Best Playing Cards – Buyer’s Guide

Best Playing Cards 🧧Card Games

No matter if you a beginner or a pro, you need to find several decks of cards for your events.

They all should suit you with quality, composition, and design. So before you think of buying any deck you see, consider researching the market first. There are options you may have never dreamed of. Check out this TOP-6 list, maybe your deck is right here.

Luxurious Design

Gorgeous design.

Quality materials.

#1 holiday gift according to the GQ Guide.

Easy to handle. Smooth surface.

Durability.

Best Paper Feel

Fancy packaging.

Paper-feel plastic.

Good for professional tournaments.

Thick cards, nice to touch.

Convenient Size & Classic Quality

Good for bridge.

Sophisticated design and colors.

USA-made.

Smooth handling.

Monarch by Theory11 – Luxurious Design

Monarch Playing Cards by theory11
  • The most cherished luxury playing cards of our time
  • Made in the USA on FSC-certified paper derived from sustainable forests using vegetable based inks
  • Featured #1 in the GQ Holiday Gift Guide and in the blockbuster movie Now You See Me
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

Theory11 delivers with this Monarch design. It’s much more luxurious than most Bicycle decks. The deck comes in a beautiful box decorated with golden foil. The darker blue, green, and red color shades give it that aristocratic look. The box is dark inside as well, which is very pleasing.
The Ace of Spades and the Jokers are customized. There’s also a double-backer, so you can use the deck for magic as well.

Physical Qualities and Performance

My blue Monarchs are super smooth and easy to handle. The cards are very thin, great for practicing shuffling if you’re a learner. They are a bit slippery, though, so fans may be hard to perform. But overall, the deck is perfect for both games and magic tricks.

The manufacturer says the cards are made in the US on FSC-certified paper. The inks are veggie-based and the paper used for the manufacture was derived from sustainable forests. Besides, the cards are quite durable. Several months of frequent use don’t leave a trace of wearing.
I highly recommend this deck for its design and easy handling.

Pros

  • Gorgeous design
  • Quality materials
  • 1 holiday gift according to the GQ Guide
  • Easy to handle
  • Smooth surface
  • Durability

Cons

  • Some may find the cards slippery
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Bicycle Prestige Plastic Playing Cards (Pack of 2) – Best Paper Feel

Bicycle Prestige Plastic Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
  • 2 decks-one Red and one blue
  • Many professionals prefer the flexibility and durability of plastic cards
  • Unmatched durability
  • The only 100 percent plastic card to offer a paper-like feel
  • Perfect for a neighborhood Game or professional tournament
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

The first thing you see is a gorgeous package. It’s a box with a decorated sleeve on. There are two options of design to choose from – red and blue. The color of the crown on the sleeve identifies the type. The colors aren’t quite like on the paper cards, but it’s even better for those who like darker aristocratic tones.

Physical Qualities and Performance

The deck is quite stiff because the cards are thick, but they’re also very durable. After half a year of almost every-day use, only the back part shows a bit of wear. The front part is as clear and vibrant as when the deck was new. The paper-like feel and nice texture make Bicycle Prestige great for those who like classics.

Handling the deck isn’t difficult, it shuffles easily. When using this one for tricks, be cautious of the sounds, the cards are “chatty” due to their texture. One of my favorites for neighborhood games. Totally recommend, you may not need other decks unless you’re a collector, as the package has two decks.

The manufacturer warns that the cards may expose their users to certain chemicals, including TDI. In California, TDI is believed to cause cancer. You can find full information on the matter on the official website of the warning.

Pros

  • Fancy packaging
  • Paper-feel plastic, arguably the only model to achieve this
  • Good for professional tournaments
  • Thick cards, nice to touch
  • Durability

Cons

  • May expose the users to TDI
  • Corners may chip over time
  • Some may find them quite stiff and/or noisy
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Bicycle Bridge Standard Index Playing Cards – Convenient Size and Classic Quality

Bicycle Bridge Standard Index Playing Cards – 1 Red Deck and 1 Blue Deck
  • Bundle of 2 Decks
  • Quality Bicycle Brand Playing Cards
  • Bridge Standard Index Playing Cards
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

You get two decks (red and blue) in classic Bicycle packages. These are bridge-size cards with standard index, so make sure all your players have good eyesight. The material is plastic-coated paper. Some may find them easier to manipulate since they are narrower. The overall design is more sophisticated than that of a regular poker deck. The suit symbols are pointier and the court cards are more detailed. You should check out those new faces.

