Smoke and Mirrors v5 Paper Denim by Dan & Dave :: Review Part 1

This is the first section to my review of Dan & Dave’s new playing cards, Smoke and Mirrors v5. With each of my reviews I do two parts; one when first I get the deck and then one a few months later after the cards have been completely broken in and used in live performances.

NOTE: The only place I’ve found where you can buy these cards right now is at the Smoke & Mirrors section of Brooke Michael’s Poker World, or on eBay. Both Theory11 and Dan & Dave are currently sold out.

Feel: The v5 keep the Smoke and Mirror’s level of quality going strong. The cards fan and spread extremely well, just as the v4s. No noticeable clumping at this point, but the cards are still new. Sleights and other moves feel nice and fluid, as with any quality deck. Out of the box, these handle just like the v4s. High-quality, smooth, nice finish. As with the other decks D&D produce, the v5s have a nice snap to them, and feel relatively thin.

Paper Denim

Design: My first thought was “Thank god they’re not too bright.” When I heard that blue was the next Smoke and Mirrors color, I pictured a near sky-blue with he bright metallic ink. I shouldn’t have doubted D&D though, they came through wonderfully. The color is just right; dark enough to be visual appealing but bright enough to catch your eye. As Dan and Dave said, “Paper Denim will casually blend in to your repertoire, yet stand out from the rest.” My absolute favorite change is the switch back to a deeper red on the faces. It flows so much better than the hideous bright shade of red most playing cards use. My only complaint is the smaller pips on the cards. The hearts and spades are thinner, and the clubs and diamonds are smaller. This isn’t a big problem by any means, I just feel like the smaller the pips are the harder it is for spectators to see them.

Court Card

Court Cards: The Jacks, Queens, and Kings follow the simplistic, elegant style Dan and Dave are known for. There are no clashing, overbearing colors or ornate patterns. Just a deep blues, reds, black and white. The shade of blue used definitely compliments the darker red. And the King of Clubs looks oddly familiar…

Paper Denim

Spot Cards: The spot cards look the same as a standard deck of bicycles, except for the shade of red and the somewhat smaller pips. Other than those two things, same layout, same design, same look.

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades: Ever since the first edition of Smoke and Mirrors, I’ve loved the ace. The details and patterns on it are incredible. The design itself has stayed the same, but instead of black it’s the blue that’s on the backs.


Jokers: The jokers continue the elegant, modern theme of the rest of the deck. The suite, tie, and top-hat make for an eye-catching card. Just like the Ace, the joker has the same design as previous Smoke and Mirrors, but is blue instead of black.


Box: Alongside the Jokers and Ace of Spades, the box design has stood strong with the Smoke and Mirrors series. The key difference is the embossed letters and design. The part of the front-side that says “playing cards” is raised up, along with the borders on the thin sides. This is just one of those little details that shows D&D’s attention to quality.

So here are the ratings:
Feel- 9/10
Design- 8.5/10
Overall- 9/10

If you have a chance to get your hands on some of these cards, go for it. They fit my performance style perfectly; the cards look refined but are not distracting. They handle extremely well, are visually appealing, and even the box feels nice. They’re perfect for the avid collector or the professional performer. Also, the deck game with a blank face card rather than the usual trend of a double backer. I was quite excited about this, as I do card tricks that actually incorporate those. One last thing I wanted to talk about was how the deck does a Faro Shuffle. Out of the box, it was horrible. The cards didn’t faro well at all. I turned the packets over and it was a little better, but a little better than horrible isn’t that great. BUT, after breaking the cards in a bit with constant springs, shuffles, etc. the deck’s ability to faro improved exponentially. So don’t let that first attempt push you away, just give ‘em some time. Version 5 Paper Denim are a another great addition to the Smoke and Mirrors line.

After a couple weeks I’ll be writing the second piece to this review. It’ll cover feel after the deck has been completely broken in, and I’ll also talk about performance pros and cons.

Images from

Posted: December 15th, 2010
at 4:32pm by Robin Carey

Categories: Cards - Reviews

Comments: 4 comments


4 Responses to 'Smoke and Mirrors v5 Paper Denim by Dan & Dave :: Review Part 1'

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  1. Nice review! Thanks for taking the time to write one. Enjoy the cards!


    Dan Buck

    15 Dec 10 at 7:16 pm


  2. Hi! I just wanna say how good that review was. I haven’t seen a review quite like that for a while on cards. Thanks a lot and keep up the great work!

    Joel Huang

    18 Dec 10 at 6:13 pm


  3. Thanks Dan! I definitely will be.

    Robin Carey

    Robin Carey

    19 Dec 10 at 10:38 pm


  4. Hey Joel! Thanks! Glad I could help out. I plan on it, so keep checking back.

    Robin Carey

    Robin Carey

    19 Dec 10 at 10:39 pm



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