## How Many Face Cards Are There?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The king is a playing card with a picture of a king displayed on it. The king is usually the highest-ranking face card, In the French version of playing cards and tarot decks, the king immediately outranks the queen, In Italian and Spanish playing cards, the king immediately outranks the knight,

Contents

- 1 What are the 4 face cards?
- 2 Are there 16 face cards?
- 3 Do Jokers count as face cards?
- 4 Are all cards 16 digits?
- 5 Is ace a non face card?
- 6 Is there a joker in 52 cards?
- 7 How are 52 cards divided?
- 8 Why is a jack called a jack in cards?
- 9 Is there a black face card?
- 10 What are the 4 types of cards in cards?

## What are the 4 face cards?

These are known as face cards.

#### Are face cards 12 or 16?

The number of face cards in a deck of 52 cards is 12.

#### How many no face cards are in a deck of 52 cards?

The number of non-face cards are present in a deck of 52 cards are 40.

#### How many face cards are there in each Colour?

All the red face cards are removed from a pack of 52 playing cards. A card is drawn at random from the remaining cards, after reshuffling them. Find the probability that the drawn card is(a) of red color(b) a queen(c) an ace(d) a face card Answer Verified Hint: A standard deck of playing cards has 4 suits of 13 each.

And each suit has 3 face cards (a king, a queen, and a jack) so in total 12 cards are present in a standard deck.Complete step-by-step answer:As we know a standard deck of playing cards has 52 cards in it broken into 4 suits of 13 cards each.Each suit has 3 face cards (a king, a queen, and a jack) so, total cards are 12.

As, there are two colours present in 52 cards i.e. Red and Black.So, red cards should be ‘6′ i.e. half of total face cards.Hence, total cards remained in deck after removing all red face cards will be 46 i.e., 52-6 = 46So, total cards present in the deck = 46.Now, we need to find probability when a card is drawn at random from the remaining cards and the drawn card is:(a) Of red colourTotal red colour cards in 52 cards are = 26(13 for diamond + 13 for hearts) Remove cards of red colour = 6Hence, remaining cards of red colour = 26-6 = 20As, probability of any event can be given as $P(E)=\dfrac } }$Hence, probability of drawing a red colour card be $P=\dfrac =\dfrac $(b) A queenTotal number of queens present in 52 cards = 4(one of each suit).As queen is a face card, so there will be only 2 queens in the remaining 46 cards as 2 queens (hearts and diamonds) are already removed with the 6 red face cards.Hence, queens present in remaining cards = 2 So, probability of drawing a queen can be given as$P=\dfrac =\dfrac $(c) An aceTotal number of aces in 52 cards = 4 (one for each suit)As ace is not a face card.

So, all the 4 aces will be present in 46 remaining cards after removing all red face cards.Hence, probability of drawing an ace, we get$P=\dfrac =\dfrac $(d) A face cardTotal number of face cards present in 52 cards be= 12 (3 of each suit) or= 12 (6 of each colour)Now, when we remove 6 red face cards, then remaining face cards would be 6 each of black colour.Hence, the total face cards present in 46 cards is 6.So, probability of drawing face cards from remaining cards will be,$P=\dfrac =\dfrac $Note: One can include ‘Ace’ as a face card as well and assume total face cards would be 16 which is wrong.

It is a general confusion with students. Hence, face cards include only queen, jack and king and in total 12 cards are there.All 13 cards include face cards i.e.1 king, 1 queen, 1 jack and cards numbered from 1,2,3.10, where 1 is termed as an Ace. : All the red face cards are removed from a pack of 52 playing cards.

## Are there 16 face cards?

There are 12 face cards (Kings, queens, and jacks) and there are 36 numbered cards (2’s through 10’s).

### Are all face cards 10?

Face cards each count as 10, Aces count as 1 or 11, all others count at face value. An Ace with any 10, Jack, Queen, or King is a ‘Blackjack.’

