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New USPC Kem vs. Original Kem Review

Discussion in 'Poker Gear Reviews' started by JustinHEMI04, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. JustinHEMI04

    JustinHEMI04 Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Amsterdam, NY
    Manufacturer: Kem card company; US playing card company
    Retailer(s): For original Kem; PC.com, Buy Poker Chips, Kardwell For new Kem; Nicetoys For both; EBAY search for Kem
    Average Price: For original Kem; $25 up to over $100 depending on style and size. For new Kem; $20 at nicetoys.
    Material: Cellulose Acetate
    Member Review by: JustinHEMI04
    Comparison of Original and New Kem cards​
    $20 to over $100 for original Kem. $20 for new Kem​
    There has been some discussion about differences in feel between the old and new Kem cards. There has also been some reported differences in feel between the two new Kem decks, depending on lot number. Well firstly, I detect no difference in feel between my original Kem cards and the new Kem cards. They have the same texture, weight and paint consistency. Secondly, the lot numbers I received of the new Kem cards (G6285 Red and E8351 Blue) were identical to each other in looks and feel. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the same kind of paint is used on both the old Kems and the new Kems. Additionally, that classic Kem smell is present in the new Kems.​
    Both versions are made of the same material and seem to shuffle the same. One thing that I did note however, is the lack of shedding on the new Kems. With the original Kems, they would often "shed" for a while when new. That is, little piece of card material from the manufacturing and cutting process would deposit themselves on your poker table. This did NOT happen with the new Kems. I can only conclude that USPC has changed the cutting process in some way to prevent this.​
    This is where the original Kems differ from the new Kems. Currently, USPC company only offers their Kem cards in the Arrow bridge size and Paisley bridge size, regular index. I contacted USPC to inquire about future designs. They said that if the Arrow and Paisley designs sold well, they would start to offer other traditional Kem designs and new Kem designs, including wide sized version. We could see an Arrow wide version as early as June or July. They also made mention of the fact that they are still working out some manufacturing bugs, which includes some of the issues people have encountered with different lot numbers. The red lot number that I recieved (G6285) was reported by a few people to be defective in cut and feel. However, as I have said, there aren't any defects with my cards. Additionally, there is a slight height difference between the blue and red decks of the new Kems, as can be seen in the pictures below. This will not affect play or any other part of your game. Just something to note about the apparent difference in manufacturing of the lot numbers. Lastly, the original Kem ace of spades is more detailed than the new ace of spades, and slightly larger. However, this difference is barely noticeable, and does not downgrade the USPC Kem at all.​

    Picture showing height difference.

    Picture showing the Ace of Spades. From the left: Old Kem. Both new kem.

    Durability -
    I subjected the new Kems to the same tests that I have put the original Kems through. The new Kems performed identically, and therefore I can only conclude that they will be as durable as the original. There is no reason to believe otherwise. This makes sense, as they are made on the same machines out of the same material as the original Kem cards. Additionally, the new kems come in identical boxes to the original Kems.​

    New Kem bend test.

    New and Old Kem after bend test.

    Reviewers Comments
    I must say that I am very pleased with the new Kem cards from USPC. I was skeptical at first, but I am now sold on the idea of someone else producing these cards. Thankfully it is someone with the know-how and background of USPC. I am disappointed the lack of design availability of the new Kems. But as discussed above, I think in time we will be offered a wider variety.

    Another item of note, USPC will NOT be honoring the original Kem guarantee. If you lose or damage an original Kem card, you are out of luck. Unless you have your own replacement, your deck will be useless. So, you can either do what I did and buy a bunch of replacement decks while they are still available, or just not bother with the originals anymore for any reason except collectibilty. Being a Kem user of nearly 12 years, who grew up with a father and grandfather who used Kem, I can say that USPC exceeded my expectations, and in fact put out a better version of the Kems than Kem itself. This is based solely on the quality of paint, and lack of Kem quality control near the end. On many late model Kem cards, the cards produced nearing the closing of the factory, there are huge paint and quality control issues. From missing cards to smeared paint, you could see that the factory workers no longer cared about what they put out. In this light, the USPC version of Kems soars. I could not find one paint blemish or any defect whatsoever. I am very pleased and will be buying Kems from USPC in the future. The new USPC Kem cards are a very worthwhile investment for any serious card player, at only 20 dollars for a double deck set.​

    New and Old Kem designs, showing identical box
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2006

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