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Paper vs. Plastic Playing Cards

Paper vs. Plastic Playing Cards

The type of playing cards you use will have a great impact on your poker game. There's nothing worse than playing poker with bad cards on a bad playing surface. You should probably use one or two decks of plastic playing cards, rather than paper (plastic coated) cards. Plastic cards will last for months or years compared to lasting only one or two tournaments for paper cards.

Paper (coated plastic) playing cards are available from Bicycle, Bee, Tally-ho, Aviator, WPT, WSOP and various other manufacturers. They are made of paper surrounded by a plastic coating. They may be purchased for a dollar or two per deck and are also sold by the dozen. Don't open the seal of a new deck, leave it in its plastic in the middle of your poker table and let the players open the seal at the beginning of the game. It's always reassuring to know that the deck of cards is new and (hopefully) unaltered or marked.

Coated paper cards will bend and crease and rip and chip and tear. They will only be 'good' for one tournament or less. Paper cards mark easily and don't bend back into shape. They become dirty and sticky and don't slide as well as they did when they were new. They cannot be washed when they do become sticky. The colors are bright but fade as the cards wear out. If you spill a beer on a paper card, you might as well reach for a new deck. They can be easily smudged or marked with a fingernail. It is easy to crease or bend a corner.

Plastic playing cards are much more durable and long-lasting than paper cards. They will not crease, rip, or tear as easily as a coated plastic card. Plastic cards will last longer, shuffle better, and slide across the table better. You will never want to play with anything else! Plastic cards may be washed using a damp cloth when they begin to get dirty and stick together. And we all know that accidents do happen. Remember, a beer is a terrible thing to waste ... especially when spilled on your poker table and cards! Plastic cards can get wet and soiled and are easy to clean. Plastic playing cards are usually sold in sets of two decks and are available from KEM Cards, Royal, A Plus Cards, Copag, Gemaco, Dal Negro and others. Plastic cards cost anywhere from about $4 per deck of Royal cards to $8 per deck of COPAG cards and about $12 per deck of Gemaco, A+ or KEM cards.

Plastic cards are easier to handle and shuffle. They bend back into shape better than a paper card and are much harder to mark or smudge than a paper card. They are more expensive than paper cards but are worth the extra money in the long run. Experienced poker players have a tendency to leave their hole cards on the table and simply bend a portion of the card up to view it - this has a tendency to warp or bow the cards over time. Corners can become curved and cards can appear bowed at the middle. Plastic cards help to minimize this nuisance because they 'remember' their shape better than paper cards. Placing a cut card and a weight on top of your unused cards also helps!

Plastic cards slide very easily on just about any playing surface. They feel strange to shuffle at first but once you start using them, you'll never want to go back to a paper card. Plastic cards may smell when you first open a new deck. The smell will go away with use but you may want to leave your cards spread out on a table for a few days to make the smell go away quicker.

In the long run, plastic playing cards will probably cost you less than paper playing cards. Paper cards will be good for one tournament and barely playable for the second tournament. They may get marked or soiled after only a couple hands! If you use paper cards, plan on buying them by the dozen. On the other hand, plastic playing cards will last dozens of tournaments, with a little cleaning needed now and then. When the cards get a little sticky, simply wipe them clean with a damp towel and let them dry. This will save you money in the long run.

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