Whether you are a current poker player or are attempting to learn the game, a reliable set of playing cards can go a long way in advancing your game. Unfortunately, with so many cards on the market, it can be difficult to choose the best set of playing cards for your game.
When choosing playing cards, it is important to select a card that is sturdy, durable, and can be used many times without wearing down. A good set of playing cards can last years, so be mindful of the cards’ material when choosing, as well as price, professionalism, and design.
To learn more about important qualities in playing cards and learn the 12 playing cards that best embody these qualities, keep reading.
What Qualities Should You Look for in Poker Playing Cards?
When choosing a playing card, it is hard to define the “best” cards for poker. However, there are a few qualities in certain card brands that set some cards ahead of others.
One convenient quality that many top playing cards possess is the ability to be washed. This aspect of a card may be essential when you are playing with children or a particularly rowdy group of poker players, as drinks can easily be spilled on cards. Even if you are neat, cards can become messy when touched with a child’s sticky fingers or grease from pizza eaten during the game.
Although washable cards are often more expensive, this trait will ensure a return on your investment, as you can save money from avoiding buying a second deck if your first purchase becomes damaged by water. Washing cards as needed also keeps your cards clean and professional-looking. Usually, you can hand wash these cards with a damp cloth.
Another quality you may look for in playing cards is a neat, durable box. Regardless of the cards’ quality, you will need to keep them in a box, and ensuring you use one that will not be damaged supports the quality of your cards. Additionally, a durable or decorated box contributes to your game’s professionalism and look.
Especially when hosting frequent poker games, you may need multiple decks of cards, so quantity is an important consideration when making your purchase. Some cards may come in bulk packs or offer bulk discounts, and many come in packs of 2 when you first purchase them. Overall, this might be a question of price- if you are buying multiple decks, you may want to opt for a cheaper option to avoid excessive spending.
However, this strategy can backfire if you purchase cards that lack durability. You will run through the decks faster and may need to purchase more, losing money in the long run. To avoid buying cards that are easily damaged, you should seek cards that are plastic or plastic-coated.
Many common household playing cards are paper or cardboard with plastic coating. This coating protects your cards from small spills or sprays, and can also help prevent the cardboard from bending.
Other cards are 100% plastic, meaning they are all plastic and usually washable. Plastic cards are more durable and harder to bend than plastic-coated cards, so you can trust plastic playing cards to last for a long time. Unfortunately, these cards are more expensive than plastic-coated cards, so you need to decide whether you can make room in your budget.
Finally, you may want to consider the cards’ design when you are choosing the perfect playing cards for your poker game. This trait is completely up to your preference, but some players like to use cards with neat designs and patterns to add intrigue or style to the game. Intricately designed cards will probably be more expensive than plain cards, but the design is definitely an important aspect of finding the best playing cards.
This list provides an overview of cards that contain many of these ideal qualities. Overall, the best playing cards are durable, attractive, washable, and reasonably priced. While choosing your product, you should consider which traits are required for you to choose a card, as most of these cards will not have all the ideal qualities. You can pick the high-quality card that is best for you and your game.
KEM cards are made from 100% cellulose acetate plastic, and they claim this model is better than cardboard cards coated in plastic. The plastic coating on these cards can rapidly wear off, leading the cards to bend more easily or lose functionality. KEM’s acetate makes them strong and flexible, so they will easily bend without breaking. Furthermore, these cards are washable for convenience if they get dirty during a game.
These cards are $32 for a set of 2 decks, but this is mainly due to their high-quality material and resistance. Because they can last for years of play, these cards are still a good investment. Also, their washability can prevent you from frequently needing to buy new cards, which will save you money in the long run. Their durability has made them a top choice for casinos all over because they like using the cards frequently without needing to replace them.
Finally, these cards may be best known for their lack of slip- they are easy to shuffle and deal without slipping from your grasp. This trait also prevents cards from sliding off the top of the deck when you set it down, which could jeopardize the integrity of the game or simply be an annoyance. When combined, these qualities coalesce to make KEM the chosen playing decks for professional poker players everywhere.
