The playing cards images in different artistic styles are the most recognisable trait of the different decks. The gambling playing cards have a simple design compared to the collectable and customised decks that are sought out for their beauty and the materials they are made of. Below, you can see the sections of this blog post. We also added a gambling card games list and answers to popular questions at the end.
Gambling Cards Decks & Games
Anyone who has seen cards for gambling can easily tell them apart from the decks used for fun games. The history of cards shows that there are all kinds of decks for all types of players. There are richly decorated and ornamented cards, others with minimalistic designs, and even customised decks.
Despite the variety of packs in the playing cards history, the French-suited 52-card deck (in red and black, 4 suits with 13 cards, and 2 Jokers) is standard worldwide. Other popular designs are the English pattern and the Belgian-Genoese pattern. There are many different unique card packs typical for a specific country or unique decks like the ones in the table below:
🔢 Cards in Deck
💯 Deck Details
🎴 32 Cards
Popular in north and central Germany and Austria
🎴 36 Cards
Russia and Bavaria prefer the German-suited packs
🎴 40-48 Cards
Those decks are popular in Italy (Primiera Bolognese with 40 cards) and Spain. The number of cards in 48 card decks may go up to 50 with the two Jokers
🎴 62 Cards
The Italian Tarocco Bolognese set
🎴 68 Cards
The Cary-Yale deck has 24 court cards in six ranks: King, queen, knight, lady rider, knave, and damsel (maid)
The playing cards around the world are so different because of the cards gambling games. One unique deck is the Hanafuda card deck (Japan) with 12 suits and only 4 cards in each suit. This is not a gambling deck, and people use it for divination. The next section of this blog post will tell you about popular card games.
Popular Games with Gambling Cards
There is a difference in the design of the cards for gambling, collectable decks, and fun decks. The simple art design in red and black is mandatory for gambling card games for real money. If you are learning how to play cards, get one of the cheapest decks and try some of the most popular casino card games, like poker and blackjack. Here are a few other suggestions:
🃏 Casino Card Games: Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, Red Dog, Three Cards Rummy, and more
🧸 Children Games: Go Fish!, War, Cheat, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, and more
🔮 Cartomancy: playing cards are also widely used for divination and fortune-telling
🧙♂️ Magic Tricks: card manipulations are extremely popular tricks performed by magicians like Juan Tamariz, Shin Lim, David Blaine, and more
😍 Collections: the rarest and oldest playing cards can be found in private collections and museums worldwide
Those are not the only options for playing or gambling with cards, but they are the most popular and accessible. A fantastic way to pass the time that could turn into a profitable endeavour is to learn how to shuffle cards. This is a great party trick and skill of the best dealers. You can even use it to impress your clients when they come for a card reading.
Playing Cards Colours
The gambling playing cards we know today are completely different from the cards used in the past. The most obvious difference is that in the past, there were only four-coloured decks (no-revoke decks) where each suit had a distinguishable colour. People in the Middle Ages assigned status and rank to the cards to make score count easier.
When the playing cards entered the divination and occult practices, each card, suit, and colour gained meaning. Today, we can see that the Tarot cards and cartomancy decks still have different suits colours. Four-coloured gambling decks are used for trick-tracking games like Bridge, Whist, and Jazz.
The colours in the decks were deduced to red and black playing cards out of convenience and spearing expenses. The printing presses made cards available, and the demand among players increased.
The people adjusted their beliefs and assigned attributes and divination meanings to red and black colours. Red is associated with the day, positive events, and positive answers. On the other hand, the black coloured cards signify night, negative things, and rejections.
Playing Cards Suits
The playing cards meaning is easy to remember and tells a lot about the history of the cards and card games. Different societies left their mark on the cards through the centuries and adapted them to modern games and events. For example, the suits of the playing cards brought by Mamluk Egypt in the 1370s were cups, coins, swords, and polo sticks.
The Italians replaced the polo sticks with rods (batons); later, the French changed them to clovers. Such changes are still made and add to the evolution of gambling games and card decks. Here are some of the meanings of the playing cards suits hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds:
💎 Social Class
🗺️ Symbols by Country
Pikes (France), Leaves/Grass/Pikes (Germany), Shields (Switzerland), Swords (Italy and Spain), Pikes/Spades (Russia)
Hearts (France), Hearts (Germany), Roses (Switzerland), Cups (Italy and Spain), Hearts/Hooves (Russia)
Diamond/Tile (France), Bells (Germany and Switzerland), Coins (Italy and Spain), Bells/Boots (Russia)
Clovers (France), Acorns (Germany and Switzerland), Wands/Rods (Italy and Spain), Trefy/Crest/Acorns (Russia)
The playing cards’ names change, and so do the value of the suits from one game to another. It also depends on the country that issued the deck. The most common suit ranking is spades as the strongest suit, followed by hearts, diamonds, and clubs with the lowest strength. In other rankings, the clubs and diamonds switch places, but the swords lead in might every time.
