I'm not at all a gambler. But I am serious about playing cards, and that explains my interest in Gambler's Warehouse.
Gambler's Warehouse is based in Texas, and has close connections with the gaming industry in Las Vegas, with one part of their business is about manufacturing gaming chips and playing cards for casinos and other corporations. But they also have a massive range of quality gaming merchandise that will be of interest to gamers who enjoy a game of dice, poker, or cards at home. In fact, they're especially serious about playing cards, and you only need to visit their subsidiary website Playingcards.net, to get some sense of the enormous selection they have available for sale (and bear in mind that all their prices include free shipping in the US!). They have been part of the playing card industry for more than two decades, and are passionate about playing cards, including their design, production, and their use in art forms like cardistry.
As part of their involvement with the world of playing cards, Gambler's Warehouse has gained a very positive reputation in assisting creators of playing cards to fulfil their projects. This is in part due to the strong relationship and connections that Gambler's Warehouse enjoys with the US Playing Card Company. As a result, many crowd-funding projects choose them to assist them in making their playing card project a reality. To date, they have successfully fulfilled well over 100 Kickstarter projects.
Of special interest to board game designers will be the fact that they also offer fulfillment services for board games, so if you're a game designer looking for assistance with making your game design get crowd-funded and become a reality, you may want to check them out. To give a sense of the size of their operation: they have a 250,000 sq ft warehouse.
But Gambler's Warehouse also produces high quality custom playing cards of their own design, and that's what this review is all about. In a previous review, I have taken a close look at the Alloy series of Playing Cards that they produced - you can see that review here. I was super impressed with the stunning foil and unique iridescence of these decks, and they quickly became among my personal favourites. Now it's time to look at some of the other playing cards that Gambler's Warehouse has produced in-house, beginning with the luxurious Regal project. Trust me, picking these decks up is definitely no gamble, because they are all quality!
REGAL PLAYING CARDS
The very first in-house project produced by Gamblers Warehouse was Double Black, and its designer John Powell was also responsible for the creation of the Regal decks of playing cards.
The Regal decks were produced in four different colours: green, blue, purple, and red.
The "regal" title of these decks alludes to royalty, and reflects the fact that with these classy looking decks, designer John Powell tried to offer a fresh take on classical styled playing cards.
In John Powell's own words: ""I was really influenced by the classic standard English courts, but I wanted to do them in a cleaner, more sophisticated and regal appearance - hence the name."
I'll start by showing you the purple deck, since purple is the colour of royalty, and conveys wealth, luxury, and extravagance more than any other colour!
The card-backs feature beautiful, ornate, and detailed artwork, and appropriately gold is a key colour, both on the card-backs, and on the court cards.
The court cards have a classic style, but notice how all the red suits feature the colour that corresponds to the deck, in this case purple.
The black suits, on the other hand, have the usual black pips, although the purple theme still emerges in the colours used for the court cards.
I especially love how the court cards have over-sized artwork that exudes elegance and class.
In comparison, here are some cards from the Blue deck, which feature the same back design, but with a touch of blue instead of purple.
Red suits like the Jack of Diamonds above have blue pips, while black suits like the Clubs below have standard black pips, while again retaining the blue theme in the court cards themselves.
I love the way that the blue complements the gold in this deck!
Similarly the Green deck features cards that have green pips for the red suits.
Number cards in Diamonds and Hearts also employ green pips, like the 10 of Diamonds below.
To avoid getting the Spades/Clubs confused with the Hearts/Diamonds, not only are the pips of the traditionally red suits in the deck colour, but the number/value of the card is also in that colour rather than black.
The Regal deck is a beautiful and classy looking deck all round, whichever of the four colours you choose, but I'm especially partial to the Red deck.
Here's an overview of some of the cards in this deck.
The Red deck in the Regal series uses red pips for the red suits, so it is the closest to a traditional deck. Notice also the custom arrangement of the pips on the 8 of Spades.
Here's a full set of all the Heart court cards.
The quality and handling of the cards is also very high. The Regal decks were printed by Expert Playing Card Company in their Master finish, which is the equivalent of LPCC's Diamond finish, and is a thinner but more durable card-stock with a cleaner cut and more snap than a typical USPCC produced deck.
Because of the design of the card backs, these decks are also beautifully suited to cardistry. The tuck boxes also look absolutely great!
Inside and out, it's hard to imagine how these stunning decks could have been improved!
ROYAL PULP PLAYING CARDS
From Regal we move to Royal! The Royal Pulp decks were created in 2016, and come in either red or in green.
