Where were Card Games First Played?

Card games go back so far in history, that nobody really knows when or where playing cards originated. Most experts believe that playing cards came to us from Asia.

There is a tradition that both the ancient Hindus and Moslems used round playing cards for their amusement, but there are no records of this. In fact, the first records we have are from the fourteenth century.

The Chinese claim that there were card games in China as early as the year 1120, and that during the reign of an emperor called Seun-ho they were invented to amuse people at his palace.

We do know that towards the close of the fourteenth century, cards were already quite popular in France. They were so popular that finally it was forbidden for working people to play card games on working days!

The first cards were generally rectangular or square, though sometimes people played with round cards. The early packs of cards usually consisted of 86 card. One of the cards had no number and was called fou, which means “fool”.

This is the card we now call “the Joker”. During the fifteenth century, the art of wood engraving was introduced in Europe. Before that, cards were painted by hand and were very expensive, so that only wealthy people could afford to own cards.

But with wood engraving it was possible to make cards more cheaply, and for the first time the poor classes were also able to enjoy card games. In the sixteenth century in France, the four suits we use today hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds were first used.

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