How To Choose a Tarot Deck

Casey Luft-Runner
Casey Luft-Runner
Turquoise Tarot Deck
Choosing a card is easy, choosing a deck can be tricky

When you're first starting on your tarot journey, you must pick a tarot deck to work with. Different decks can give you different tarot readings.

Whether you’re shopping online or in your favorite witchy shop, choosing a tarot deck can be tricky. There’s so many different decks to choose from. Do you want something classic like The Marseilles Tarot or something more modern like the Starchild Tarot? The possibilities are endless!

Here’s a handy overview of three common tarot decks and things to consider when choosing a tarot deck.

Yes, You May Buy Your Own Deck

Before we get started, it’s important to clear up a common misconception. It is perfectly valid to buy your own tarot deck. Decks purchased by you for you are not cursed.

Some psychic reading gatekeepers buy into a superstition that magical items must be gifted. A tarot deck purchased by you IS a gift from yourself to your future self. As long as you get a deck that speaks to you, you’ll get accurate tarot readings.

Most psychics who do tarot readings buy their own decks. In fact, it’s a running joke in the psychic reading community that tarot readers have more decks than they can possibly read with. So if you see a deck you like, go ahead and get it. Get two if you want!

Tarot Traditions

There are three main traditions tarot decks tend to follow. For traditional decks, you have decks based on the Tarot of Marseilles, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, and the Thoth tarot deck. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Tarot of Marseilles

The Tarot of Marseilles is the most widely used tarot deck in the French-speaking world. It predates the popular Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck. It contains 78 cards and was based on playing cards before being adopted by occultists for psychic reading.

If you’re deeply into old traditions, the Tarot of Marseilles is excellent. However, since the imagery on the minor arcana or “pip cards” only shows the suit and number, it requires more intuition to conduct tarot readings.


The Rider-Waite-Smith is the most popular tarot deck in the English speaking world. Because it is so widely recognized, it makes this deck ideal to do tarot readings for other people. It also has a wide variety of books available to help interpret the cards.

The only downside of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is some psychics find it too basic. If this describes you, you might prefer a more modern tarot deck.


The Thoth deck was painted by Lady Frieda Harris based on the ideas of Allister Crowley. It interweaves imagery from astrology, the Kabbalah, and other disciplines. The cards are similar to the Marseilles and Rider-Waite-Smith deck, with a few adjustments.

One of the most notable differences is instead of the court cards being the Page, Knight, Queen, and King, the Thoth court consists of a Prince, Princess, Queen and King. Each card in the minor arcana also have a key word at the bottom, which can be helpful for new fortune tellers. Crowly also wrote The Book of the Thoth which goes into details about the meanings of the images.

Look at the Images

Because tarot is such a visual form of psychic reading, the most important aspect of any tarot deck is that the imagery speaks to you. Some enjoy the classical imagery of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, while others find it still and boring. Some love psychics and astrologers prefer the Thoth tarot deck because the imagery incorporates astrological motifs.

It may seem a little too simple, but we advise you not to overthink it. Buying a tarot deck is just the start of a relationship with your cards. You’ll grow to understand them over time. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at them, so get cards you like to look at.

Who Do You Intend to Read For?

Are you mainly reading for yourself, or are you reading for other people? If you’re mainly doing tarot readings for yourself, it’s extra important to get a deck that personally speaks to you.

If you plan to be doing tarot readings for others, you might want to get a more recognizable deck. Or if you have a psychic reading specialty, you may want to get a deck that specifically relates to your specialty.

Size Matters

One aspect of choosing a tarot deck that often gets overlooked is the size of the cards. Do you prefer bigger cards or smaller cards? Some tarot decks are small enough to fit on a keychain.

When you start doing tarot readings, you end up shuffling the cards a lot. It’s important to get a deck that feels good in your hands. Also check the stiffness of the cards if you can. Some cards are more stiff while others have a bit more flex to them.

Happy Readings!

Tarot is a fun form of psychic reading, and it’s easy to start. We hope this overview of different tarot traditions and things to consider when choosing a deck makes your choice clear.

If you find yourself confused by any particular card, don’t be afraid to reach out to a seasoned psychic for a reading. We’ve got lots of great websites with well-reviewed fortune tellers, love psychics, and even online mediums.

When Hogwartz failed to send an owl to Casey at age 11, she decided to take her magical education into her own hands. Her main passion is tarot, but she has also studied astrology, numerology, and dream interpretation. She currently works as an online tarot reader and astrologer. By channeling the power of the cards, Casey can illuminate the past, provide perspectives on the present, and divine paths for the future. Casey Luft-Runner is also a featured author for the Icebreakrs blog, a dating coach, and an aerial silk dance teacher. Casey Luft-Runner is a proud “jack of all trades".

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