• Alex Hui

DECK REVIEW - Jerry's Nugget Gaff Deck

Updated: May 14



Here is my in-depth review of Jerry's Nugget Gaff Deck.

REVIEW PHILOSOPHY

The philosophy is simple: to give you the truth.


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product per se, but not putting past record or creator’s name/reputation into consideration. I will provide what is not said on the advertisement and details beyond the product itself.

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QUALITY OF THE DECK


You will get 56 specially-printed gaff cards usually in red or blue back to be used with Jerry's Nugget Deck. The paper stock is by USPCC and thus quality is without question. The color of these cards matches exactly with the normal Jerry’s Nugget deck, there is no discrepancy of color, which is commonly found in Bicycle gaffs. 


This deck is made for 'modern feel', but not for the 'vintage feel’ line of Jerry's Nugget deck. 


The box is a custom tuck box, explicitly mentioning it is a gaff deck.

There is no instruction come with this deck. You need to find your ways to use the gaffs. 

HOW SHOULD WE JUDGE A GAFF DECK? 

In the discussion below, I will focus on the type of gaff deck that is not made for a single or limited number of effects (like Invisible Deck), but deck with gaff cards which are usually used with normal deck of cards. 

There are basically 2 types of gaff deck: 

Type 1: Deck with cards that are usually designed to be used generally, but not target on some specific effects.


Type 2: Deck with cards which are designed to achieve specific effects in creator’s minds. Some famous examples are Lloyd Barnes’s Gaff System, Daniel Garcia/Wayne Houchin’s Ultragaff, Ellusionist’s Gaff System.


Jerry's Nugget Gaff Deck belongs to Type 1. Since it is the first gaff deck to be used with Jerry's Nugget deck, there are some criteria about what defines a good gaff deck. The first one is obvious, there must be some commonly used gaff cards. In other words, these cards are indispensable in many gaff-cards routines. And usually there is no transition phase for magicians to ‘learn’ how to use these cards. Common examples are double-back, odd-color back and blank cards. 


Second, Type 1 gaff decks doesn't come with instruction. That means the cards should be understandable to magicians (not beginners though), and easy-to-use. It should not include highly specific cards which are commonly found in Type 2 gaff deck. Especially if the gaff deck is the first ever release for a specific brand of card, versatility is way more important than the specificity

Next comes to a point which is a little bit contradictory to the second point but holds true for all gaff decks. All gaff decks should be fun to use, therefore it is utmost important that the gaffs must be innovative at certain degree. We love double back or misindex-cards, but we won’t be satisfied with the gaffs that we’ve all seen before. Thus, besides common gaff cards, the deck should have some unexpected cards which can simulate our brains and make us creative. We’d love to see unexpected cards which can set the trend for future, don’t we?

Fourth, it’s important that no filler should be even allowed, especially if the deck is designed from ground up. Considering there are only 50-ish cards and some are already common cards which don’t even need the creators to worry about, a good gaff deck should have a nice collection of gaffs and its design should be thoughtful. Packing gaffs into a gaff deck doesn’t automatically make it a good gaff deck. There are so many gaffs that are not used by most people. Effort must be paid to make it usable for many magicians. 

In conclusion, here are 4 criteria I will look at when I review Jerry's Nugget Gaff Deck:


  1. Basic Gaffs

  2. Versatility and Ease of Use

  3. Unexpected and Creative Cards

  4. Number of Obvious Fillers 

OVERVIEW OF GAFFS

I will list out all the cards you receive first, then go into in-depth discussion on specific gaffs. 


Here are common gaffs you receive. The definition of common gaffs is very simple: they are common in other gaff decks, and don’t have specific uses. The definition is not strict and thus you may think there are more or fewer common cards. In total, you will receive 22 common cards.

  • Red Double Back x 2 

  • Blue Double Back x 2 

  • Double Back Red/Blue x 2

  • Double Face (both sides AS) x 1 

  • Double Face (both sides 9H) x 1 

  • Red Blank Face x 3

  • Blue Blank Face x 3

  • Black back AS x 1

  • Purple back AS x 1

  • Yellow back 4H x 1

  • Pink back QH x 1

  • Green back 2H x 1

  • Double Face Joker x 1

  • Split Back 4H x 1

  • Double back Green/Red x 1




Here are speciality cards which are usually designed with certain effects in minds. Some are more general and others quite specific. 

