These days it’s rare to see anything truly unique when it comes to poker equipment but that's exactly what David Goldklang has created with his Polaris cards.
A graphic designer, David has been around cards his entire life and always wanted to take a stab at making his own. Earlier this year he finally made it happen.
David collaborated with brother Jordan Goldklang to create a series of cards called Vända. The project, which was funded through Kickstarter, was wildly successful and easily raised enough money to produce the cards.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the pair launched a new Kickstarter project late last month.
The new custom deck, called Polaris, has a celestial theme with both solar and lunar editions. In addition the cards feature four colors, which makes spotting flushes easier for poker players.
Polaris is off to a hot start on Kickstarter and has already raised over $10,000 of its $15,000 goal.
PokerListings had the chance to chat with Goldklang and find out what it was like designing his own set of playing cards:
PokerListings.com: Little bit of background first. How old are you? Where are you from originally?
David Goldklang: I'm 33 and I grew up in Mill Valley, California - just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
What inspired you to design custom playing cards?
I've been around playing cards my entire life. My dad first taught me how to play 5-card draw poker when I was a kid and I've been hooked since. Also, my brother is a professional magician so there have always been countless cards strewn about the house. As a graphic designer looking for personal projects to challenge and inspire me, it was inevitable that I would eventually design a deck of cards.
Was it a complicated process actually going about it? How long does it take?
Playing card design is actually quite a bit more complicated than it may seem at first glance. The decks I've designed are completely custom, including my own version of the suit symbols themselves.
I've also created unique pip layouts that I think are more visually appealing than the standard layout.
The entire process of designing a deck from scratch takes me several months. I start by sketching out ideas on paper until I have a clear concept for the deck. Then I design each individual card face on the computer as well as the back and box designs.
The tweaking process is very involved and I constantly go back to each card and make small adjustments until I'm completely satisfied. There's also considerable time spent communicating back and forth with the printer to adjust the design and colors based on printed proofs.
In your opinion what makes a good deck of playing cards?
I think usability is the most important aspect to a deck.
One of my primary goals when designing Polaris was to create a card deck that is not only usable but actually enhances gameplay. I've incorporated features such as 4-color suits and 4-corner pips to improve the experience.
What kind of response have you gotten from people who purchased decks from the Vända set?
I've heard from many of the backers of the Vända project and everyone was very enthusiastic about the unique design and had been waiting eagerly for the launch of Polaris.
The first decks have just finished printing and everyone is excited to be receiving them later this month.
How would the Polaris cards compare to high-end cards like COPAG or Kem Cards?
The Polaris decks are being printed by the US playing Card Company on the same card stock and with the same process they use to make Bicycle decks that most people are very familiar with. They will be the same top quality as the best cards available on the market.
Why would these cards make a good addition to a poker home game?
The Polaris decks offer an element of intrigue - the design is completely unique and eye-catching and will definitely be a topic of discussion at any home game. Also, the 4-color feature helps people from having to stand up and squint to see across the table to figure out if that's the jack of spades or clubs.
I've shown the design around at several large poker rooms and everyone loved the look of the cards and wanted to know how they could get a few decks.
Do you play any poker?
I've played poker for as long as I can remember including playing online since the golden days before everyone learned the game. A few years ago I was grinding online tournaments for 14+ hours a day and spent 4 weeks in Las Vegas at the WSOP, playing in 7 events with 2 cashes.
What deck is better: Lunar or solar?
We actually asked that very question recently on the Vända Facebook page and got a mixed response. It seems that each deck is appealing in a different way and it really comes down to personal preference. I suppose you'll have to get one of each to compare and decide for yourself.
I've also designed some really cool poker chips that match the look of the Polaris decks. There are 5 colors and they each have a unique design. They are ceramic casino-style chips that look and feel great (I should know since I've handled many poker chips for extended periods of time) and would be a vast improvement over most of the chips currently available for home use.
Polaris Kickstarter project: kck.st/YRR018
Vända website: vandacards.com
Vända Facebook page: facebook.com/VandaPlayingCards
Polaris promo video: http://vimeo.com/55912918