Court Cards (Face Cards) & the Joker
Every rich card player wishes to have the most beautiful card decks, and countless artists used their skills to create memorable images. Today, the most expensive playing cards amaze with artistry, and some are even decorated with precious metals and gems.
The face cards, also called Royalty or court cards King, Queen, and Jack, are essential for card gambling. The paragraphs below will tell you more about the playing cards’ names with people symbols.
The King has the highest value from all gambling cards in many gambling card games, and only sometimes is outranked by the Ace. You will usually see the card marked with the letter “K” for “King” in English and Russian cards. You can also see “R” for the French, Spanish, Italian, Swiss, and Latin words for “king”.
The Persians called it “malik” (also meaning King), and this high rank remains until today. When the French created their playing cards, they gave a background to each court card. That is how each of the kings represents a famous person from history:
♠️ King of Spades: David (Biblical figure)
♥️ King of Hearts: Charlemagne, Charles, Suicide King, Man with the Axe
♦️ King of Diamonds: Julius Caesar, One-Eyed King
♣️ King of Clubs: Alexander the Great
The playing cards pictures of the kings are different from each other and show various attributes of power. For example, the King of Spades faces to the left while the other three are turned to the right. The King of Clubs holds a sword and an imperial orb in the English deck, meaning he is the master of the land and the army.
The King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds are called the “suicide kings” because it is not clear if they are holding the weapons or someone else. The King of Diamonds has an axe behind him instead of a sword like the rest. The King of Hearts has no moustache or beard, and both his hands are visible. He is depicted with a sword going through or behind his head (depending on the depiction).
Today, the four Queens are the only feminine figures in the most popular gambling playing cards. One of the most interesting facts about playing cards is that the first face cards were only male. The rank of the queen in the Persian cards was taken by nā’ib malik (viceroy, deputy king). In Swiss decks, it is the Ober (a higher-ranking man), and Spanish and Italian decks have a rider called Cavallo or Caballo (Knight or Cavalier).
The Queens appeared in the French decks to show women’s power in society. Ranked as first after the King, the female figures are marked with “Q” or “R”, meaning queen and Regina (queen in Spanish). In Russian decks, they are marked with a “Д” or “D” (for “дама” or Lady, derivative from the German “damme”). In the playing cards, Queens also represent different women in history:
♠️ Queen of Spades: Black Lady, Black Maria, goddess Athena Pallas
♥️ Queen of Hearts: Helen of Troy, Judith (Biblical figure), Elizabeth of York
♦️ Queen of Diamonds: Rachel
♣️ Queen of Clubs: Argine (an anagram of the Latin word for queen “Regina”)
Cartomancy meanings jumped out of the divination world and into the gamblers’ hands, giving the Queens characters. They are as powerful as the Kings, but represent the passive rulers and symbolise inspiration, hope, power from the shadows, and the feminine principle of receptivity. In most decks, the King and Queen of the same suit face each other.
This may surprise you, but one of the most popular gambling cards tattoos, besides the Ace of Spades, is the Queen of Spades. Many card readers believe that she has magical powers and is feared. Even in the game Hearts, the Queen of Spades must be avoided at all costs.
The Queen of Clubs usually holds a flower, and that is why she is known as the “flower queen”. The queens are depicted holding various flowers or objects with the intended symbolism of the cards.
Even though Kings and Aces are the most powerful cards, there are card games where the Queens are almighty or untouchable. For example, in Trex and French Barbu, the queen brings a penalty to the player who takes it.
The earliest Jack was called thānī nā’ib (meaning second or under-deputy) in the Mamluk card decks. Through the ages, the lowest of the three court cards has been known as Boy, Bower, Valet, Fishhook, Jackson, Knave, Jake, soldier, lower-class man, and Johnny. In the Sicilian, Mexican, and Portuguese decks, the Jacks are depicted as maids.
The most popular abbreviation you will see when gambling with cards is “J” for Jack, “V” for valet, “Kn” for knight, and “В” (“валет” meaning valet in Russian cards). Just like the Kings and Queens in the French playing cards, the Jacks also represent real people:
♠️ Jack of Spades: Ogier the Dane
♥️ Jack of Hearts: La Hire
♦️ Jack of Diamonds: Hector or Roland
♣️ Jack of Clubs: Lancelot, Pam, or Judas Maccabeus
The “one-eyed Royals” or “one-eyed Jacks” you have heard of are the Jack of Spades and Jack of Hearts. All Jacks hold attributes specific to their suit and the symbolism of the country where the deck is made. That is why sometimes they hold weapons, while others are depicted with scrolls, flowers, or other objects.
Among all those cards for gambling, there is one that stands out completely – the Joker. This card was created in the 19th century for the game Euchre. The meaning of the Joker is a wild card that can improve or bring down your score. The modern decks have 2 Jokers, but some come with up to 6 different fool depictions.
