REVIEW: Oyster Playing Cards

The Oyster Playing Cards designed by Think Nguyen and Phill Smith are worth cracking open.  Bearing the image of an oyster shell, there is a clever marking system hiding in plain sight that adds a magical dimension to this pack.

With your $15 purchase, you will receive your standard 52 playing cards, a double-backer, two identical jokers with an image of a large white pearl on the face and a specially designed ad card for the “Bruxelles International Shellfish Co.” (which as far as I can tell is a fictional company).

I am pretty excited about this deck.  It is manufactured by the USPCC and although most of the faces are standard playing card faces, the Aces have super-enlarged center pips.  The Ace of Spaces has a pearly finish to it with two small pearls to form the base of the spade.

The magic is in the back design.  Although it is a one-way back design, there is a two way marking system that is really impossible to decipher unless you know the secret.  First off, the marking design is pegged to the Mnemonica order.  If you open the box, you will immediately notice that the cards are not in your standard new deck order and are in the Tamariz stack’s order.  If you don’t know that the marking are present, you won’t see them.  You will need a few minutes to get used to the markings because they blend so well into the back design.  Those that need reading glasses may find this a bit challenging.

The back design is a brown and white picture of an oyster and it has a thin white border around what appears to be a close-up photo of an oyster shell.

The tuck box has a different design and looks to bear muted iridescent colors of a polished oyster’s nacre.  One back bears the silver words “THINKNGUYENMYSTERYPERFORMANCES” while the other has a silver outline of an oyster and the words “Oysters Playing Cards”.  On side of the box bears the words “Think Nguyen: Signature Edition” and the other states “Premium Stock for Exquisite Handling”.  The flap’s text says “Since 1990” and “Your mind is your oyster.  It’s up to you to find the pearls.”

If you don’t know Think or Phill, neither are them are strangers to playing cards.

The ad copy states:

It was long ago, my dad used to work as a fisherman.

Growing up with him I got to learn quite a few things about the sea.

One that has fascinated me since, is the process in which a pearl is created inside an oyster.

A foreign substance slips inside the shell and to protect itself, the oyster covers it with a nacre.

A true mystery and beauty of nature itself.

The layers of an oyster’s shell somehow reminds me of the art of magic.

Layers of deception.

Layers of mystery.

Layers of secrecy.

There is always more to uncover.

With the Oyster Deck, that is what I’ve wanted to share with the community.

A back design that reflects complexity yet bold, minimalistic and classy.

Standard faces for everyday uses and situations.

As you scrutinize the cards, you will discover the hidden pearl.

A work in constant progress.

An intrepid and deceptive marking system.

One that will ineluctably sparks creativity.


I am a huge wielder of the power of estimation and memorized deck (mnemonica).

In order to facilitate the use of it, I needed a simple and effective marking system.

For the one that knows mnemonica, you will be overjoyed by its simplicity. There won’t be any reasons as to why you wouldn’t take advantage of it.

For others. It will become a memorized deck trainer.

You’ll get to practice anytime, anywhere.

Instantly know the identity of a card.

Instantly know its position.

Instantly know where you need to cut the deck.”

I truly appreciate Murphy’s Magic for sending this super cool deck to me so I can review it for my readers.  Pick yours up at any Murphy’s dealer.