Everyone comes into contact with a deck of cards from time to time. Nothing else can be so small and simple and yet so versatile at the same time. From quite serious and complicated casino classics like Poker and Blackjack to magic tricks to wow the kids, a deck of cards can do it all. Playing cards have been around for many centuries and it can be understood that many myths and facts about the deck or particular cards would have accumulated. And while everyone has held a deck of cards in their hands at one time or another, probably not everyone is aware of the interesting facts about them.
There is more to card games that meets the eye. Here, we take a look at ten interesting facts about your humble deck of cards.
Usage of Cards
As per history, gamblers did not always use cards. The earliest known games recorded used painted tiles or wooden blocks. Cards started to be used much later. Cards were smaller and relatively inexpensive to manufacture, hence, people would often use them to carry messages.
Suit Symbols Used in Cards
The suit symbols we are most familiar with today (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spades) are French and are a variation of the German suit symbols. The German symbols were Acorns, Leaves, Hearts and Bells. The French suit symbols became popular in the 1480s and are still widely used today. They represent the class system which existed in Europe during that time.
- Spades: Nobility
- Hearts: The Holy Clergy
- Diamond: Merchants
- Clubs: Peasants
52 Cards in a Deck
Nobody knows as to why there are 52 cards in a deck. Some might say that the 52 cards in a standard deck represent 52 weeks in a year, and all the symbols in a deck of cards add up to the number of days in a year which is 365 and each of the 4 suits stands for a particular season. Hearts for spring, clubs for summer, diamonds for autumn, and spades for winter.
Meaning of Individual Cards
From the three of the hearts to the ten of the spades, every card in the deck has a special meaning in tarot. Ace stands for Love, Two for Union, Three for Trust, Four for Satisfaction, Five for Improvement, Six for Adjustments, Seven for Triumph, Eight for Strength, Nine for Beginning and Ten for Success.
Patterns on the Back of the Cards
These days, you can get cards with everything from Harry Potter to Halloween on the back. But the traditional cards have those patterns on the back in either red or blue.
The Ace of Spades
There is a historic reason behind the designing of the ace of spades. The ruling classes in France wanted to make some money out of cards. So they levied a tax on only one of the 52 cards in the 17th century, and their design was changed to fit the stamp to indicate that duty had been charged.
There are lots of stories out there suggesting that the cards played a major role in the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese believed that the ace of spades meant death. Hence, US Playing Card Company in Cincinnati began producing special decks of 52 aces of spades and nothing else. They sent out the packs to American troops, who left them on fallen soldiers’ bodies and distributed around the fields and forest to instil fear in the enemy troops.
Face Cards Based on Royalty
The French card decks (the edition that we are using today) were based on famous historical figures. They included Charlemagne (King of Hearts), Julius Caesar (King of Diamonds), Alexander the Great (King of Clubs) and the Holy Bible (King of Spades) King David.
The Joker traces its roots to an old game played by early American settlers called Euchre, which featured a trickster card named as the bower. Eventually, this card was included in Poker games and started to be referred to as the Joker.
Decks Used in Casinos
Decks in Vegas can last up to 12 hours depending on how busy the table is, the type of game, and whether they’re shuffled by hand or by machine. But during periods of heavy play they can only last an hour. Such cards are taken out so that distinguishing marks (bends on the edges of the cards, scratches or scuffs) do not give an edge to the players.
With the given history and facts about cards, it can be very well said that they are a great way of entertainment. Playing card games is similar to killing two birds with one stone. It improves your cognitive skills as well as provides exciting gaming hours. It is a good way to reconnect with your family and friends, especially when you meet after a long time.