Jeff Shulman, editor of Card Player magazine, recently remarked upon a conversation he'd participated in regarding four-color decks. As it happens, the decks under discussion were all virtual decks; that is, decks of playing cards used on various online poker sites. Mr. Shulman wondered: "Is poker big enough now to change the standard black and red deck to black, red, green, and blue? Even though the idea was laughed at years ago, it may be time to change."
This is an interesting idea, and I feel that Mr. Shulman's suggestion warrants serious consideration. First some background: all online poker sites show playing card decks in the standard colors that we are used to seeing, with spades and clubs being black and diamonds and hearts being red. Some, but not all, allow users the option of using a four color deck, in which spades are black, clubs are green, diamonds are blue and hearts are red. I did a quick survey of four online poker sites and found that three - Poker Stars, Ultimate Bet, and Party Poker - did have this option. One, Royal Vegas Poker, did not, or at least did not as far as I could determine.
It makes sense that online poker players might prefer the four color deck, for the simple reason that they are looking at images of playing cards on a computer screen where visibility may or may not be ideal. Additionally, online poker games move very fast, much quicker than home games or games in casinos. Given these considerations, one would not wish to take a chance in misreading a card, perhaps mistakenly thinking one has hit a flush.
Four color decks do exist in the brick-and-mortar world, and many bridge players are familiar with these decks, which are often called no-revoke decks. Carta Mundi manufactures a four-color deck, called Spectrum "No Revoke" Playing Cards. These are available, with black or white backgrounds on the reverse side, and used to be distributed in the USA by US Games, but are not currently listed in that company's online catalogue. The deck is perfectly suitable for poker, the only difference being that it is a bridge deck and, hence, the cards are a bit narrower. Most individuals would not find this to be an issue, and of course in Europe what Americans call "bridge-size" is the standard size for playing cards.
Bicycle (US Playing Card) also manufactures one deck in four colors, but it is a low-vision deck. The indices on the clubs and diamonds are standard, but then are shown in large print in blue and green, respectively.
I personally would be very happy to play poker at a casino with a four-color deck like the Spectrum, and, being left-handed, would like to point out one more nice thing about the deck as well: indices in all four corners!
1. Shulman, Jeff. "First Season of the Professional Poker Tour and the Four-Color Deck." Card Player 5 November 2004: 4.
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