How To Choose Playing Cards (Quality, Design, Purpose)

The huge assortment of personalized playing cards available today might be difficult, if not overwhelming, for purchasers. The quality of one deck of cards compared to another might vary greatly. It is unquestionably a matter of personal preference, particularly when it comes to the visual impact and aesthetics of the design.

For everyday use, gamers might choose a slightly less costly and lower-quality set. Casinos, poker players, and magicians that use their decks frequently search for ones that are thick and sturdy and will not fade rapidly.

Because playing cards are composed of paper, cards with a black border or surface will show indications of wear and tear if used frequently. Some decks will use metallic ink on the backs of the cards, creating an instantly eye-catching and fashionable aesthetic, with the shine being visible when the cards catch the light at certain positions. 

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The Design Of Playing Cards

The design of playing cards entails striking a balance between functional restrictions and creative potential. The primary function of playing cards hasn’t changed much in the previous 640 years, but the core precepts and principles of design and print have been continually growing and improving until the current day.

Tradition – or conservatism – weighs heavily on the design of standard cards, particularly court cards, and until lately the models were of little importance in the sale of playing cards.

Because the major card player is primarily affected by the quality and longevity of the cards, rather than their novel design. He or she constantly wants the cards she is used to having. As a result, the card faces stayed constant for centuries.

As it was impossible to accurately align a back pattern with the fronts of the cards during production without slight variances that would allow an opponent to recognize them from their backs, the first playing cards had blank backs. 

Of course, there was already the issue of smudges or smears on the backs. As printing technology advanced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, basic designs of dots, geometric forms, sprigs, or other minor recurring motifs were introduced and eventually polished on the backs of cards. 

Because cards were precious at the time, incomplete packs were not thrown away. The simple backs, on the other hand, were frequently re-used as notelets, invitations, calling cards, library cards, and so on.

The Commemorative Series are among the playing cards that are made primarily for special events. The primary audience for these packs is not serious card players. The subject itself will inspire style and treatment in the case of special packs. 

But the interpretation reflects designers’ tastes, customers’ ideas, artists’ abilities, budgetary and regulatory demands, and societal fashions. The type of paper used is a critical component of the publishing process. 

And it can range from hard and robust to soft and flexible. Obviously, this may have a significant influence on how the deck feels and performs. The feel will differ greatly depending on the hardness or smoothness of the card material.

Quality Of The Tuck Box

The tuck box is always your first glance of a deck of cards, and here are some things to check for


The tuck box is vital first and foremost since it houses your deck of cards, therefore you don’t want something fragile. You want something that allows you to effortlessly open and close the flap to retrieve and store the cards. 

And you want to know that your valuable playing cards are safe within the tuck box when it is on the shelf or in transportation from one location to another. Fortunately, most playing card publishers currently produce high-quality tuck boxes that are both durable and useful, so there is no need to worry.


With the assistance of current technology, tuck boxes are reaching new heights of creativity nowadays. A high-quality deck of playing cards nearly always has embossing on the tuck box. This is when a portion of the writing or picture is elevated against the backdrop to give visual depth while also giving a tactile sense.


A tuck box’s aesthetic and visual statement is equally as crucial as its endurance. Because the tuck box is your first experience with a deck, it is critical for shaping that first impression. Naturally, you want to make a good first impression! 

Tuck boxes become pieces of art in their own right, and there are several examples of sumptuous and high-quality tuck boxes that are a visual treat on the shelf or gaming table. Decks with spectacular tuck boxes on display with amazing pieces of art make fantastic decorative components and immediately ooze quality and flair.

Foil Highlights

In addition to embossing, foil accents are frequent on higher-end decks. Gold and silver foil are the colours of choice for an elegant aesthetic, although designers may occasionally experiment with other coloured foil, such as red, blue, and even black.

These provide an immediate reflected gloss to areas of the tuck box, producing a highly sumptuous appearance. Metallic inks can be used in place of foil for a duller shine, but gold and silver foil accents are hard to top for the ultimate look of luxury, especially when paired with embossing.


Aside from metallic foil and embossing, another method to look for on a tuck box is the use of iridescent hues or UV spot printing, which may provide additional visual and even tactile components through a secondary printing process that gives an extra layer of gloss to chosen portions of a card. 

Some publishers are even experimenting with cloth and embroidery on their tuck boxes. You may also come across decks with a bespoke die-cut tuck box, which essentially provides a little window through which you can see and feel a portion of the card backs within the box.

Art And Layout

The tuck box opens up new avenues for artistic expression since, in addition to the cards, the artist or designer now has an extra canvas to work with, namely the tuck box itself. 

The creative design style will frequently make a statement that is directly related to the topic of the deck, and designers will frequently spend a lot of attention into the design of the said deck. 

This frequently includes not just the front, back, and sides of the box, but also the insides! Full interior printing is something to look for, and high-end decks will typically include printing on both the exterior and within the box


A personalised seal is a last thing to look for. Not every deck of custom playing cards will include a seal, but it is practically expected in a high-quality custom deck. Almost always, this will include original artwork that corresponds to the deck’s theme or concept. 

These seals may be sequentially addressable in some circumstances. This is typically done with smaller print runs and limited edition decks. A deck with numbered seals is nearly always more desirable and collectible, and you may expect to spend extra for one.

Card Design Quality

When we open a regular deck of Cycling rider backs, we know precisely which one to expect since the design of the card backs, court cards, and perhaps even things like the size and shape of the pips and indices all have a well established style that most of us are familiar to. 

One component of a “standard” deck that may vary is the artwork or picture on the card backs, although the face cards have a very straightforward and recognizable appearance.

