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Top 12: Playing Card Decks to Start Your Collection



Where do you start? The custom playing cards market has boomed over the past year, investment in crowd-funded decks has surged and new playing card designs and concepts are pushing the boundaries of the simple constraints of one tuck x four suits x thirteen cards.

No doubt, there are an incredible number of amazing decks out there and each deck is unique In its own way! So, how do you start your collection?  How do you know which decks to use for your stylish cardistry video? How do you impress your poker buddies at the weekly meet-up?

In the first of the Top 12 series, we’ve collated 12 of our favorite custom decks to start you off on this new adventure. The playing cards featured below are readily available and reasonably affordable. As this series progresses, we will cover decks that are slightly harder to get and a little more expensive.

Enjoy the selection below. Difficulty scale from easy (1) to difficult (5). If you have one that we haven't discovered. Do feel free to share.


12. Republic #2



Republic #2 is the second release in the Republic brand from The Ellusionist Playing Card Co. The clean and simplistic theme & layout draws the eye and makes fan and colour changes stand-out! Everything about Republic #2 has been distilled to deliver a pure experience.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $6.99


11. Bicycle Pluma



Designed and printed by the United States Playing Card Co, the Pluma Deck features a blend of tribal and avian imagery, and is an updated version of a historic plate in the Bicycle archives. Available in blue and brown which plays off each other in an allusion to earth and sky. Original artwork on the tuck, card back and the Ace of Spades.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $3.99


10. Artifice



Another fascinating deck from Ellusionist Playing Card Co, the Artifice deck was developed with the relentless fascination of deception, dexterity and the dark psychology of the word Artifice itself. The  Artifice radiates quality with classy design and commands attention.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $6.99


 9. Fulton's Clip Joint



From the classy guys at Dan and Dave, the Fulton's Clip Joint Playing Cards celebrate our fascination with cinema, history, and the art of the grift. Inspired by vintage Los Angeles and Film Noir, Fulton's captures a time and place where men were men, women were dames, and the next deal could be your last. The playing cards are beautifully encased in a linen box with embossed ornaments and foil stamping.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $6.95


8. Seven Seas



Stunning deck by Brainvessel! This 54 Card deck is about the dichotomy of a life at sea, featuring famous ships, sailors, explorers, pirates, privateers, ghost ships and the dangers and monstrous creatures!

Difficulty: 1
Price: $20.00


7. Black JAQK




A breathtaking masterpiece from Theory11, the JAQK Cellars Black Edition features a gorgeous custom tuck case with imported French paper and metallic black foil. With 52 custom faces and 12 stunning, custom court cards, combining distinctive design with the peerless quality of the USPCC.

Difficulty: 2
Price: $6.95


 6. Virtuoso Spring/Summer 2014




Nothing pushes a deck of playing cards to its limits like card flourishing. That's why the Virts created the Virtuoso deck — the only deck designed for the art of card flourishing. The Virtuoso deck's back design visually amplifies the art from swirling, strobing and connecting according to each individual's movements and displays.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $9.95


5. Artisans



Illustrated by hand in South Africa, Artisans are in a league of their own. A breathtaking mix of elegance, style, and sophistication. Produced by Theory11, these premium, luxury playing cards feature elegant gold foil hot stamped onto ultra-lux black paper derived from sustainable forests.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $6.95


4. Curator



Talented artist Emmanuel Jose has created every element of the Curator Deck entirely by hand. One card a week. No digital software, or pen and ink. Every design was painstakingly crafted out of paper. Known as a "transformation" deck, this style of art has been around for years. The entire deck has a black, white, and red theme, which extends to the striking minimalist tuck box.

Difficulty: 2
Price: $11.95


3. Misc. Goods Co. 3rd Edition




Created and designed byTyler Deeb the 3rd edition deck features new typography, icons and artwork details. Completely custom designed from front to back to be familiar but still completely new.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $15.00


2. Silver Split Spades




A beautiful instalment of the widely collected Split Spade series. The tuck features embossing and silver foil stamping. The cards themselves feature perfectly balanced metallic inks on both sides. Designed uncompromisingly for performance and style, these are one of the best and the most practical deck in the market.

Difficulty: 1
Price: $20.00 (for minimum qty of 2)


1. Silver Certificate 



The Silver Certificate deck is the third deck released in the popular Federal 52 series. Inspired by US Silver Certificate Bank notes of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Silver Certificate deck features new, hand-drawn renditions of the presidents and other key figures found on US currency. Comes with an individually number holographic seal on the outside of the cellophane wrapper.

Difficulty: 2
Price: $30.00


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9 comments :

  1. Great suggestions. But how about Theory11's Monarch, Rebels, Artisan, and Medallion? And the Fatboy?

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  2. Me crew and I be sailin' with thee Seven Seas! Three decks be in me treasure chest mateys! Not be mention thee other treasures that be plundered from Brain Vessel's Start up. Thar be nay a finer crew!

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  3. i don't disagree with the list but i was suprised i didn't see smoke and mirrors on the list

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  4. Everyone will have their own Top 12 because we all have our own opinion's. But that's the beauty of collecting, we all get to choose how we build our collection, there is no right or wrong way to do it. These are just suggestions based on availability and price. But I like the discussion ;)

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  5. Congrats to my cousin-in-law Jackson Robinson and his Silver certificate series. Currently working on a series dedicated to the military. Army deck is the first one up and currently funding on Kickstarter!

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  6. Uusi's Bohemia was the deck that got me started...

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  7. Jackson Robinson has raised the bar. My expectations of any deck now are very high.

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  8. I have 4 of the 12 shown here (Silver Cert., Misc. Goods, Artisans, and Black JAQK), but the deck that started my collection was the Ultimate Deck from Dan and Dave and Stranger & Stranger. I think that deck definitely deserves to be on this list...everything about it is gorgeous!

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