## Do Jokers count as face cards?

Cards – Face cards from the Current playing cards are structured as follows:

- and have three male face cards per suit, Unter/Under (a lower-class man or soldier), Ober (a higher ranking man), and König (a seated ).
- and have the Fante or Sota (, a younger man standing), Cavallo or Caballo ( or Cavalier, a man sitting on a horse) and Re or Rey (King, wearing a crown). Italian suited kings are seated while Spanish suited kings stand. A few Spanish suited patterns replace male knaves with female counterparts.
- replaced the middle male with the so it became Knave or “Jack”, Queen, and King. French suited Kings stand.
- French and Latin decks have four face cards per suit. Their order is Knave, Knight, Queen, and King for a total of 16 face cards. Figures appearing on tarot are not considered to be face cards.

While modern decks of playing cards may contain one or more depicting a person (such as a or ), Jokers are not normally considered to be face cards. The earliest Jokers, known as Best Bowers, did not depict people until the late 1860s.

## Are all cards 16 digits?

How do I read my credit card number? – Credit cards linked to major payment networks like Visa, Mastercard and Discover have card numbers that are 16 digits long. American Express credit cards, on the other hand, have 15 digits. The first digit is an industry identifier, or Major Industry Identifier (MII).

1: Airlines 2: Airlines and Financial 3: Travel and Entertainment (includes Amex) 4: Banking and Financial (includes Visa) 5: Banking and Financial (includes Mastercard) 6: Merchandising and Banking (includes Discover) 7: Petroleum 8: Healthcare and Communications 9: Government

When you combine the industry identifier with the next five digits, you can work out who the card issuer is, as well as the product the card relates to. These are considered the card’s Issuer Identification Number (IIN), or Bank Identification Number (BIN).

#### Is a 9 a face card?

Playing Cards Probability | Basic Concept on Drawing a Card | Problems Playing cards probability problems based on a well-shuffled deck of 52 cards. Basic concept on drawing a card: In a pack or deck of 52 playing cards, they are divided into 4 suits of 13 cards each i.e.

spades ♠ hearts ♥, diamonds ♦, clubs ♣, Cards of Spades and clubs are black cards. Cards of hearts and diamonds are red cards. The card in each suit, are ace, king, queen, jack or knaves, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. King, Queen and Jack (or Knaves) are face cards. So, there are 12 face cards in the deck of 52 playing cards.

Worked-out problems on Playing cards probability: 1. A card is drawn from a well shuffled pack of 52 cards. Find the probability of:

- (i) ‘2′ of spades
- (ii) a jack
- (iii) a king of red colour
- (iv) a card of diamond
- (v) a king or a queen
- (vi) a non-face card
- (vii) a black face card
- (viii) a black card
- (ix) a non-ace
- (x) non-face card of black colour
- (xi) neither a spade nor a jack
- (xii) neither a heart nor a red king
- Solution:
- In a playing card there are 52 cards.
- Therefore the total number of possible outcomes = 52
- (i) ‘2′ of spades:

Number of favourable outcomes i.e. ‘2′ of spades is 1 out of 52 cards. Therefore, probability of getting ‘2′ of spade Number of favorable outcomes P(A) = Total number of possible outcome = 1/52 (ii) a jack Number of favourable outcomes i.e. ‘a jack’ is 4 out of 52 cards.

- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a jack’ Number of favorable outcomes P(B) = Total number of possible outcome = 4/52 = 1/13 (iii) a king of red colour Number of favourable outcomes i.e.
- A king of red colour’ is 2 out of 52 cards.
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a king of red colour’ Number of favorable outcomes P(C) = Total number of possible outcome = 2/52 = 1/26 (iv) a card of diamond Number of favourable outcomes i.e.

‘a card of diamond’ is 13 out of 52 cards. Therefore, probability of getting ‘a card of diamond’ Number of favorable outcomes P(D) = Total number of possible outcome = 13/52 = 1/4

- (v) a king or a queen
- Total number of king is 4 out of 52 cards.
- Total number of queen is 4 out of 52 cards

Number of favourable outcomes i.e. ‘a king or a queen’ is 4 + 4 = 8 out of 52 cards. Therefore, probability of getting ‘a king or a queen’ Number of favorable outcomes P(E) = Total number of possible outcome = 8/52 = 2/13

- (vi) a non-face card
- Total number of face card out of 52 cards = 3 times 4 = 12
- Total number of non-face card out of 52 cards = 52 – 12 = 40
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a non-face card’

Number of favorable outcomes P(F) = Total number of possible outcome = 40/52 = 10/13

- (vii) a black face card:
- Cards of Spades and Clubs are black cards.
- Number of face card in spades (king, queen and jack or knaves) = 3
- Number of face card in clubs (king, queen and jack or knaves) = 3
- Therefore, total number of black face card out of 52 cards = 3 + 3 = 6
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a black face card’

Number of favorable outcomes P(G) = Total number of possible outcome = 6/52 = 3/26

- (viii) a black card:
- Cards of spades and clubs are black cards.
- Number of spades = 13
- Number of clubs = 13
- Therefore, total number of black card out of 52 cards = 13 + 13 = 26
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a black card’

Number of favorable outcomes P(H) = Total number of possible outcome = 26/52 = 1/2

- (ix) a non-ace:
- Number of ace cards in each of four suits namely spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs = 1
- Therefore, total number of ace cards out of 52 cards = 4
- Thus, total number of non-ace cards out of 52 cards = 52 – 4
- = 48
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘a non-ace’

Number of favorable outcomes P(I) = Total number of possible outcome = 48/52 = 12/13

- (x) non-face card of black colour:
- Cards of spades and clubs are black cards.
- Number of spades = 13
- Number of clubs = 13
- Therefore, total number of black card out of 52 cards = 13 + 13 = 26
- Number of face cards in each suits namely spades and clubs = 3 + 3 = 6
- Therefore, total number of non-face card of black colour out of 52 cards = 26 – 6 = 20
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘non-face card of black colour’

Number of favorable outcomes P(J) = Total number of possible outcome = 20/52 = 5/13

- (xi) neither a spade nor a jack
- Number of spades = 13
- Total number of non-spades out of 52 cards = 52 – 13 = 39
- Number of jack out of 52 cards = 4
- Number of jack in each of three suits namely hearts, diamonds and clubs = 3
- Neither a spade nor a jack = 39 – 3 = 36
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘neither a spade nor a jack’

Number of favorable outcomes P(K) = Total number of possible outcome = 36/52 = 9/13

- (xii) neither a heart nor a red king
- Number of hearts = 13
- Total number of non-hearts out of 52 cards = 52 – 13 = 39
- Therefore, spades, clubs and diamonds are the 39 cards.
- Cards of hearts and diamonds are red cards.
- Number of red kings in red cards = 2
- Therefore, neither a heart nor a red king = 39 – 1 = 38
- Therefore, probability of getting ‘neither a heart nor a red king’

Number of favorable outcomes P(L) = Total number of possible outcome = 38/52 = 19/26 2. A card is drawn at random from a well-shuffled pack of cards numbered 1 to 20. Find the probability of

- (i) getting a number less than 7
- (ii) getting a number divisible by 3.
- Solution:

(i) Total number of possible outcomes = 20 ( since there are cards numbered 1, 2, 3,,, 20).

- Number of favourable outcomes for the event E
- = number of cards showing less than 7 = 6 (namely 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
- So, P(E) = \(\frac } }\)
- = \(\frac \)
- = \(\frac \).
- (ii) Total number of possible outcomes = 20.
- Number of favourable outcomes for the event F
- = number of cards showing a number divisible by 3 = 6 (namely 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18).
- So, P(F) = \(\frac } }\)
- = \(\frac \)
- = \(\frac \).

3. A card is drawn at random from a pack of 52 playing cards. Find the probability that the card drawn is

- (i) a king
- (ii) neither a queen nor a jack.
- Solution:
- Total number of possible outcomes = 52 (As there are 52 different cards).
- (i) Number of favourable outcomes for the event E = number of kings in the pack = 4.
- So, by definition, P(E) = \(\frac \)
- = \(\frac \).
- (ii) Number of favourable outcomes for the event F
- = number of cards which are neither a queen nor a jack
- = 52 – 4 – 4,,
- = 44
- Therefore, by definition, P(F) = \(\frac \)
- = \(\frac \).
- These are the basic problems on probability with playing cards.

- Moving forward to the theoretical probability which is also known as classical probability or priori probability we will first discuss about collecting all possible outcomes and equally likely outcome. When an experiment is done at random we can collect all possible outcomes
- In 10th grade worksheet on probability we will practice various types of problems based on definition of probability and the theoretical probability or classical probability.1. Write down the total number of possible outcomes when the ball is drawn from a bag containing 5
- Probability in everyday life, we come across statements such as: Most probably it will rain today. Chances are high that the prices of petrol will go up. I doubt that he will win the race. The words ‘most probably’, ‘chances’, ‘doubt’ etc., show the probability of occurrence
- In math worksheet on playing cards we will solve various types of practice probability questions to find the probability when a card is drawn from a pack of 52 cards.1. Write down the total number of possible outcomes when a card is drawn from a pack of 52 cards.
- Practice different types of rolling dice probability questions like probability of rolling a die, probability for rolling two dice simultaneously and probability for rolling three dice simultaneously in rolling dice probability worksheet.1. A die is thrown 350 times and the

- Probability

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Playing Cards Probability | Basic Concept on Drawing a Card | Problems

## Is ace a non face card?

Note: Ace is not a face card.

### Does 52 cards include Jokers?

Aside from the previously mentioned Euchre, they’re also used in War, Canasta, Crazy Eights and Poker – to name but four. Are Jokers counted as part of the 52 cards that make up a deck of cards? Yes, Jokers are now included in a deck of 52 cards.

## Is there a joker in 52 cards?

Why are there two Jokers in a deck of cards? – In every deck, there is a standard 52 cards. The Two Jokers are called the “Big Joker” and the “Little Joker” or the “Full-Color Joker” and the “One-Color Joker.” Even though bridge eventually overtook the euchre pack as the most in-demand game, they did not introduce them in other card games.

#### What are 6 red face cards?

What are red face cards? – Explanation: In a deck of 52 cards, there are 4 suits: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades. Out of which 2 suits are red in Colour: Diamonds and Hearts. Each Suit has 13 cards of which 3 are face cards( J, K, and Q) Therefore there are a total of 6 red face cards.

## How are 52 cards divided?

Composition – A standard 52-card French-suited deck comprises 13 ranks in each of the four suits : clubs ( ♣ ), diamonds ( ♦ ), hearts ( ♥ ) and spades ( ♠ ). Each suit includes three court cards (face cards), King, Queen and Jack, with reversible ( double-headed ) images.

Each suit also includes ten numeral cards or pip cards, from one (Ace) to ten. The card with one pip is known as an Ace, Each pip card displays the number of pips (symbols of the suit) corresponding to its number, as well as the appropriate numeral (except “A” for the Ace) in at least two corners. In addition, commercial decks often include anywhere from one to six (most often two or three since the mid-20th century) Jokers, often distinguishable with one being more colourful than the other, as some card games require these extra cards.

The Jokers can also be used as replacements for lost or damaged cards. Standard 52-card, French-suited, English pattern pack by Piatnik of Austria, The English pattern is also known as the Anglo-American or International pattern.

#### What is a jack card?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A Jack or Knave, in some games referred to as a bower, is a playing card which, in traditional French and English decks, pictures a man in the traditional or historic aristocratic or courtier dress, generally associated with Europe of the 16th or 17th century. The usual rank of a jack is between the ten and the queen,

## Why is a jack called a jack in cards?

Originally this was the name applied to the knave of trump in the old game of all fours, which had already achieved wide popularity in preference to the archaic-sounding knave in other games.

#### Are there 16 picture cards in a deck?

A deck of 52 playing cards contains 12 picture cards.

