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Card Games: 20+ Amazing Facts About Playing Cards (Things You Didn’t Know…)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Old men play cards
Songquan Deng /

Card games are a great way to add an element of fun to your life. They’re classic, old school, but never really dull. In fact, card games have always brought people much closer. If you’re a card games lover, you would surely know a great deal about cards, but how many facts do you know about cards and their many games? 

We’re willing to bet that even the most avid card players can learn something new about card games – today, we’re going to share 20+ interesting nuggets of info on card games with you. See how many you already knew!

Card games are always a great way to increase excitement and enjoyment levels, especially when in the company of friends. If you want to add to the element of interest, share some of these quirky facts with your friends. They’re sure to love them!

20+ amazing facts about card games:

1. Card games come from Ancient China.

Dating back to around AD 1000, card games come from Ancient China, where people used to play similar games for amusement.

2. King, Queen, and Jack are based on real monarchs of the past.

Yes, that’s right! It’s thought these cards are based on famous people in the past. King cards denote four of the most powerful rulers, namely King Charles (Hearts), Julius Caesar (Diamonds), David (Spades), and Alexander the Great (Clubs). The Queen cards denote Queen Judith, Rachel, Argine, and Queen Pallas.

3. The Queen Card is based on Queen Judith and not Queen Elizabeth.

The resemblance is quite striking; we agree too! But guess what? That’s not Queen Elizabeth you see printed on most playing cards. The Queen of hearts is actually Queen Judith. Queen Judith existed before Queen Elizabeth, who was born in 1553. 

4. Joker cards were invented in the 19th century by Americans.

The Joker card was used as a Trump card in the Euchre game, which was seen in the United States in the 19th century for the very first time. 

The value of a trump card is much higher than its original value, but we all are aware of that. It is also believed that the joker card could have originated from Italy. Anyhow, a deck of cards contains about 2,3 jokers and is successfully used even to this day. 

5. The value of cards changes with the game and the region.

Cultural values also greatly influence the use of cards. For instance, in Britain, the Queen card is considered high-value because the Queen holds her nation’s respect in Britain.

Knaves, now called Jacks, were used along with Kings and Knights in the earliest cards until the 15th century. The characters back then were quite limited.

7. The first cards were made with ivory tiles.

Ivory tiles, wood, marbles, and other surfaces were used to make cards back in the day before paper became the standard medium for cards globally. 

8. Ace of Spades was painted on soldiers’ helmets to bring them good luck in WW2.

You would most probably have seen the Ace of Spades over the helmets of soldiers in movies. In the second World War. This was done because the Ace of Spades was known to bring good luck among the soldiers. It is believed that the mere presence of the painted helmet would help them fight fiercely. 

9. Cards were used as a means of important information in the 18th century.

This one sounds a little strange, but it’s absolutely true. People in the 18th century used cards for many other purposes than just playing card games. Things like love letters, secret messages, or even code words were important things that could be written on the back of a card.

The most heart-wrenching example can be given of the deadly hunger period during the 18th century; women who could not take care of their little ones would leave them out in the streets with notes written over cards, hoping people would take pity on them.

10. Two colors (black and red) in card games indicate two times of the day, the daytime and the nighttime.

Old men play cards on table
Songquan Deng /

Some believe that the black and red colors indicate night and day on playing cards, but there’s also a rumor that black and red inks were the cheapest to make, and that’s why they were traditionally so prominent on cards. Black ink was made from a mixture of linseed oil and black soot, while red ink was made with linseed oil and mercury sulfide. 

11. If you do 8 Farro-out shuffles, you will find the deck returns to its original order.

Surprisingly, doing 8 farro-out shuffles will give you your card deck in its original order. Try it and see!

12. Most cards are made out of two layers of paper glued together.

In most cards, two pieces of paper joined together to form a single card to provide thickness and firmness is the main design. The cards are also glued together to make them opaque to discourage cheating.

13. At casinos, cards are changed every now and then to make sure nobody cheats.

Casinos have to take precautionary measures to ensure that cards don’t become marked during play. They also need to ensure that cheaters don’t pull an extra card out of their sleeves and corrupt the game. Almost once every hour, used cards are changed with a new deck.

14. Giacomo Casanova loved playing card games as much as he loved chasing women.

Card games were a favorite for the famous Giacomo Casanova, even though most people may know him as a renowned womanizer. In his memoirs, he has mentioned his fondness for card games across the casinos of Europe. 

15. Playing some card games can increase problem-solving skills and immunity.

Playing card games could potentially enhance cognitive functions. It could improve one’s ability to think critically; more so, playing card games (like Bridge) can help increase immunity.

16. World “house of cards” records.

Everybody builds houses of cards, but did you know that in 1992, Bryan Berg created a house of cards that measured over 25 feet. He used over 2500 decks of cards for this and set a world record that he keeps breaking each year.

Kings, Knights, and Knaves were mostly a part of the old card games, and there were no female characters included till the 15th century. It was actually in the 15th century when a French deck of cards was the first to include female characters.

18. Card games have a distinct pattern on the back.

Most card games have a distinct pattern on the back and can range from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, mostly it is black and red.

19. 52 cards in a deck symbolize the 52 weeks in a year.

A group of playing cards on a stained oak wooden table

That’s right, those 52 cards in a deck are no coincidence. They represent 52 weeks in a year. Don’t believe it? Bicycle Cards says so!

20. Four suits in card games represent four elements.

The four elements, namely water, fire, earth, and air, are represented by the four suits in cards. Others believe that these four suits represent four seasons (summer, autumn, winter, and spring) in a year. 

21. Card games inspired many sayings as well.

Card games have been played so long by the human race they actually have inspired many sayings and figures of speech. For instance, the proverb “to follow suit” means that you actually follow suit in your behavior as one does in card-playing.

Last Word

These sure are some interesting and lesser-known facts about card games. How many did you genuinely already know? We’re sure that it was a lot of information you probably didn’t know before. Feel free to share these tidbits of info with your family, friends, and card players too!

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.