All playing cards are the same, right? Well, the answer depends on what type of game you’re playing and where you buy them. Because poker rooms don’t use poker-sized cards, things can start to get a little confusing.
So, are poker cards the same size as standard cards? No, poker cards are not the same size as standard (B8) cards. The size of a standard card is 2.44 x 3.46 inches, while the size of a poker card is 2.5 x 3.5 inches. However, many venues don’t use poker cards to play poker.
There are three main playing card sizes that you’re going to see: B8-sized cards, poker-sized cards, and bridge-sized cards. There is no standard size as different venues will use different cards for a wide variety of reasons. What is clear is that poker can be played with all these types of cards, as they are all quite similar.
What are the size differences?
Let’s take a look at the size differences between the three main types of cards:
- B8 – 62 x 88mm (2.44 x 3.46in)
- Poker – 63.5 x 88.9mm (2.5 x 3.5in)
- Bridge – 56 x 88.9mm (2.25 x 3.5in)
As you can see, the B8 cards and poker-sized cards are very similar. Bridge sized cards are the same height as poker cards but are notably thinner.
What do we mean by B8?
Well, you may be used to A4 when talking about paper, and in the same way, B8 is a standardized paper size. The reason that they have become so common for playing cards is how similar they are to the poker size.
The majority of cheaper cards that you’ll buy are B8 sized, which would lead many to say they are the standard size. The reason they are so common is that because they are easily mass-produced because of their standardized size.
Even though they are quite popular, you’re rarely going to see these cards in a casino or professional poker. They are usually made out of two pieces of card that are then stuck together to make a playing card, and often don’t have a huge level of quality.
With poker cards being just 1.5mm wider and 0.9mm taller than B8 cards, you are barely going to be able to see the difference. This has been the standard size used for many card games where only a small number of cards will be in your hand at one time.
If you’re buying poker-sized cards, then there is a good chance you’ll be buying a quality deck. They are a specialized size that is usually only made by playing card manufacturers that specialize in making playing cards.
Note: Many people would consider this to be the standard size of playing cards, as it has been used for a long time. This confusion is where the definition of what is ‘standard’ can differ.
While you may not see the difference between B8 cards and poker cards unless you looked closely, the difference between B8 cards and bridge cards is very obvious. They are a whole 7.5mm narrower than classical poker cards.
The reason they are slimmer is because of how bridge is played. It’s easier to hold narrow cards, and this means they can also be used for other games. Many card-making companies will almost exclusively make bridge cards due to their popularity.
Bridge cards are common in casinos for a variety of different reasons. Card games other than bridge, require you to hold a large number of cards, which makes the thinner bridge cards useful for other card games too. As we’ll see in the next section, their use goes way beyond regular card games.
What type of cards should you play poker with?
You should always play poker with poker cards, right?
Well, not always.
If you go into a licensed card room in a casino, then you’ll probably be playing with bridge sized cards. There are two primary reasons for this.
Smaller cards are less expensive to deal with
Casinos go through a ridiculous number of cards each day, and having smaller cards means fewer production costs and less waste.
Smaller cards play nicer with shuffling machines
Bridge cards are also easier to put through a shuffling machine, which is a process that usually performed after every hand.
The odd thing about casinos is that they often use poker cards for everything except poker. You’ll often see the wider cards on the likes of blackjack tables. Casinos simply look beyond the name and do whatever makes sense for their unique environment.
The whole situation with playing cards and casinos has to be closely controlled. There are even minor details such as their cards often have larger symbols on them so that the cameras are able to follow the game and spot any foul play.
Should you use bridge cards?
The type of card you use to play poker doesn’t really matter.
There isn’t much difference between these types of cards, and you can use whatever makes you the most comfortable or the deck that you already have. For a more traditional experience, poker cards can be used as some enjoy the fact that they are wider.
The reason that bridge cards are smaller than their rivals is that in bridge, you can be holding up to 13 cards at a time. For those with smaller hands, holding 13 poker-sized cards in your hand can cause it to cramp and quite quickly be very uncomfortable.
It’s impossible to know for sure, but we’re going to guess that most card games are played with B8 cards, as they are the type you can pick up at your local store. If a casual player isn’t using B8 cards, then they will probably be using poker cards.
At the competitive level, there are no regulations to follow; you can play with any cards that you want to. If you want the authentic casino experience, then order some bridge cards. For a traditional game, use poker cards. If you don’t care, you’ll probably end up with some B8 cards.
There is no point in being too bothered about which type of playing cards you’re going to be using. If casinos don’t care about playing poker with a traditionally sized deck, then neither should you.
More important than the size of cards that you’re playing with is the quality of the cards. If you’re playing at home, this will be important, as you won’t have the luxury of casinos where you can go through hundreds of packs in a day.
Why does quality count?
Well, cards can be marked in several different ways.
A used deck can become worn at the edges, be bent in a certain way, or could have markings that differentiate it from the rest of the pack. This marking can give players who notice the inconsistencies an unfair advantage.
Wearing can happen quickly with cheap cards, which only adds to the trouble. Anyone with a good memory would be able to pick this up and know which cards are marked in a certain way. This is the reason that a casino will change their cards so regularly.
Are all poker cards made in the same way?
In addition to the size, the way that the cards are made is going to be of importance.
Traditional cheap playing cards are made from simple paper. The problem here is that they can quickly fade over time with wear. Paper cards are also more prone to bending and marks appearing on the backs of the cards.
The two faces of the card are printed and cut out and then stuck together with glue that helps not only stick it together but also stops light from getting through the card.
