Skip to content

Focus On: Playing Card Qualities

Premium Quality Gilt Edged Luxury Playing Cards

I’m sure we’ve all played with poor quality cards. You know the sort – they dog ear at the corners, won’t shuffle properly and feel flimsy. If you’re lucky enough to have played with a top quality pack however, you’ll know it’s a wonderful experience feeling the cards flow through your fingers like silk. Have you ever wondered what makes them so different? At Simon Lucas Bridge Supplies we try to make it a bit simpler by grading the different qualities of cards we sell: standard quality, superior quality and premium quality. We’ll cover those grades in more depth in a minute, but let’s first look at the main factor that affects the quality: the playing card board.

Playing Card Board


Like all other paper stock (and fabrics too), playing card board is measured in grams per square metre, shortened to gsm. It’s measured by taking a piece of board size 100cm x 100cm and recording the weight in grams. Playing card board is made in a range of weights generally ranging from 275gsm to 350gsm or more. The reason for the weight differences comes down to the number of fibres within the board: heavier board has more fibres, and lighter board has fewer.

The heavier the weight of the board, the longer lasting and more durable the cards will be. However, there becomes a point where the board is too heavy and the cards are difficult to shuffle, deal and hold. We have found that the best weight is 330gsm; anything less isn’t as durable and heavier boards are too stiff. The lighter weight boards, 275gsm to 300gsm, are usually used for children’s playing cards and novelty packs.


You’d think that board made from more fibres must be thicker than that made from fewer. However, that’s not the case. It all depends on how densely packed together the fibres are. A lesser weight card can be made more bulky by having looser fibres. But, when this board is made into playing cards, it won’t take long to start to dog ear and fray along the edges. The best board for playing cards has densely packed fibres which makes the cards elastic and gives them their characteristic snap.


Have you ever wondered why the edges of even a brand-new pack of cards look grey instead of a pristine white? This is because professional quality playing cards are always made using a board that has a black core. This lining is completely opaque and prevents any show-through between the front and back of the cards. So, even if you’re playing next to a bright light, no-one will be able to see what cards you’re holding.

Our Grading System for Playing Cards

Now let’s have a look at the grading system that we use for the playing cards that we stock: Standard Quality, Superior Quality and Premium Quality.  This is our own in-house grading system and only applies to the cards we sell – these terms won’t apply to cards from other suppliers:

Standard Quality

The Standard Quality cards in our range are produced on 300 to 305gsm board.  We don’t use this board for our own-brand cards, but we stock these cards because they’re available in a range of great designs that are very popular.  They’re not the longest-lasting cards, but you do get a choice of very ornate and attractive card backs, and new designs are available a couple of times a year.  We only stock cards of a decent quality, so the Standard Quality playing cards in our range are still superior to many of the packs available from non-specialist retailers.

Superior Quality

Our Superior Quality playing cards are made from a good quality 320gsm board, which has good spring and shape retention.  Made from better quality board than the Standard Quality, these cards are longer lasting.

Premium Quality

The Premium Quality playing cards are the crème de la crème of our range and are professional casino-quality cards.  Black-lined for opaqueness, the beauty of the densely fibred 330gsm board is that it has optimum flexibility.  Finished with a special varnish for the most favourable slip and handling, the cards are durable and a delight to use, providing a top-quality cardplay experience.

The most economical way to purchase the Premium Quality playing cards is to buy our ‘330’ playing cards, so called because of the weight of the card from which they’re produced.  We supply these either unboxed (i.e. cellowrapped only), in tuck boxes or in presentation boxes.  Because they’re printed in a single colour on the card backs (red and blue) and we produce them in such large quantities, you can purchase these packs from as little as £1.00 each.  So Premium Quality doesn’t necessarily mean premium price!

Bespoke Playing Cards

We design and produce bespoke playing cards and presentation packaging for many different clients who choose us because of our in-depth knowledge in this specialist field.  We’ve produced the playing cards and the packaging for many prestigious stores and companies.  If you’d like a quotation for bespoke cards, please get in touch and we’d be very pleased to discuss your project with you.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. For America, I have found KEM cards to be the best. They are durable, long lasting, easy to handle and shuffle, and very important, cleanable. The cards that give me the most trouble are the standard Italian ones that are like billboards. The only successful way I have seen them shuffled are to try and cram one half into the other, which over a few shuffles destroy the edges. Watching this being done or doing it makes me want to cry.

    March 3, 2016
    • Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. KEM cards are 100% plastic, which means they’re far more durable than traditional paper-based cards. We stock Modiano plastic cards and also their acetate cards. However, even though the acetates are renowned for their papery feel, we find that lots of people struggle to control these cards. This is why we’ve developed and extended our Premium Quality range of paper-based playing cards, which are thin but elastic so they are easy to shuffle and deal. I know exactly what you mean about the Italian cards – they’re made on a heavyweight 340gsm or 350gsm triplex board which is rigid and too much like cardboard.

      March 3, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: