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How to host a no-limit Texas Hold'em poker tournament in your home

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Poker Playing Cards Buyer's Guide

The best value for your money in playing cards is Copag. You can buy a two-deck set of Copag 1546 playing cards for $15 compared to a two-deck set of KEM playing cards for about $23. That's $7.50 for a deck of Copag cards that have a feel and texture that is similar to the industry standard KEM playing cards, at about 60% of the cost. In addition to the great price ... Copag cards scored the overall best marks in my Damage Tests. Some dealers even offer free single-card replacements.

Dal Negro cards at about $8.50 a deck is a great playing card at a good price. Dal Negro have more of a papery feel to them than any other plastic card. If you are European, or you and 'The Boys' play poker in the back of Mario's Pizza Parlor, you might want to try the Italian made Dal Negro playing cards. At $8.50 a deck, they are a great deal and on a par with Copag cards which cost one dollar less. If you want something a bit less flimsy and slick than a Copag card, try Dal Negro.

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Modiano is almost identical to Dal Negro in every aspect. They look and feel is the same with the same damage tests results as well.

If you want the best and most respected playing cards, buy KEM cards. They are still the standard by which all other playing cards are judged. Many experienced poker players have been using them for years, they can pick up a deck of KEM's and start shuffling and dealing without even thinking about it. The current price for a deck of KEM Arrow (Wide) cards is $15 ($30 for a double-deck set) which makes them almost twice the price of a deck of Copag or Dal Negro cards. KEM cards were a great deal knowing that you could order a replacement card for only 60 but that replacement policy is no longer in effect and $15 is a lot to pay for a deck of cards. The U.S. Playing Card Company is not producing new KEM cards in the (wide) poker size yet and I imagine that the price will rise when they do begin production. The good news is that the new KEM bridge size cards being produced by the USPC seem to be of the same or better quality as the old KEM cards.

If you like KEM cards, you might also consider trying a deck of Gemaco cards, they are very similar and priced a bit less. They are very durable and will definitely last longer than a KEM. They do have more of a plastic feel to them.

The WPT plastic cards are a combination of a KEM and a Modiano/Dal Negro card. They have the smoothness of a KEM but also have a bit of the thick and papery feel of the Modiano/Dal Negro cards.

The best card for very large tournaments (100 players and more) would probably be Royal playing cards. They are good enough to last one tournament, they are the cheap, and you won't really care if some get damaged or lost. You could also buy dozens of decks of Bicycle or Bee paying cards but you should be able to find the Royal cards for about the same price. I would probably not recommend them for extended home tournament use, you should probably buy something better.

A-Plus cards don't seem worth the money ($8-9). They have heavy blotchy graphics and crack and chip very easily.

Paper cards are all basically the same quality, they will only last a tournament or two before they become marked, sticky and unplayable. The WPT and WSOP decks are nice but unfortunately, won't last any longer than any other paper card.

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