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The United States Playing Card Company, started in 1867, produces and distributes playing cards, including Kem, Bee, Bicycle, Aviator, Maverick, Tuxedo, Hoyle, Tally Ho, plus other playing card accessories, like poker chips. The company was based in Cincinnatimarker, Ohiomarker, but now is located at 300 Gap Way, Erlanger, KY.

These cards are also used by famous magicians, and companies like Bicycle make cheats deck only for illusionists.

For over a hundred years, the inexpensive Bicycle brand cards have been the top selling playing card brand in the world. Bee is a high-quality brand manufactured not only for consumer use, but used widely in casinos. The company also famously made the Iraq's Most Wanted playing cards.

In addition to playing cards, the company offers card game accessories and novelty playing cards, including Winnie the Pooh, Spider-Man, NASCAR, Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and so on. The company also produces many varieties of Tarot cards .

History

Bridge playing cards w/ jumbo indices(1906)
World War II cards were produced that, when submerged in water, could be peeled apart and both halves had a map on the inside. When all the cards were put together it made a large map. These were supplied to POWs so if they escaped they would have a map.

The company provided crates of Ace of Spades cards for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. It was erroneously believed that the Viet Cong believed the card to be a symbol of death and would flee at the sight of the Ace. In actuality the Ace meant nothing to the Viet Cong, however the belief did improve the U.S. soldiers' morale. Thousands of decks of these Aces were shipped to Vietnam where the Aces were purposely scattered throughout the jungle and villages during raids. Similar cards were produced during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq by US forces. Due to the shortness of the conflict these cards never saw battle.

USPC has owned Spanishmarker playing card manufacturer Heraclio Fournier since 1986. In 2004 they acquired Kem Playing Cards, makers of durable high-quality plastic playing cards. Also in 2004, it was acquired over the course of four months by the Jarden Corporation and made into a subsidiary.

Product line

The company offers several card brands, including:

Aviator

Introduced in 1927 in commemoration of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, Aviator playing cards feature a bordered, monotone back design of predominantly circles. They are comparable in quality to Bee and Bicycle cards and are available in the same general assortment of back colors, card sizes, and card configurations.

Bee

A deck of Bee Playing Cards
Bee Playing Cards are a casino card brand. They were first manufactured by Consolidated-Dougherty in 1892, hence the number "92" on the Ace of Spades (the standard poker deck is now known as deck type 92); the USPC acquired the company soon after. Bee playing cards have a diamond back, typically blue or red, though casinos frequently use customized Bee cards featuring a logo added to the backs. Unlike Bicycle cards, Bee cards have borderless backs, making the facing of any card that is even partially revealed clearly visible. However, the diamond back of the card is very regular and low-profile compared to other back designs, which simplifies "bottom-dealing" and other forms of sleight-of-hand.

Bee Playing Cards are comparable to Bicycle Playing Cards, which are not as frequently used in casinos. However, Bee Playing Cards are often found in Hong Kongmarker movies.

Bicycle



Bicycle Playing Cards are a popular brand of standard playing cards, and are the USPCC's original brand and product. Since 1885, the Bicycle brand has been manufactured by the United States Printing Company, which, in 1894, became the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnatimarker. "Bicycle" is a trademark of that company. They are popular with magicians and other card enthusiasts.

Poker Standard type deck "Poker 808".
The Bicycle logo with trusted since 1885 banner.


The typical Bicycle deck (Poker-standard Type 808) is a standard issue deck of cards consisting of 52 traditional Anglo-American playing cards, two jokers, an information card, and a card describing poker ranks. As with most decks, the first standard card of the deck is the uniquely-stylized Ace of Spades. The Bicycle trademark is usually also printed on the Ace of Spades. The type number of a Bicycle deck can be found both on the bottom of the deck box and on the stone of the Joker artwork.

Bicycle playing cards are sold in a variety of decks featuring different cards (such as for use in pinochle), back designs (including the traditional rider back and older Vintage backs), face designs (including Jumbo Index and Lo Vision cards for the visually impaired, and a "PokerPeek" design on their Pro series decks that simplifies looking at hole cards), and sizes (such as narrower bridge decks, thicker Masters Edition cards designed to last longer, and Big Bicycle cards that are four times the normal card size). Any of the aforementioned are traditionally available with red and blue backs, but other back colors (including black, silver, and even pastel colors) are also available. There is even a "Ghost" deck that is entirely black and white except for red hearts and diamonds on the corners of appropriate cards. Consumer paper versions of the plastic KEM type WSOP decks are sold under the Bicycle brand.
A sampling of Bicycle Playing Cards
Bicycle playing cards are commonly used in card magic and flourishes, and are generally considered by magicians as the best playing cards for most tricks, particularly those tricks where the facing of the card needs to be concealed (this is allowed by the white border on the back of the card). In addition to specialty decks specifically designed for card tricks, Bicycle also make other kinds of non-standard card decks, such as a "gaff" deck (contained in a mirrored-art box) with an assortment of unusually-altered cards that can be used with regular cards for tricks or jokes.

Congress

The first brand of cards introduced by the company in 1881, when it was still known as Russell, Morgan, and Co., Congress is currently the USPC's signature brand name for bridge cards and accessories. Congress cards feature a wide assortment of colorful and artistically-inspired back designs. Each Congress deck consists of the 52 standard cards (the Ace of Spades design is the same as that on Bicycle decks), two jokers, and an information card describing bridge scoring. Congress cards are commonly sold in sets of two decks: each deck bearing art complementary to the other (to allow for the common bridge practice of pre-shuffling an alternate deck for the next hand while the one deck is in play). Both standard and jumbo index cards (for the visually impaired) are available.

KEM

KEM Plastic Playing Cards are made from cellulose acetate, and are considered the "gold standard" of Poker playing cards because they are considered the most durable cards available: able to withstand even washing and still be playable. Just about all USA casino poker rooms use KEM cards for this reason, leaving the casino-traditional Bee cards for the Blackjack tables. Since 2007, the official cards of the World Series of Poker have been plastic KEM cards (though they bear the Bicycle brand name). KEM cards are also available to the consumer (usually at specialty game shops) with various back colors and designs in both poker (wide) and bridge (narrow) sizes.

PokerPeek

USPC debuted a new line of plastic cards called "PokerPeek" at the 2007 World Series of Poker. The face of each card has the rank and suit at all four corners, at a 45° angle to the card's edges, and the size of the traditional face designs are reduced and flanked by jumbo-index ranks. The design was an attempt to make it easier for players to read their hole cards, while at the same time making it more difficult for anyone but that player to discern their hand. However, the new cards were largely pulled from play and replaced with decks having a more traditional face layout due to complaints from players due to the tiny sized indexes and confusion with the "6" and the "9". The "PokerPeek" face design was integrated into the paper Bicycle Pro series of casino-quality cards aimed at the home market, and currently available at retail as of 2008.

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