Rider-Waite Tarot Deck Review

rider-waite-smith-tarotThe Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is the most widely used tarot deck today and can be seen as the gold standard of tarot decks. This deck was originally published in 1909 by William Rider & Son of London, but is now published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.This ever-popular deck was a result of the collaboration between artist Pamela Coleman Smith and mystic Arthur Edward Waite.

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck was groundbreaking for its time because it was the first deck to feature scenes and people on the 56 minor arcana cards. Prior to The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, the minor arcana cards were very simple, illustrated with just the card’s suit and its number, with only the Major Arcana depicting people on them.This deck is also called The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) and the Rider Deck.


  • This deck is the classic, gold standard tarot deck upon which most other tarot decks are based
  • Pictures are simple and easy to interpret
  • Each card tells a story and evokes a strong feeling


  • Colors can seem a bit garish and the artwork is very basic

strength-tarot-cardThe best thing about The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is how easy the card pictures are to interpret. Even if you know nothing about Tarot, you can look at these cards and get an idea of what they might mean.

Each card tells a story and is full of action and emotion. Getting lost in these cards comes naturally as they invite contemplation and will stimulate your imagination. I find this to be the best deck to use for creative writing exercises. I believe that even someone with severe writer’s block could quite easily write dozens of pages on a single card!

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck does a wonderful job of capturing the wide variety of human emotions, archetypes and life stages. However, the artwork is more practical than visually appealing. In other words, you wouldn’t exactly hang an enlarged version of a Rider-Waite tarot card in your living room, like you might with other artist’s tarot card renditions.

If prettiness is an important factor for you when choosing a tarot deck, The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck may come up short. The colors are a bit harsh and the drawings are very basic and unimpressive. However, impressing you with it’s beauty isn’t the aim of this deck – providing a solid, no-frills tool for divination is.

This deck’s design was well thought out by mystic and academic Arthur E. Waite and it is full of symbolism and deeper meanings, making it a fascinating deck to study and contemplate. There are many different versions of this classic deck, such as the Radiant Rider-Waite, Universal Waite Tarot Deck and even the Giant Rider-Waite.

the-empress-tarot-card-meaningBuy this deck if:

  • You are a beginner to Tarot
  • You don’t have it yet!

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (affiliate link) is by far the best deck to learn on and it is a must have deck for every tarot enthusiast and beginner. There are different versions of the Classic Rider Waite Tarot Deck, such as the Radiant Rider-Waite, Universal Waite, Giant Rider Waite and others. If you don’t yet have this deck, don’t hesitate to get it – it is the quintessential tarot deck!

 Do you have this deck? Share your opinion in the comment box below!

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8 Responses to Rider-Waite Tarot Deck Review

  1. Leanne says:

    I have the original deck but the artwork is too smudgy and not very clear but still a newbie so want to stick with RW. What is the difference between the Universal or Radiant RW deck, which deck is more clearer to see the pics for a newbie? 🤗

    • Hi Leanne,
      I suggest you go on Google images and search for these decks and compare them. I would say they are equally clear. Radiant rider waite has more glowy colors than the Universal.

  2. Carol says:

    I know this is…kind..of plain.its Simple I see they make an universal.gold deck its basically the same just more colorful .I personally like the cats tarot.its hard to distinguish what it means unless Ur an expert..which Im not yet..

  3. Carol says:

    I have this one I think its rather plain and ugly…there’s got to be other that are simple and better looking ..I will have to see .

  4. Tarot Fable says:

    I hate this deck, it is the ugluest deck ever created. I also find it highly misleading that people say this de k is eady to read for a beginner. It is hard to read a deck of cards if you are revulsed by them.

    • michael says:

      I dislike this deck too but ist good for a study deck and because most decks are based on the Rwand Tarot books refer to this deck always. also it is still a classic but for me the Morgan Geer Tarot is better

  5. ARUNA MEHTA says:

    I have the Rider Waite cards, and pictures and coloured combinations is good , I tried to learn from my teacher , still amateur.

  6. rachel says:

    love the rider waite and I think the symbolism on the cards is fantastic and very true to form for the querent – they are also great for quick yes/no answers.

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