Playing Cards from Around the World - Colours, Lux, and Simple Designs

The playing cards from around the world come in all shapes and sizes. In our article, we will tell you about the most popular brands and card types, the luxurious and rare designs, and the most expensive playing cards on the market (spoiler alert: some are worth a fortune). We will tell you which are the best playing cards in the world for casino games and home use.

Best Playing Cards in the World – From Ancient Times Until Today

In the next lines, we will try to summarise the history of playing cards from around the world. The story has many beginnings because ever since humans are walking on this earth, there has been a desire for entertainment. Smart and profit-oriented people noticed this opportunity for enrichment and ventured to explore it. The first known games from Sumer, Ancient Egypt, and south and north American cultures were made of wood, shells, bones, gems, and rock.

The life of the gambler became easier once the ancient scholars discovered that plants can be crushed, moulded, and dried into thin layers. This innovation was available to the wealthiest people of the past. They used it in science and entertainment alike. Unfortunately, the organic materials the first paper was made of disintegrated through time, and we can’t know for sure the card games and their rules, that have been played over 2000 years ago.

The invention laid the base for the first known variation of paper created in Ancient China over 2000 years ago. The improvement of the papers’ quality spread fast all over the world, and with it, the playing card games evolved. Some of the first paper card games in history were Mahjong, number cards games, Fan-Tan, and Keno (a lottery game). You may wonder where the European games are? At that time, Europe was going through the Dark Ages, and no one had time for games.

Playing Cards History

The modern playing cards used in casinos and homes all over the world begun their path in about 9th century, in the Tang dynasty in China. They spread to the west so fast that in the late 1300s Berne and Florence created the first card bans. Those bans backfired and resulted in the use of playing cards for divination and solitary games. This was when the records of the first tarot cards appeared in the public space. Through time both playing and tarot cards are often pursuit by politicians and religion and branded as a sin and a crime.

We can see that the government bans and the religious threats of eternal damnation could not stop the gamblers and the game providers. During the past 10 centuries, the appearance of the cards changed, and they remained a preferred way of entertainment and profit.

In our days, there are hundreds of manufacturers of playing cards in UK, Russia, Poland, Austria, and almost every other country. It is interesting that each country and manufacturer give the card decks they print out a unique design. There are countless online versions used at the best sites to play poker, casino, solitaire, and more card games.

Different Types of Card Decks – Playing Cards & Tarot Cards

Many criteria could help to determine which are the best playing cards in the world. We must take a step back and decide which cards are we going to evaluate – playing, tarot, divination, or children games cards. Below we will tell you what makes them similar and different from each other.

Playing Cards & Tarot Cards – Symbols and Meaning of the Cards

The card decks can be divided by their symbols, use, and popularity. The most popular deck is the standard 52-card deck. It can be found in every home, casino, and tourist backpack. The popularity is based on the simple design of the drawings and the compatible size of the deck. Today, every country, publisher, or card manufacturer prints the original deck or a stylish variation. Even the common person can create this deck on their home printer with some thick paper, black and red ink, scissors, and time to spare.

Playing Cards from Around the World

The most serious competitor of the 52 playing cards deck is the Tarot deck of 78 cards. Even the people who are not familiar with those oracle cards have heard about the similarities of the cards in the decks. That is so because of the multipurpose use of the first playing cards. While some people used them to play games, others (who are gifted with extrasensory perception) used them to see the future and discover secrets. The different types of playing cards have more similarities than differences.

Playing Cards Tarot & Divination Cards
Spades Swords, Air
Diamond Pentacles, Coins, Shields, Wheels, Earth
Heart Cups, Chalices, Water
Clubs Wands, Spears, Fire
Jokers
Major Arcana
Ace Ace
2 to 10 2 to 10
Jack Page, Princess
Jack Knight
Queen Queen, Lady
King King, Lord

Both types of playing and tarot card decks have cards with numbers 2 to 10, an Ace, a Jack, Queen, and King. The difference is that the Jack is divided into Page and Knight in the Tarot cards. With time, the appearance of the cards changed to match their purpose. The tarot and oracle cards’ drawings became masterpieces with stunning designs and special card meaning. Every day talented artists and card readers create new decks or improve the old with better drawings and enchanting graphics.