The tuck boxes evoke both intrigue and style. To add to the sophistication, there's beautiful interior printing, which adds to the feel of class and quality from the moment you open the box.
Both decks are characterised by bright colours, and by what some have described as "artistic madness", which is already evident as soon as you see the card-backs of the Red deck shown here.
It features brightly coloured artwork by Brad Foster and Charles A. P. (Blackout Brother), with fully custom cards, and humorous court cards, which especially evoke a satirical feel.
All the reds used in this deck have a very bright cherry red appearance, rather than the usual deeper red of a traditional deck, and this unusual colour combines well with the other colours of the deck.
Even the number cards have a very custom look and feel. A unique and creative design is used for all the pips (which can especially be appreciated on the oversized Aces).
The Green deck on the other hand has a quite different colour scheme.
Despite the different colours, the court cards retain the same look of sarcastic and humorous madness.
The cards all have a marble-cream-parchment background colour, which accentuates the jarring effect of the unusual mineral blues, oranges, and reds, and gives the deck somewhat of a vintage feel, as can be seen from this uncut sheet which gives an overview of the entire deck.
Both decks have a different feel - some people I've shown the deck to prefer the Red version, others prefer the Green, so the choice is yours!
DOUBLE BLACK PLAYING CARDS
I've taken a look at black decks before, such as the Black Tiger deck from Ellusionist, which I reviewed here. Designed by John Powell, the Double Black deck is another black deck, with a distinguished jet black look.
The original Double Black deck was created in both an unbranded version and a branded Bicycle version.
The tuck box features a inky black cardboard, which is finished with a very classy looking silver foil. It also has a 7 of Spades card reveal on the tuck box flap.
This was the first ever custom deck produced by Gamblers Warehouse, and their vision for this deck was for a James Bond style deck: "We envisioned a deck of playing cards that someone as deadly and debonair as James Bond would pull out of their suit at a card game-- Classy and sleek with just enough customization to be unique, yet still hold the classic style of traditional playing cards. With this concept in mind, Double Black was born."
The card backs feature a "black on black" design, with a very light grey providing some texture and details, including the signature Double X that is the hall-mark of this deck.
The black suits feature the same black with grey used to depict the artwork, and a lighter grey for the indices.
A splash of vibrant colour is provided for the red suits, such as the court cards seen here. These have a hint of red which is used to accent artwork details like flowers and gems.
The cards do have a very dark appearance, as shown by these Aces, which are in keeping with the stated aim of this deck, which is deliberately geared to be a dark and yet elegant deck that a tuxedo-clad James Bond type hero might use.
The number cards have similar style and pip design.
The Jokers both are marked by an X, and feature a black figure juggling.
Also included with the Double Black deck is a gaff card (split J of Hearts / Queen of Clubs), plus an ad card.
The second edition of the Double Black deck was recently funded on Kickstarter here.
Designed by Blackout Brother, the second edition is a redesigned version of the original, and has more elaborate and clearer illustrations.
Funding easily surpassed the target amount, so this deck is in the process of being printed, and will eventually make its way to retailers.
Like the original, two different editions are available, an unbranded Classic edition, and a Bicycle branded Limited edition, which will have slightly different card backs.
OCCULTS PLAYING CARDS
The Occults deck is another creation by artist John Powell.
In this case the unbranded deck is a limited edition, while the branded Bicycle edition is the standard deck. These decks are available as a set of two.
The Ace of Spades features an intricate design that bears studying and appreciating.
The card backs have an impressive full-bleed style artwork. Shown here is the standard edition (the Limited edition has the same design with an altered colour scheme).
Each court card of the Occults deck has different symbols and hidden geometry waiting to be discovered. Designer John Powell has a fascination with secret societies, and the stories behind their marks, symbols, and logos.
As such, the Occults deck draws on the symbolism and imagery that hints at secrets and significance beyond what the human eye normally sees. Those who are concerned with dark occultic overtones need not fear, because the word occult is primarily intended here in its less sinister and more basic meaning, namely "beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or understanding; mysterious", "secret, disclosed or communicated only to the initiated", and "hidden from view." Each of the court cards has a secret or two, with nods to genres or works that John has been interested in. For example, the King of Diamonds has a Klingdon symbol.
The borderless card backs especially look stunning when spread and fanned.
The number cards have a custom arrangement of pips and stylish circle that looks very appealing and adds to the thematic shape that is also present on the card-backs.
A gaff card is also included as an extra bonus.