## Is there a black face card?

Hint: In a deck of cards there are 26 black cards and 26 red cards, out of which there are 12 face cards-6 black and 6 red. So before starting the solution remove 6 black face cards from the deck of cards and use the formula $Probability = \dfrac }}} }}}$.

Complete step-by-step answer: We know that there are 6 black face cards in a deck of cards, 2 king of black, 2 queen of black and 2 jack of black. Remaining card in the bundle after removing 6 black face cards is $ \Rightarrow } $ (i) Favorable outcome of a face card = we know there are 6 red face cards, 2 red king, 2 red queen and 2 red jack.

$p( }\dfrac }}} }}} = \dfrac } = \dfrac } $ (ii) Favorable outcome of red card = we know that there are 26 red cards, and all the red cards in the deck. $p( }\dfrac }}} }}} = \dfrac } } = \dfrac } } $ (iii) Favorable outcome of black card = we know that there are 26 black cards in which 6 black face cards are removed.

#### What is J in blackjack?

blackjack Playing Blackjack You are playing blackjack at the Turning Stone Casino. They are using a single standard deck of 52 playing cards, and have already played out the hands of all the players before you. The cards that you see on the table are: J 9 A 5 7 8 10 2 K 6 6 ? 9 hand 1 hand 2 hand 3 you dealer The dealer has one card turned down that you cannot see, denoted “?”.

- The rules of blackjack are: all cards count their face value; J, Q, and K count as 10; aces A count as 1 or 11 at the players choice.
- You want to draw cards and score as close as possible to 21 without going over.
- A) It is your turn to draw or hold.
- If you draw a card, what is the probability that you will go over 21? b) What is the probability that you will end up with exactly 21? c) You actually draw a 6.

How likely was that? d) After you draw 6 in part (c), you have a total of 18. What is the probability that the dealer already has a total greater than 18? Solution : a) We will go over 21 if we draw a card of value 10. There are 16 such cards in a standard 52 card deck: 4 Ks, 4 Qs, 4 Js, 4 10s (henceforth we will denote all these cards as “10”s).

Of the 13 cards on the table, there are 3 cards that we know are 10s, plus the unknown card “?” of the dealer which might or might not be a 10. The probability we will draw a 10 depends on whether “?” is a 10 or not. If “?” is a 10, then there are 4 10s on the table, and so 12 10s left in the deck. Since the deck contains 39 remaining cards, we have: prob to draw a 10 if “?” is a 10 = 12/39 If “?” is not a 10, then there are only 3 10s on the table, and so 13 10s left in the deck.

Since the deck has 39 cards remaining, we have: prob to draw a 10 if “?” is not a 10 = 13/39 Now we need to figure out the probability that “?” is a 10 or not. Aside from “?” itself, there are 12 cards on the table, 3 of which are 10s. “?” clearly cannot be one of these 12 cards.

- It must be one of the 40 other cards, 13 of which are 10s.
- Hence: prob “?” is a 10 = 13/40 The probability “?” is not a 10 is just 1-(13/40), since “?” either is or is not a 10, and so the probability for these two mutually exclusive events must sum to unity.
- Hence: prob “?” is not a 10 = 27/40 Now we need to combine the above pieces to get our answer.

We can divide up all outcomes in which we do draw a 10 into two mutually exclusive categories: (1) “?” is a 10, and (2) “?” is not a ten. The total probability is therefore the sum of probabilities for the outcome to be in each category, i.e. prob draw a 10 = (prob to draw a 10 if “?” is a 10) x (prob “?” is a 10) + (prob to draw a 10 if “?” is not a 10) x (prob “?” is not a 10) Note, now that we did the calculation the long way, we see that the answer is the same was we would have gotten if we had completely ignored the card “?”, i.e. assumed it was not on the table. In that case the probability to draw a 10 is just the 13 10s not face up on the table, divided by the 40 cards not face up on the table.

