Whether you’re a professional magician, a playing card collector, or just someone who’s accumulated a bunch of decks around the house — here are seven ways to actually use your worn out playing cards.
If you can think of other ways, please leave a comment at the end.
Alright, let’s begin.
You can use worn out playing cards to…
1. Practice card flourishes
Specifically, those flourishes or magic tricks that are easier when the cards stick together.
Old playing card decks tend to become really sticky. Typically, you don’t want this to happen as it makes flourishing more difficult.
However, tricks like packet cuts are usually much easier if the cards are glued together.
You could even tape the cards into three or four packets and then practice. If the cards are worn out, you won’t need to worry about not ruining them.
2. Practice card throwing
Yes, there is such a thing. As the name suggests, this involves throwing regular playing cards with great accuracy.
Among other professional magicians, Rick Smith has made the art of throwing cards more popular thanks to his shows and video tutorials.
Now, if you just purchased a limited edition deck, or just any good quality deck of cards, you wouldn’t even think of doing anything similar.
But with a deck of worn out playing cards, you can practice card throwing as much as you want — the cards are ruined already.
3. Build card castles
This is another situation where using worn out cards could actually help.
When building card castles (tiny ones, or breathtaking sculptures like those of Bryan Berg), you don’t want the cards to be too slippery.
For instance, plastic playing cards are usually the worst as they slide and move very easily. This is good for playing poker — not so much for building card castles.
So when you’re bored, use your worn out cards to try and create towers and sculptures. They’ll look good even with old, ruined cards.
4. Play solitaire
Are the cards so worn out you can’t even use them to play games with your friends?
You could still play solitaire. There are so many apps and websites where you can play online, but it’s much better with an actual deck of cards.
There are literally hundreds of solitaire card games — have a look at this Wikipedia page to find out more about their history and types.
You could even come up with your own version. Not the absolute most exciting thing to do, but it’s a good way to kill time, and it’s free.
5. Create playing card art
There is something fascinating about playing cards — who doesn’t love them?
So the fifth way you could use your worn out playing cards would be to actually create art with them.
As an example, have a look at the display created by Lisa Curtis below. I think it looks beautiful.
Whether it’s sculptures, collages, or displays, playing card art seems to always look great just because of the design of the cards.
6. Make playing card boxes
Similarly, worn out playing cards can be used to create cute little boxes. For example, gift boxes.
You won’t need any glue or tape — just a regular deck of playing cards, and it doesn’t really matter if the cards are ruined.
Check out this video tutorial for a step-by-step explanation. It only takes a few minutes and the final result looks impressive.
7. Make a notebook
Finally, you can use your worn out cards as a notebook or something similar. Examples:
- Leave a few on your desk and use them whenever you need to note down something
- Write your passwords and important information on them, then put them back in the box
- Use them as to-do lists or grocery lists; playing cards are small enough to fit in any pocket
What do casinos do with old cards?
As you would imagine, casinos go through thousands of playing card decks every year.
A card that’s marked could give players an advantage, so casinos need to use brand new decks quite often. So what happens to the cards?
Typically, playing cards used in casinos get destroyed. This is to prevent cheating. If a casino player could get hold of the same cards, they could easily use them to cheat, and casinos obviously don’t want that.
In some cases, casino playing cards get modified (by trimming the corners, or by drilling a hole in them) and then sold for a dollar or so.
This is a good way to not waste the cards while at the same time preventing any form of cheating.
Three tips to make worn out cards last longer
For a complete guide, feel free to check out my article on what to do when playing cards are old and stick together.
Here are, in short, a few things you could do to increase the lifespan of your worn out cards.
Keep in mind, a deck that’s actually ruined and stained can no longer be used as a brand new deck, no matter what you do to it.
- Use fanning powder. Some magicians like to use a powder that makes it easier to do card fans as well as other tricks. Fanning powder can also be used to increase the lifespan of your old decks. It won’t turn them into new decks, but you can give it a try — it usually works.
- Put them in the fridge. Seriously. Just like heat and humidity tend to ruin the cards and make them stick together, a cool environment helps preserve the cards. Leave the cards in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, and see if they feel different.
- Clean your hands/table. This is important, so don’t be lazy. By washing and drying your hands, and using a clean surface (if you spread the cards on a table), you’ll automatically prevent some of the wear and tear. The cards will still become old eventually, but they’ll last longer.
How do YOU use worn out playing cards?
Can you think of any other creative way to use old playing cards? Please leave a comment below and share your knowledge with us 👇