The opposite thing happened to the playing cards. They kept the main symbols, a number, and a letter for the court cards and the ace. The only drawings that remained are simplified images of the court cards and the jokers. This made the playing cards perfect for games that require concentration or fast decisions. At this point, the history of playing cards made a full turn, and they returned to their main purpose of entertainment and profit. What better place can combine both if not a casino? You can see the standard 52-card decks at all gambling and casino sites and especially at every best place for blackjack online.

Playing Cards – Design, Country, & Card Meaning

Card players and collectors around the globe will tell you that there are hundreds of decks. The playing cards from around the world are different in their design, country of manufacturer, year of printing, purpose, size, and more. We can fairly say that each deck carries a message of the age it was created in or some significant event. As you can see from the list below, the artistic designs of card decks reflect life and beyond.

Playing Cards Design

Below we will present you with the types of card decks you can buy. You will notice that we have listed a few of the many categories. It may seem strange to you that every deck can enter multiple categories at the same time. That is possible because the playing cards manufacturers aim to create unique product but keep the familiar elements of the classic design. Check your drawers for card decks and see which categories they cover.

Historical & Global Events

The landing on the Moon is a perfect example for a historical event worthy of being on the face of a playing card. There are cards with images of buildings and constructions with great historical significance. You will also find decks telling an entire story like the colonisation of the Americas.

Art, Movies & TV Shows

No doubt you have seen the painting “Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. Well, there is a card deck that has this painting as an image on the cards. A real cardseption… When it comes to movies and TV shows, we can easily say that the merchandise shelf of every movie and show has at least one deck of cards.

Nature & Animal Pictures

Many countries are proud of their nature and show it by placing landscape images on the playing cards. The images on the animal cards range from pictures, through drawings, to caricatures. Whatever the idea is, the decks are always cute and furry, and therefore, popular.

Famous People

Just like the movies and the TV shows, there are many famous people whose faces can be seen on playing cards. This category is not reserved only for movie stars and singers. There are decks with scientists, politicians, and even criminals.

Cultural Specifications of the Countries

Just like with the nature-themed playing cards, there are countries proud of their historical heritage. The images on the cards are on landmarks, buildings, customs and traditions, or famous people from the specific country.

Sport Events and Sports Stars

The cards reflect memorable moments in sports events, championships, and Olympic games. There are decks with images of sports stars in the moments of their greatest triumph and achievements. Those decks are usually with collectors value, and people rarely use them for playing.

Who Creates Playing Cards?

As the history of cards shows, the different types of card decks have a common ancestry. With time, some of the countries became famous worldwide with the specific design of the card drawings. The most popular and simple designs were created by Bicycle Playing Cards. Countries like Austria, Spain, France, and Russia rely on colourful drawings and stylistic design that shows the rich heritage and culture of the country.

Some of the world leaders in card printing from the past and in our days are Piatnik & Söhne (founded in 1824 in Vienna, Austria), and the USA manufacturer Bicycle Playing Cards (founded in 1885). Playing cards in the UK are published by Waddington’s Playing Cards (founded in the 19th century), Goodall & Son, James English, and more. France’s Thomas De La Rue printed his first playing cards in 1832 and later spread them all over the world by working with other countries and manufacturers like the Imperial Playing-Card Factory in Russia. Currently, China holds the top spot in mass production of playing cards.

Unique and Luxurious Playing Cards

We already looked at the different types of card decks. Now it is time to speak about their value and price. Yes, there is no mistake, that there is a big difference between the two monetary evaluations. For example, in some countries, there are card decks sold for less than £0.50. Those are usually the mass production standard 52-card decks printed on low-quality paper with low-quality images. They are perfect for travelling and especially camping because you will not regret it if they get damaged.