MYSTIQUE PLAYING CARDS
The Mystique deck is an enchanting set of playing cards, designed by Shapeshifters Playing Cards.
The word mystique means "a framework of doctrines, ideas, beliefs, or the like, constructed around a person or object, endowing the person or object with enhanced value or profound meaning", and it is this endowed aura that these mysterious cards set out to evoke.
It pictures a world of indefinable allure, which begins with the swirling patterns and complex design of the card-backs, and intricate coils on the Aces.
The court cards have extremely elaborate and rich designs, and the detail of the artwork is emphasized with a largely mono-coloured look. This minimalism of colour enhances the complex and original designs; it also ensures that the red and black suits are very clearly distinguished, making this a very functional and playable deck.
If you look carefully, you'll notice an elaborate watermark-style background, which is evident also on the number cards. You'll also observe that even the pips are decorated with ornate lines. That's what this deck is all about - ornate decorations that you can lose yourself in.
Another unique aspect of this deck is the fact that the pips are also displayed on the top right corners, which enhances the beauty of a right directional fan or spread.
The middle of the cards also has a full bleed band that goes right to the edges, which also makes a spread or fan look absolutely fantastic. While this does carry the risk of making the deck marked in terms of colours, I don't find it to be a huge issue since the only differential is between red or black, so even the suit isn't given away by a face-down card.
This image of an uncut sheet gives an overview of the entire deck, including the over-sized aces, coloured borders, and the mono-coloured court cards.
I especially love the over-sized Aces, which have incredibly ornate and intricate artwork.
Even the Joker has a mysterious look about it!
This deck also comes with two extra cards, a gaff card (double-backer) and a promo card.
The quality and handling of the cards is excellent, as you'd expect from a USPCC printed deck.
SPIRIT II PLAYING CARDS
The original deck of Spirit Playing Cards that was designed by Charles A.P. (Blackout Brother) proved very popular. It featured metallic colours, and incorporated the use of multiple icons and symbols.
This successful deck has now been followed up with a sequel: the Spirit II deck. This new deck has all new artwork, and comes in different colours than the original. It's brand new, and is only just becoming available for purchase now.
Three different versions of this new deck were produced, but I'll start by showing the Green edition, which is accented with Gold.
One interesting feature of this deck is the use of crossed keys as part of the indices. These look amazing when fanning or spreading the cards, because a great deal more is seen besides just the indices.
Also noteworthy are the customized over-sized Aces, with the Ace of Spades being particularly intricate.
In keeping with the spiritual theme of the deck, the court cards also have a stained glass style background.
The arrangement of the pips on the number cards is also completely original and custom, and yet it is very attractive and stylish, which suits the feel of the other elements of this deck design.
The beautiful tuck box features interior printing, to complete an all-round classy look.
Notice also here an example of the effect of the extended indices in the spread of cards shown on the left here.
The Red edition is a luxury limited edition accented with Silver, and uses metal foil on the card-backs, and on the tuck box.
The card-backs and Aces have similar designs on all the decks. The card-backs have a somewhat restrained design, which doesn't lend itself that well to cardistry, but ensures that they don't detract from the beautiful artwork on the front of the cards, while at the same time providing a classy and stylish look.
Just like the original Spirit deck, an interesting interpretation of the court cards is offered here, with all of them in a frontal position.
The third version of this deck is a borderless Black edition, which is accented with Gold, and is my personal favourite.
The Aces look particularly stunning on this black background, and the card-back artwork has a whole different effect with this colour scheme!
I really love the look of the court cards in this edition, which have an iconic feel, and appear to have come straight from a medieval church! The colour combinations probably make this deck my personal favourite of the three!
Just like the other editions, the tuck box has interior printing, and is embossed with foil, in this case gold like the Green-Gold edition - but the interior printing looks more vivid and beautiful against the black background of this tuck box.
There are lots of things that stand out about this project, starting with the outstanding tuck-boxes, which look absolutely luxurious and classy, particularly with the generous amount of embossed gold foil. I also love the artwork on the court cards. Magicians will appreciate the addition of two bonus cards that are gaffs, one being a double backer, the other being a split-card.
Regal decks: Of all the decks above, the Regal Playing Cards are probably the most impressive decks if you judge from the tuck boxes alone, with luxurious gold embossing, and a very stylish look. The oversized court cards are a unique feature of this deck, and it has a traditional look while remaining absolutely classy and elegant, which is further exemplified with the custom pips. The Master/Diamond finish ensures that these are going to handle well and go the distance. A choice of four colours means you can even get a matching set with different colours. Absolutely delightful!
