Review: Theory 11 “Union” Playing Cards

I’m a big fan of playing cards, because I have a love of the deceptive arts that centers around using a pack of playing cards to do sleight of hand.  This comes from a time when I almost died and spent a year trying to regain the use of smaller muscles in my hands.  There’s countless varieties of playing cards, and I usually destroy about a deck a week doing certain moves over and over.  It’s a sort of thing where I just do sleights while I think about something.  Today we’re going to look at the “Union” series of playing cards by Theory 11.


The “Union” design is pretty nifty from the start.  You get an image on the front of the box with the American Flag, a sword, and some sprigs of ivy.  The words “Liberty” and “Bravery” are at the top and bottom of the box.  The back of the box is the back of the playing card, which has two eagles, more U.S. themed imagery, and a “U.”  The box sides announce the deck’s history; produced and distributed by Theory 11 but made by the United States Playing Card Company.  The tuck has a broken chain, ivy sprigs, and the words “Live Free.”


The individual suit cards are rather minimalist in the pip designs.  Where the art shines is in the court cards.  You’ll see various stages of “American” life in the Jacks, Kings, and Queens in the deck.  The only Ace with some impressive imagery is the Ace of Spades, which has an American Flag theme to the spade and an eagle design.


Gaffed cards in the deck are rare; the only specialty marking this as a premium level deck is the double backer, which you’ll find in just about any high-end deck of cards.  You’ll also get an ad card for Theory 11 and two Jokers.

Handling the cards from the box is pretty smooth.  They’re going to feel better than any standard deck of Bicycles out of the gate.  With about two days’ intensive handling they’re going to start breaking down on you, which is a problem I have with Theory 11’s card stock.  It seems like this is a universal thing with just about any Theory 11 deck.  As usual, preferences for card handlers will vary.  The edges are good enough to do a solid Faro Shuffle from just about the original state without any major breaking in.  Side steals, bottom deals, just about any of the major moves I have to pull off when working with a deck are a dream when you handle these cards.  That’s a great sign for someone like me who does a large amount of work with playing cards in a routine.

The disclaimer is that the feel of the cards is just too good to keep for a solid length of time.  They don’t feel like they’re very sturdy or well made, and I can’t get past that.  Other decks, like the Kings Series, just tend to work better for me.  I’ll still rate the Union Series a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars for their workability.

You can buy them by clicking through to the link below. Happy Handling!
Collectible Playing Cards