Whether you like to play casino table games or just play card games in your spare time, the designs of modern playing card games are very familiar to almost everyone. However, these decks couldn't be more different for people who have played card games in the past.
Our modern 52-card decks consist of four suits in red and black, and two jokers have undergone huge transformations over the centuries. They traveled a lot and picked up a bit from each destination they landed on.
In this blog post, we take a look at some of the countries and cultures that have influenced the playing cards we have today and the best games to play in a casino using our modern card decks.
Origin of playing cards
Of course, paper hasn't survived that well over the centuries, especially when it was produced hundreds of years ago. So the exact origins of playing card designs remain a matter of speculation rather than being set in stone.
We know modern cards landed in Europe in the late 1300s and early 1400s, but where did they come from? The decks you now use in online casino games are believed to have appeared in Asia in a completely different form many centuries ago.
Many believe that during the Tang Dynasty in China, around the 9th century AD, playing cards were first used in games. It is speculated that these cards were used as bets during other games such as dominoes and mahjong and eventually were used in the games themselves.
Playing cards are believed to have arrived in Europe via Egypt during the Mamluk period. The decks had designs of cups, swords, polo hammers, gold coins, and other symbols associated with the Mamluk aristocracy.
How Europe Influenced Deck Design
There were some major card design influencers in Europe after they arrived from Asia. Italy and Spain, as well as France, have played an important role in the history of playing card design. The card traveled to Europe in the 1400s with the symbols of the Mamluk period discussed above; the cups, coins, swords and polo hammers. Over time, however, these were adapted and swords, clubs, cups and coins soon became the designs on the cards and are still used today in Latin-style playing cards.
One of the biggest influences that Italy and Spain have had on game decks was the introduction of a king on horseback, two queens (one seated and one crowned) and a Knave. Knave was changed to Jack as soon as the letters were printed on the cards so as not to confuse the "K" for King and the "K" for Knave.
England adds value to the ace of spades
Playing cards moved to England from Belgium in the mid to late 15th century, and the Rouen models are still largely in place. Of course, it was in England that the suits got their English name, but it is the honor now bestowed on the ace of spades that was immensely important.
Companies making cards in England had to prove that they paid the required fee before the decks could leave the factory, and this was initially done by stamping the first card, which was the ace of spades. However, in 1828, eager to prevent tax evasion, the government decided that the Ace of Spades was to be purchased by the Stamp Duty Commissioner, where they were specially printed with the manufacturers' names and elaborate designs. It wasn't until 1862 that this law was overturned, but by then the ace of spades was already seen as the most valuable card in the deck.
America adds a touch
Playing cards didn't make their way to the United States from England until the late 1700s and early 1800s, but Americans still had time to put their own spin on card design to play.
This is where corner clues on playing cards were invented and added to make it easier for players to deploy their cards and easily see what they had in their hands. The indices were patented by the New York Consolidated Card Company in 1871, although they had been in use for some time before that.
Another addition coming from the United States is the use of the Joker. It seems to have originated around the 1860s when Americans decided to add a specific trump card to the game, and the first recorded use of the modern joker dates back to 1875.
As you can see, our modern deck has traveled the world for centuries, and each place has influenced card design and usage in one way or another. While the design of the cards may not have changed much recently, the way they are used has changed and now players can play the cards virtually through an online casino.
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