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Old 06 February 2011, 01:37 PM
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The Fourth Man The Fourth Man is offline
 
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Ponder Why are there 52 cards in a deck?

Yesterday afternoon at a poker tournament, during some between-hands chat, one of the players at my table asked everyone "Do you know why there are 52 cards in a deck? That's because there are 52 weeks in a year. And there are 12 face cards because there are 12 months."

I immediately thought it smelt like bull and told my left-hand neighbour that I would have to check this one on snopes. I did, but found nothing, and now I'm curious. Does anyone here know something about that?
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Old 06 February 2011, 02:43 PM
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Maybe?

Wikipedia says that decks of 52 cards were in use as far back as perhaps the 12th or 13th century (and 12 month calendars and 7 day weeks have been around since at least the Babylonians, 3000 BC) but those very early 52 card sets are only known from fragments. We really don't know a lot about them and I doubt anyone can say why the people at the time decided to use a 52 card deck and not some other number.

But we're not talking about ancient card decks, we're talking about the cards currently in use. There's been a huge amount of variation in card decks throughout history with some decks having as many as 32 suits and any number of cards.These differences would have reflected the different types of car games that were played around the world. The modern 52 card deck with spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs originated in France in about 1480. (The Julian calendar was in use at the time but that's pretty much the same as the Gregorian calendar which has been in use since 1582, so it had the usual number of months and weeks per year.)

I really doubt some committee sat down at some point and decided to design a game of cards so that the number of cards and the suits corresponded to the calendar in some way but who knows for sure?


In any case, modern day packs of cards usually have a joker, so there's 53 cards in a standard deck and not 52. :P
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Old 06 February 2011, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fourth Man View Post
I immediately thought it smelt like bull and told my left-hand neighbour that I would have to check this one on snopes. I did, but found nothing, and now I'm curious. Does anyone here know something about that?
I'd read it before, expanded.
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  #4  
Old 07 February 2011, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jw View Post
I've heard a parody of the song called "The Golf Bag".
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  #5  
Old 07 February 2011, 12:34 PM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gutter Monkey View Post
In any case, modern day packs of cards usually have a joker, so there's 53 cards in a standard deck and not 52. :P
Don't packs actually carry two jokers?

Here in Spain we have three types of packs: 40, 48 and 52 cards. The 52 ones are labeled A, 2-10, J, Q, K and are printed either with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds or (less frequently) with the traditional Spanish suits of coins, cups, swords and clubs. The 48-card ones are labeled 1-12 (with the traditional Spanish suits, sometimes with two jokers) and the 40-card ones are labeled 1-7, 10-12 (no jokers, eights or nines, and the 10, 11 and 12 are the valet, knight and king respectively).

The 40-card version is the one most used and the one used for all the traditional Spanish card games (to the point that having a 48-card pack is usually a nuisance because you have to keep remembering to take the jokers, eights and nines out).
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Old 07 February 2011, 01:15 PM
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Spam & Cookies-mmm Spam & Cookies-mmm is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaime Vargas View Post
Here in Spain we have three types of packs: 40, 48 and 52 cards. The 52 ones are labeled A, 2-10, J, Q, K and are printed either with spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds or (less frequently) with the traditional Spanish suits of coins, cups, swords and clubs.
What do you call the A, J, Q & K in Spanish, Jaime?
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Old 07 February 2011, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaime Vargas View Post
Don't packs actually carry two jokers?
I've seen decks with both - one or two jokers. Some decks even have another card containing rules for poker or whatnot.

did "what's this card 'Rules for draw and stud poker?" dy
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  #8  
Old 07 February 2011, 01:46 PM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spam & Cookies-mmm View Post
What do you call the A, J, Q & K in Spanish, Jaime?
As, Sota, Reina, Rey. As, Reina and Rey are direct equivalents of Ace, Queen and King. "Sota" is a vagrant name from the Spanish pack. Sometimes it's simply called "Jota", which is the name of the letter J.
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Old 07 February 2011, 02:42 PM
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I think 3 face cards make sense from the perspective of game design. With 3 face cards, you cannot have one killer card. For example, consider a very simple poker-like-game played with only one suit:- you are dealt 3 cards. Only face cards have points. The aim of the game is to get most points