While KEM playing cards are often regarded as the best poker deck, there is another brand of poker card that is consistently ranked among the best playing cards for poker. This brand is called Copag. Across the United States and other countries, these cards are well-known throughout the poker community and are widely used by all levels of players in televised tournaments, casino games, and at-home poker nights.
During poker games, it is important to find durable decks that you can trust to avoid scuffs and bends, as well as prevent players from cheating and marking cards. To alleviate cheating, Copag is an excellent and well-trusted brand.
Copag Cards are the official playing cards of the World Series of Poker, which underscores their stellar reputation in the poker community. They are made of 100% PVC plastic and could last 20 to 50 times longer than standard paper cards. Importantly, they are very difficult to crease or mark, so you can ensure you are playing a fair game. Like KEM cards, they are washable, but are only $17 for a set of 2 decks, making them a great deal for your money.
Finally, their large size will prevent strain on your eyes and ensure your poker game runs smoothly. Most decks come in a plastic case, which is an essential aspect of a deck’s durability, as it will probably be in the same case as long as you have it. A plastic case protects your cards from water damage, denting, or bending in storage. Furthermore, having a sturdy plastic case will give your cards an air of professionalism and make them easier to transport.
Copag cards are ideal for anyone looking for well-known cards that will stand the test of time. A deck of Copag playing cards can last years, and you will feel like a true professional playing with this renowned deck.
If you have played any card game, whether you have enjoyed a game of Rummy or a casual game of Go Fish, you have probably used Bicycle playing cards at some point. These cards are widely sold in stores and are used by most of the general population. You can purchase them at nearly any store or gas station, and have most likely been using them throughout your life.
Bicycle playing cards have been around since 1885, meaning they have made playing cards in three different centuries. They come in several different designs and due to their extensive history, they have severely special edition decks and a variety of collectible designs and types. Bicycle is the signature brand of the United States Playing Card Company, which owns dozens of playing card brands.
Since Bicycle is such an extensive and aged card company, they have a vast array of design options. From US President themed decks to the classic red and blue backs, Bicycle offers designs for every game.
When first taken out of the box, these cards tend to be very slippery, which can make them quite difficult to stack or deal. Moreover, while these cards are reasonably durable and resistant to rips, the corners tend to bend or chip over time.
They have a paper-feel plastic coating, meaning that although they are coated in plastic to increase durability, they feel like a paper card, which some players prefer for authenticity and a traditional atmosphere. Overall, these cards are versatile and are good for neighborhood card games, casual poker tournaments, or even playing cards with kids.
Modiano playing cards offer several varieties of cards and are ideal for players who want a versatile brand. Modiano cards are owned by Brybelly and made in jumbo poker size. They are 100% plastic but distinguish themselves from other plastic cards with their texture. Rather than aiming for the smoothness of other plastic cards, Modiano has attempted to create a unique textured card with a firm grip and less slidable card.
Usually, Modiano playing cards are about $12 per deck. This makes them a bit pricier than other 100% plastic cards such as Copag, which is $15 for two decks, but they are still widely used in renowned poker competitions and even the World Series.
Modiano playing cards were the playing cards of the 2015 World Series of Poker and are extremely resistant, lasting 50-100 times as long as a paper-based or plastic-coated playing card. For players’ convenience, they are washable and waterproof, so you do not have to worry about spilling drinks on them or being unable to use them after small messes.
These cards are also crimped and fade resistant. They pride themselves on their thickness and shape retention, so they do not easily bend. Furthermore, their shape retention keeps them crisp and easy to shuffle. Overall, they are recommended for their durability and reliance as a plastic card.
Lastly, Modiano offers a bulk discount, so it may be a convenient way to get high-quality cards at a reasonable price. This discount can be useful for hosting a poker tournament, playing for years, or gifting cards to friends.
