Dabbling with playing cards usually isn’t a very expensive hobby.
Whether you’re learning card magic or cardistry, hosting regular poker nights, or just playing casual games with your friends and family, you won’t need to dump a ton of money on equipment or supplies.
But, depending on how you’re using them, you might find yourself going through decks fairly quickly.
So it’s important to understand: How much does a deck of cards cost? And what should you be budgeting for good, high-quality cards?
Let’s break it down:
Run of the mill Bicycle Standard or Rider Back cards will cost somewhere between $2 and $5 per deck depending on how and where you buy them. If you buy them in multi packs of 9 or 12 you can get an excellent deal on these high-quality cards.
Still, there are cheaper options available if you’re not worried about quality. Walk into any dollar store and you can grab a deck, or maybe even a 2 pack, of generic no-name playing cards for $1.
Common card brands like Hoyle and Maverick can sometimes be found pretty cheap (under $3) in some stores.
Custom or unique decks from brands like Theory11, Dan and Dave, or the United States Playing Card Company will usually cost somewhere between $5-15 per deck.
Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at some of your card buying options.
Cheap Budget Decks of Playing Cards
Cards in this category can usually be found for anywhere between $1-3 per deck, depending on where you live, where you shop, and how you buy them.
If you just need cheap cards for games or magic trick practice, you might want to look for:
- Off brand cards
The quality won’t be great — these are all a major step down from Bicycle Standard cards.
But Aviators and Hoyles really aren’t bad at all. With dollar store off-brand cards, who knows.
Here’s one of the cheapest offers I’ve found anywhere for a 12 pack of no-name playing cards on Amazon.
Buyer beware — reviews say that the quality of the card stock and printing is horrendous, but you get what you pay for here.
If you just want to play a few games or practice some Torn and Restored card tricks before these crap out, this is a good budget-friendly way to go.
If you’re serious about card magic or gaming, you’ll need to invest in sturdier cards with superior handling.
The good news is that you still shouldn’t have to spend a fortune.
You’d be surprised at the quality of regular Bicycle cards. Outside of really high-end decks, very few cards handle better than Bikes.
Expect to spend around $3-5 per deck for cards in this range, and look for brands like:
- Bicycle Standard
- Tally Ho
Your best bet here is to find a good price on a 12 pack (or “brick”) of Bicycle Cards — here’s an excellent deal on Amazon.
If you can afford to invest more up front, these decks actually become pretty cheap and you’ll have plenty of cards waiting in reserve when you need them.
Custom or High-End Decks
Magicians and cardists will eventually be drawn to explore this category, though it’s not necessary!
A lot of great magicians never use anything but Standard Bikes.
But custom cards with unique designs that suit your personality and performing style are a lot of fun — and really any card connoisseur can enjoy them.
The main players in this range are:
- Dan and Dave
- Bicycle or U.S.P.C.
Some of my favorite higher-end cards and the best cards for magic are the Theory11 Monarchs and White Artisans, or Bicycle Archangels and Dragon Backs.
Decks of cards in this category can cost anywhere from $5 (or just barely more than Standard Bikes) to $15 or more, if the cards are limited edition.
So how much should you spend on a deck of cards?
For casual or even serious game players, I can’t imagine needing anything more than regular Bicycle Standard cards.
If you host a weekly poker game and prefer borderless, casino-style cards, go with Bee.
Buy these in a brick of 12 decks at a time for an amazing deal. You’ll never break the bank or run out of cards this way.
For magicians, I advise the same. Most of your practice should be done with Bikes because they have terrific handling and durability.
The exceptions would be if you’re practicing a card fold, Torn and Restored, Card Warp, or other effect that destroys a lot of cards, investing in a few dollar store decks might prove useful.
You might eventually want to experiment with some high-end or custom decks for certain performances.
Cardists should usually practice with Bikes for the same reason magicians should — they handle well and they’re affordable enough to take some abuse.
Cardists might want to check out specialty decks for cardistry for their performances, however.
Cards are one of the most amazing tools for magic (and general entertainment) around because they’re so accessible and affordable.
A $20 brick of playing cards could last you months, easily — and you’ll really have a hard time finding better quality cards than your run of the mill Bikes.
High-end custom decks have their place, as well, and can run you $5-15 or even more.
For the most part, I would avoid dollar store and off brand decks unless you’re just looking for cards to tear up and destroy during practice.
Before you go, check out:
- The different types of decks of cards
- The different types of cards in a deck
- What order does a new deck come in?
Hope this helps!