Running the Perfect Home Game – Part 1 – Playing Cards

In this 4 part series we will look at the key aspects that make a home poker game run effortlessly on your part. As the host this is going to be your main priority, I have been to several home games where it took over an hour before the cards were in the air.

In this part we will look at the different playing cards you can buy for your home game, and what a difference they can make. But before we start I would like to share with you a golden rule that should always be in effect. You are there to play poker! Not to play on the wii, ps3 etc.

Yes it is a time to socialise but try keeping the open banter to a minimum and also don’t see it as a time to get steaming drunk. Have a couple of course its a poker night but drinking and bad beats (made worse if by your mates) do not mix! Anyway moving on….

Playing cards remain the most important part of the best home games, get this right and everything will come together with time. Get it wrong and your players will be complaining all night long (even long after they have busted out – trust me)

So lets start with the basics, these are paper playing cards and can be picked up from any toy shop, general store or supermarket in your area. They will range from £1 – £4 per pack. These are not great for general poker play turning the corners to see your cards will over the night cause them to bend and even crease marking them in the process. Once a card is marked it makes the deck useless and will need to be replaced ASAP.

Makes of these cards include: Cardinal and Bee,

For poker use I will give these cards a 3/10 (unless its all you can find they will make do for a night of poker – but buy a couple of decks)

Moving on to the intermediate range of playing cards, this is where the camp starts to get divided. We are talking about the mid price range plastic playing cards. These cards can come in single or double packs ranging from £2-£5 per deck. These cards have been around the block and have been used (some still are) in many a casino out in Vegas. Most online poker sites will give you the ability to buy ex-casino playing cards straight from Vegas (

These are great to use at any table, they slide well as they are coated and they will hold up to a couple of nights peeking and folding at an average 10 seater game. Marking of the cards is also possible but at this middle price level they will withstand most scuffs and scratches. One last point on playing cards at this price level you may come across “four colour” playing cards. These are the same as the two colour for suits etc but it helps for spotting flushes etc that little bit easier.

Makes of these cards include: Del Negro, and Torcellio

These cards I will award 7/10 (great for general home games but still room for improvement)

This leads us onto the Cadillac of playing cards, the advanced high end market. These playing cards come in either single or double packs and are 100% PVC. This means they can almost be bent over in half and spring right back, spill and stain proof (in normal play situations) they are the best cards to use. So much so that UK casinos all use these playing cards for all of their tournaments and even online poker sites such as supply them to affiliated poker leagues.

However they are quite expensive per pack, coming in at around £8-10 per deck however they will last a long time at your home games, so a couple of packs are all you are going to need. One point to note is some of the premium packs are collectors editions and will have decorative patterns for the different suits, these make for spotting flushes etc a little tough to start with. So you may want to avoid playing with these ones for the time being.

Makes of these cars include: KEM and Copag

These cards I will award 10/10 (they are just the best you can buy for any poker night)

We hope you have enjoyed this section of “Running The Perfect Home Games” , look out for more articles coming soon.


  • Avatar of
    [email protected]
    October 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I strongly agree on the Copag cards. I was using a new deck of Bees every night before finding these. I have not had to buy new cards since. I wash the cards at the end of every night (actually the next morning) with soap and water on a dishcloth to remove sticky marks. In the end, these cost more up front, but pay for themselves in less than a dozen games.

  • Avatar of
    [email protected]
    December 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Great post here…I am new to running my own home game but one of the first things I did was focus on getting good chips and good cards…the rest will take care of itself.

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