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8 Decks of Good-Looking Playing Cards for Your Next Poker Night

8 Decks of Good-Looking Playing Cards for Your Next Poker Night

There’s something about a solid deck of classic playing cards that gets us stoked. The sound of cards being packed against the table, the feeling of a freshly shuffled round, the anticipation of the flop—it’s all so goddamn invigorating. Even the best board games can’t hold a candle to the excitment of poker night. But when someone can take all the things we love about a classic deck of cards and meld them with beautiful design and visual showmanship, it invokes a sense of satisfaction and joy. Playing cards are unobtrusive, but when style and practicality collide on such a small medium, cards can become things of timeless beauty. Here are 8 incredible decks of playing cards perfect for your next poker night.

Camp Cards

Whether you’re a fan of Christian Watson’s (the man behind 1924US) uncannily Wes Anderson-like social media presence or not, anyone with an eye for design can’t help but fall in love with the guy’s work. And when we learned about his collaboration with Bradley Mountain to put together this beautifully designed deck of playing cards, we knew we had to have a set. The cards feature beautiful woodland court-cards and hand-lettered spot cards, each laid against a spotted charcoal background in true 1924US fashion. Even the boxes received the 1924US treatment, each including on its side a match-strike strip, because sometimes people smoke while they play poker and they need two options for striking. $10

Ultimate Deck

Stranger & Stranger is a branding firm known throughout the world for their beautiful, classic, and sometimes downright eerie design work. We’re huge fans of their stuff, so it’s only natural that we’re absolutely in love with their collaboration deck with Dan and Dave. The deck features 54 uniquely beautiful works of art, each with their own accompanying story and elaborate back design. The case is equally gorgeous, with its embossed elements, foil accents, and vintage-inspired tax stamp. This is as good as it gets. $25


If you’ve ever wondered about the magic of design, the Monarchs deck is a stellar example. At the end of the day, this thing is just a box of paper, wrapped around 54 other little pieces of paper. But the moment you lay your eyes on these ornate pieces of paper, each carefully illustrated by renowned artist Curtis Jinkins, you realize that these are so much more than simple playing cards—they are works of art. And if you think you recognize them from anywhere, it’s probably because they were featured in the Hollywood hit Now You See Me, so now you can play 52-pickup Mark Ruffalo style. $10

The Type Deck

Typeface nerds rejoice! A lot of time and effort goes into printmaking, and many people don’t comprehend the subconscious allure of a properly laid out page. We read thousands upon thousands of words every month without even passively contemplating the sheer amount of effort that goes into formatting work so that it’s appealing to the eye without getting in the way of reading it. These cards utilize four exceptional typefaces, complete with banners, ligatures, varied strokes, and impeccable detail in order to create one of the hands-down most gorgeous decks of playing cards we’ve ever seen. $10

Peak Playing Cards

Like the illustrated collaboration between 1924US and Bradley Mountain above, this set of two decks of night-and-day cards by the team over at The United States Playing Card Company feature beautiful minimalistic illustration work that represent the majestic range of Colorado’s 14ers (mountains rising at least 14,000 feet above sea level). Simple but gorgeous, these cards utilize a lot of hard lines and black shading to pay homage to one of the most magnificent examples of American geography. $15

Minim Playing Cards

Speaking of “minimalistic,” it doesn’t really get more minimal than these beautiful modern cards by world-renowned design connoisseur Joe Doucet. Simple geometric symbols, tiny diagonal lines to differentiate front from back, and tiny sans serif numbers and letters create the perfect deck of cards for every minimalist player. Minim cards are all the fun without anything to distract you from the game on the table. $10

Animal Kingdom

And now for something entirely different. The retro-styled and intriguingly colorized Animal Kingdom deck is a heartfelt collaboration between the people at theory11 and the World Wildlife Foundation, and illustrated by Hatch Design out of San Francisco, California. The deck feature intricate and colorful illustrations of penguins, polar bears, lions, gazelles, zebras and other members of the animal kingdom, presented in the stunningly imperfect and old school way that only Hatch knows how to pull off. $10

The Design Deck

We conclude our list with the one of the most handy-dandy decks we’ve ever seen—The Design Deck. Carefully constructed and laid out by self-proclaimed typography obsessive Ben Barrett-Forrest, each of the deck’s 52 cards has a separate nugget of useful information about graphic design and how to master the art of it. What began in 2014 as a Kickstarter campaign with a very modest 600-dollar goal, skyrocketed into an incredible project with a total backing of over $27k.  It eventually found its way into a full-on branded product, released exclusively by Ben. Not only are the cards high quality and beautiful (printed on the same stock as Bicycle), but the information offered includes tips on image balance, designer terminology, quotes from famous designers, a plethora of typography tidbits, and a ton of facts about the history of design. $18