You should have noticed that the gambling cards’ names describe the card’s appearance. The same logic is followed with the Joker, who is depicted as a royal jester in black and red clothes, wearing a hat with bells. Strangely, we couldn’t find gambling and card jokes about this “clown” card, but maybe you will.
Gambling Cards with Numbers (Pip Cards)
The last type of gambling cards we will present is the pips or numbered cards. Each suit has ten cards with numbers, and every card has as many suit depictions as the number on the card. This card design prevents gambling counting cards and especially blackjack card counting. Here are the pips and their popular names:
🎴 A (Ace): Bull, Tuz, Bullet, One Spot, Seed, and Sharp Top; Ace of Spades is Death Card, Spadille, and the Tax Card; Ace of Hearts is the Crispin; Ace of Diamonds is Pig’s Eye; Ace of Clubs is Puppy Foot, Basto, or Clover
🎴 2 (Two): Deuce and Duck; the 2 of Spades is the Little Cassino or the Curse of Mexico
🎴 3 (Three): Crab or Trey
🎴 4 (Four): Sharp Top or Sore Spot; the 4 Clubs is Devil’s Bedpost
🎴 5 (Five): Fever, Nickel, and Pedro
🎴 6 (Six) or Sax
🎴 7 (Seven): Fishhook, Salmon; the 7 of Diamonds is the Beer Card
🎴 8 (Eight): Ocho, Pusher, and Snowman
🎴 9 (Nine): Neener, Nina Ross, Pothook, and Niner; 9 of Diamonds is the Curse of Scotland or the Scourge of Scotland
🎴 10 (Ten): the 10 of Diamonds is the Big Cassino
We recommend practising gambling card games at home until you learn the rules well. When gambling with cards, there is no point in memorising the pips’ names. Those details are important for divination practices because the numbered cards have a specific meaning. For example, the Ace of Spades usually has a depiction of Death and is considered a sudden luck card that leads to amazing things or disasters.
Gambling Cards Interesting Questions
Gambling cards are one of the items every person owns and uses. We already informed you about their most popular version of decks with 52 playing cards and the alternatives. Now, is time to list several interesting questions about card decks. If that is not enough, the answers have links to more details on the matter.
*️⃣ Are there gambling cards decks?
When looking for gambling cards, you will find tons of information about playing cards decks used in gambling games. Those decks usually consist of four suits, each with 13 cards totaling a 52-card deck. This French-suit pack is standard for casinos, children and adult card games, and card readings.
*️⃣ What colours do gambling cards have?
One of the most distinguishable features of gambling playing cards is their plain design and limited colours, red and black. You may not know that, but in the past the playing cards colours were different and each suit had a specific colour. There are still four-coloured decks used in some games.
*️⃣ How many suits the gambling cards have?
The cards for gambling used at most casinos are the French-suit decks. The four suits in this standard card pack are spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Each suit has an Ace, 2-10 numbered cards, and court cards (King, Queen, and Jack) with depictions of the suit and the number in the corner of the card.
*️⃣ Are face cards used in gambling cards games?
Anyone who has been involved with gambling with cards knows that the court cards (Royals, face cards) usually have the highest values. The Royals in the most popular decks are the Kings, Queens, and Jacks. They are always four in a deck and have a specific value in the games and meaning in the cartomancy.
*️⃣ What are pips in gambling cards?
The “pip” is an interesting term in cards gambling, summarising all numbered cards in a pack. Each standard deck of 52 cards has a total of 40 pips (numbered cards) because each of the four suits has an Ace and number cards from 2 to 10. The Jokers are not part of the pips.
*️⃣ How many cards do gambling cards decks have?
There are 52 gambling cards in the casino decks, with the familiar four suits coloured in black and red. This standard applies to most modern gambling games, but some of the older entertainments needed different playing cards decks. You can find card packs with 32 – 68 cards used for different games or divination practices.
*️⃣ What games can I play with gambling cards?
Gambling playing cards are used in wagering games for real money like poker, blackjack, baccarat, Punto Banco, Red Dog, and more. The casino card games are few of the games with playing cards available to adults worldwide. There are also many games for children, like Go Fish!, Donkey, or War. Cards decks are also valuable collectables.
*️⃣ Is the King the most powerful card in the gambling cards?
In the cards for gambling, the spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs’ kings are the strongest cards (with few exceptions where the Aces have the highest value). The French-suited decks the four Kings represent popular rulers from the past. The fans of card readings know that each King is a powerful man.
*️⃣ Do gambling cards have all four Queens?
Among the most desired images to land in your hand when gambling with cards is one of the four Queens. The spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs queens are second in power after the King or third in games where the Ace is the strongest. They are depicted with specific attributes showing their power and purpose in the deck.
*️⃣ Are there Jacks in the gambling cards decks?
The history of the playing card Jack is as old as the court cards images. Through the centuries, the Jack was known under many names, showing its position as valuable, but lowest of face cards. Regarding card gambling, it is impossible to imagine blackjack without the combination Ace of Spades & Jack of Spades.