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Guide to playing cards7 December 2006
While there are dozens of products attempting to cash in on poker's popularity this holiday season, only one item is truly essential to play the game: Playing cards.
There are three things to consider in your quest for the perfect deck of cards:
Let's take these questions one at a time…
Paper or Plastic?
But that durability comes at a cost. Plastic cards cost three to five times as much as a standard deck of coated-paper cards. But if the person you're shopping for plays more than once a month, plastic is worth the added cost because the cards can last for several years.
Plastic setups also often come with hard plastic cases that also help protect them from damage while not being used.
Plastic options ($15-$30)
GEMACO: High quality plastic cards for the real serious player; slightly more expensive, slightly thicker than other plastic cards.
KEM: Another high quality plastic option, KEM cards are made of cellulose acetate; also slightly more expensive, but worth the cost for the serious home game. Company was recently purchased by the U.S. Playing Card Company, but there has been no noticeable change in quality.
Coated paper options ($3-$5)
Poker or Bridge?
Surprisingly, most casinos deal bridge-sized cards in their poker rooms. The narrower cards are slightly easier to handle and in games like Seven-Card Stud, space at the table can be at a premium at the end of the hand.
Most people have played games with both sizes, and whatever feels most natural is perfectly acceptable for a home game. As long as you hit the flop, size doesn't matter.
Standard or Jumbo
In a standard deck, the numbers and suits of hole cards are easily identifiable for players with good eyesight. But across a large table, it may be difficult to identify board cards in Hold'em or up cards in Seven-Card Stud.
Jumbo cards alleviate some of the problems, with the size of the numbers and suits roughly doubled. What you gain in visibility for exposed cards, you lose in visibility for your hole cards. You must lift more of the card off the table to identify hole cards with jumbo-sized cards.
Finding cards with the characteristics you are looking for shouldn't be too difficult. Most brands make all variations, so whether want a deck of jumbo poker-sized cards or standard bridge-sized cards, your preferred brand likely manufactures just what you're looking for.
Best of Aaron Todd