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Back to the Past: A Brief History of Playing Cards

Who doesn’t love a good game of cards. I grew up playing cards, everyone I knew played cards, it was almost a family tradition. Around my house it was mostly, but not exclusively, Cribbage, Euchre, Rummy, and Gin (not the drink, the card game). Yes, I know, Rummy and Gin are sometimes grouped as the same thing but they’re really not. Younger people, such as myself at the time, and my friends, played other card games. Such as, but again not exclusively, War, Rummoli, and Cut Throat Two-Player Solitaire. I don’t think I knew anyone growing up that wasn’t up for a good game of cards.

Cards have a long-standing tradition dating all the way back to China’s Tang Dynasty in the 9th century AD. I will tell a short story, based on the History of Playing Cards, where you can discover more interesting facts and details regarding our topic. What we now recognize as a deck of playing cards, that is a four-suited pack, started in the 14th century (around 1365 or thereabouts). The Joker card was first introduced as a wild card for the game of Euchre in around the 1800’s. Cards weren’t like manufactured games today, which come with a pre-set system and set of rules, cards evolved over many centuries, making several changes along the way. In that way they are more like sports than games.

In my 20’s, we had a regular Thursday night friendly game of Poker. I blame Rummoli for that. By friendly I mean no one walked away financially disabled. We called it 30-3, which meant everyone was in for $30 and at the end of 3 hours we closed up and went home with whatever we had. Not exactly hard-core, but no one lost more than they could afford, which was the whole point. It was a game just for friends to get together, drink, have a few laughs, and play some cards.

( image courtesy of bicyclecards.com and timeout.com )

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