Bicycle ‘Club Tattoo’ Playing Cards Review

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Bicycle Club Tattoo Spread

Bicycle Club Tattoo Spread

I love tattoos. Don’t actually HAVE any of my own. But I love them. I just hate pain… Which is why the Bicycle ‘Club Tattoo’ deck of playing cards is perfect for someone like me. I watch ALL the shows. It started with Miami Ink (love Chris Garver) then LA Ink because Kat Von D left and opened up her own shop – and she does the most amazing black and grey portrait tattoos – and now I can’t get enough of Tattoo Nightmares.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a TV show based in a tattoo shop in Los Angeles, where the 3 tattoo artists – Jasmine, Big Gus and Tommy – basically cover up old, embarrassing or artistically inept tattoos of its’ customers. It’s not actually a ‘real’ shop, it’s just a front for the show, but the artists are real and the tattoos they cover up are very, VERY real….. When I think back to the different tattoos I’ve wanted over the years but my fear wouldn’t permit me to get, I am soooo relieved that I’m not having to go get cover-ups done because there’d be plenty…. Sylvester the Cat being one of them…. :/ But I digress. Back to the review.

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Spades

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Spades – ‘Skulls’

The least ‘Rock n Roll’ name in history…..?

The first Club Tattoo Studio in the US was founded in 1995 by the lead singer of rock band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, and tattooing industry leaders, Sean & Thora Dowdell. They have since gone on to open a further 5 shops in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Arizona. In 2013 the tattoo chain partnered with Bicycle Playing Cards to produce this deck of cards, with all the designs supplied by Chris Garcia and Joey Hamilton.

Four different suits. Four different tattooing styles.

Each of the four suits, hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, was designed by a different tattoo artist. We see depicted the styles of skulls, traditional Japanese, Day of The Dead and the proper old-school traditional ‘Hello Sailor’ style tattoos.

Ok, so far so good. I like this concept. There are many, many different types and styles of tattoos out there so these four are a good, solid base on which to build this deck. The colours are amazing (my scans don’t do them justice) and the artwork is just fantastic. As befitting any world-class artist.

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Diamonds

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Diamonds – ‘Traditional Japanese’

Bicycle Club Tattoo Pip Cards

Bicycle Club Tattoo Pip Cards

What lets this deck down *for me* are the pip cards. Yes, each card has a backdrop – a ‘watermark’ if you like – in the theme of the rest of the suit, but each pip card has the same image. So all the spades are skulls, all the diamonds are Japanese dragons, all the hearts are sailing ships, and all the clubs are Day of The Dead skulls. Given the amount of tattoo artists working in their chain of shops I would have thought that coming up with an extra 36 designs between them wouldn’t have been any big deal. Maybe it’s just me, but when you look at the time, energy and talent put into the face cards it just feels a little like they lost interest with the rest of the deck.

Novel writing software without the learning curve.
Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Clubs

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Clubs – ‘Day of The Dead’

Bicycle Club Tattoo Front Fan

Bicycle Club Tattoo Front Fan

Bicycle Club Tattoo Front Fan

Bicycle Club Tattoo Back Fan

Also, I can’t see this deck being of any interest to cardists, magicians or slight of hand artists. This is because the fronts have thick white borders and the backs are a design of a shield and swords on a solid black background, so fans and shuffles would lack any kind of pizzazz (Lordy, I’ve said pizzazz…..!) As well as that, the cards aren’t at all symmetrical – front OR back – so there isn’t a ‘subtle’ one-way back design, only a ‘glaringly obvious’ one-way back design. Ok, so what about in game play? Well, no. Because the pips and indexes are so far away from the corners you’d need to fan the cards right out just to be able to see what you’ve got in your hand.

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Hearts

Bicycle Club Tattoo Courts and Ace of Hearts – ‘Hello Sailor’

Having said all that, these cards are pure quality. They are printed on air-cushioned finish Bicycle card stock and they are extremely smooth to handle and are a pleasure to hold. The designs on the face cards, Jokers and Aces are fantastic (my personal favourites are the ‘Hello Sailor’ style, particularly the Ace; reminds me of the old penny bubble gum you’d get with a free ‘tattoo’…) and the colours are vibrant and pop right out at you. But the deck to me has no real purpose. Kind of like an actual tattoo. You can’t physically DO anything with it. It’s just, well, there. To look at. And to admire. I do love my Club Tattoo deck, and I’d never part with it. I’d never play a hand of cards with it. But I will look at it, and admire it. Maybe, if there’s ever a Club Tattoo II there’d be more artwork over all the cards.

Bicycle Club Tattoo Jokers and Back

Bicycle Club Tattoo Jokers and Back



Where to buy your Bicycle Club Tattoo deck:

Available for $4.76 at and also for £4.99 at with free UK shipping


Do you have any comments or questions about this deck or this review? I’d love to hear them so please use the comments box below, thanks :)

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8 thoughts on “Bicycle ‘Club Tattoo’ Playing Cards Review

  1. Kevin

    That’s interesting putting tattoos on cards. I will probably never have a tattoo myself, but still it’s different than the typical boring Bicycle cards. I could have guessed with the spade cards being skull tattoos with the Ace of Spades considered the “Death Card”. Great post! I wonder what other design sets are on Bicycle cards.

    1. Jyl Post author

      Thanks for your comment Kevin – there are LOADS of different Bicycle decks, just have a look in Google. There’s something for everyone’s tastes :)

  2. Bianca

    What a beautiful deck! As someone who has several tattoos and still wants more, this warms my heart! I don’t actually play cards, but I might consider this deck for my husband who plays poker!
    Really amazing designs but I agree that while I understand why the pip cards have been designed like they have, I still would have expected more!

  3. Jeff

    Hi Jyl,
    Those cards do look perfect for a tatoo lover who doesnt have any. I always thought they looked cool to but dont want the permanent stamp

  4. Donald Ostrander

    Hi Jyl. Great information, and your images rock. I have wore out many decks of Bicycle cards over the years, and I thought I had seen everything on them. I have to admit this is a new one on me. After looking at your images I think I will add these to my many collections. Thanks for the info and keep up the good work.


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