While this process is now seen as an inferior manufacturing method, there are still companies that produce old-style playing cards to a high standard.
If you’re serious about playing poker, then you’ll want to get a plastic set. They can be cleaned and won’t be ruined if they get wet. Also, you can bend them to look at your cards without that bend becoming permanent.
If you want to get same quality playing cards that I have, then you can check Bullets cards here on Amazon. They come with 2 decks of cards – blue and red backside.
Casinos use these plastic cards because they are more durable and also because they are harder to cheat with. Plastic cards will give you the peace of mind that everyone is playing the same game. But if you don’t play poker that often or don’t play high stakes, then paper cards should be okay.
How we got the playing cards we have today
All across the world, poker is played with the same 52 card deck; but where does this standard card deck originate from?
A logical guess would be Britain or America, but they were actually created in France hundreds of years ago before spreading around the world.
There are various theories about the origin of cards in general, but China has the earliest known card game with it appearing in the 9th century. This then spread to medieval Europe, with card games being banned in many countries as they were seen as a sin.
There are many different forms of playing cards rather than the French deck we commonly know, although all of the main ones use four suits. A classical German deck, for example, uses hearts, bells, acorns, and leaves as their suits.
What’s in a deck of cards? Five interesting quirks
Have you ever actually studied a deck of cards? While they all have slight variations in design, there are common themes that you’ll find on almost all cards. Let’s have a look at these common designs.
- Jack of Hearts and Spades + king of diamonds– All of the face cards appear to be looking almost straight where you can see both eyes. The only exceptions to this are the jacks of both hearts and spades and the king of diamonds. With these cards, both are facing to the side where you can only see one eye, and also the king of diamonds.
- King of hearts – The king of hearts is usually the only card that either doesn’t have a mustache or has a much smaller one than the other three kings.
- King of hearts and diamonds – These two kings are affectionately known as the “suicide kings,” as both of them are reaching behind with their weapon, almost as if they are stabbing themselves in the back.
- King of diamonds – Another curious aspect of the king of diamonds is that it is the only kings with an ax; the rest of them have swords.
- Queen of spades – This queen holds a scepter, which often looks like a bedpost hence the nickname, “the bedpost queen.” She is also the only queen that looks to her left.
Many people can play cards their whole life without knowing that these little design quirks are so standardized. There are types of games that use these unique cards as wild cards.
The ace of spades also has an interesting history. Aside from being the subject of one of the best rock songs of all-time, it also often has the largest symbol of any playing card with a large ornate spade. It’s often used as a trump card in some games.
In the 18th century Britain, there was a tax on playing cards, and anyone playing with an illegal deck could be punished by death. To validate a deck, manufacturers often stamped the ace of spades to show it was legal. The country still had a tax on playing cards until 1960.
Casinos and playing cards
We looked at before how casinos use different sizes of playing cards. They churn through an incredible amount and will get rid of any decks that are looking worn to avoid anyone cheating the system.
A casino will either dispose of these cards, but they can also sell them. If they do this, then they will often wither hole punch or clip the cards. This is so that no-one can go back into the casino and try and cheat them with their own cards.
If a table isn’t too busy and there isn’t much action, then a pack of cards can last up to 12 hours. If there is a lot of action on a busy table, however, the cards may be retired after just an hour. With so many tables, it’s easy to imagine just how many cards they use.
Even on high-quality plastic cards, there may be slight marks and bends after a while that can let a player know which card it is. It’s all a part of a casino’s security system, which is notoriously robust, especially in places such as Las Vegas.
Q: Why are there different card sizes?
A: Poker-sized cards are the original size of card. With them being more difficult to hold in your hand, bridge cards were made to be thinner. B8 cards follow a specific print sizing, making it easy for manufacturers that make more than just playing cards.
Q: Is there a law on card sizes?
A: Quite simply, no. Anyone can play with any size of card they want for any game. As mentioned, in a casino, they play poker with bridge cards and blackjack with poker cards. There are no set rules for poker or playing cards in general.
Q: Which size should I play with?
A: If you already have a high-quality deck of cards, just play with that regardless of its size. If you’re looking at a new deck, then you can choose whichever you feel most comfortable with. If you’ve always played with poker cards, there’s no reason to change. Cards are often handled in poker, but only two at a time, making the size less important.
Q: Are there any other card sizes?
A: In terms of playing a serious card game, not really. The three sizes have been around for a long time, and it won’t change anytime soon. There are the likes of mini cards and jumbo-sized cards, but these are generally made for novelty reasons.
Q: What are the best quality cards?
A: If you walk into your grocery store, then you’ll most likely be picking up paper playing cards. These are fine but will wear out pretty quickly. If you want the ultimate in durability and security, then you should get plastic playing cards.
Are playing cards the same size as standard cards?
For a lot of people, the answer would be yes. That’s not because the two types are the same size, but because many people view poker cards to be the “standard” size of cards. So they are the same thing.
As we’ve seen it can be quite confusing. If you’ve only played poker in a casino, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that bridge-sized cards were poker cards.
It also poses the question of whether ‘poker cards’ are what you play poker with (regardless of size), or are they just a name for a type of card size? Whatever your view, the poker card size is 63.5 x 88.9mm, and thus seen by many as the standard card size.
You can, however, play with any playing cards that you want to. What’s important is that the game is fair, the pack is complete, and the cards aren’t marked. If you’ve ticked all those boxes, then simply enjoy your game of poker, with whatever sized cards you have.