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GUIDE to PLAYING CARDS


 


Playing cards are the absolutely critical supply needed to play poker, so it is vital to use only decks that are in good condition. It may seem trivial, but the fact is that crisp, clean cards will make your poker playing experience more enjoyable. Replace a deck as soon as it becomes dirty or feels sticky or a card becomes marked, creased or cut. The surfaces of cards often do not show how soiled they actually are. The best and easiest place to check are the edges. There are several different styles or types of playing cards to choose from and we describe them here. Choosing a deck of cards is not a major life decision. But, you can end up wasting a lot of money if you do not choose the right cards for your situation, so it is worth knowing what style, quality and cost options are available.


Bridge vs Poker Size Playing Cards

 

All standard playing cards are about 3½ inches high. Bridge decks and poker decks differ from one another in width. Poker decks are 2½ inches wide, while bridge are a slightly narrower 2¼ inches. Most people seem to choose poker sized cards for their home poker games, but you may actually find the narrower bridge size to be easier to handle. Casino card rooms often use bridge sized cards for that reason.


Playing Card Styles

 

Standard index are the type most often used and with which most people are familiar. Pips (the numerals, letters and suit symbols in the corners) are small, about 1/4 - 5/16 inch high.


Jumbo index cards have larger pips about half an inch tall. They are much easier to see, especially when playing poker games where you have to be able to view and identify exposed or board cards, like stud or hold-em. For that reason, even if there is no one in your group that has a vision issue, they are worth giving a try. Jumbo index playing cards most commonly are poker sized cards.

jumboindexcard.jpg

magnumcard.jpg

Magnum index cards have huge numerals and letters, often taking up nearly 1/2 the size of the whole card. Pips are also large, being about 50% larger than the pips on a jumbo index card. For visually impaired individuals, if jumbo index is not adequate, magnum index cards are a viable option, though they may be a little more difficult to find and may be more expensive. Magnum index cards may also be called low vision.


4-Color Playing Cards

4-color playing cards use different colors for each suit, not just the traditional black and red. Just about all maintain black for spades and red for hearts. Blue and green are the most common other colors, but which color is used for which suit can vary from one card manufacturer to another. The 4-color scheme enables players to more easily distinguish cards, for example recognizing flush draws. 4-color cards are most often available from the premium 100% plastic card manufacturers.

 

Playing Card Quality

 

Plastic coated cards are paper cards that have had plastic applied to them. This gives greater strength and durability than paper alone and they can be expected to last a few playing sessions before they will be in need of replacement. Even so, these cards are not resistant to moisture and even exposure to a few drops of liquid can damage them. The major playing card brands, such as Bicycle, Bee, Hoyle, Aviator (all produced by the U.S. Playing Card Co.) and others are premium plastic coated cards. Expect to pay about $3-5 for a single deck, but a bulk package of 6 or 12 decks can get that cost down to $2 or less per deck. Beware of no-name bargain cards such as might be found at a dollar store. Often the paper and plastic coating is thinner and more prone to fraying at the corners.

100% Plastic At the top end of the durability spectrum are 100% plastic cards. They will last much longer than other types of cards, with a life expectancy that could reach several years. Plastic cards stay cleaner longer, are resistant to creasing, fraying and moisture and are washable if they become soiled. On the other hand, some people find them slippery and more difficult to shuffle and handle until they get used to them. Over time, the brightness of their colors may tend to dull a bit. KEM is one of the better known brands of 100% plastic playing cards and are often considered the standard by which other brands are judged. Other major brands include Copag, Modiano, Da Vinci, Bicycle Prestige and others. 100% plastic playing cards are expensive, so expect to pay $8-15 and up per deck. Most often plastic cards are sold as 2-deck sets in a nice plastic storage box and include a couple of cut cards.

Most plastic card manufacturers will offer replacements for individual defective or damaged cards for a nominal cost. For example, Da Vinci includes an replacement card order form with their deck sets.

How to Clean 100% Plastic Playing Cards With proper care and cleaning, plastic playing cards can last many times longer than plastic coated cards.

Used If you want to get a decent deck of plastic coated cards for about the price of generic cards, consider used casino cards. They are typically premium cards made by a major manufacturer. They can be found in one of the casino gift shops or the gift shops of gambling towns like Las Vegas and Atlantic City as well as being available on the internet. Price will vary more from the "prestige" of the casino they came from rather than the condition of the cards. To prevent cheats from using the cards, a used casino card will have a hole drilled through the middle or a corner trimmed.


Cut Cards

 

Cut cards are used to prevent the bottom card of a deck from being seen. Exposing the bottom card of a deck of playing cards is a common mistake made by inexperienced home poker players. Rather than continually reminding players to hold the deck so that the bottom card cannot be seen, it is better to obtain and use a cut card. Professional poker room dealers always use cut cards. A secondary reason to use a cut card is to prevent cheating by dealing off the bottom of the deck.

To use a cut card follow this procedure: Place the cut card on the table next to the shuffled deck. Cut the cards and place on top of the cut card. Place the remainder of the deck on top of the cards that have been cut. Once the hand is over, drop the cut card onto the table so it is not accidentally shuffled into the deck. Should the cut card be found somewhere in the deck it has no affect on play. Just remove it and continue play as normal.

Cut cards are typically made of plastic. They must be the same size and shape as the playing cards, so different size cut cards are needed for bridge-size and poker-size decks. They should also be a distinctly different color than the playing cards themselves so they are easy to notice. A cut card or two is commonly included with a set of quality (100% plastic) playing cards. Cut cards may also be purchased on their own. You can also make your own cut card. Tape 2 jokers together with their backs exposed. Make it with cards of a different colored back from the deck you are playing with so that it is easily recognized.


DIRECTORY

 

These are links to the websites of playing card manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. You can often find more detailed product information and descriptions, view or down-load product catalogs and pricing with these links. Some manufacturers sites may accept direct orders, while others will provide distributor lists. These links are provided to assist you in obtaining product information. To have a site listed in this directory Contact HPE.


 

BGamers.com Plastic playing cards & other supplies.
Bicycle cards.com Bicycle card product information and catalog.
Caragails.com Playing cards and other supplies.
Card Press.com Customized and personalized playing cards.
CartamundiUSA.com: Manufacturers site with product descriptions.
Copagusa.com: Official site of Copag Cards with product catalog and distributor list.
Customized playing cards.com Customized and promotional playing cards.
Denexa.com Manufacturer and distributor of Denexa 100% plastic playing cards.
Discount poker shop.com Playing cards and other poker supplies.
Gemaco cards.com Gemaco plastic cards catalog.
The house of cards.com Playing cards and other supplies.
JP Playing Cards UK-based playing card store. (United Kingdom)
Kardwell.com Playing cards and other supplies.
Kem-Playing-Cards.com KEM plastic cards and other playing cards.
Modiano cards.com Modiano plastic cards and product descriptions.
Old vegas chips.com Playing cards and other gaming supplies.
PlayingCards.net Playing cards and other supplies.
Playing cards and more.com Playing cards and other gaming supplies.
Playing cards only.co.uk Playing cards and card games.(United Kingdom)
Poker room supplies.com Playing cards and other poker supplies.
Poker Store.nl Playing cards and other poker supplies (Europe).
Sight connection.com Low vision and large print playing cards.
Straight poker supplies.com Playing cards and other supplies (Canada).
TM Cards.com Manufacturer of playing cards, custom playing cards and plastic playing cards.
U.S. Playing card.com Descriptions of all U.S. Playing Card Co. products.