Best Poker Playing Card Sets

1 year ago
Best Poker Cards
20:53
06 Jun

We live in the age of technology, and sometimes it's very easy to forget that before we were able to play cards on our computers and phones, for many decade,s poker players had to do things "the old fashioned way," using the physical decks of 52 cards.

To this day, playing cards are still a vital part of poker, from home games around the world, through big live tournaments, to high-stakes cash games in Macau or Vegas casinos. The market is full of very good and cheap options when it comes to playing cards, and while you could just opt for a random pack of cards sold at your local store, getting something that's a bit more professional doesn't require much effort and can dramatically improve your experience.


A quick word about the history of playing cards. There's no clear consensus when it comes to the exact origin of the first decks, but most researchers tend to connect it with the inventors of paper - China circa 800 years ago. Playing cards got popularized by the Chinese, Koreans, and Persians, and the modern design with 52 cards and four suits originated in France.

The history of playing cards is very rich and romantic. They were banned in many countries through history. People made fortunes using them and died holding them - like the famous old west folk hero, Wild Bill Hickok, who was assassinated while holding two black aces and two black eights. This hand is now known as "the dead man's hand".

When it comes to shuffling cards total possible combinations would equal 52! (52 factorial) which is equal to 8.06e+67 - this number is higher than the number of all the particles in the universe.

Nowadays playing cards are mostly made out of plastic or plastic/vinyl coated stock. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. Plastic coated cards are cheaper and much more flexible which is valued by street magicians and card sharks alike, but it also means that they are far less durable than the full plastic cards. They bend, crease and tear easily which might not be that important in the context of a home game with friends, but can be important in a high stakes games where things like marked (intentionally or otherwise) cards can be a huge issue.

100% plastic cards are much more durable, (though some of the cheaper ones fade easily with prolonged use) and therefore usually favored by the casinos. They are harder to mark, easier to handle for the dealer ,and can work in an automatic shuffling machine. Other than that, playing cards can differ in size though the standard bridge size is so widely popular that it might as well be the only one available. The last important characteristic - especially when talking about poker - is the index size which can either be regular (in most cases) or bigger and easier to see at the crowded table jumbo or super index.


Let's go through some of the most popular and highly regarded playing card models to help you choose a pack that's perfect for you.

KEM - This is pretty much the industry standard. 100% plastic cards manufactured by the US Playing Card Company and widely recognized as the most popular poker playing cards in the world. They have been used for many years in both WPT and WSOP tournaments. KEM's were featured in the movie Rounders and the TV show High Stakes Poker. You can't go wrong with them and while they are a bit more pricey than some other viable options, the difference isn't very dramatic.

Copag - Tremendously popular and very reliable. They are used in many casinos around the world, and while some players complain that Copag's are a bit faded and slightly harder to read, it didn't stop the deck from gaining popularity similar to that of KEM's. The fact that they are also slightly cheaper definitely helps their case. Lastly, some professional dealers consider Copag's more comfortable to handle during long dealing sessions than other options.

Gemaco - Another 100% plastic option that's slightly thinner than the other plastic cards. Reasonably cheap and very popular.

Modiano - Plastic cards with a thicker, more paper-like, premium feel to them. Pricier than Gemaco and Copag but cheaper than KEM's. The favorite option of many players and casinos.

Bicycle - While KEM's might be the most popular poker playing cards, Bicycles are without a doubt the most popular playing cards overall. The standard plastic covered red and blue decks are very cheap to manufacture and a pleasure to handle. While they aren't often used in a professional poker setting (though it's not unheard of), they are more than capable of enduring a few home game sessions with your friends. Also, if you're at all interested in card manipulation (for entertainment purposes of course!) plastic-covered cards are much better suited for that purpose than 100% plastic deck mentioned above.

Bicycle cards come in many, many different flavors, from the environmentally conscious Bicycle Eco through, beautiful and stylish White Ghost, Steampunk, andDragon decks, plus the heavily stylized Black Scorpion or Shadow Master decks perfect for your Halloween-themed poker night. If you value aesthetics, you're interested in illusion/card manipulation or you're just looking for a cheap, but capable deck of cards, Bicycle decks seems like a great choice.


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Stewart resides in Edinburgh Scotland, and is a key member of the 180Vita team. An early member of the company, Stewart has worked on all of the companies major brands and projects, and is specifically involved in the core operations of PokerTube - Our flagship poker media website.Read more

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