Playing Card Reviews
P = Poker Size, B = Bridge Size, R = Regular Index, L = Large Index or Jumbo Index, D = Dual Index, S = Security Ink
General Comments About Plastic Playing Cards
Here are my general comments about the plastic playing cards that I have received for review. These comments are a head-to-head
comparison, more detailed comments about the individual cards can be found in the playing card reviews found above. I haven't
bothered to include any of the paper cards in these general comments. Go to my
Cards Images page to see scanned images of all these cards.
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The Royals have both the brightest white and the most vibrant colors of any of the
plastic playing cards that I reviewed (6). The white is a cleaner white, the black is a deeper black, and the colors are deeper, more
defined and better separated from nearby colors. There is a shine and a glossiness to Royal cards. They are also know to occasionally
have small blemishes (imperfections) in the graphics and I did notice several in my deck. If you take a very close look on my
Cards Images page, you can see a small blemish in the hair of the down-facing king.
The A Plus cards are the second most colorful, but a bit garish. The red is not quite as deep as the Royal cards
and has an orange tint to it. The KEM cards are the third most colorful, after which there is a big drop-off in color between
the final three - Gemaco, Dal Negro, and finally Copag. The Copag colors are the most faded of all the cards.
The Copag and Dal Negro cards are the only playing cards to contain blue colored printing on the face cards. The blue is so
faint that it is easy to miss it.
When you lay the cards side-by-side, the first thing that jumps out at you is the heaviness of the colors on the A Plus cards.
The amount of black and red color is a bit overwhelming. The Royals are just as colorful but it is much more pleasant and natural.
The slightly refined quality of the KEM cards is then noticeable. The KEM's are not quite as bright or colorful as the Royal or A
Plus cards, but they rival them for the overall quality of the colors.
Rank: (best) 1-Royal, 2-A Plus, 3-KEM, 4-Gemaco, 5-Dal Negro, 6-Copag (worst)
Most cards have a very intricate back design that alternates between white areas and colored areas. Floral
patterns and patterns with curved lines are very popular - solid designs are less popular. The reason for this is simple - it is much
easier to see a mark on a solid back design than it is to see a mark on a card with an irregular pattern of several different colors.
Be careful when using solid-design back designs on your cards - one little blemish on one card and your entire deck is spoiled (marked).
The KEM cards have the nicest graphics. There is more detail and the colors are the third brightest of all
the cards (after the Royal and A Plus). There is a refined quality to the KEM's that is not present in the other cards. It has just
the right blend of color and detail, without being over-bearing like the A Plus cards.
The Royal cards have the second best
graphics. The combination of a very bright white with deep, colorful graphics makes it quite
stunning, it stands out above the crowd. The red is a nice dark red and the black is a deep, dark black. The graphics are,
however, a bit heavy. The graphics are not quite as refined as the KEM cards. The A Plus cards are similar to the Royal cards - they
are a bright white with good colors but they are even 'heavier' than the Royal cards. The A Plus cards are more blotchy and less
refined than any of the other plastic cards.
The Gemaco cards have the third best graphics. They are more detailed than the KEM's but the artwork is not quite as nice. The Dal
Negro cards have somewhat bland graphics but the use of the color blue helps them a bit. The Copag cards have the least amount of detail and
the most faded colors. The indices on the Copag's are quite large but the graphics are the smallest of all the cards reviewed here.
Rank: (best) 1-KEM, 2-Royal, 3-Gemaco, 4-Dal Negro, 5-Copag, 6-A Plus (worst)
The Royal and A plus cards both have the brightest whites and the deepest blacks. Their shiny, mirror-like finish
really stands out when contrasted with their deep black ink. The Royal cards have a noticeably darker and deeper black than the other cards.
The Gemaco cards have the next deepest black. There is a very fine quality about the printing and ink on the Gemaco cards that
made them stand out about the others. The Dal Negro and Copag have the next darkest black.
