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The Koehler Paper Group in Oberkirch has been producing card for playing cards for 85 years. In recent months, we reported both on the history of card board at Koehler and on which card games are popular in various parts of the world, and all the different sheet types that exist. But we haven’t answered all questions yet.
We spoke with Jürgen Leber about the subject of the coating on the cards, which impacts shuffling.
Jürgen Leber ist consumed by a fascination with playing cards. He has been selling Koehler’s playing cards for years and, both during this time and previously in technical customer service, has acquired a deep understanding of paper and its qualities. He also knows a lot about finishing. This includes the coating applied to printed cards. “The coating must be slippery enough to enable shuffling and allow the cards to glide easily when handled,” he explains. At the same time, it protects the ink underneath against mechanical abrasion and rubbing.
Human or machine: the coating helps shuffling
Gliding properties and protection are in opposition to one another. There are coatings available that are better at aiding gliding, making it easier to shuffle the cards. Others are more aimed at abrasion resistance and protecting the cards. “This depends on where the cards are used and what for,” says Leber. Consequently, there is no such thing as “the best coating”. “The coating is a component in a system where everything must fit together.”
We all know the scenes in Hollywood films set at the Black Jack table. One person shuffles, lets the cards slip through their fingers, fans them and deals them out casually to the players. In reality, things are generally different. A machine often mixes the cards, while the players and the dealer play using the other deck. “Shuffling by machine is more gentle on the cards.”
Another aspect that favors machine shuffling is that shuffling by hand makes it easier to manipulate things. “But only if the dealer is cheating,” says Leber. “Loaded cards can also be placed into machines beforehand, however. This has happened before.” These days, in casinos, shuffling by hand is less common than Hollywood would have us believe. Either way, whether it’s done by human or machine, the right coating helps.