If you play a lot of casual poker, you may run through cards quickly. When hosting tournaments, you may need several decks readily available, or you may want to distribute decks of cards to others. Especially if you have a family, you may lose cards frequently as children use and repurpose them. Overall, if you want to buy playing cards in bulk for a good price to avoid running out of cards, Brybelly is a good option.
Brybelly playing cards are standard plastic-coated playing cards made wide enough for poker. These cards are less durable than plastic cards or the cards usually used for poker, but they are offered in bulk at a good price. The Brybelly 12 Decks (6 Red/6 Blue) Wide-Size, Jumbo Index Plastic Coated Playing Cards on Amazon are offered in a 12-pack of decks for $15, which is a nearly unbeatable price for reasonable quality cards.
Brybelly brand is definitely the cheapest on our list and is great for anyone with a family or someone playing a poker tournament. At about $1.25 per deck, Brybelly playing cards are perfect for beginners and those who may lose cards easily.
Da Vinci Persiano
Da Vinci cards are manufactured in Italy by Modiano and claim to be comparable with KEM cards at a lower price. They make a few types of cards, but Persianois a well-designed, poker-sized deck that can be bought in bulk to save money.
Da Vinci Persiano Plastic Cards are 100% plastic cards made in Italy. They are washable but may feel a bit slicker than cards you are used to, which can lead them to slip out of your hands. However, they offer high durability at a lower price, so they are a good option for buying large amounts of decks for tournaments. You can get a two-deck pack for $15.
Other Da Vinci brands, such as Da Vinci Royal playing cards, also offer plastic playing cards at a reasonable price. While the Royal type is not as renowned as the Persiano, they are still plastic and washable. These cards are cheaper, at about $6 for a two-deck pack, and they come in a plastic shell case.
Overall, if you are interested in purchasing some high-quality Italian playing cards, the Da Vinci brand is a great choice.
So far, this list has mainly focused on cards’ functionality, durability, and reputation. However, the design is a key aspect of playing cards, and while some want a design that is simple and to the point, others may prefer a more intricate card. A nice design signals to other players that you care about card quality and take the game seriously, and is also great for card collectors.
The Kings Wild Project makes luxury playing cards that are collectible and custom-made. They are known for their pristine, hand-illustrated decks with unique designs. Past designs include a “Noble Train” series deck inspired by a series of decks printed in wartime around WWI, hand-colored “crayon” playing cards and a trick-or-treat themed deck for Halloween.
These cards offer more than just functionality- they inspire creativity and mental challenge as well. For example, their labyrinth themed deck has a maze on several of the cards that must be solved to reveal the court card! This is a fun way to have cards that are interactive, attractive, and functional.
Current creative designs include a “postage” themed deck that is wrapped like a package with post writing on it and an “el toro” deck with a simple tuck case that contrasts with the bold cards, which include a royal court dressed in 15th-century royal clothing.
They even offer a luxury playing card subscription so you can receive beautiful card decks every month. You can choose to receive a standard subscription deck for $12 every month, a limited edition deck for $30 each month, or a gilded edition deck for $45 each month.
Faded Spade was developed by Tom Wheaton, a passionate poker player who has become a skilled poker player and developed a passion for poker. He began playing at home, then transitioned to tournaments in Orlando and Vegas, playing part-time on weekends. As a poker player, he knows what players look for in their decks, and developed Faded Spade to respond to consumer’s desires.
Although they are a relatively new brand, Faded Spade playing cards are very well known and have been used in both the US and the British Poker Open. Their modern design keeps them relevant in an evolving poker climate, and their face cards use a fresh, bright design for a clean and relevant look. Events such as Heartland Poker Tour, Japan’s Open Poker Tour, and the World Poker Tour use Faded Spade playing cards as a preferred brand.
Like many cards on this list, Faded Spade Playing Cards are 100% plastic. They advertise a “crisp sound,” which is attractive to many serious poker players, and they are strong and flexible. Overall, Faded Spade is a rapidly expanding, modern card brand. Because it was created recently, it has responded to modern players’ preferences and is good for anyone who desires a unique card with a fresh look.
