I answered this same question recently on another specifically Tarot board I go to. So I cheated and cut and pasted the long reviews I gave on that board. Here's the link of people reviewing their favorite decks if you want to hear everyone else's too:http://boards1.ivillage.com/messages...arot32/35.html
I use Art Nouveauhttp://www.isisbooks.com/Details.asp?item=0880793759
and I love it because it's easy to read without a book, and a great deck for relationships (which is what is most important in life really, and also what most readings are about.)
Rock & Roll Tarot is my newest deck, and I got it because I'm a music fan and because all the cards have lyrics on them and I once told a girl she and her boyfriend were on the card as "two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year, running over the same old ground, [but all they've found is] the same old fears" from the moon card with two little creatures in the river. I've only done 2 readings with it so far, but I like how it can discribe intense emotions, yet get to the point at the same time. Seems great for quick readings. http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/rocknroll/index.html
One of my other "just the facts" deck is a deck of playing cards. I found this site http://www.talisman.net/tarot/regcard.html
which is a similar concept, but my deck has words written on it and arrows pointing on some to show it corresponds specifically with one of the cards it's touching. I copied the deck from a friend, who copied it from her older sister, who copied it from a friend/teacher of hers. It's somewhat time-consuming, but if anyone really wants this deck I could make a copy for you.
The last deck I use most frequently is an oracle deck, not based on the tarot. It is based on "Lord of the Rings", has 40 cards, & I need the book to read it, but I like how it shows life as a journey with phases, vs. questions and answers.
For example a question of "will my dh cheat?" was answered, "here's the path you've taken, here's how he sees things and his insecurities about your path, this is how you will eventually part and why and this is how it will and will not affect your daughter." If I had answered a simple question with a simple answer it would have been emotionally devastating, and would have possible inspired her to try to change her fate, staying in a relationship that was suffocating her.
On this link, it's the second one down. http://www.mayhemltd.com/tools-lordofringstarot.htm
Tarot of the Cat People: My first deck and the one I teach my kids with. I love it because the book was actually helpful (unlike other decks) but I was able to learn to read without it as well.
One of the things that impressed me from my son was when he after saying in other cards that the cats were sad, saying, "cats okay now, kids okay now" I don't know why when he at 4 & his brother at 3 would frequently pretend to BE cats that it would surprise me he would make this analogy, but it did.
What I love about my Handil deck is the Handil layout given in back of the book.
In general I use it for emotional/spiritual issues because as I describe the deck to people, "If you kept a journal of what happens to you every day at the top of the pages, and your emotions about those events at the bottom of the pages, this deck is a little like reading just the bottom of those pages..." great for an emotional empathic reader like me, but hard to read for those hard and cold facts that skeptics especially like.
So, I usually read for people in these very emotional situations with this deck, and what I like about the Handil spread is that one of the cards is the person who gives you their full unconditional support. I've had the privlige of surprising a man in a marriage that he saw as stuggling, that their wife, dispite all their bickering, would do anything for them; and reminding a woman of a grandfather who she hadn't had contact with in years still that still loved her dearly and would do anything he could for her, and told another woman that her deceased father was still with her, looking out for her.
I can't tell you how many times reading that card, or seeing the querent's reaction has brought tears to my or their eyes.
(And although I don't usually read with a book, I keep this book handy because I'm sometimes drawn to a speciffic image or symbol I'm not familiar with.)
I have a couple more but I don't use them as much. (Yes, I have a lot of decks, but it's not as bad as it seems, I've been reading and occasionally buying new decks over the last 10 years.)
P.S. I personally Hate reading with the Raider-Waite deck, but that's just me.