For general speciality cards, there are 14 of them:

  • Three and a Half of Clubs (red back) x 1

  • Blue back 11H x 1 

  • Red back Twisted Logo AS x 1

  • Blue back Twisted Logo QH x 1

  • Revelation with Jerry's Nugget logo at back. Blue (7S) x 1, Blue (JS) x 1

  • QH revelation at Joker Face x 1 

  • Red back Blur 6H x 1 

  • 4-Index Aces x 4 

  • Shaked 5H x 1

  • Red back Overlap x 1



For effect-specific cards, there are 20 of them:

  • Double Face Aces (Ace/Indifferent card) x 4

  • Red back Mis-index JQK x 6 

  • Money card x 1

  • Red back Overlap JQJK x1

  • Blue back Ultimate Monte x 2 

  • Double Face 9S/Joker x 4

  • Blue back ‘Your Name’  x 1

  • Overlap Kings / Misindex 5D/AD x 1 




ANALYSIS OF THE GAFFS

In this section, I will try to pick up some gaffs and use the 4 criteria above for in-depth review. This section is not without controversy because personal preferences are different. Therefore, I will try to give you the reasoning in full, and analyse from different angles in order to give a holistic view. Again, I totally understand any potential disagreements in advance, so please bear with me if you didn’t agree with certain points.


Double Sides Card


The numbers of double backers are just perfect. Not too many, not too few.


For the double facers, both cards are printed with the same value on both sides. It may be useful in some cases, but it’s more versatile if different cards are printed on both sides. I hope 2 extra double facers with different faces could be included.

Blank Card


There are 3 red-back blank faces and 3 blue-back blank faces. This combination looks very odd. First of all, it’s one card short if the performer want to use these for a 4-of-a-kind effect, and too many in most card tricks. 


Since most performers are not strictly restrained to use either red or blue deck, I would suggest including 4 red-back blank cards and 2 blue-back blank cards. This is much more versatile than the current combination. 


I am also surprised to find that no blank back card is provided. It’s better to have one or two.


Odd Color Back


You will receive 5 odd color back cards. The purple and black back is Ace of Spades, other color back are indifferent cards. Again, the combination is very odd. It is more versatile to have 4 different color backs with 4-of-a-kind (like Aces). There is no big advantage of having 4 odd color back with 4 indifferent cards (unless you like multiple revelation). Four different color backs with 4-of-a-kind, and two with indifferent cards looks a lot more usable for many other routines.

General Speciality Cards


I am little bit surprised (or not surprised at all?) that Three and a Half of Clubs is supplied. It’s an old school gag, and I don’t believe that there is any excellent routines with this gaff in the magic literature for the past 10 years (please point me out if I was wrong). I understand that it’s risk-free to include this, but this inclusion looks too conservative. 

There are 2 cards with revelation with Jerry's Nugget logo at the back. It’s a fun idea, but having only 1 card is enough. As mentioned above, most magicians are comfortable using either red or blue cards. It is not necessary to include the same revelation cards for each color back. Some people may argue that these 2 cards reveal different cards and thus it is good for strolling. But if this argument was true, then both cards should be the same color back, otherwise the performer has to use different color deck, right? For the same token, the gaff with QH revelation at Joker Face is not exciting at all. It reminds me that in old time all the ’new era’ gaff deck included a lot of different card revelations. It maybe fun but very boring. In fact, there are hundreds of ways to do revelation kickers, you don’t have to do it all. You only need the best one. The revelation on joker is very old school. Luckily they didn’t do it for both red and blue back. (Then why did they do it with Jerry's Nugget logo revelation at card back?)


The 4-index Aces are wasted. Is there any exciting trick with these gaffs? They are simply fillers. 

Effect-Specific Cards


The inclusion of MacDonald’s Aces gaff and misindex court cards are excellent. They are versatile in many effects. However, the 9S/Joker double facers are little bit disappointing. First of all, 9S is not the best choice because it lacks color contrast with Joker for wild card effects. Second, the use of these cards is limited and many magicians simply don’t know how to use these cards without instruction. In addition, extra duplicates are needed to perform wild card besides these gaffs. It feels like the publisher is not considerate enough if they really want people to do wild card by not providing all the cards. Are they implying 'buy more decks if you want to do this effect.'? These cards should not be included in gaff deck but should be sold as a separate product. I maybe totally wrong here, please correct me if you know they can be used for other effects efficiently.

