A deck of cards is the best tool in your arsenal if you are a master or casual player of a master card. How often do you think of the cards as a game rather than the games? We look closer at their origins and explain why they are what they are. Continue reading to discover some amazing facts about the history of playing cards.
1. Cards symbolize the Calendar
One interesting explanation for why 52 cards are in a deck of cards is that 52 cards equal the number of weeks in a year. Some believe that the two colors, red and black, reflect day and night and that the four suits represent all four seasons.
This is even more bizarre when you consider that 13 cards are in a suit that corresponds to the number of lunar cycles and 12 cards that correspond with the twelve months of the year.
If you add all the symbols in a deck, you get 365.
2. Surprisingly, the first card decks were invented in a surprising location
Do you think you know where the first packs of cards came from? Perhaps you should reconsider. Our first guesses were incorrect, we’ll admit. Decks of cards were invented in China in the 9th Century. That’s at least what most scholars agree upon.
According to some sources, the first printed playing cards were created as a 32-card domino deck in China. It is believed that the cards spread slowly through India, Persia, and Egypt before reaching Europe. This allowed for many variations.
3. Vegas Casinos Change Decks More Than You Change Your Pants
Have you ever wondered how long cards can be used before being thrown away in casinos? Las Vegas decks of cards can last up to 12 hours before they are discarded or sold.
How long a deck is in play depends on how busy the specific table is and whether shuffling is done by hand or machine. A deck used during rush hour can be switched for a new pack in as little as an hour.
Why are cards being retired? This is to prevent any distinctive marks (e.g., bends or scuffs) from being used to give away the game to those who want to gain an edge.
4. NYC is home to the World’s Oldest Card Deck
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, displays the world’s oldest and rarest full deck of cards. It’s in remarkable condition, which suggests they were never played. In the 1970s, the deck was purchased by a collector for $2,800. He spent five years researching the deck’s history before selling it to the Met for $143,000. Before a new deck can be reshuffled, it must also be approved by dealers and pit bosses.
5. Casino Cards Require A Lot Of Security
We mentioned that any flaws in a deck of cards could give away a lot to keen players. Many security measures protect casino cards. Security cameras can catch suspicious events by capturing larger symbols and characters.
Before a new deck can be reshuffled, it must also be approved by dealers and pit bosses.
Every card in a retired pack of cards must be identified before it is shredded or sold with intentional flaws so they don’t return to the casino.
6. There is a reason 52 cards are in a deck
Ever wonder why 52 cards are included in a deck? This hasn’t always been the case. Decks can be made up of any combination of cards, including 24, 36, 40, and 48.
52 stole the show from the rest of the pack and became the most common deck size across large areas of the globe.
The most widely used deck size in large areas of the world. It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact cause. Many theories exist, but the most probable is that British and French colonialism played an important role since it could have allowed the 52-foot French deck size—cards to be distributed around the globe 7.
7. You might recognize some card characters
Some faces might be familiar if you use a 52-card ‘French’ deck created in the 16th Century.
Because some are inspired or based on famous historical figures, it is possible to see Julius Caesar the King Of Diamonds and Alexander the Great as the King of Clubs. Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess as Queen of Spades. Or Lancelot du Lac, the Jack of Clubs. It’s pretty cool.
8. Cards are not always what they seem
Governments can be quite creative with playing cards during wartime. The US government best illustrates this. They teamed up with a well-known card company in World War II to create secret decks for American prisoners of war (POWs).
The cards could be ripped apart when they were wet, revealing snippets of maps that would aid in escapes. It’s very James Bond-esque.
9. The US has the most famous cards
It’s all subjective, but the US brand Bicycle is widely considered the most famous card deck. This pack of cards is expected to be the most well-known because of its history of helping American prisoners escape during World War II.
These cards were also prominent in Vietnam War culture, where there was a legend that American soldiers used Ace of Spades cards as a way to scare off superstition. Viet Cong members are more common to be found at magic shows and casinos nowadays.
10. For casino security, cards are made of plastic (History of Playing Cards)
You may notice a slight difference in the feel of your deck of casino cards. They are made entirely of plastic. It allows for more card-handling in casino games like poker before the players get tired, dirty, and dog-eared.
And, since we spoke of security before, it also makes it harder for players to cheat and mark cards than paper. We hope that plastic cards will be recycled in the future.
It is fascinating to read about the history of card games. It has had a profound impact on everything, from fiction to politics to religion to kings. It has influenced almost every aspect of western life.
Card games were the cause of some of the most notorious crimes in modern times. It isn’t easy to imagine a casino without card games. Since their introduction across Asia to Europe, people have used them to keep busy on long journeys or cold nights.