the importance of shopping around, and there will be times where hard-to-find decks can only be sourced elsewhere, or where there are special offers that are impossible to resist. But on the whole, PCD is the retailer I keep coming back to, and in this article I'll share with you some of the things about them that keep me coming back. Obviously this is biased and from my own perspective, but that's kind of the point!

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A Short History

But first, how did Will Roya get to where he is today? Will's personal background includes an established magic career. He had been performing magic professionally at restaurants, resorts, and private parties since the age of 16. After an education in theater and business, he eventually moved to Las Vegas, where he continued to perform magic regularly, as well as working as a magician on cruise ships.

Over time Will began developing an increasing interest in selling magic products, and eventually gave up performing to focus on sales full time. He also started getting involved in the creation of a number of different magic products. Will soon discovered that his real passion was for playing cards. He started thinking about ways that he could sell them, and how he could contribute to the industry by creating them. He began to get further involved in the playing card industry, and gained valuable experience by helping other creators get their projects crowdfunded, through services he offered in consulting and fulfilment. He also started selling a range of magic products and playing cards via Amazon and eBay.

But eventually it was time to bite the bullet. By now he had an office and warehouse, and he made the decision to focus exclusively on playing cards. He'd already built up an online business over several years by means of his Amazon and eBay sales, so he was well placed to take the next step. In April 2017 he launched PlayingCardDecks.com as a retail website, from the outset offering a selection of more than 1000 different decks of playing cards and related items. The addition of a small band of dedicated staff members has helped him continue to grow.

By the time the first anniversary rolled around a year later, things were moving in a positive direction. Will celebrated the milestone with a bang by offering huge discounts site wide, as he continued to grow the site. At that time his range of different decks was well over 1500, and the total amount of stock numbered in the 10,000s. To mark the occasion, he released a special mystery anniversary deck, and shortly afterwards he launched his Pip Box Club subscription service, a popular program which continues to run successfully even now.

Over time Will has continued to develop his business in various ways, and the creation of custom decks of playing cards under the PCD brand is a notable and important contribution he makes to the playing card industry on a regular basis. From the many times I've corresponded with him, I know that he's always looking for new ideas and willing to try new things, in an effort to improve his business, serve his customers better, and provide more for the playing card enthusiast.

And that brings us to today, five years later. Since its launch, Will has focused on making a diverse selection of playing cards available at reasonable prices, and combining this with good customer service, with speedy processing and shipping. At any given moment you can expect to find literally tens of thousands of decks in stock at PCD, including all the latest and greatest releases. Each month thousands of orders are processed and shipped throughout the United States and around the world. Happy fifth birthday PlayingCardDecks.com!

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25 Things To Love

So now it's time to share some of the good things that PlayingCardDecks brings to the playing card industry, and what I appreciate about Will and his team.

1. Wide range

Of course the main reason to go to PCD is to buy playing cards. But to keep consumers like us happy, they need to have what we're looking for - in other words, a wide range of products to suit a wide range of customers with a wide range of intereWith literally tens of thousands of decks in stock, and more than 1,500 different decks, this is one of the widest ranges of quality playing cards you'll find anywhere. Whenever there is a new release, which mostly is channelled via Murphy's Magic (the world's biggest distributor of magic and playing cards), you'll usually see it quickly added to the PCD inventory in their new playing cards section, which is constantly being updated.

2. Quality decks

You know those cheap playing cards you can get at places like the dollar store? Well you won't find them at PCD. A significant amount of playing cards available here are printed by the United States Playing Card Company, maker of the famous Bicycle brand, in a high quality air cushion style finish. Others are sourced from industry leading printers and reliable playing card manufacturers like Cartamundi, Expert Playing Cards, and Legends Playing Cards. One thing you won't typically find at PCD are cheaply made cards that are garbage quality.

3. Specialized decks

Every collector tends to have a type of deck that has their special interest, or that they focus on collecting. For me personally, I have a soft spot for cardistry and novelty decks. I really enjoy fiddling with a deck, and experimenting with different card flourishing moves, and practicing sleight of hand. It's a great way to get extra mileage out of a good deck of cards, and to enjoy the visual artwork. I'm happy to report that there's a particularly good range of colourful and creative cardistry decks, which you'll quickly find by entering the word "cardistry" in the search bar. Fun novelty decks are of course found all over the site. Other categories I especially enjoy are transformation decks, vintage decks, and marked decks, and PCD has a large range in each of these categories. And if those don't float your boat, plenty of other categories are listed in the sidebar, including decks arranged by brand (Bicycle, Cartamundi, Ellusionist, etc), or topic (Animals, Fictional, Military, etc).