As for Overlap Kings with misindex 5D/AD, this is a complicated gaff though it can be used creatively. It’s a good choice if routine is included, but the card per se lacks the balance of creativity and usability if no routine is provided.

While for the Money Card and ‘Your Name’ card, the execution is disappointing. Let me ask you a question first. Between ‘Your Name’ card and ‘Your Card’ card, which one do you choose and think you will use more? I bet many magicians will choose ‘Your Card’ over ‘Your Name’ if they must choose either one. In real world, there are simply more unsigned selection than signed selection, so I am puzzled they pick ‘Your Name’ instead of ‘Your Card’. As for the Money Card (usually used in Monte effects), the cartoon looks unprofessional and the design is just too busy. This card probably makes the Monte effect look ‘cheap’.

IDEAS


Good gaffs should be something fun to play with, flexible to experiment with, and invisible enough that audience don’t even realize its existence in the trick. Just as Joshua Jay said in his famous booklet ‘Overlap’, ‘A good gaff is like underwear. When properly used, people should be unaware of its existence.’ 

Of course, there are exceptions like odd-color back or interesting revelation card. But as a general rule of thumb, a good gaff should empower effects, but not act as a one-trick pony. Here are some ideas which may have made this gaff deck better, but unfortunately the publisher has not included them. 


  • Blank Back

  • Mini Aces (4 mini Aces with matching back design on one card. They can be cut out to use.)

  • Mini spot cards (Same as mini Aces but with different faces)

  • Mis-index spot cards (Besides misindex court cards, misindex number cards is a powerful addition to many new effects)

  • Overlap vertical (An utility card)

  • Magnified Card (A zoomed in card for surprise change effect)

  • 4-Corners Misfit card (Can be used in many torn-and-restore effects)

  • Vertical mis-index (Like pip misindex, vertical misindex have some strong potential in card magic)

  • 52-on-1 deck & 52-on-1 deck with a missing card (the combination is not exactly new, but it can create some very nice effect. Besides, both cards can be used separately)

  • Split Face (This card is useful in effects which the performer need to spread cards)

  • Multiple-Card Spread on the Back (This is versatile in many effects)

  • 3 Aces Overlap (An utility tool in Ace Assembly effect)

  • Diagonal Red / Blue Back  (An utility card)

  • Horizontal Red / Blue Back  (An utility card)


The list is by no mean an ideal or completed list. After all, you may have thought about some of them already. They are just some ideas I came up with as I was writing. Some ideas may not be as exciting as Twisted Logo card, but all of them are much more versatile, solid and will bring more impact in good hands. I understand the list above is just a non-existing imagination, but that is possible improvement which could have been done by the publisher. I will just leave it as a record to prove that being thoughtful in releasing magic products is not as hard as it may seem.

PROS ABOUT THE PRODUCT


  • Some great gaffs which match your normal Jerry’s Nugget deck perfectly. 


CONS ABOUT THE PRODUCT


  • The design direction of some gaffs are old-fashioned. 

  • Some combination of cards seems odd, like too few or too many of certain cards. 

  • The whole concept of this gaff deck has nothing unique. 

  • Considerable amount of fillers. 


FINAL VERDICT


Although there are some nice selection of gaffs in this deck, some inclusions are questionable and not ideal. 

The direction of releasing an official gaff deck is welcome, but it seems more effort could be put to improve the usability and creativity of the deck. The execution is simply not thoughtful enough. I can't see the passion in this gaff deck project. It's so clichéd. 


It is not the first time that a gaff deck hits the market. There are many references of good gaffs and many ideas are available to use. A careful study on existing materials should guarantee much higher quality of ideas in these gaffs. However, what we see is a conservative and non-creative approach of execution. The project is not bad, but definitely not bold enough to earn the praise.  

There are about 15 gaffs which look like 'Tier 3' gaffs or redundant gaffs in my opinion. That’s a lot if we considered it as a late 2019 release. 


At US$18, it is suitable for people who have a clear goal about how to use these gaffs. But I won’t recommend it to anyone who want to be inspired by it. They are not much different from the old bicycle gaffs.


  • Gaff Selection: 5/10 (there are some very disappointing selections which make this score low)

  • Creativity: 5/10 (Not creative at all, not even trying to be creative in bad ways)

  • Cost Performance: 7/10 (Some usable gaffs which are must for gaff trick)

  • Final Score: 6/10

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