- This works out correctly because, since we do not know anything about the value of “?”, it plays a role identical to any of the 39 cards remining in the deck.
- This way of thinking is a bit subtle, so if you don’t see it, the long way of doing the calculation as done above is the proof that it really is so.

b) For us to end up exactly with 21 we need to draw a 9. There are 4 9s in the deck, two of which are face up on the table. We can again do the problem two ways. The long way as above is: prob draw a 9 = (prob to draw a 9 if “?” is a 9) x (prob “?” is a 9) + (prob to draw a 9 if “?” is not a 9) x (prob “?” is not a 9) The short way is to ignore “?”. There are then 2 9s left in 40 cards, so the probability to draw a 9 is 2/40 = 0.05, the same answer as above. c) There ar 4 6s in the deck, two of which are face up on the table. To get the probability we draw a 6, we can use the “short” method.

- There are 2 6s left in 40 cards.
- The probability we drew a 6 is therefore 2/40 = 0.05 d) We have drawn a 6.
- There are now 13 cards face up on the table plus “?”.
- The probability that the dealer already has a total greater than 18 is the probability that “?” has value 10, or is an Ace (which can count as 11 giving the dealer 20).

There are 20 cards in the deck which are either 10 or A. Four of these cards are face up on the table, so 16 remain in the 39 cards that are not face up on the table. “?” is equally likely to be any of these 39 cards. The probability the dealer already has greater than 18 is therefore: 16/39 = 0.41 : blackjack

#### Is ace 1 or 11 in blackjack?

An Ace will have a value of 11 unless that would give a player or the dealer a score in excess of 21; in which case, it has a value of 1. The dealer starts the game. Every player gets 2 cards, face up. The dealer gets 2 cards, with a Hole Card (1 card face down).

### Why is there 52 cards in a deck?

The reason for 52 cards in a deck Len Rome’s Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

by: Posted: Sep 17, 2021 / 08:32 AM EDT Updated: Sep 17, 2021 / 08:34 AM EDT

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV)- Have you ever wondered why there are 52 cards in a deck? A card deck contains: 10 cards Ace through 10 and three picture cards (Jack, Queen, and King). Two suits, hearts and diamonds, come in red and another two, spades and clubs, in black.

The jack of spades, the jack of hearts, and the king of diamonds are drawn in profile. You can see one eyeThe rest of the picture cards are shown with their faces toward us and we see two eyes.The king of hearts is typically shown with a sword behind his head, and the one eyed king of diamonds has an ax behind his head. They’re nicknamed the suicide kings. The queen of spades usually holds a scepter and is known as the black lady. It is the only queen facing left.In many decks, the queen of clubs holds a flower. She is known as the “flower queen.”

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. : The reason for 52 cards in a deck

#### What are the 4 types of cards in?

Normal Pack – The normal pack has 52 cards in it. These are split into four types, known as suits, called hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades, There are numbers on the cards, and there is one card of each number in each suit. Some of the cards have a letter rather than a number on them: ones have the letter A on them, and are known as aces, elevens, twelves and thirteens are known as Jacks, Queens and Kings, and have the letters J, Q, and K on them.

Some games use special cards called jokers, If jokers are used, there are usually one or two, producing 53 or 54 cards in the pack. Some games such as Canasta use more than one normal pack combined together as a single unit, a few games (some Canasta variants, as well as many table banking games) using as many as four or six combined packs.

The following cards are in the normal pack (excluding jokers): A♥ 2♥ 3♥ 4♥ 5♥ 6♥ 7♥ 8♥ 9♥ 10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥ A♣ 2♣ 3♣ 4♣ 5♣ 6♣ 7♣ 8♣ 9♣ 10♣ J♣ Q♣ K♣ A♦ 2♦ 3♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 7♦ 8♦ 9♦ 10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ 7♠ 8♠ 9♠ 10♠ J♠ Q♠ K♠

### What are the 4 shades of cards?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia A four-color deck with a color scheme commonly seen in poker

Four-color deck variants♣ | ♦ | ♥ | ♠ | |
---|---|---|---|---|

green | blue | red | black | |

black | yellow | red | green | |

purple | orange | red | black | |

blue | yellow | red | black | |

green | orange | red | black | |

green | yellow | red | blue | |

pink | orange | red | black | |

pink | yellow | orange | cyan |

A four-color deck (US) or four-colour pack (UK) is a deck of playing cards identical to the standard French deck except for the color of the suits, In a typical English four-color deck, hearts are red and spades are black as usual, but clubs are green and diamonds are blue. However, other color combinations have been used over the centuries, in other areas or for certain games.

