If you’re a master card player or have just a casual fondness, then a deck of cards is the most important tool of your trade. Here are 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards.
But do you ever think about the cards themselves rather than the game?
Let’s have a closer look at what they are, where they originated from, and why they are the way they are.
Here are the 9 most surprising facts about playing cards.
1. There’s a reason why there are 52 cards in a deck
Have you ever wondered why there are 52 cards in a deck? Has it been that way always?
No! Over the centuries, decks have comprised of different card variations of 24, 36, 40, 48, and almost any number in between.
But 52 became a landmark, pack to become the most popular and common deck size across large portions of the globe.
Nobody can say for sure what the reason for this is.
Although there are many background theories, it’s most likely that British and French colonialism played a huge part, as it potentially allowed the standard French deck size of 52 cards to spread across the world.
2. Cards symbolize the calendar
An interesting theory on why there are 52 cards in a deck is that the number of cards symbolizes the number of weeks within a year.
Some say that the two colors — red and black — reflect day and night and that the four suits represent the four seasons.
It gets even weird when you find that there are 13 cards in a suit to match the number of lunar cycles, and 12 court cards that represent the 12 months of the year.
And, if you add up all the symbols in a deck of cards, there are 365.
3. The first card decks were invented in a surprising location
Do you know where packs of cards first came from?
It originated in China in the 9th century. Or at least that’s what most scholars agree on.
The common belief is that the first printed playing cards started in China too, in the form of a 32-card domino deck printed on paper, bone, and wood.
It’s believed cards then slowly spread across India, Persia, and Egypt before arriving in Europe, allowing for all kinds of variations.
4. Vegas casinos change decks more than you change your pants
Ever wondered how long decks of cards are used in casinos before they’re thrown away? In Las Vegas, decks last for up to 12 hours only before being discarded or sold.
The existence of a deck in a play depends on factors such as how busy the specific table is and whether shuffling is done manually or by machine.
Why are cards retired in the first place?
The reason is to stop any distinguishing marks, such as bends and scuffs, giving the game away to players looking to gain a benefit.
5. The world’s oldest deck of cards is in NYC
The world’s oldest full deck of cards is on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The hand-painted tarot deck comes from the mid-15th century Netherlands and is in amazing condition, suggesting the cards that it was hardly played.
The deck was sold to a collector in the 1970s for $2,800, who spent nearly five years researching its history before selling them to the Met for $143,000.
There are centuries-old decks of cards being held at institutions like Yale University, which even have their card database.
Playing cards for the title of oldest and rarest include the Mamluk pack of cards at Topkapi Museum in Istanbul.
6. Casino cards require a lot of security
Any imperfections in a pack of cards can give away plenty to eagle-eyed players. This is the reason there is a lot of security measures in place. This is one of the 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards.
It includes larger symbols and characters so that any suspicious activities can be caught by security cameras. New decks also have to be signed-off by pit bosses and dealers, before being reshuffled.
And when a pack of cards is finally taken off the deck, every card must be accounted for before being either shredded or sold with intentional imperfections.
7. You might identify some card characters
If you play with a ‘traditional’ deck of 52 ‘French’ cards, made from the 16th century onwards, some faces may look familiar.
That’s because some are based on or inspired by famous figures from history. This is one of the 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards.
Watch from the close quarters and you might just see Julius Caesar as the King of Diamonds, Greek goddess Pallas Athena as the Queen of Spades, Alexander the Great as the King of Clubs, or Lancelot du Lac as the Jack of Clubs. Quite amazing.
8. The most popular cards are from the US
Again, it’s all a matter of opinion, but it’s mostly regarded that thought that the most iconic card decks are the US brand Bicycle. This is one of the 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards.
These are considered the most famous pack of cards ever due to their track record of being used to help American prisoners escape during World War II.
The cards also feature in popular culture when it comes to the Vietnam War too. It is a myth that American soldiers used the Ace of Spades cards to scare away superstitious Viet Cong members.
9. Cards are made of plastic for casino security
When it comes to decks of casino cards, you might have watched that they feel a little different. That’s because they are 100% plastic.
It allows more card-handling for games like poker before they get tired, dirty and dog-eared. This is one of the 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards.
And it also makes it harder for players to cheat and mark cards than paper.
These are the 10 Amazing Facts About Playing Cards that you would have been playing for years without having any iota of such surprising facts.