Card games are such a versatile form of entertainment. Although playing cards are incredibly simple – 52 cards of four different suits – they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. There are all sorts of card games that you can play, with Snap! (match cards by number or suit) and Solitaire (where you must ultimately sort each card into its suit) among the most enjoyed card games.
But have you ever wondered where card games originated and how they came to be so popular? Here are five cool facts about the history of card games.
Playing Originated in China
It is widely believed that the first set of playing cards originated in China in the ninth century. Those who have studied the matter also say that the first ever deck of playing cards contained just 32 cards and featured the 21 combinations of a pair of dice (dice were created thousands of years ago).
The card game phenomena then spread out to Europe, including France, with the French design being the most commonly used today.
The Cards Are Based on Historical Figures
Another interesting fact about modern-day playing cards is that the face cards (the King, Queen, and the Jack) are reportedly based upon real-life royalty. Some of the people whose likenesses were used to inspire the playing card pictures are King David, Alexander the Great, and even Julius Caesar. Altogether, a Queen, a Jack, and a King card are referred to as the ‘Court.’
It is also said that the suits of playing cards represent the four main pillars of society in the Middle Ages. For example, Clubs represents agriculture, Hearts represents the church, Spades represents the military, and Diamonds represents the merchant class (the economy).
Card Games Have Gone Digital and Virtual
Although we typically think of card games as being played physically, on road trips and vacations, many millions of people around the world also enjoy card games digitally. Traditional casino games in particular, have made the jump to mobile casino apps, with many of these apps allowing you to play card games such as blackjack on the go.
What is even cooler is that card games can be played in virtual reality since recently. VR casinos are a new phenomenon that let you enjoy card games like poker or blackjack in first-person through the lens of a VR glass. This brand-new technology makes it able for you to enjoy the thrills of playing cards in an all-new and even more immersive way.
United States Playing Card Company is the Biggest Producer
The United States is home to the world’s biggest manufacturer of playing cards. The United States Playing Card Company is based in Cincinnati, OH. and produces 100,000,000 cards each year. In addition to the standard versions you commonly see, it also creates special versions such as Coca-Cola and Harry Potter-themed decks.
The United States Playing Card Company is also famous for the packs of cards that it produced during World War 2. The company collaborated with the United States government in order to send packs of playing cards to soldiers stuck in German camps. What was special about these packs of cards is that when they got wet they could be peeled apart, revealing sections of maps that could help the soldiers escape to freedom.
There Are Regional Card Games
Because of how card games have migrated around the world, there are also many regional card games. Although the decks used are mostly the same (the 52-card deck with four different suits), the ways that these may be used may differ.
For example, some popular British card games include the oddly named Scabby Queen or Old Maid, Happy Families, and Whist.
Card games are well-loved around the world and many families will have fond memories of playing cards together. Although the ways in which we play card games (e.g. physically or digitally) may change, the entertainment factor of card games will remain the same.