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Exploring Playing Card Finishes: What’s the Difference?

by: Praneet Arora

Playing cards, cherished for their versatility and appeal, are the life of the party on any game night. Beyond their artistic design and print quality, playing cards' finish is a crucial factor that influences handling, durability, and overall performance. However, many enthusiasts don't understand the difference between these finishes. In this blog post, we'll delve into various playing card finishes, to help you better understand how it impacts your handling and overall experience.

1. Air-Cushion Finish

The air-cushion finish is a highly sought-after and common finish in the world of playing cards. This finish, created by the United States Playing Card Company, is known for its unique dimpled texture that mimics tiny air pockets. The result is a luxurious, smooth feel that enhances card handling and shuffling. It offers an ideal balance of grip and slip, making it a preferred choice for a wide range of card games, from poker to bridge.

fanned out red bicycle standard deck
Most Bicycle Branded decks are printed with the familiar air-cushion finish.

2. Smooth Finish

Smooth finishes create cards with a sleek, polished surface that glide smoothly over one another. Ideal for fast-paced games and rapid shuffling, smooth-finished cards are favored for their effortless handling and quick gameplay.

Blue Aladdin Deck open tuck case
1001 Aladdin Playing Cards by USPCC use a smooth finish.

3. Linoid Finish

Linoid finish is a premium option that balances texture and smoothness. It offers a comfortable grip while maintaining a consistently smooth handling experience. Linoid finish cards are resistant to wear and are ideal for card games and professional use.

tally ho deck on a blue background
The Tally-Ho Deck, a favorite among magicians, is a linoid finish deck.

4. Linen Finish

Linen finish, with its textured crosshatched pattern, provides both an attractive aesthetic and excellent grip. These cards are popular in classic games like bridge and poker, reducing slippage during shuffling and dealing.

Ace Playing Cards Tuck Case
Ace Playing Cards by Cartamundi use a linen finish.

5. Plastic Coated Finish

Plastic-coated finishes are known for their durability, making them suitable for mass-produced decks. They are resistant to moisture and wear, ensuring a longer lifespan for the cards.

fanned out Copag Playing Cards
Copag Playing Cards are a popular plastic coated deck.

6. Cambric Finish

Cambric finish is a high-quality matte finish that imparts a soft, velvety texture to the cards. With reduced glare and exceptional handling characteristics, these cards are preferred by professional players.

Bee playing cards
Many Bee Casino Decks use a Cambric Finish for smooth handling.

Playing card finishes are as diverse as the games they are used for, and each finish brings its unique characteristics to the table. Whether you prefer the tactile feedback of embossed finishes, the silky smoothness of plastic-coated cards, or the velvety luxury of cambric finishes, understanding the nuances of these finishes can help you select the perfect deck for your purposes.

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