Poker players will tell you that there’s nothing worse than sitting down to a game only to be dealt flimsy, paper-thin cards that are easily bent and torn.
While Vegas casinos and Atlantic City poker rooms understand the importance of investing in good-quality cards for their table games, independent hosts of poker games are not necessarily as concerned with card quality.
So, to avoid upsetting your fellow players and ensure the cards you use at your upcoming poker games are of good quality, read on to find out everything you need to know about the best playing cards for poker.
What are the best playing cards for poker?
The best poker playing cards are made from plastic. The most durable poker cards consist of a layer of polymeric plastic film or cellulose acetate polymer, both of which increase the durability of your playing cards and are likely to last for months, if not years, depending on how frequently you use them and how well you look after them.
Playing cards made of such materials are much more difficult to bend and tear. They’re also much more difficult to mark, which is essential to consider when you’re hosting an independent poker game with friends.
Several brands manufacture high-quality playing cards for poker, including KEM, Faded Spade, Copag, and Modiano. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from each brand below.
KEM, trusted by brick-and-mortar casinos around the world
KEM poker cards are manufactured from 100% cellulose acetate and are trusted worldwide.
Although they’re slightly thinner than other premium cards, KEM playing cards are not remotely slippery, and the top cards never slide off when you set them down on the table – a hallmark of quality as far as playing cards are concerned.
Casinos worldwide trust KEM to manufacture their poker cards, and the bioplastic is ultra-strong, flexible, and resistant to cracks, tears, and bending. You can even wipe down KEM cards if they get sticky or grimy during games.
Although they come with a comparatively high price tag, KEM playing cards are a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for the best playing cards for poker.
Faded Spade, preferred playing cards of the World Poker Tour
Faded Spade are the preferred playing cards of the World Poker Tour, highlighting their suitability for your home poker tournaments.
What’s more, Faded Spade offers several types of playing cards, including 100% plastic and premium paper and playing card index options, covering all bases as far as your independent poker games are concerned.
As well as being an official partner of the WPT, Faded Spade cards are used at Borgata Casinos and Resorts World, Las Vegas. So, Faded Spade is well worth considering if you’re looking for the best playing cards for poker, and it will serve you well as you host games with your friends.
Copag, preferred playing cards of the World Series of Poker
Another brand that you may have come across if you’ve played poker on casino floors is Copag. Copag cards are made with extra-durable thermoplastic, making them highly durable, sturdy, and water-resistant.
Like KEM, you will find Copag cards at many brick-and-mortar casinos, and they make shuffling a breeze. Again, you can wipe them down after use and save them should one of your playing partners grease them up with nacho residue!
Modiano, thick and reliable Italian-made poker cards
Another playing card brand to consider is Modiano, an Italian company that has been manufacturing playing cards for a long time.
You will immediately notice that Modiano cards are thicker and heavier than those you are used to playing with, which can certainly take some getting used to for some poker players.
Another thing to note about Modiano cards is that they’re not smooth – they have slight variations to their texture, which further adds to their grip and durability.
There are several Modiano decks to try out, all of which are ideal for poker games. Although they’re available at a higher price than entry-level playing cards, their durability means you will get a lot more use out of them than other brands available on the market.
How much do the best poker playing cards cost?
Although you can buy cheap and cheerful playing cards for a few dollars, the best poker playing cards are understandably more expensive. For a two-pack of KEM casino-standard poker cards, you can expect to pay approximately $40 (depending on where you buy them from), which works out at $20 per deck.
Copag cards are the same price as those sold by KEM, while Faded Spade poker cards start at $25.
So, while they’re more expensive than the cheapest playing cards available on the market, a good set of poker cards won’t break the bank and are undoubtedly worth it if you’re serious about hosting an independent game at home and want to make shuffling easy.
Why does the quality of poker cards matter?
You can find playing cards in practically every supermarket and souvenir shop on the planet, often for just a couple of dollars. So, what problems are associated with cheap and cheerful cards that you can pick up practically anywhere? Well, the issues with these cards are as follows:
- They’re flimsy and poorly constructed, meaning they can bend and tear easily.
- Poker should never be played with bent or damaged cards, meaning you will probably need to replace the deck after a few hands.
- Poor-quality cards thicken slightly after a night of shuffling, which makes dealing with them more difficult.
- Thicker cards may also stick together, presenting several problems for poker dealers and players.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for when buying playing cards. Cheap and cheerful cards are perfect for taking away on vacation to play casual hands over a few drinks, but the best playing cards for poker are well made and cost a little more money.
Recap: the best playing cards for poker
Few things are as frustrating as sitting down at a poker table only to be dealt flimsy, paper-thin cards that crack and bend at any opportunity. Inferior quality poker cards make life difficult for dealers and players alike and even jeopardise the game.
As introduced throughout, you can pick up some high-quality poker cards for around $20 per pack, which are durable, sturdy, and likely to last for several months, if not years.
So, if you’re planning to host a tournament at home, invest in a decent deck from one of the above-introduced best brands of playing cards for poker to avoid embarrassment.