The History of Gambling Cards

The history of gambling dates back thousands of years ago. Eastern countries are usually the places where many things originated - playing cards are one of them. Many archeologists and researchers believe that it is in China where the first cards were invented. They are not cards but colorful tiles, like the ones we can see in the Museum Collection in Boston.

The Celestial Empire even used paper money not just for bartering or exchanging products but also for paying in games of chance or gambling. Also, Arabs practiced fortunetelling which requires cards. Later on, Arabs introduced playing cards in Europe and Europeans used them for gambling.

In 1369, a record or a manuscript was found which talked about playing cards or gambling. The two monks who wrote the manuscript were surprised by one scene which they saw along the wall of Sent-Souver Abbey. The scene was a group of people playing cards or gambling.

'Tarot' cards became popular in Europe and are considered as the first deck of cards. This pack of cards was produced in Lombardy in the 14th century. During that time, one deck of cards was composed of 56 cards - 10 figure cards and four picture cards (king, queen, knight, and page). Just like the modern cards, it also has four suits but not the club-heart-diamond-spade. However, the names of the old gambling cards' suits are cups, swords, money, and cudgel.

Aside from these, it can also be composed of 22 trump cards which depict different symbols such as jester, conjurer, nun, empress, emperor, chariot, lover, monk, court, hermit, justice, hangman, force, death, demon, hotel/hospital, moderation, star, moon, sun, fate/wheel, and world.

A few years later, many cards have been added to the original set of cards such as cards which feature the Zodiac signs, four elements, and four virtues. There have been many changes in the tarot cards but one card remains the same - the joker. Today, tarot cards are still used in fortune telling and magic and you can buy them in shops that sell magic props.

Sometimes, for the gambling cards, you can see different designs or styles of suits depending on the country and traditions. They are also called by different names. Some people also make new designs aside from the four traditional ones. However, none of them remains permanent. Half a millennium passed and there are still no new long lasting additions to the four original and standard suits of gambling cards.