The highest prices on the market hold Venexiana Gold by Lotrek and Microsoft David Blaine playing cards go over $400. The Unbranded Black Reserve Note (part of the Federal 52 Part II), Blue Blood, Empire Playing Card Deck (Kings and Crooks), Zenith (by Paul Carpenter as part of the Signature Series) chase the three-digit price. The high prices are the result of innovative technology, beautiful design, and a few produced copies. Believe it or not, some people buy them as play cards.

Unique and Luxurious Playing Cards

The value of the different types of playing cards is determined by their age, the artist who drew them, and even the current fan madness. Some collectors look for cards used in popular casino card games or by a famous person from the past. Owning a deck with a world record for the smallest or largest pack of playing cards is also a thrill. Having many card decks can also bring you a Guinness World Record.

Old cards like the Russian Playing Cards “The Imperial playing cards Factory St. Petersburg” can reach more than €1,500 because of their historical significance and design. Other expensive playing cards you can find are of baseball, football, and basketball players like Honus Wagner (costs over $3,000,000), Babe Ruth, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan have cards sold for over $200,000.

You may be surprised, but popular children’s card games also have incredibly high-value cards. One of the most expensive cards is the Tournament Black Luster Soldier from the TV series and card game Yu-Gi-Oh! was sold for $2,000,000. Right after it, on the list with immensely expensive cards are the Pokemon’s Pre-release Raichu and Pikachu Illustrator, both with a value of over $200,000.

Popular Card Games Around the World

Popular Card Games

You can play a card game with the best playing cards in the world or with their cheapest alternative. Yes, it is exciting to hold a deck worth £400 with incredible drawings made of high-quality paper and ink, but let’s not forget that the real thrill is to win the game. You may not know that, but there are between 1000 and 10,000 card games in the world. The number has this extended range because many games have variations. We will give you the names of some of the most popular card games you can try right away.

52-card decks

This deck can be found in every house, casino, gambling room, and tourist backpack. It is used in casino games like poker, blackjack, Pai Gow Poker, baccarat, Red Dog, and their variations. Other popular card games you can try are Bridge-Belote, Gin Rummy, 66 Santase, Knockout Whist, Palace, Hearts, Crazy Eights, and more. You will find over 1000 solitaire games played with the standard card deck. The children can also use the 52 cards in fun games like The Old Maid, Go Fish, War, and more. There are decks made especially for them with colourful images of animals, flowers, and toys.

Cartomancy uses playing cards to tell the future and help people. We will tell you more about it in the next paragraph. One of the most spectacular ways to use playing cards is for magic tricks. We all have seen how a magician pulls cards from the back of his hand and other impossible places. No doubt one of the most amazing displays of this art is shown in Now You See Me 2 (2016), by magicians like David Blane, and in casino shows in Las Vegas.

Tarot Cards, Divination & Oracle Cards – It Is All Just a Big Game

The standard Tarot card deck has 78 illustrated cards with specific meaning. Even though they have a common ancestor with the 52-card deck, the divination decks are rarely used for popular games and gambling for at least three reasons. First, because the card readers hold a deep respect for their decks. Second, because everyone else is afraid that something bad will happen to them if they touch the “magic cards”. Third (and we consider this the main reason), is that the colourful images distract the players.

Divination and oracle decks vary in size between 32 to over 100 cards in a pack. Here, we must say that the 52-card deck is also used for fortune-telling, and it is known as cartomancy. Card predictions have thousands of card arrangements you can try. The most popular is the Celtic Cross in Tarot and the Grand Tableau of Madame Lenormand. There are popular cartomancy spreads from France, Russia, Germany, and England. The easiest games of foretelling are shuffling the decks and reading the fallen cards, or drawing 1 to 5 cards.

Popular Children Playing Cards – Collect & Play

Children cards are always custom made under strict rules. They are inspired by famous TV shows like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Heartstone, and more. Those games have their accessible online version you can play on your phone or tablet. Some of them are even transformed into online casino games for grown-up children. Other popular children card games with custom made decks are Go Fish, The Old Maid, Uno, No Thanks!, Dominion, and many more.