KEM and Copag cards have the most gray-colored black.
Rank: (best) 1-Royal, 2-A Plus, 3-Gemaco, 4-Dal Negro, 5-KEM, 6-Copag (worst)
There are three groups as far as the quality of the white background on the card ...
The Copag cards are the most off-white of the 6 plastic decks I reviewed. They are a noticeably different shade of white than any
other card. The KEM cards are the second most off-white card, somewhat similar to the Copag's.
The Dal Negro, Gemaco, and A Plus cards are a medium white color. They are brighter than the Copag and KEM cards, but not
quite as bright as the A Plus or Royal cards.
The A Plus and Royal cards have the brightest and purest white colors. They both have a glossiness (shine) that the other cards
lacked. They also have the brightest non-white colors. The bright white comes with a price ... these are also the shiniest and most
glare-prone cards I reviewed. Overhead lights could clearly be seen reflected in the cards. The Royal cards have the brightest
white and deepest colors of any playing card I reviewed.
Rank: (best) 1-Royal, 2-A Plus, 3-Dal Negro, 4-Gemaco, 5-KEM, 6-Copag (most off-white)
The Royal and the A Plus cards have the most glare. They have an almost mirror-like finish to them that
reflects nearby light. They are the most difficult board cards to see from a distance. They picked up the reflection of the overhead
lights and their deep colors did not seem to help. I could count the number of ceiling lights in my basement when reflected off these
cards. These cards were two to three times as prone to glare compared to any of the other cards I reviewed.
All the other cards are in a different class than the Royal and A Plus cards - they all reflect much less
light. The KEM cards are the shiniest of this group and then there is a big drop-off in glare to the Gemaco and
Copag cards which hardly reflect any light at all. The Dal Negro cards are the least shiniest, with an almost paper-like
quality to them. With the Royal cards, I could count the number of lights in my basement when reflected off the card
but with a Dal Negro card, I could not see any light source reflected off the card.
Rank: (least glare) 1-Dal Negro, 2-Copag, 3-KEM, 4-Gemaco, 5-A Plus, 6-Royal (most glare)
Overall Feel & Texture
The Dal Negro cards feel the most like paper. They also feel the biggest and boxiest of all the cards.
They have a quality about them that is not present in the other plastic cards. I had the feeling that if I played with these cards
for a couple months ... all other plastic cards would feel too smooth and slippery.
The KEM cards are what I judge everything else by. I have been playing with KEM cards for several years now
so they are what I am most familiar with. To this day, I still use KEM cards in my games. Most players seem to prefer the KEM's over
any other card that we have tried. The KEM's have a bit of a plastic feel to them, less than the Royals, A Plus, or Gemaco but
more than the Copag and much more than the Dal Negro. They feel stiffer than a Copag or Gemaco but more flexible than a Dal Negro.
The Copag cards are most similar to the Dal Negro cards in look but the KEM cards in feel. They have the same particle-board look
to them as the Dal Negro's. They are slightly more flexible than the KEM cards and feel less substantial. There is a
big difference between Copag bridge size and poker size cards. The poker size feel much more substantial and more like a KEM poker
size card. If you go from a KEM Arrow to any Copag bridge size card, you will probably hate the feel of the Copag ... try a Copag
poker size card instead.
The Gemaco cards feel thinner, lighter and more flexible KEM cards. Other than that, they have the same
look and feel but with muck less texture on the card. I actually prefer the lightness and flexibility of the Gemaco cards, they feel
like more refined versions of the KEM cards.
The Royal cards have an almost mirror-like finish and feel. They are very smooth and are the most
slippery of all the cards I reviewed. The A Plus cards are also very smooth, but not as mirror-like smooth as the Royal's. The
A Plus cards also feel much thicker and stiffer than the Royal's, which were the most flexible card.