Monarch Playing Cards by Theory 11
Monarch playing cards from theory 11 are unique cards that make great gifts. They boast that they were ranked #1 in the GQ holiday gift guide, which is well-known for recommending gifts that guide consumers to the perfect gift for their relatives during the holiday season. They are one of Theory11’s best brands and are great for any game from magic to poker.
These cards are covered in a navy blue box with gold metallic foil and strive for a vintage look. At about $10 a deck, they fall in a middle price range for top-quality poker cards. However, one important consideration with these cards is that they are not plastic, so they do not have the waterproof and washable qualities that others do. Also, they will be less durable and bend easier than a plastic card.
That said, these cards are considered quite durable for paper cards and can still last years with proper cards. Furthermore, their high price can be justified by their unique design and texture.
If you are trying to be more environmentally conscious or like supporting US businesses, these cards may be right for you. They are made in the USA on FSC-certified paper from sustainable forests, so they may have a lower environmental impact than other brands of cards. Along with the 3-dimensional design, this paper gives them a thick, rich feel and a professional look that will impress your friends.
Overall, Monarch Playing Cards are great for anyone envisioning a professional and beautiful card to give their poker games an aura of authority. As elegant as they are, they truly embody the name “monarch” and will make you feel like a king every time you play!
Big Blind playing cards are made from casino-grade PVC and are considered Casino quality. Furthermore, they offer a waterproof and spill-proof card due to their PVC makeup. They claim to last 20 times longer than paper cards and are quite durable and wear-resistant. Like other plastic cards, the PVC makes them easy to clean with a damp cloth and will not wear down when wet.
Big Blind is another unique brand with hand-drawn designs but stands out as one of the few brands that are plastic and still beautifully designed. Their designs feature intricate skulls, often drawn as the faces of the royal cards.
However, the name of the brand is on the back of every card, hindering the absolute beauty of the design. Furthermore, this brand can be a bit slippery, which may lead them to slide or be difficult to stack and deal.
These cards are great for serious poker players who also have an eye for design or are considering collecting poker decks. You can find Big Blind Quality Plastic Playing Cards on Amazon for about $10 per deck, which makes them a great deal for a well-designed deck that also has water resistance and durability.
Ritz Poker Playing Cards
Ritz Poker Playing Cards are 100% plastic and are washable. They come in a plastic case that is clear on the top, so you can clearly see the cards displayed. A blue deck and a red deck sit side-by-side in the case, and they come in a very simple and classic design with a basic pattern on the back.
Ritz poker playing cards come in two-pack decks for about $11, making them another great option for a reasonably-priced plastic deck. If you want a traditional deck with a basic look that is the ideal plastic material for poker, consider these Ritz 100% Plastic Playing Cards in Plastic Case from Amazon.
Fournier Playing Cards
Fournier is well-known for their Spanish deck of playing cards, but they also produce poker playing cards. Their poker cards are used worldwide and are presented in gambling halls on five continents.
This card is a European-style card that has been used since 1870, making it one of the oldest playing card brands. Made in Spain, these cards offer a unique make contrasted with many American brands. They are made on paper that is specifically created for Fournier, and although many paper cards lack durability and strength, they boast a smooth feel and strength that will last for years.
Fournier cards come in a variety of cases, and you can choose a traditional cardboard tuck box or a plastic case for prolonged use. For beginners, they even make poker sets with playing instructions and guides! Overall, Fournier is a good option for anyone who desires a European deck with smooth paper and a variety of cases.
While you are searching for the perfect deck of playing cards for poker, the factors you consider will depend on your personal needs. For a clean card with a long lifespan, you should search for a card that is plastic, as these cards are usually washable and more durable than their paper counterparts. However, plastic cards may be more expensive, so you can aim for a paper card with a plastic coating for casual games or buying in bulk.