Walking out of casinos with a handful of chips isn’t unusual—in fact, casino chips are the number one most popular souvenir from casinos. They’re a risky one, too; most casinos circulate and change out their chips, so wait too long to come back and your chips may lose their value. But a somewhat less popular souvenir can also be found at the tables: casino playing cards.
We’re not saying dealers will hand you the cards they’re dealing out—don’t ask for them, that’s a round way to get yourself shown the door—but most casinos offer decks of collectible cards in their gift shops. These cards may be stock, simple off-the-rack cards the casino ordered for the express purpose of selling, or they may be branded with the casino’s name and logo.
The value of these cards varies. A few Vegas souvenir shops offer casino decks for a dollar or at discount prices for tourists, but MGM sells decks of their branded cards on Amazon for around $20 a pop. The Las Vegas Gift Shop offers cards from almost every casino in the city, and most have branded boxes—and they’re around $2 a deck.
So that covers the tourism and souvenir aspect of playing cards . . . but is the rumor that casinos never reuse a deck of cards true? According to StackExchange’s Board and Card Games discussion boards, absolutely.
Casinos have rigorous systems in place to prevent cheating. Video cameras, sharp-eyed dealers, and managers who walk the floor all play their part in keeping you from walking out with a little too much money.
There are plenty of ways to (try to) cheat at a casino, but the easiest, obviously, is to mark a card and sit at the table for a few more rounds, aware of which denomination of card is marked, or which specific card is marked. In order to prevent this, casino dealers discard each deck after each round of play, so no marked or bent or folded cards will slip by and allow someone to cheat.
Not only are cards discarded from play, they’re also stricken from being used ever again—so you can imagine how many decks of cards a casino goes through a day! These decks are the ones you’ll see on sale at souvenir shops or “used” online. They’ve been used by the casino and will be sold at a small profit in order to recoup the (undoubtedly bulk) price the casino paid for them.
In order to strike cards from being played again—or being bought as souvenirs and then brought in to “add” to the number of cards actually in play—casinos will use machines to punch holes through them, negating them from being allowed on a table.
Casinos’ particular brands of preferred cards vary. There’s no “standard” casino card deck brand. However, About.com does list the most recommended playing cards to buy, so if you’re looking for the casino feel in your own home without having to worry about striking them and with the added plus of durability, here’s the tops: KEM plastic cards, which are durable and washable, Copaq plastic cards, which are PVC-coated, and official World Poker Tour playing cards.