The standard card deck used in poker has undergone several adjustments in its development throughout history. Let’s take a look at some interesting historical facts about cards!
One of the biggest game companies in the world, Nintendo, got its start in playing cards! In Kyoto, Japan in 1889, Nintendo Playing Card Company started making Japanese hanafuda cards. Hanafuda is a game that is similar to Go Fish, with ornate images on the cards. These cards were a hit! In the early 1900s, they expanded to western-style playing cards like those that we use today. The new cards exploded in popularity and Nintendo officially made a name for itself in the gaming world. Nintendo still makes hanafuda cards today as a tribute to their history as a company. These mostly feature their iconic characters.
Four of a kind is rare enough- can you imagine getting FIVE of a kind? In the 1930s, the United States Playing Card Company introduced a new 65-card deck including a fifth suit: Eagles! In England, instead of an eagle, the 5th suit was Crowns. While the new deck was designed with the game bridge in mind, there were also instructions for playing a five-suit version of poker. The deck was designed by a Viennese psychologist named Walter Marseille, who was looking for a more complex game. It worked in the end, but unfortunately the public wasn’t interested in buying all new decks of playing cards for a more difficult game. The five-suit deck eventually faded into history.
You may have noticed that in many decks, the Ace of Spades is the most decorated card. Only the Ace of Spades is decorated in this way, with fancy and distinguishable elements. Why is this? This is because in the early 18th century, decks of playing cards were so popular that taxes were collected by the Crown for each deck of cards sold. To show that taxes had been collected for the deck, one card was stamped by hand with an insignia. Since the Ace of Spades was the top card when opening a new deck, it was always the one adorned with the special seal.
In 1828, the hand-stamping process was dropped in favor of official printings displaying that the deck of cards had been properly paid for. Taxing decks of cards was only abolished in 1960, but this design custom still carries over to some decks today. This is why the Ace of Spades is the flashiest card in the deck!