Top Picks for Playing Cards

A Playing Card Buying Guide

Historians believe that playing cards were invented by the Chinese at some point during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), using woodblock printing technology. We've been dealing, fanning, and slapping them down ever since, in a variety of games that range from civilized Friday night bridge get-togethers to bawdy backroom poker fetes.

Avid players know it's crucial to have more than one deck of playing cards on hand. Even the best-made desks do eventually wear out. And sometimes it's just fun to have a bunch of different styles and colors on hand. Quality decks or sets are available in a variety of styles, with prices ranging from about $10 to $35.

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KEM Arrow Plastic Cards


A two-deck set made from plastic is a must for serious card players. KEM cards are considered the best in the industry, a standard in casinos and tournaments everywhere. Made of 100 percent cellulose acetate, they are flexible, strong, and they resist scuffs and breaks, all of which should ensure years of play from a single deck. They're even washable, so if they get sticky or dirty during a raucous game of cards, you can wipe them off and they'll be good as new. 

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Copag Plastic Cards

PVC Plastic Playng Cards
Copag Plastic Cards. Flickr

A two-deck set that is durable and washable, Copag is made from 100 percent PVC plastic. A great deal money-wise among the ranks of plastic cards, they’ll last through night after night of play. 

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Official World Poker Tour Playing Cards

If you're hosting a tournament at home, make it seem authentic by picking up a pair of these decks. Dealing out the cards with the World Poker Tour logo on the back, you'll feel one step closer to the pros. 

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Da Vinci Persiano Plastic Cards

This two-deck set of 100-percent-plastic playing cards are made in Italy by Modiano. Designed to offer durability at a less expensive price, Da Vinci is maybe a little slicker in feel than most, but they still shuffle and play great. They also come with a lifetime replacement warranty for defects or damaged and missing cards.

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MINIM Plastic Cards

Designed by artist Joe Doucet, this deck would be right at home in any minimalist decor. They might look like a gimmick, but Minim cards are made from sturdy PVC plastic and are most definitely regulation in all aspects. 

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Bee Premium Paper-Coated Cards

Most us will instantly recognize a set of Bee cards, with their distinctive diamond-pattern backs, as the cards of our childhoods. While they are a plastic-coated paper card, their price makes them a good option for practice and for beginner home players. 

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Brybelly 12-Pack Paper-Coated Cards

Play a lot of poker? You might want to consider buying in bulk. These cards are made from a premium heavyweight German card stock made from real wood pulp and are plastic coated with Brybelly’s elite finish, which reduces glare and ensures durable and fluid play. They also make a great gift thanks to their unique graphics, featured on the cards’ backs and on the aces, jokers, and court cards.

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Mollaspace All-Black Paper-Coated Cards

This all-black deck, whose futuristic look is achieved with glossy, super-black ink printed on a semi-gloss coated card stock, will definitely up the cool factor of your weekly poker game. Now's the time to put away the beer and chips, pull out the martini glasses, pass out the cigars, and put on your best James Bond-style poker face.