Best Playing Cards

Poker night. There may be no greater American mainstay of repose than getting your buddies together for a little friendly rivalry, often times with a small financial component. You know, to make the game "more interesting." You've bought the frothy refreshments and even got a new tablecloth for the kitchen table, but what kind of cards are you using? You know, those little flat things that are actually used to play the game? The deck is all too often overlooked when it comes to planning an evening of cards. But you're probably thinking to yourself, playing cards are all the same, it doesn't matter much... and you'd be dead wrong in that assessment.

Most cards come in two basic types, paper card-stock coated in plastic or vinyl and cards made entirely of plastic stock. You'll also want to consider index size and pip placement, because nothing makes it tougher to keep the other guys from seeing your hand than a large font broadcasting that you indeed have a royal flush. So when you're ready to buy in on some decks for poker night one of the five following picks is likely to be a sure bet, each one chosen along criteria such as durability of material, most cards are made of heavy plastics and cardstocks now so they remain resilient as the oils from fingertips can break down the material of a playing card over long periods of time.

These cards also all have top notch feel to them and a smoothness which makes them easy to play with, whether it's in a game or pulling off a magic trick. The visual aesthetics of these cards are also quite unique and suitable for game play, preventing anyone from cheating on that all important last hand; most important, of course, is the ability to see the pip and value of the card you're playing because it's crucial to know when to hold and fold. Lastly, each of these sets offers eye-catching color and unique design.

KEM Playing Cards

For those players who'd like to buy a deck that's going to last them a long time, KEM is the brand you'll want to look into. These are plastic cards that will hold up to the repeated wear and tear that comes with playing most card games and they're featured in many of the high-end card rooms across the world. Read Full Review

See it at:
    Why it's best:

    So maybe you're one of those players who's a bit more serious about their game. You need a card that can hold up to hours upon hours of shuffling, dealing, folding and throwing down on the table in victory when your hand beats all others. Well, KEM may be the brand you're looking for. These decks cost ten times more than some of the other names on our list, but what you get with KEM is a playing card that will stand the test of time. They're made of 100 percent cellulose acetate, one of the strongest plastics used in the construction of playing cards in today's market. In fact, these cards are also the preferred brand for the World Series of Poker. This distinction has made KEM the industry leader in plastic playing card manufacturing.

    These cards won't scuff or tear and you can rely on them to hold firm even as you bend and curl to check out what you're holding. They're even washable, just in case the game gets particularly down and dirty. KEM offers a wide variety of back designs and colors for every taste, be it traditional or modern and they've got the different sizes associated with games like pinochle. You're going to spend more on these cards but if you take good care of them, you won't need to buy another deck for quite a while.

    KEM Playing Cards

    Copag Poker Size Regular Index Playing Cards

    Copag is a Brazilian company making some of the highest-quality playing cards in the industry. Their cards have been used in past World Series of Poker events and they offer decks for both poker and bridge in single and double pack sets. Much like the KEM card, these are crafted for longevity and will bounce back every time under the heavy wear and tear of repeated use in high-traffic environments like casinos. Read Full Review

    See it at:
      Why it's best:

      Featuring a wide range of pip and back designs from the traditional to the post-modern to the downright ugly in some cases, Copag has a long line of playing card decks to suit every taste in both poker and bridge varieties. Their Texas Hold 'Em deck has a retro, old Las Vegas aesthetic while some of their bridge decks have everything from images of their company's native Brazil to abstract art on their back designs.

      Copag's card are made of 100 percent PVC plastic, which makes them durable enough to withstand countless games. They're tear-resistant and can handle all the repeated bending that comes with players peaking at their hands to decide how to wager. This also means they can't be creased or marked either, so you can be sure you're playing a fair game with Copag's cards. Shuffle these cards and you'll just feel the quality in your hands, and the slight raised texture on the back of each one makes them easy to deal around the table.

      Copag Poker Size Regular Index Playing Cards

      Bicycle Ghost Playing Cards Deck by Ellusionist

      The flagship brand of the United States Playing Card Company, Bicycle playing cards are the most popular decks on the market. They're also the most popular choice for magicians for use in card tricks. The folks at Ebullient make the list with their Ghost Deck from Bicycle, a set that not only looks great but is suitable for wowing the crowd with some sleight of hand or simply beating the table with the best hand at poker. Read Full Review

      See it at:
        Why it's best:

        The first time you learned how to play go fish or were introduced to the game of solitaire, it's likely you were holding Bicycle cards in your hands. They are, by-far, the most popular playing card intended for the mainstream consumer. These are inexpensive cards that are great for a friendly game, but they're also the card of choice for some of the best magicians and cardistry experts out there, with names like Ricky Jay and David Blaine employing them in their acts.

        Combine the tried and true reliable of Bicycle with the design team of Ebullient and you have a set of cards that feature a smooth which are easy touch by way of Bicycle's air-cushion finish. This allows each card to absorb bounce while providing a sure snap on the card for presentation in tricks. This also helps in the service of card games; as the dealer slides cards to each player at the table, there's less likelihood the card will bounce face up and ruin that card for the player's use in the game. The design on each card is what really makes this set stand out, featuring sharp black and white contrast with deep red accents.

        Bicycle Ghost Playing Cards Deck by Ellusionist

        Best Made Company Playing Cards

        The Best Made Company are purveyors of quality made tools and accessories for the Great Outdoors, which is ironic in that they are based in lower Manhattan. Though they are best known for their entire line of clothing, camp supplies and bags, they offer an eye-catching and functional playing card set that is tailor-made for games by the campfire. Read Full Review

        Why it's best:

        The folks at Best Made teamed up with the vaunted United States Playing Card Company to create a set of playing cards that can hold up on the go. The company famous for the Bicycle and Bee card brands has aligned with the company famous for quality camping gear. The result is a set of cards that have a fancy retro streamlined vibe, featuring large pips and simple-yet-elegant marking in the form of thunderbolts, stripes, and hearts across each card. But since these are really designed for outdoor use either day or night, they still left plenty of empty white space so you could view these easily by the fire for those quiet nights under the stars.

        Best Made Company Playing Cards

        Dan & Dave Bruce Lee Collection Playing Cards

        Originally released in 2013, this themed set from Dan & Dave that paid tribute to the late, great martial artist and movie actor Bruce Lee quickly sold out upon the initial run. It's not hard to understand why, take one look at these cards and you'll notice the expert craftsmanship and creativity behind their design. Now, Dan & Dave are back with this second printing of the set that features the same visual palette but with some updated accents. Read Full Review

        Why it's best:

        Produced to commemorate the 73rd birthday of Bruce Lee, this card set from Dan & Dave captures the legend across 52 gorgeous playing cards that have been designed in stunning black and yellow in a nod to his iconic suit from the film "Game of Death". Officially endorsed by Lee's estate, these cards not only pay tribute to the man through their aesthetic palette, but with a different quote from his philosophies of life emblazoned on each one. The elaborate dragon design on the back of every card symbolizes his birth in the Year of the Dragon while the Joker cards feature Lee in action. The first wave sold out fast but the second printing is still available and highly recommended for their smooth finish, effortless slip, and eye-catching visuals.

        Dan & Dave Bruce Lee Collection Playing Cards
        Leave a Question or Comment