### What are the 12 face cards?

In a standard deck of 52 cards, you will find 12 face cards: four jacks, four queens, and four kings (in order of rank). Some people call these 12 cards ‘The Court’. You will also find 36 numbered cards (four each of numbers two through 10) and four aces.

## What are the 4 types of cards in cards?

Cards have been used for gambling, divination, and even commerce. But where did their “pips” come from? An Object Lesson, Playing cards have been a popular format for advertisements. (Seth Wenig / AP) Playing cards are known and used the world over—and almost every corner of the globe has laid claim to their invention. The Chinese assert the longest pedigree for card playing (the ” game of leaves ” was played as early as the ninth century).

- The French avow their standardization of the carte à jouer and its ancestor, the tarot.
- And the British allege the earliest mention of a card game in any authenticated register.
- Today, the public might know how to play blackjack or bridge, but few stop to consider that a deck of cards is a marvel of engineering, design, and history.

Cards have served as amusing pastimes, high-stakes gambles, tools of occult practice, magic tricks, and mathematical probability models—even, at times, as currency and as a medium for secret messages. In the process, decks of cards reveal peculiarities of their origins.

Card names, colors, emblems, and designs change according to their provenance and the whims of card players themselves. These graphic tablets aren’t just toys, or tools. They are cultural imprints that reveal popular custom. * * * The birthplace of ordinary playing cards is shrouded in obscurity and conjecture, but—like gunpowder or tea or porcelain—they almost certainly have Eastern origins.

“Scholars and historians are divided on the exact origins of playing cards,” explains Gejus Van Diggele, the chairman of the International Playing-Card Society, or IPCS, in London. “But they generally agree that cards spread from East to West.” Scrolls from China’s Tang Dynasty mention a game of paper tiles (though these more closely resembled modern dominoes than cards), and experts consider this the first written documentation of card playing.

A handful of European literary references in the late 14th century point to the sudden arrival of a “Saracen’s game,” suggesting that cards came not from China but from Arabia. Yet another hypothesis argues that nomads brought fortune-telling cards with them from India, assigning an even longer antiquity to card playing.

Either way, commercial opportunities likely enabled card playing’s transmission between the Far East and Europe, as printing technology sped their production across borders. In medieval Europe, card games occasioned drinking, gambling, and a host of other vices that drew cheats and charlatans to the table.

Card playing became so widespread and disruptive that authorities banned it. In his book The Game of Tarot, the historian Michael Dummett explains that a 1377 ordinance forbade card games on workdays in Paris. Similar bans were enacted throughout Europe as preachers sought to regulate card playing, convinced that “the Devil’s picture book” led only to a life of depravity.

Everybody played cards: kings and dukes, clerics, friars and noblewomen, prostitutes, sailors, prisoners. But the gamblers were responsible for some of the most notable features of modern decks. Today’s 52-card deck preserves the four original French suits of centuries ago: clubs (♣), diamonds (♦), hearts (♥), and spades (♠).

These graphic symbols, or “pips,” bear little resemblance to the items they represent, but they were much easier to copy than more lavish motifs. Historically, pips were highly variable, giving way to different sets of symbols rooted in geography and culture. From stars and birds to goblets and sorcerers, pips bore symbolic meaning, much like the trump cards of older tarot decks.

Unlike tarot, however, pips were surely meant as diversion instead of divination. Even so, these cards preserved much of the iconography that had fascinated 16th-century Europe: astronomy, alchemy, mysticism, and history. Some historians have suggested that suits in a deck were meant to represent the four classes of Medieval society.