Rank: (best) 1-KEM, 2-Gemaco, 3-Copag, 4-Dal Negro, 5-A Plus, 6-Royal (worst)
Thickness of All 52 Cards Stacked
The thickest deck of all 52 cards is, by far, the Dal Negro, it stood a millimeter or two above all the
other plastic cards. Four other decks are all grouped slightly smaller - A Plus,
Copag, KEM, and Gemaco. The Royal cards are a noticeably thinner deck than all the other plastic cards. I placed a deck of Royal cards next
to a deck of Dal Negro cards and evened out the height of the stacks by removing 14 cards from the Dal Negro stack.
Rank: (thickest) 1-Dal Negro, 2-A Plus, 3-Copag, 4-KEM, 5-Gemaco, 6-Royal (thinnest)
Thickness of Each Individual Card
The card that feels the thickest is the Dal Negro. They feel the most papery, box-like, chiseled, and
substantial. They even have a bit of a 'twang' to them when you flex them back and forth, similar to what a metal saw blade
sounds like when you whip it back and forth. The combination of a big, boxy card, with a papery feel to it is quite nice but took
some getting used to. Even though they are the thickest card, they have more flexibility than the next thickest card, the A Plus
cards. It was easier to bend a Dal Negro than many of the other plastic cards.
The A Plus are the second thickest card, followed closely by the KEM. The KEM's are more flexible than the A Plus. The Copag's feel
the next thickest but are noticeably thinner than the A Plus or KEM cards.
The Gemaco cards feel the next thinnest and flexible. This
is a little odd since they are actually thicker than the Copag cards. These cards have a similar feel as a KEM card but feel much lighter,
thinner, and more flexible. They seem to sail through the air. This was a rather unique feature of the Gemaco cards - they were not the
thinnest but had a very nice, thin, flexible feel to them. They feel like thinner, lighter, and slightly more 'plasticy' KEM cards.
The Royal's are the thinnest and most flexible of all the plastic cards. The combination of a very shiny and smooth surface with their
light weight and flexibility make for a somewhat unique feel amongst the plastic cards.
Rank: (thickest) 1-Dal Negro, 2-A Plus, 3-KEM, 4-Copag, 5-Gemaco, 6-Royal (thinnest)
The Royals have the thinnest type face followed by the KEM's. The Dal Negro are average followed by the
Gemaco, Copag and A Plus, which have the thickest indices.
The A Plus cards have the closest indices (numbers and letters) to the outside edge of the card. The
Copag's Indices are closest to the top edge of the card. The Dal Negro cards have indices the farthest away from the edge of the card.
The difference is measured in hundreds of a millimeter.
The Royal cards have the smallest pips. The Copag and KEM's are medium size while the Dal Negro's and
Gemaco's have the largest pips. The KEM pips are very thin. The Dal Negro are average followed by the Copag and Gemaco
cards which have the thickest numbers.
Faces From a Distance
The Copag card faces are the easiest to view from a distance. I don't really know why. It might
have something to do with the 'blocky' typeface. The numbers are a bit bigger and blockier than on the other plastic cards. The
off-white color of the Copag cards also helps to keep the glare off the cards, making them easier to view.
Backs Viewed From a Distance
The best looking backs when viewed from a couple feet away are the KEM cards, followed by the
Dal Negro, Gemaco, Royal and Copag. The Copag cards are the most faded and unspectacular from a distance. They look like
they are 50 years old and faded and non-descript. The Royals look too shiny and busy. The Gemaco cards look similar to
the red KEM Arrows but have a more garish red color. The Dal Negro's look nice but just a little busier and less
pronounced than the KEM Arrow cards which look the best.
In general, the plastic cards are quieter than paper cards, probably due to the smoothness and shine
of the plastic. The quietest card, at least when new, is the Royal, which is also the most shiny. The KEM cards are also very
quiet. The Dal Negro are the noisiest of the plastic cards. When you shuffle a deck of Dal Negro's, you can hear the individual
cards sliding against each other but with the Royals, you can hardly hear a sound.