The 11 Best Playing Cards of 2021

Standout stacks, sets, decks, and designs

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Dice and three aces, close-up
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Whether you're a serious poker player, host regular game nights, like to play solitaire once in a while, participate in the occasional drinking game, or are trying to fine-tune a few magic tricks, you should have at least one deck of cards in your arsenal. Playing cards take up hardly any space, they're easy to take on the road, and there are nearly endless things you can do with them.

Even if you're not big on games or card tricks, it's nice to have a deck on hand in case the occasion arises. If you landed on this page, you're probably aware that not all cards are created equal. You want the crème de la crème of playing cards, but what does that mean exactly?

For some, it's about the material—water resistance, thickness, ease of shuffling, or overall feel. For others, design is of the essence, whether it's the artwork, text, or dimensions. And in many cases, a set of two decks is ideal. With all this in mind, we stacked up the choicest decks for every game, aesthetic preference, and budget.

Without further ado, here are the best playing cards you can buy today.

Our Top Picks
These playing cards are considered the best in the industry, a standard in casinos and tournaments everywhere.
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Featuring the iconic winged bicyclist graphic, these paper cards are affordable and easy to shuffle.
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Made of durable thermoplastic, these high-quality playing cards are washable and long-lasting.
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This handmade deck features a stunning gold-pressed deco graphic on the back.
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This waterproof double-deck is perfect for speed, slapjack, gin rummy, and other two-person card games.
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With detailed illustrations on the fronts and foiling on the backs, these luxurious playing cards are perfect for solitaire.
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This budget-friendly pack of 12 is ideal for regular poker players.
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Thanks to the 1.5-inch text, the numbers and letters on these plastic playing cards are super easy to read.
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At 7 x 4.5 inches, these oversized playing cards are twice as big as a standard deck.
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You can customize the decks with custom text or a foil-stamped monogram.
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01
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Best Overall: KEM Poker Arrow Red and Blue Standard Index Playing Cards (Pack of 2)

KEM Poker Arrow Playing Cards

Material: Cellulose acetate | Amount: 106 cards | Player Level: Adult

What We Like
  • Pack of two

  • Standard size

  • Washable

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat pricey

A gold standard in casinos and poker tournaments, KEM is known for making the best playing cards in the industry. The brand's signature Arrow standard-size deck comes in a sturdy two-pack box. Each card is made of 100 percent cellulose acetate, a naturally sourced plastic (aka bioplastic).

The material is ultra-strong yet flexible and resistant to cracks, tears, and scuffs. Not only that, but these cards are conveniently washable. You can rinse them off in the sink or wipe them down if they get a little sticky or grimy during a boisterous card game.

02
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Best Budget: Bicycle Standard Playing Cards 2 Pack

Bicycle Standard Playing Cards

Material: Paper | Amount: 104 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Standard size

  • Easy to shuffle

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to water damage

Bicycle is arguably the most well-known brand of playing cards—and not just because they're budget-friendly. Featuring the iconic winged bicyclist design, these classic paper cards have a nice texture and are easy to shuffle. We also like that they come in packs of two decks, one red and one blue.

03
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Best Plastic: Copag 1546 Design 100% Plastic Playing Cards Double Deck

Copag 1546 Design

Material: Thermoplastic | Amount: 104 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Washable

  • Long-lasting

  • Pack of two

What We Don't Like
  • Mild plastic smell

Made of extra-durable thermoplastic (aka polyvinyl chloride or PVC), Copag's 1546 Playing Cards are sturdy, water-resistant, and easy to clean. If you think this means they won't shuffle as easily as paper decks, think again. The surprisingly flexible material boasts smooth-as-butter shuffling without losing its shape.

04
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Best Design: TTCamazingcrafts Art Deco Style Playing Cards

Art Deco Playing Cards

Material: Paper | Amount: 54 cards | Player Level: Adult

If you're drawn to cards with unique graphics, we think you'll love the Art Deco deck from the Etsy shop TTCamazingcrafts. The backs of these paper playing cards flaunt a chic, luxurious gold-pressed design, and the fronts feature historical figures. With a thoughtful, handmade aesthetic, they're perfect for a gift or tossing in your bag for on-the-go games.

What We Like
  • Unique design

  • Handmade

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to water damage

  • Only one deck

05
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Best Two-Player: Bullets Standard Index Plastic Playing Cards

Bullets Standard Index Plastic Playing Cards

This dual pack of Bullets Playing Cards is ideal for two-person card games. Each standard-size deck has 52 cards, plus two jokers, so you can play games like slapjack, speed, double solitaire, blackjack, or gin rummy. Made of 100 percent plastic, we also appreciate that they're waterproof, washable, and long-lasting.

Material: Plastic | Amount: 108 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Standard size

  • Waterproof

  • Pack of two

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively stiff

06
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Best Single-Player: Misc. Goods Co. Quality Playing Cards Deck

Quality Playing Cards Deck

Material: Cardstock | Amount: 56 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Unique imagery

  • Luxury design

  • Multiple colors available

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to water damage

  • Only one deck

What began as a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 is now a widely beloved deck of luxury cards. Misc. Goods Co.'s Quality Playing Cards are made of sturdy cardstock with gorgeously detailed illustrations on the fronts and metallic pressed foil on the backs. We also like that they come in a range of cool colors, including black, ivory, marigold, and sandstone.