- Cups and chalices (modern hearts) might have stood for the clergy; swords (spades) for the nobility or the military; coins (diamonds) for the merchants; and batons (clubs) for peasants.
- But the disparity in pips from one deck to the next resists such pat categorization.
- Bells, for example, were found in early German “hunting cards.” These pips would have been a more fitting symbol of German nobility than spades, because bells were often attached to the jesses of a hawk in falconry, a sport reserved for the Rhineland’s wealthiest.

Diamonds, by contrast, could have represented the upper class in French decks, as paving stones used in the chancels of churches were diamond shaped, and such stones marked the graves of the aristocratic dead. But how to account for the use of clover, acorns, leaves, pikes, shields, coins, roses, and countless other imagery? “This is part of the folklore of the subject,” Paul Bostock, an IPCS council member, told me.

I don’t believe the early cards were so logically planned.” A more likely explanation for suit marks, he said, is that they were commissioned by wealthy families. The choice of pips is thus partly a reflection of noblemen’s tastes and interests. * * * While pips were highly variable, courtesan cards—called “face cards” today—have remained largely unchanged for centuries.

British and French decks, for example, always feature the same four legendary kings: Charles, David, Caesar, and Alexander the Great. Bostock notes that queens have not enjoyed similar reverence. Pallas, Judith, Rachel, and Argine variously ruled each of the four suits, with frequent interruption.

As the Spanish adopted playing cards, they replaced queens with mounted knights or caballeros, And the Germans excluded queens entirely from their decks, dividing face cards into könig (king), obermann (upper man), and untermann (lower man)—today’s Jacks. The French reintroduced the queen, while the British were so fond of theirs that they instituted the “British Rule,” a variation that swaps the values of the king and queen cards if the reigning monarch of England is a woman.

The ace rose to prominence in 1765, according to the IPCS, That was the year England began to tax sales of playing cards. The ace was stamped to indicate that the tax had been paid, and forging an ace was a crime punishable by death. To this day, the ace is boldly designed to stand out.

The king of hearts offers another curiosity: The only king without a mustache, he appears to be killing himself by means of a sword to the head. The explanation for the “suicide-king” is less dramatic. As printing spurred rapid reproduction of decks, the integrity of the original artwork declined. When printing blocks wore out, Bostock explained, card makers would create new sets by copying either the blocks or the cards.

This process amplified previous errors. Eventually, the far edge of our poor king’s sword disappeared. Hand craftsmanship and high taxation made each deck of playing cards an investment. As such, cards became a feast for the eye. Fanciful, highly specialized decks offered artists a chance to design a kind of collectible, visual essay.

Playing-card manufacturers produced decks meant for other uses beyond simple card playing, including instruction, propaganda, and advertising. Perhaps because they were so prized, cards were often repurposed: as invitations, entrance tickets, obituary notes, wedding announcements, music scores, invoices—even as notes between lovers or from mothers who had abandoned their babies.

In this way, the humble playing card sometimes becomes an important historical document, one that offers both scholars and amateur collectors a window into the past. While collectors favored ornate designs, gamblers insisted on standard, symmetrical cards, because any variety or gimmickry served to distract from the game.

For nearly 500 years, the backs of cards were plain. But in the early 19th century, Thomas De La Rue & Company, a British stationer and printer, introduced lithographic designs such as dots, stars, and other simple prints to the backs of playing cards. The innovation offered advantages. Plain backs easily pick up smudges, which “mark” the cards and make them useless to gamblers.

By contrast, pattern-backed cards can withstand wear and tear without betraying a cardholder’s secrets. Years later, Bostock told me, card makers added corner indices (numbers and letters), which told the cardholder the numerical value of any card and its suit.

- This simple innovation, patented during the Civil War, was revolutionary: Indices allowed players to hold their cards in one hand, tightly fanned.
- A furtive glance offered the skilled gambler a quick tally of his holdings, that he might bid or fold or raise the ante, all the while broadcasting the most resolute of poker faces.

Standard decks normally contain two extra “wild” cards, each depicting a traditional court jester that can be used to trump any natural card. Jokers first appeared in printed American decks in 1867, and by 1880, British card makers had followed suit, as it were.