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 complete 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 third part of our popular "Top 12" series, we’ve collated 12 of our favorite RARE custom decks to get you to the next level! The playing cards featured below are a very hard to find and very expensive. Check out the first part here! and the second part here!
Enjoy the selection below. If you have one that we haven't discovered. Do feel free to share. Difficulty scale from easy (1) to difficult (5).
12. Red Fontaine
In 2013, Zach Mueller launched his first crowd-funding project, the Red Fontaines on Indiegogo. The project was a huge success, hitting its $10k funding goal within 18 hours and doubled its funding by months end. Since then, strong demand by cardist for the elusive Red Fontaines drove up prices and the deck was sold at a premium on eBay.
11. White Centurion
Stemming from the original design and concept of Theory11's Bicycle Centurions playing cards, the white Centurions first appeared in Chris Kenner's 1-on-1 effect Blueprint. Immediately, fans from all over the world began expressing interest in them. As it stands, there are less than 1,100 white Centurions in existence. The deck is the same as the original, only with an inverted more elegant appeal.
Zenith is the first deck in the Encarded Signature Series masterfully crafted by Paul Carpenter. This stunning deck is a dramatic re-imagining of several commonly seen playing card themes: the black and white deck design, the central circular medallion motif, and borderless design. Housed in a special sideways opening tuck box made of elegant, thick matte black paper, Zenith is adorned with amazingly detailed and vibrant holographic silver foil and sealed with a sequentially numbered seal (xxxx/1000) under the cellophane.
9. Green Rarebit
The Rarebit Playing cards were produced by Theory11 for The Rarebit Restaurant and Lounge located in Charleston South Carolina. The original Green foiled version is what you can pick up at the restaurant IF your meal purchase hit's the $100.00 mark. The tuck case is in a matte black finish making the intricate foil line work just pop off the black background, the tuck also includes a nice custom seal. The deck itself has the same back design as the tuck in a yellowish-green pallet, the face cards, courts and jokers are completely custom and draw inspiration from the restaurants logo of a Rabbit or Hare.
8. Gold Venexiana
The Venexiana Gold playing card is a one-of-a-kind, luxury deck of playing cards showcasing stunning works of Lotrek. The deck features hot stamped Gold foil on all 52 cards, printed on 3300gsm French casino stock. The Venexiana faces are printed with metallic gold ink on all cards and neatly packaged into a stunning Gold foiled accented tuck case. Only 212 numbered decks have been produced.
7. The Boss Deck
Back in 2013, the Boss deck was made as an add-on for the Draw like a Boss Kickstarter campaign. Shortly after, the stock of 2,500 decks sold out! Fully custom, the Boss deck were made to the highest possible standard by the United States Playing Card Co.
6. Gold Private Reserve
Perhaps one of the most elusive deck of playing cards Dan and Dave have ever produced. Excluding the occasional sale and promotion by Dan and Dave, the only way to get one of these decks is in person. The courts of the Private Reserve are standard with a touch of gold in place of the traditional colors. The Ace of Spades and Jokers are custom and beautifully designed to fit the Dan and Dave's minimal yet sophisticated style. Limited to just 2,500 sets each deck is inspected prior to being wrapped in gold foil and placed inside a beautiful tuck.
5. Microsoft David Blaine
These very hard to find deck was produced by Expert Playing Card Co for Microsoft. Not much is known about the deck except that they were given away to Microsoft Interns attending a function at which David Blaine was performing. Qty unknown.
4. Scarlett Tally-Ho
Kings Wild Scarlett Tally Ho’s are inspired by the iconic brand as well as Jackson Robinson’s daughter (Scarlett). The Tuck is a deep red with Gold Foil accents and embossing as well as a “Lattice” like pattern that embellishes the interior of the tuck to complete the custom case. The cards are completely custom courts with 2 gold metallic ink accents on the face cards as well as 1 gold metallic ink accent on the back design presented in the bold, intricate design style that we’ve come to expect from KWP. The Gold Edition is limited to only 200 decks and featured Gold Gilded edges.
Empire by Kings and Crooks was a breakout deck on Kickstarter. Everything about it was just inspiring. It had a strong design with bold imagery and every single card element was touched and customized. This deck really reflects the designer, Lee Mckenzie is an amazing designer with passion and some very inspired visions. The bold dark red and gold color pallet lent itself very well to the feel of the deck and the striking and strong Ace of Spades, Jokers and Court cards just rounded off this deck.
2. Unbranded Reserve Note
The follow up to the Original Federal 52 campaign was the Federal 52 Part II. The campaign consisted of a total of 6 decks. The Silver Certificate, The White Reserve Note and the Black Reserve Note (branded and un-branded version). The Black Reserve Note shares many of the features as the rest of the decks in the series, but the Un-Branded version is still highly sought after. The un-branded version features a two panel Diptych of George Washington crossing the Delaware as well as the black card backs. Limited to only 1000, the stunning embossing along with a hint of bright red foil just sets this deck apart.
1. Blue Blood
The first deck in Uusi's incredible six deck series, Blue Blood features hand-drawn illustrations by artists, Linnea Gits & Peter Dunham. This elusive deck is fully custom, from the courts, pips to the face cards. Limited edition of 2500 printed by the United States Playing Card Company with their air cushion and magic finish on bicycle grade stock.
The selection expressed in this top12 are solely those of the author. Images for Red Fontaine and Blue Blood by Akhmal Luthfi. Zenith, Green Rarebit, Scarlett Tally-Ho and Empire by Anthony Ingrassia. Boss deck, Private Reserve and Microsoft David Blaine by Ivan Choe.