Adult Entertainment Games – Comedy, Horror, Sex & Death

Adult entertainment games cover all aspects of life. There are casino, solitaire, and fortune-telling card games played with the standard deck. We already covered the divination games, so here we will mention that during many parties, people decide to “see the future” as part of the entertainment. Many adult card games have specific design and their own rules like Agatha Christie’s Death on the Cards, Joking Hazard, Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, pin-up cards, and many more.

Chinese & Asian Playing Cards

There are specific Chinese playing cards created for games like Mahjong, Zi Pai, Pai Gow, and gambling with Number Cards. They hold a special section in our article because of their appearance and because they are often substitute of the tiles in older games. The Asian playing cards are thinner and sometimes longer than the western cards. They have a simple design created specifically for the game that is played. For example, the Zi Pai and the Pai Gow cards have a clear design with just a number or letter. The cards for Mahjong are decorated with beautiful drawings.

Best Online Casino Games with Playing Cards for 2020

We told you the most interesting facts about playing cards from around the world. What we can’t describe is the incredible sensation when you win a game. Playing cards in large groups or designated locations will improve your game and mood. It is known that when you hit the tables, you will hear a lot of personal stories and learn the best gambling and cards jokes. Now, here are some of the most popular online casinos where you can try the popular playing cards UK strategies.

Casino Card Game: Best Casino: Number of Decks: RTP: Side Bets: Secure Link:
1 – 7 95.38% to 99.58% 21+3, Perfect Pair www.888.com
1 – 12 83% to 98.94% 3-Card Six, Lucky Bonus www.dreamvegas.com
1 95.51% to 96.63% Straight, Flush www.leovegas.com
1 97.87% 4 of a Kind, Flush www.casimba.com
1 91.44% to 98.24% Straight Flush, Three of a Kind www.betway.com
1 97.27% Royal Flush, Four of a Kind www.mansioncasino.com

Playing Cards from Around the World FAQ

There are many unique, popular, and custom-made decks of playing cards from around the world. Below, you will find the most common questions regarding playing cards, decks, in which online casinos you can play card games, and more.

💡 Who invented playing cards first?

There are many myths about the creation of the playing cards from around the world. The dawn of the playing cards history officially begun in the 10th century in China. Ever since then, the card decks spread all around the globe and now you can find them in all sizes, images, and have a different purpose.

🗺️ Where can I buy playing cards?

You can buy decks from bookstores, online shops, or even from a street market stall. There are specialised manufacturers and printing companies that are oriented towards printing cards. Some of the famous brands are Piatnik, Bicycle, and the playing cards UK company Waddington.

🃏 How many cards are in a deck?

The most famous and best playing cards in the world are the 52-card standard deck. This pack has 52 play cards and 2 Jokers. Other playing cards used for fortune-telling have 32 to over 100 cards in a deck. You will also find special children or adult card games with special custom-made cards that exceed this number.

📚 How to read playing cards?

The different types of playing cards have various meanings depending on the games that are used for. The main difference is if it is a playing or an oracle deck. There may be specific cards used only for certain games, or an all-purpose deck. Either way, the list of the meanings are easily found, or even inside the deck pack.

✨ Can I play card games in an online casino?

Yes. The playing cards from around the world are constantly used in online casino card games. You will notice that the games use simple card designs and high quality of the image. That aims to keep the players' attention on the game instead of distracting them with too much decoration.

🔮 What games are played with Tarot cards?

Different types of card decks can be used for fortune-telling and divination. The Tarot cards deck has 78 illustrated cards with specific meanings. Some of the popular spreads you can try are Celtic Cross, card readings with a different number of cards. The easiest spread is to ask a question and read the "jumping" cards.

🃏 What card games are played in the UK?

Every single game that exists with the different types of playing cards is played in the UK. The most popular games are the ones that use the standard 52 card deck. In this category are the casino card games, solitaire, cartomancy spreads, magic tricks, and card trick games. Most of them have online versions available to everyone.

🧙‍♂️ What games are usually played with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards?

There might be luxurious divination decks or custom-made playing card decks, but without any doubt, the most popular are the children's card decks. Some of the most wanted best playing cards in the world are the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. They are popular with adults and children and often are expensive collectables.

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