Sports

From Traditional Decks to Guandan: How a Card Game Ignites a Renaissance in China's Poker Industry

Amid rising popularity of the Guandan card game, Wuyi County in Zhejiang, "China's Playing Cards Industry Base," capitalizes on this trend by upgrading and expanding its traditional playing card industry to meet new market demands.

2024年3月21日

Guandan

In the office of Tong Yuren, Chairman of Wuyi Fishing Industry Co., Ltd. in Zhejiang Province, several exquisitely packaged Guandan decks are prominently displayed on his desk. Tong shares that recently, numerous clients have been discussing Guandan, making it an unavoidable topic of conversation.

The saying goes, "Before a meal, play Guandan; after a meal, it's a must." Originating from Huai'an, Jiangsu Province, Guandan is gradually sweeping across China.

As Guandan gains popularity nationwide, the small central Zhejiang town of Wuyi has entered the spotlight. Wuyi is known as the "China Playing Cards Industry Base," accounting for 70% of China's and 50% of the world's playing card production, with approximately 600 million decks exported annually to Southeast Asia, Europe, and America.

With over 30 playing card manufacturing companies and around 40 supporting enterprises, Wuyi's playing card industry has developed a largescale and comprehensive industrial chain over nearly 50 years. In 2023 alone, the local production and sales of playing cards exceeded 2.6 billion decks, with a total output value of over 2.8 billion RMB.

The rise of Guandan has opened up a new market for specialized playing cards, prompting manufacturers to develop new products tailored for the game. Tong Yuren, one of the earliest entrants into this market, sees Guandan as a new opportunity for the traditional playing card industry in Wuyi, which has been facing challenges in recent years due to factors like internet influence.

The production process for Guandan decks demands higher standards in printing and sizing compared to traditional playing cards, leading to higher profits, primarily from gift box orders. At Zhejiang Zhengdian Industry Co., Ltd. in Wuyi, production lines are operating at full capacity, with advanced printing technology from Heidelberg, Germany. With over 80% automation, the company can produce over a million decks of playing cards daily.

Recognizing the industry's new opportunities, the Wuyi County Playing Card Industry Association has organized meetings to discuss the development of new Guandan products. This has led to a focus on high-quality, high-end, and high-efficiency strategies. The emergence of new business prospects has prompted local small businesses to adjust their production lines and undergo transformation and upgrades.

As Guandan continues to captivate players nationwide, it breathes new life into the traditional playing card industry of Wuyi, showcasing the region's adaptability and resilience in the face of evolving market demands.

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