07
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Best for Poker: Maverick Standard Playing Cards 12 Pack

Standard Playing Cards 12 Pack

Material: Plastic-coated paper | Amount: 648 cards | Player Level: Adult

What We Like
  • Standard size

  • Pack of 12

  • Great value

What We Don't Like
  • Not long-lasting

If you play a lot of poker, you're wise to keep several decks of cards on hand. That's why we recommend this wallet-friendly 12-pack from Maverick.

Each standard-size deck comes with 52 cards and two jokers, all made of paper with a water-resistant plastic coating. We also like that the traditional red and blue designs lend to a classic, no-nonsense appeal.

08
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Best Large-Print: MaxiAids Marinoff Large Print Playing Cards

Marinoff Large Print Playing Cards

Material: Plastic | Amount: 52 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Large print

  • Standard size

  • Washable

What We Don't Like
  • Only one deck

Marinoff Large Print Playing Cards are ideal for kids, seniors, and anyone else who may have trouble reading smaller numbers. The sizable text is 1.5 inches tall, and the graphics are bold for easy recognition. We also appreciate that the cards are made of durable, washable plastic.

09
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Best Jumbo: Midway Monsters Mega Playing Cards Jumbo Deck

Mega Playing Cards Jumbo Deck

Material: Plastic-coated paper | Amount: 54 | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Jumbo size

  • Water resistant

  • Good for all ages

What We Don't Like
  • Tricky to shuffle

Measuring 7 x 4.5 inches, these jumbo playing cards are twice as big as a standard-size deck. While they're not ideal for poker and are a little tricky to shuffle, they're sure to be a hit at your next family game night. The playful, almost comical size is also great for a coffee table or even decoration for a themed party.

10
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Best Gift: Mark & Graham Double Deck Playing Cards

Double Deck Playing Cards

Material: Cardstock | Amount: 104 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Customizable

  • Pack of two

  • Acrylic box

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively pricey

If you're gifting playing cards, you should definitely check out this set from Mark & Graham. You can choose from five color combinations and opt for a foil-stamped monogram or custom text on the backs. The pack is housed in a durable acrylic case and comes with two decks, each made of high-quality cardstock.

11
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Best for Kids: Fredericks & Mae Rainbow Playing Cards

Rainbow Playing Cards

Material: Paper | Amount: 52 cards | Player Level: All

What We Like
  • Rainbow colors

  • Legible print

  • Sturdy box

What We Don't Like
  • Prone to water damage

If you're shopping for a kid, we suggest this charming deck from the Brooklyn-based design studio Fredericks & Mae. The fronts of the cards feature a brilliant rainbow-colored sequence with legible white and black lettering. While the paper won't stand up to moisture damage as well as a plastic deck, this is a great starter set for kiddos.

Final Verdict

The best playing cards overall are KEM Poker Arrow Red and Blue Playing Cards (view at Amazon). We appreciate that the set comes with two standard-size decks and that each card is made of durable, flexible, and washable cellulose acetate. However, if you're on a budget, you really can't go wrong with a double-deck of Bicycle Standard Playing Cards (view at Amazon).

What to Look For When Buying Playing Cards

Material

When shopping around for playing cards, you'll want to consider the material. Traditionally, cards have been made of cardstock or another type of flexible yet sturdy paper. Paper is prone to moisture damage, but some options are coated with a water-resistant plastic film.

Nowadays, you'll also find lots of plastic playing cards, which might be noted as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), thermoplastic, or cellulose acetate in the product description. Plastic decks are typically washable and long-lasting, though they don't always shuffle as easily as paper.

Amount

A standard deck of playing cards includes 52 cards, sometimes with the addition of one or two jokers. This is enough for solitaire and some multiplayer games, but many card games call for two decks. For this reason, lots of sets come with two decks.

Design

You'll also want to consider the design of the cards. If you're planning to display the deck in your home or just appreciate intricate artwork, there are lots of unique designs out there with virtually any theme, color, or style.

Additionally, the print on some cards is easier to read than others. If you're playing with kids, seniors, or anyone with vision issues, you may want to get a deck with large text.

FAQs

How many playing cards do you need for most games?

There are lots of games you can play with a standard 52-card deck, including solitaire and several two-, three-, and four-person games, like rummy, baccarat, blackjack, bridge, spades, and hearts. However, you may need two decks when you play these games with more people. Also, some games specifically call for two decks, such as double solitaire and gin rummy.

What's the best way to store playing cards?

The best place to store playing cards is in a cool, dry, ventilated area, whether it's a game closet, cupboard, or drawer. Basements, attics, and other spaces prone to condensation aren't ideal, as the moisture could damage the material.

When is it necessary to purchase a new deck?

The lifespan really depends on the material and level of use, but eventually, every deck will need to be replaced. If the cards are ripped, discolored, or bent, you'll want to get a new set, as these imperfections may give away which cards they are. 

Additionally, if they're no longer easy to shuffle or stick together, it's probably best to get a fresh deck. And of course, if you're missing any cards, you should definitely buy a new pack.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Theresa Holland is an experienced commerce writer specializing in lifestyle, recreation, home improvement, and family. For this roundup, she thoroughly researched the various materials, sizes, design styles, and counts for playing cards, including how many are required for various games and activities. She pored over user reviews, combed through product descriptions, and considered dozens of sets from myriad brands and retailers before making her final selections. Theresa has been writing for The Spruce sites since 2019, where she covers recreational goods, kid's friendly products, and home decor.

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