Replicating this conventional design with only a new card back hardly makes a deck seem distinctive or unique, so anticipate all of this to alter with a high-quality personalised deck of playing cards. Almost every detail of the artwork will be customised! Here are some things to look for when it comes to card design:

Bespoke Card Backs

Similar to how a tuck box is our initial impression of a deck, the card backs are our first point of contact with a deck of playing cards. The card back will be a repeating motif that you’ll see repeated 54 times, therefore it’s one of the most essential factors in creating the overall design of a deck.


White borders are currently the most prevalent and, in my opinion, still create the greatest card backs today. Because playing cards are composed of paper, cards with black borders tend to exhibit indications of wear and chipping as they are used. 

Similarly, white bordered cards wear in the same way, but because the wear is normally seen as white, it is far less noticeable with a white-bordered deck. Both have their own charm.

Keeping It Simple

The backside of a playing card should, preferably, have an initial aesthetic appeal even from a distance, as well as be immediately recognised and remembered in a bold style by the player.

This quality has contributed to the success of well-known brands such as Bicycle and Bee, which have distinct designs with distinguishing attributes. Even a sophisticated design should have a distinct form or style that is obvious at first look.


Some decks have card backs that are borderless. These types of card backs look great for card flourishing manoeuvres like fans and spreads, and cardistry decks will often take use of this.

Magicians, on the other hand, prefer cards with borders because cards reversed in a deck are significantly more obvious when the cards are borderless, making certain sleight of hand manoeuvres far more difficult to accomplish.

It all depends on what you’re using your deck for, but borderless cards may surely provide an instant visual appeal to the player. Borderless card provide an edgy and aesthetically pleasing vibe to the players.

Customized Fonts

Another area to search for customisation is the indices, which are the opposing corners of the card faces where the card’s value is displayed. For the card indices, a highly styled or creative typeface is frequently utilised, which quickly changes the look of the cards from simple to very ornate.

One Way Designs

The standard in playing cards is for the card backs to be a symmetrical mirror-style picture, allowing them to be totally reversible. A one-way design can be more stunning on its own and can also be used to a magician’s benefit, especially if it is subtle. 

However, in most circumstances, a one-way design is undesirable since the cards would certainly end up facing opposite directions when shuffled and used. This rapidly becomes cluttered, which is why most people favour two-way or symmetrical designs.

Personalized Aces

The Ace of Spades is often the deck’s trademark card. Even in a normal deck, this signature card has a long history of having distinctive artwork, dating back to the period when playing cards were charged. 

Many custom decks will take this a step further by customising all of the Aces. Look for Aces with big pips or those with rich artwork and design. These stand out more and make the cards look sleek.

Personalized Jokers

As a bare minimum, almost every deck of bespoke playing cards will have customised Jokers. Even if the rest of the cards in the deck are rather normal, anticipate something unusual with the Jokers. 

Sometimes, the artwork chosen for these will have some sort of connection to the artwork of the court cards, however with the Jokers, this will be more frivolous, complementing the character and role of Jokers in a deck.

Another feature to seek for on the Jokers is a humorous card reveal to utilise in card magic, since Jokers are great for this. A lot of players like to surprise their rival players tricking display of joker cards. 

High-Quality Paper

If you strike up a conversation with a card enthusiast or someone who utilises playing cards on a regular basis for card magic or card flourishing, at some point you’ll find yourself discussing deck handling. A deck of playing cards’ handling skills are one of its most essential attributes, aside from its visual attractiveness.

The Best Old Favourites

These well-known classics are frequently played late into the night and are regulars at seasoned card tables. These games have withstood the test of time because they are among the most sociable card games and have entered mainstream culture through films, television, and gaming.


The goal is to win at least three tricks, with a bonus if you win all five. This is accomplished by using the highest-ranking card in each round. A trump suit is termed euchre, which implies that all cards of that suit, plus the jack of the same suit, become the highest-ranking cards.

The secret here is to believe that your partner understands what they’re doing. If your partner, for example, plays an ace, they are likely to win the trick for your team. So, if you hold a card higher than an ace, it’s probably a waste of time to play it because your partner will almost certainly win the trick. 


The goal of poker is to win money (or chips, which may or may not represent money). This is accomplished by either producing the greatest five-card hand at the table or bluffing your way to victory with a fairly low hand and convincing other players to fold. 

The game may be as serious or as informal as you wish, based on whether you’re playing from home or at a casino.


All the cards are dealt, and each heart is worth one point, with the queen of spades worth thirteen. It is usual practice to follow the first trick with a low-ranking spade in order to pull the queen out. When one player scores 100 points or more, the game is over. Everyone counts their scores, and the person with the fewest wins. 

The Best Playing Cards For Poker

KEM is a popular choice in casinos and poker tournaments for producing the best playing cards on the market. The Arrow standard-size deck is packaged in a robust two-pack carton. Each card is constructed entirely of cellulose acetate, a naturally derived material (aka bioplastic).

The material is extremely sturdy while being flexible and resistant to cracks, rips, and scuffs. Not only that, but these cards are also washable. If they become sticky or muddy during a raucous card game, you may rinse them in the sink or wipe them down.

Bicycle is undoubtedly the most well-known playing card brand—and not only because they’re inexpensive. These vintage paper cards with the renowned winged bicycle motif have a wonderful feel and are easy to shuffle. We also like how they come in two-deck packs, one red and one blue.

Copag’s 1546 Playing Cards are made of extra-durable thermoplastic (also known as polyvinyl chloride or PVC) and are strong, water-resistant, and simple to clean. Believe again if you think they won’t shuffle as readily as paper cards. The unexpectedly flexible substance shuffles as smoothly as butter without losing its form.


A conventional deck of playing cards has 52 cards, occasionally with one or two jokers. This is plenty for solitaire and a few multiplayer games, but many card games require two decks. Fortunately, many sets include two decks for this purpose. 

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