Royal Pulp decks: These decks are for the mad scientist type, with unusual colour combinations that scream for attention, and artwork that borders between the humorous and the insane. It's all family friendly, but there's just something slightly off-kilter about it all, but in a completely welcome and fresh way, which helps these decks stand out pleasantly from your average playing cards. I love the way the two different coloured decks complement each other, and evoke a very different feel by virtue of an alternate palette. Completely intriguing!
Double Black deck: This deck is a sleek deck that James Bond types will appreciate, given its dark tone and jet black appearance. Due to its minimal use of colours, it's not the most functional, since the grey doesn't show up very brightly against the black background. Even so it offers a classy feel and look that will suit some gaming tables, and be enjoyed by some collectors. The Second Edition does make up for the weaknesses of the first edition, however, and looks to be a solid improvement on the original, that makes it more usable, while still ensuring a classy black look. Unquestionably sleek!
Occults deck: While this deck certainly has a number of secrets waiting to be discovered in the court cards, one of the real strengths of this deck is the beautiful and colourful borderless backs, which really come to life when fanning or spreading the cards. Even the number cards have a very stylized and custom look. But those who enjoy studying fine details will appreciate the secrets and symbols that lie hidden in the courts, which have a very classic look, yet feature intricate line-work and detail that just begs to be explored and carefully studied. Suitably symbolic!
Mystique deck: The minimalist reds and blacks of this decks ensures that all the focus is on the designs, which feature exquisite and complex patterns, that you can lose yourself in upon careful examination. The full bleed on the sides of the cards ensures a band of colour when spreading this deck. These playing cards are really suited for the person who is attracted to minimalism on the one hand, and yet appreciates complexity and detail. Totally ornate!
Spirit II decks: One of the newest kids on the block from Gamblers, the Spirit II decks take what was good about the original Spirit decks, and make them even better. They make a bold and elegant statement already with the tuck box, which has gold or silver foil accents, depending on which of the three colours you opt for. My favourite is the black deck, which card faces on the backdrop of a black canvas, really bringing the renaissance style mosaic artwork to life, while retaining an ancient feel. These decks will really appeal to those who like something that feels like it has come straight out of the pages of history, centuries removed from today. Beautifully exquisite!
Card quality: All the decks that I've looked at and own that have been produced by Gamblers have been outstanding quality. The ones I've reviewed above are either produced by United States Playing Card Company or Expert Playing Cards. USPCC decks have a high quality card stock and finish, that ensures both durability and good handling, and is exactly the kind of quality that most people will be familiar with from a quality Bicycle style deck. The Regal deck is from Expert Playing Card Company, and I'm a big fan of their Master finish, which is even more durable and has even cleaner edges than any USPCC deck. And in every case, the cards are packaged in an appropriate and attractive tuck box.
I continue to be impressed by the decks produced by Gamblers Warehouse. In an earlier review, I gave a glowing report about their Alloy deck, which featured remarkable iridescent foil on both the back and the front of the cards - an industry first, and a remarkable achievement. Not only can you purchase their own decks at their subsidiary Playingcards.net website, but they also have a wide range of hundreds of other quality playing cards for sale there too. As an extra bonus, all their listed prices include free US shipping.
In addition to this, Gambler's Warehouse also acts as a fulfilment company for a lot of other card designers, who rely on their expertise and experience to help produce custom playing cards. Clearly, these guys know what they're doing, and they have a proven track record that many crowd-funding projects rely on with confidence. I know that if I was producing my own deck via crowd-funding, I'd definitely be considering them as a partner to assist with this. They also offer a similar service for fulfilling board game projects, so if you're a game designer or small publisher looking for a partner to help bring your crowd-funded game to the market, Gambler's Warehouse is worth looking into.
If my positive experiences with the above decks are anything to go by, this is a reliable and a good choice to consider as a source for quality playing cards, and I can certainly recommend very highly the decks I've reviewed here! They may have "gambler" in their name, but getting these great decks from Gambler's Warehouse is definitely no gamble!
Want to learn more?
Gamblers Warehouse: http://gamblerswarehouse.com
Playing Cards Dot Net: http://playingcards.net
Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Regal Playing Cards (Red, Green, Blue, Purple)
- Royal Pulp Playing Cards (Red, Green)
- Occults Playing Cards
- Double Black Playing Cards (Unbranded, Branded, Second Edition)
- Mystique Playing Cards
- Spirit II Playing Cards (Black, Green, Red)
For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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- Last edited Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:32 am (Total Number of Edits: 4)
- Posted Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:26 am