I wrote about the virtues of plastic playing cards in my Kem card review way back in 2005. High quality plastic playing cards are more durable than their paper counterparts and can also be cleaned if they become dirty. They also shuffle a lot better, essentially always that “new card” feeling you get from paper cards.
The issue with Kem cards is that they are kind of expensive. A two-pack deck will run about $30 on Amazon Prime. I am sure that over the lifetime of the deck it’s a lot less expensive than paying for paper cards, but if you’re reading this blog you know I’m in constant search of price to performance. I also don’t really care for most of the Kem card designs, and I think a lot of the patterns cater to bridge players.
I started looking around for plastic card alternatives, and I purchased a two-deck pack of Compag plastic playing cards for about $15 from Amazon Prime.
Here’s my review.
Like Kem cards, the Copag cards come in a protective plastic case. There are two jokers per deck, along with a proof of purchase card. There’s also a little plastic tab that keeps the decks from mixing together during travel.
Copag cards are a little bit thinner than their Kem equivalents. One Amazon reviewer reported that Kem cards are 0.014″ thick, whereas the Copag cards are 0.012″ thick. The Copag cards are supposed to be lighter than the Kem cards as well. I can’t tell the difference, but there you have it.
I like the design, although the card backs are lighter in person than they appear in photos. I bought this set because I wanted cards with a black back. I’d say the cards are a light black / super dark gray. To use the hex color values, I expected #000000, and the cards appear to be #2A2A2A.
We like poker-sized cards here. They’re larger than the bridge-sized cards you’ll find most vintage Kem cards in. We also prefer regular “index,” or print size. Some folks like “jumbo index,” which means the face of the card is much bigger. Sort of like big print in books.
The Copag cards have a nice feel to them — not to slippery, but not to rough. They aren’t as slick as the Kem cards. This means they won’t shuffle as easily and will require more force to bridge, but most people who handle the Copag cards prefer the slightly “rougher” card texture. I’d say the Copag cards feel like a well broken in paper deck, not a brand new deck fresh from the box. I find this preferable, but card feel is a personal choice and you may prefer the slicker Kem-style coating.
After about a month of usage, I noticed cards from the black deck scattered on the floor in the living room. Our three dogs spend most of their time here, and I was immediately suspicious. My youngest dog Pearl has a habit of eating things that she shouldn’t, and sure enough, she ate four of the Copag cards.
Convicted card consuming canine.
I wrote to Copag’s customer service (here’s their official Copag USA site). I got a personal reply from a customer service agent two business days later. They sent me a PDF document with instructions on requesting replacement cards. I expected to pay for the cards, but Copag insisted they would provide all four free of charge. I filled out the form, and my cards arrived shortly thereafter — completely free.
I didn’t expect this level of customer service at all. I was impressed not only by Copag’s response time to my request, but also that they sent me cards promptly for free. I didn’t even have to pay for return shipping. Nada. Zilch.
So, big thanks to Copag for replacing my cards and for making a great product. If you are curious about playing with plastic cards but are reluctant to spend the cash on a set of Kem cards, I believe the Copags are just as good for half the cost. I actually like the texture of the Copag cards better, and by the feedback from Sedagive? and my friends, I’d say that most people do as well.