For graphic designers, playing cards are a playground: The simple constraints of four suits and thirteen different cards accommodate tons of creativity without overcomplicating things. And there's an amazing number of interesting decks out there.
But which ones to buy? How will you impress your design enthusiast friends at the weekly poker game? Do prettier cards really make bridge more fun to play? So you wouldn't have to, we scoured the web and found a selection of the best designer playing cards that you can actually buy with money. Everything you need to know is below.
For the Batman fan who has everything, this all black deck of cards from Balance Wu Design—which has CGI-inspired tessellated profiles for the face cards—is perfect.
For the graphic designer who spends too much time in Illustrator, this deck of cards from Hundred Million, which deals in percentages instead of numbers and CMYK instead of suits, isn't as confusing as it is at first glance.
Advertised as "the world's finest" playing cards, this embossed deck by Theory 11 with gold foil accents is a little bit pretentious—but oh boy is it elegant.
The minimalists among us will appreciate this pared-down deck designed by Joe Doucet. The cards are seriously almost completely blank.
Perfect for cheaters and magicians alike, this deceptively simple deck designed by famous card swindler Daniel Madison is marked. Those that understand the marking system can actually tell what cards the other players have, though they're going to need damn good eyesight to do it.
Also by Daniel Madison ,this sexy deck is designed to look good and play great. Even the face cards are uncannily attractive.
Yes, even your favorite pharmacy brand makes pretty playing cards. Bicycle makes everything from hemp-themed decks to stainless steel playing cards, but this distressed deck in alluring shades of blue and teal is particularly handsome.
Some people might think that transparent plastic playing cards, like this deck by Pieter Woudt, are a little gimmicky. But I think they're cool because they make it feel like you're playing in the future.
This classy deck by Chris Cavill is all about typography, and is best suited for either an old-timey smoke-filled saloon or a wood-paneled room with big leather chairs. Its successful Kickstarter project is now over, but there's a good chance the designer has extras.
Okay, it won't be easy to buy this deck, but it's theoretically possible. Interaction designer Evan Roth did a limited edition of 500 pixelated decks for The Shop at Cooper-Hewitt. They're so cool I want to cry.
Have we missed any? Drop your favorite deck below.