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4. PCD branded decks

From the outset, Will hasn't just been selling playing cards, but has also been heavily involved in producing them. Over the course of the last few years, he's produced a number of excellent PlayingCardDecks branded decks. He first gained experience with several collaborations, and his Chicken Playing Cards was the first deck he produced under his own PCD label. Many custom decks subsequently followed, and he has established a network of reliable connections with artists and producers in the playing card industry. Quite a number of his decks are produced with the help of crowdfunding, and Will has already chalked up almost 30 successful playing card projects on Kickstarter. I especially love the novelty decks that he's produced, and the reproductions of historic and vintage decks.

5. Under $5 decks

I've introduced a lot of teenagers to card magic and cardistry via the communities I'm involved with, including at a school. You'd be amazed at how enthusiastic kids can be about card magic, and especially about cardistry. All you need to do is point them in the right direction by giving them some links to reliable video tutorials on youtube, and they'll be away and running. I like to encourage kids in this by giving them a custom deck. For this, I've found the under $5 range on PCD to be a lifesaver. All of these decks cost around five bucks or less, and yet for the most part they are still quality playing cards. Most kids have never before handled a USPCC produced deck of cards with an embossed air cushion finish, and are blown away by the quality. They also just love decks which are totally customized. There's plenty of decks in the under $5 range that make great gifts, and I've picked out and given away dozens and dozens.

6. Accessories

When you love playing cards like I do, then you'll also find yourself becoming interested in playing card accessories. Over the years I've found myself ordering things like deck cases and brick boxes for storing my decks, deck stands for displaying them, and deck sleeves for protecting them. Then there are helpful products like fanning powder, card clips, card wallets, and dealer coins. Yes, I've bought all those too. In one instance there was a delightful Piatnik playing card puzzle on sale, and that proved to be a great treat for the family. A wonderful book about transformation playing cards continues to be one of my personal favourites. I always keep an eye out for the newest products added to PCD's catalogue, because I never know what kind of interesting accessories I'll find.

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7. PCD accessories

Besides his PCD branded custom playing cards, Will has produced a number of PCD branded products. These include these clear PCD plastic boxes which are great for protecting decks in transit. Other swag he's put out include a PCD face mask and a PCD can holder. But my favourite item is the Franken Deck. This is a delightful Frankenstein-inspired deck that made up of 54 cards, each taken from a different deck. In other words, you still have a complete deck with cards from all four suits, each running from Ace through King, plus two Jokers. But every card has a very different look, making it a wonderful collector's item that showcases the beauty of over fifty different custom decks. It's only available at limited times, but is a great novelty piece that is well worth keeping an eye out for.

8. Magic products

Not everyone is into magic, but for me it's one of my pet loves and goes back to my teenage years. PCD isn't a magic site in the first place, and quite honestly when it's magic products I'm after, Penguin Magic is usually my first port of call. But from time to time Will gets magic products that are being liquidated or which he gets good deals on. So when looking back over the orders I've placed over the past four years, I noticed that I'd picked up quite a few magic tricks, ranging from gaff decks, to special coins or invisible thread, and even some individual marketed effects that I've had a lot of fun with. Usually these are also posted in the accessories section of the site.

9. Competitive prices

Since PCD arrived on the scene five years ago, the playing card industry has grown significantly. It's also become more competitive, and the range of online retailers that sell playing cards today is bigger than ever before. In the early days of PCD, pre-COVID, it was even possible for them to offer free shipping around the globe with a certain minimum order size. Significant postage increases have brought an end to that. But even so, generally speaking I find that the prices at PCD are quite competitive, especially for loyal customers who take full advantage of discount coupons, clearance sales, and the loyalty rewards program. Once you factor all these things in, more often than not you'll be saving money by shopping at PCD rather than heading elsewhere, especially for customers in the US.

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10. Safe shipping

I live overseas, so shipping is always going to be a consideration for me. But for US customers, any order above $100 is automatically free. Aside from some delays that were inevitable during the height of COVID, I've always found that my orders were shipped in a timely manner, and arrived safely as a result of excellent packaging. My decks have always been well-packed, and typically arrived in a cardboard box with padded envelopes and styrofoam offering extra protection on the inside.