Physical Qualities and Performance

These cards aren’t quite suitable for magicians. But they do their work in a bridge very well. The size is appropriate, and the cards are smooth in handling. They may be a bit slippery during the first couple of games, though.

I can recommend this one as a basic bridge-size deck for your events.

Pros

  • Good for bridge
  • Sophisticated design and colors
  • USA-made
  • Smooth handling

Cons

  • Some cards may be cut offset
  • Cards are slippery at first
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Big Blind Products Sleek Original Hand Drawn Designs Dead Money PVC Playing Cards – Breathtaking Design

Big Blind Products Sleek Original Hand Drawn Designs Dead Money PVC Playing Cards-Water Proof Deck of Cards, Spill Proof Poker Cards, Quality Plastic Playing Cards
  • ✔ 100% CASINO-QUALITY PVC … Big Blind Products’ playing cards are made of nothing but professional-grade PVC to give you and your friends a casino-like experience every time you play.
  • ✔ ORIGINAL HAND DRAWN CARD ART … our playing cards feature a unique and intricately detailed design. Great for those looking for something unique in their card deck.
  • ✔ WATERPROOF AND SPILLPROOF … the 100% PVC of Big Blind Products’ waterproof playing cards are spillproof to prevent warping and tearing. This also gives them a much longer life.
  • ✔ LASTS 20X LONGER … paper cards wear down and warp when wet. Our poker cards are durable they last 20x longer, saving you money and the frustration of yet another ruined deck of cards.
  • ✔ EASY TO CLEAN … no need for a spilled drink to ruin an otherwise exciting and high-stakes moment in your game. Our plastic playing cards for adults are easy to clean so you get back to the action.
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

Any skull fans here? This standard-size deck may be your choice. The amount of details on these cards is unbelievable as the designs are hand-drawn, according to Big Blind Products. The only negative thing is that the name of the company is literally everywhere. It’s on 4 out of 6 sides of the box and the back of every card. This may distract from the game.

Physical Qualities and Performance

The cards are silky smooth, very pleasant to touch. However, they may be a bit slick in handling at first. It’s a PVC deck, regains its shape after being bent, but don’t try to bend it too much. These cards are great for lake trips or drinking poker nights. They are waterproof and any stains can be wiped in no time.

I can’t help recommending this one due to the custom design and overall good quality. Especially suitable for collectors of customized card decks.

Pros

  • Amazing custom design
  • Waterproof and spillproof
  • Easy to clean
  • Good durability

Cons

  • A bit slick
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KEM Arrow Red and Blue, Poker Size-Standard Index Playing Cards – Scuff-Resistance and Classic Quality

KEM Arrow Red and Blue, Poker Size-Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)
  • 100 percent cellulose acetate plastic – a unique blend of paper and plastic that provices superior flexibility and strength
  • A set-up consists of one Red and one Blue deck
  • The cards come in a hard black plastic Kem box
  • Superior flexibility and strength
  • Scuff and Break-Resistant
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

You get two decks in one pack – a blue one and a red one. They come in a black hard plastic package and a sleeve with transparent “windows” so you can see the back design of each deck. The Ace of Spades is customized as usual. A sweet touch: they come with a poker guide so it’s great for newbies as well.

Physical Qualities and Performance

Professional players often choose these as the basic decks, and it tells something about the quality. The cards are smooth and easy to shuffle. They are durable and damage-resistant. And considering there are two decks, you might use them for years. These KEM cards are easy to clean, which contributes to the aesthetics and longevity of the set.

I recommend this as your basic decks. They aren’t customized and the design is classic, but if this is what you’re looking for, it might just be your deck.

Pros

  • Quality packaging
  • Scuff and break resistance
  • Easily cleaning
  • Wear resistance

Cons

  • May seem slippery for some people
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Ellusionist Bicycle Shadow Masters Playing Cards – Dark Design for Magic Tricks

Ellusionist Bicycle Shadow Masters Playing Cards
  • Bicycle Shadow Masters Playing Cards by Ellusionist is specifically designed with card players, magicians and card enthusiasts in mind.
  • Promoting darkness and shadow, Shadow Masters are the third wonder in the Bicycle Masters Series.
  • Black ink gives way to the dusky, faded approach on the artwork because your talent is best kept quiet and used wisely.
  • One Joker holds the sands of time, but this changes to a three of diamonds reveal in the other Joker’s hands. One “extra card” is double backed. The Ace of Spades is guarded, stately and confined to shadow.
  • This stunning playing card set features high quality, USPCC stock, a soft-glide performance finish for flawless sleight of hand techniques.
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Design

The cards come in a regular package with beautiful white-on-black design. The back of the package traditionally shows the card back design. Such a design is suitable for either card games, magic, or cardistry. Although, keep in mind that playing cards have white borders on purpose. It’s more difficult to cheat when the card is flashy. These are dark, so they may be more difficult to keep an eye on.
The cards have beautifully customized jokers and a double-backer card for those involved in magic.

Physical Qualities and Performance

The cards are easy to shuffle due to the air cushioning. Even though they aren’t full-plastic, these cards are a bit thicker than the basic paper ones. As they start to wear, the sides will show some of the white. It gives a bit of an antique view, but I think using a black base would be more appropriate.

I do recommend this one because it’s multi-purpose and the dark design is captivating. In a combination with classic Bicycle quality, it’s a good offer.

Pros

  • Beautiful dark design
  • Bicycle traditional air-cushioning
  • Easy handling
  • Good quality

Cons

  • Sides become white as the cards wear
Read Verified Customer Reviews on Amazon

Is There a Deck to Stay Away from?

Yes, there’s a model you shouldn’t buy – HOYLE RED&BLUE POKER SIZED 100% PLASTIC PLAYING CARDS. While these withstand water, dirt, and stains, Hoyle isn’t what it used to be quality-wise. Despite the reviews waning me, I gave it a chance and wasn’t satisfied. They may be alright for teen road trips, but definitely not for pro games.
The cards bend and won’t straighten up, which makes it impossible to shuffle them. And the balance of price and overall quality is way off.

Buyer’s Guide: Card Sized and What to Look for in a Deck

Sizes of Playing Cards

The most important distinction is the size of the cards. According to the US Playing Card Company (USPCC), the main playing cards sizes are (from big to small):

  • Jumbo size. Used for special occasions and games;
  • Poker size. Standard decks initially created for men playing poker;
  • Bridge size. A bit smaller decks in width initially created for women;
  • Mini-size. Tiny decks were created for kids.

If the size isn’t mentioned in an offer, it must be the standard Poker size.

Note: Don’t mistake the card sizes with indexes. An index is the size of numbers and letters on the cards. The standard index is the one you can see on any regular deck, but there’s also the Jumbo index that’s larger. The latter is useful for people with bad eyesight.

What to Look for in a Deck?

Your perfect deck choice depends on the activity you need it for and personal taste. However, there are basic qualities to pay attention to:

  • Beautiful durable tuck box It’s the house your cards will live in. It should maintain them well preventing bending and other damages. It also should be pleasing to look at, I’m sure we all like aesthetic things. Looking for something fancy? Check the box for foil elements, embossing, or a custom seal.
  • Card design You can choose a standard design or its variation (think basic KEM or Bicycle decks). But if you want something more unique and fancy, consider a customized design. You can get negative colors, borderless, part-transparent, one-way cards, etc. This is especially important if you’re a collector.
  • Quality materials Choosing paper, vinyl, or plastic is the first step. Then you choose the quality by buying from the right publisher. The main regulating company is USPCC, but it’s not the sole option. There are a lot of printers and publishers to choose from. But if you want optimal quality and don’t want to search for long, USPCC works just fine.
  • Handling Card games, cardistry, and card magic all require smooth handling. You can’t evaluate a deck yourself before you get one, but there are a lot of video reviews you can check out.

Choose Your Best Deck

Playing cards is the one essential piece of equipment you need for a game. All the other parts of a set can be improvised. But only a high-quality right-size right-index deck is responsible for the level of the event. So, consider investing some time into the research and find something that will suit you perfectly.

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