11. Customer service

Having a good product and a good website alone won't make a business successful. These need to be backed by good customer service. My experience with PCD's customer service has been very good. It's been extremely rare that something was wrong with an order, and I've never had anything arrive damaged due to poor packing. Whenever I had questions prior to making a final decision, or needed to correspond about anything, responses were always prompt and pleasant.

12. Professional website

When you're involved in e-commerce, you need to have a functional website, because that's the territory where your customers are seeing and purchasing your products. Anything that makes that experience unpleasant or awkward is likely to chase them away. My experience with PCD's website has been consistently positive. I appreciate that you can easily browse decks in different categories, and navigate to the cards you're especially interested in. The search function works well, and you can even narrow down a search in many ways.

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13. Product photos

One of the best things about PCD's website is the photo galleries that accompany each product listing. This lets me zoom in to see exactly what the tuck box and cards look like, so I know exactly what I'm getting before I click "Add to Cart". There's few things more frustrating than visiting a retailer's website and not knowing exactly what you're getting, or being uncertain about what the product looks like.

14. Product reviews

The longer the site is around, the more useful the "product reviews" of the site becomes. Customers can leave reviews on specific decks, and because this in turn earns you loyalty points, there is a good incentive to do this. When I'm shopping around for new playing cards, I always find it incredibly helpful to know what other people think. Did a deck turn out to look somewhat different than how the marketing photos made it seem? What was the handling like? I'm one of those people that always reads reviews before I make a purchase. There aren't quite as many reviews on PCD as I'd like to see, especially with newer decks, so I always consult other sources too. But this is a valuable part of the site that can really help customers to make informed buying decisions.

15. Game rules

The section on card game rules is one of the lesser known parts of the site, but it's a real gold mine if you like card games. I'm a huge fan of playing card games with a traditional deck, and it is one of my favourite ways to enjoy a custom deck of cards. I've also written a couple of articles that cover the best card games to check out, and the best two player games. I've not been involved at all with the section about rules for card games, but I've used it many times as a resource, and found it very helpful. I especially like the video tutorials that accompany most of the written rule descriptions. The videos created by Triple S Games for PCD are particularly well done. If you prefer the printed page, then Will Roya's book Card Night is also a great resource for card game rules.

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16. Blog articles

Typically each week sees a new article appearing on the site's All-In Playing Card Blog. Often this features one of my articles, which cover a wide range of subjects including basics about the creation, care, and quality of playing cards; essentials about collecting and playing card history; interesting stories about creators or projects; playing card trivia and novelties; as well as articles about card games, card flourishing, and card magic. Occasionally I get the opportunity to interview leading figures in the industry, and the blog has featured interviews with top playing card designers and famous magicians. You can see a complete list of articles arranged by topic.

17. FAQ

Arguably the most useful article on the site, and worthy of getting separate mention here, is the FAQ: I'm New To Collecting Playing Cards, So Where Should I Start? This is a synopsis of some of the other content on the site, and is intended as a quick reference guide for newbies looking to learn the basics about playing cards and collecting. If you're new, this is the place to start, and you'll find all the key information that you need in one place.

18. Newsletter

On a regular basis Will puts out an email newsletter, which is a free service for anyone who wishes to subscribe to it. This announces the latest news about new decks that have been added to his inventory, decks that have come back in stock, upcoming releases, special sales and events, information about his Kickstarter projects, and the articles appearing on the blog. It's a terrific way to stay informed about the latest and greatest playing cards, and to make sure that you don't miss out on any sweet coupons or special deals.

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19. Social media

PCD also has an active presence on social media, and that is another way to help stay in touch with their latest news. You can follow them on Facebook and on Instagram. Their YouTube channel hasn't had much activity in recent times, but there is still a wealth of great playing card reviews and other information you'll find there.

20. Pip Box Club

The Pip Box Club is a monthly subscription service that started in May 2018. For a monthly fee, subscribers get a box of decks and other extras, which are shipped by the 10th of each month. Two different sizes of Pip Box are on offer, and typically these include at least one brand new release, and the chance to get decks before they are otherwise available. The value of what subscribers receive is more than what they pay for joining the club, so it's good value. Sometimes extra exclusives and bonus items are included. I'm not personally a subscriber of this club, because I prefer to order exactly what I want, but I have seen many positive reports online from other collectors about it, who speak very highly of it.

21. Loyalty program

Already early on in running PCD, Will introduced a rewards system for repeat customers. The idea is quite straightforward: you earn points for each dollar you spend in the online store, as well as for a number of other things like following PCD on social media, referring new customers, or adding product reviews. You can then cash in these rewards in return for a range of free decks on a future order. The more points you earn, the better the deck you can get. I've picked up some great decks for free this way, and it's also a great way to pick up extra decks to give away as gifts. At the higher reward levels you can earn things like uncut sheets, $50 off coupons, and even a complete series of decks.

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22. Discount coupons

One of the items available through the loyalty program are discount coupons. But you'll often be greeting with an offer for a 10% off coupon just by visiting the site, especially if you are a first-time visitor. The weekly newsletter tends to announce special sales and offer, and discount coupons are certainly not uncommon. Some of the people who partner with the site sometimes also offer special discount coupons.

23. Sale events

At special times of the year Will Roya hosts site-wide sale events, where the discounts can be as much as 20% off. I confess that I have sometimes waited with placing an order until one of these events has rolled around, in order to maximize my savings. Typically there is a sale like this around the time of the site's annual anniversary, as well as around Black Friday, and the Christmas/New Year holiday season. They are well worth keeping an eye on, because you can save a bundle. In fact, to help celebrate PCD's fifth anniversary, from July 25 through July 30 there is a site-wide 25% off sale, using this code: PCD25.

24. Clearance section

At any given time there is a range of cards on the site's clearance section. I always check this out whenever I'm placing an order, because I never know what treasures I might find at heavily reduced prices. It's happened numerous times that I found some great deals here which I added to my order. Again, this has been a great way to pick up extra decks to give away as gifts to family and friends, or to give away to teens who are excited about cardistry or card magic.

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25. Surprise freebies

From time to time, Will includes extra bonuses for his regular customers along with their order. It might be a free deck, or some stickers. Often it is a collection of sample cards from other decks. This shows that he's not just in the business to make money, but wants to keep his customers happy, and so he goes the extra mile to give them some unexpected extras.

Bonus item: A great owner

Let's add one bonus item to the above list: PCD has a great owner. I've corresponded with Will Roya numerous times in the past few years, and it's obvious that he's a great all-round guy. He works hard, is passionate and dedicated, and cares about his products and his customers. He's courteous and prompt, and really is an asset to the playing card industry. Clearly, PlayingCardDecks wouldn't be what it is without the man himself.

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Final Thoughts

Am I sick of playing cards yet? Not at all. Even though my personal collection seems to keep growing, I still enjoy the playing cards I already own and actively use them for playing card games, card magic, and cardistry. I love collecting decks with a high novelty or a high luxury factor. And I love giving them away as gifts. A quality deck of custom playing cards nearly always makes a great gift for the person that you're struggling to find a gift for.

PlayingCardDecks has been a wonderful asset to the playing card industry over the last five years, in helping playing card enthusiasts get connected with the decks that they love. With his solid selection of carefully curated products, Will Roya has done a splendid job in helping collectors get their hands on a wonderful range of beautiful and quality decks of playing cards. Playing cards can be used for many different purposes, and whether you're looking for something suitable for card games, card magic, card flourishing, or even just to collect or to give away as a gift, you're certain to find something that you like.

Will Roya and PlayingCardDecks have made positive contributions to the playing card industry in multiple ways. Of course I'm biased, but in my experience most playing card collectors only have good things to say about him and his business. Will is a talented and dynamic individual who has the extensive experience and personal skills needed to succeed, and I'm very pleased to see what he's achieved so far. Many PCD produced playing cards occupy a pride of place in my personal collection, and I look forward to what decks he has in store for us in the remainder of this year. On behalf of others in the playing card industry, thank you Will, and keep up the great work with PlayingCardDecks!

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Anniversary sale: From July 25 through July 30, to help celebrate PCD's fifth anniversary, there will be a site-wide 25% off sale, using this code: PCD25.

Want to learn more about playing cards and PlayingCardDecks.com?
● Official: Web Store, Facebook, Instagram
● Related links: Kickstarter Projects, Loyalty Rewards Program, Pip Box Club, Gift Cards
● Further reading: Articles, Blog, FAQ for New Playing Card Collectors

Video tours of the PlayingCardDecks.com showroom and warehouse:
PCD tour by The Cardists (13 December 2018)
PCD tour by Inside the Casino (16 June 2018)
PCD tour by 52 Plus Joker (25 December 2020)
PCD tour by Bryan Eckstrom (15 March 2021)

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Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks here.
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