Consider a deck with only one face card. If a player gets dealt a face card, s/he instantly wins. That's the end of the game. No more playing. With a deck with 2 face cards, if a player gets King, there is no more playing. end of the game

OTH, with a deck with 3 face cards, if a player gets King, there is still a possibility that the other player might have a Jack and Queen. King is a not a killer card anymore. The only way you can get a killer hand is by getting 2 face cards, and the probability of having 2 face cards is much less than the probability of getting a King. The game now jumps to a new level of interesting. Sure, you can make the game much more interesting by adding more face cards, but then you increase the complexity of the game

Perhaps the reason a deck with 3 face cards survived over decks with different number of face cards because 3 face cards gave an interesting twist to the game without increasing the complexity too much.
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Old 07 February 2011, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaime Vargas View Post
As, Sota, Reina, Rey. As, Reina and Rey are direct equivalents of Ace, Queen and King. "Sota" is a vagrant name from the Spanish pack. Sometimes it's simply called "Jota", which is the name of the letter J.
Is there something that allows you to differentiate Rey and Reina as quickly as you do any other cards? (Ry/Ra?)
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Old 07 February 2011, 10:16 PM
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What's the point of the joker? For use as a wild card?

Dawn--some people call me the space cowboy--Storm
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Old 07 February 2011, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DawnStorm View Post
What's the point of the joker? For use as a wild card?
In some games, it is used as a wild card. In Eucre, it is used as the highest trump.


Some people call me Maurice.
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  #13  
Old 07 February 2011, 11:48 PM
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The joker is wild; it can be anything when playing rummy or gin or books or it functions as an 8 in "crazy 8s." When playing slapjack, one slaps the joker, too, and when playing War, one rolls ones eyes, apologizes for leaving it in the deck, and puts down another card as a replacement.

YMMV and probably does!
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  #14  
Old 07 February 2011, 11:52 PM
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500 treats the joker as the highest trump too. Not sure about bridge

me
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  #15  
Old 08 February 2011, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fourth Man View Post
"Do you know why there are 52 cards in a deck? That's because there are 52 weeks in a year. And there are 12 face cards because there are 12 months."
Then pinochle must have been invented on a planet with a slightly shorter year but with an amazing 32 months per year.
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  #16  
Old 08 February 2011, 01:59 AM
Assilem Brandywine Assilem Brandywine is offline
 
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I had a friend from Chile who said the Spanish name for the Queen face card was "Dama". Maybe it's regional. (That's right! You have the Regional of Hearts, the Regional of Diamonds....)
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  #17  
Old 08 February 2011, 06:18 AM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Temple View Post
Is there something that allows you to differentiate Rey and Reina as quickly as you do any other cards? (Ry/Ra?)
As I mentioned, they're labelled Q / K
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  #18  
Old 08 February 2011, 06:21 AM
Jaime Vargas Jaime Vargas is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Assilem Brandywine View Post
I had a friend from Chile who said the Spanish name for the Queen face card was "Dama". Maybe it's regional. (That's right! You have the Regional of Hearts, the Regional of Diamonds....)
Possibly. Here in Spain it's "Dama" in chess (probably because it's very convenient for chess shorthand: P=peón (pawn), T=torre (rook), C=caballo (knight), A=alfil (bishop), D=dama (queen), R=rey (king).

ETA: Given that IIRC "region" and "king" have the same root in Latin, your joke is less silly than it appears
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Old 09 February 2011, 01:15 AM
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Coincidentally, I just finished re-reading The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. The story-within-the-story concerns a man who's shipwrecked on an island with nothing but a deck of playing cards. Among other things, he uses the cards to construct a calendar. Each week of the year is represented by one of the cards in the pack.

7 days in a week x 52 weeks a year = 364. To account for 365 days in the year, the "extra day" is called "Joker Day", and every four years there are two Joker Days.

Quote:
The 52 weeks...are also divided into 13 months, each of 28 days, because 13 multiplied by 28 is also 364. The first month is Ace, and the last month is King. Then there is an interval of four years between every two Joker Days. It begins with the year of the diamonds, followed by the year of the clubs, then hearts, and finally spades. In this way all the cards have their own week and month...

...The year is also divided into four seasons -- diamonds during the spring, clubs in the summer, hearts in the autumn, and spades in the winter. The first week of the year is the Ace of Diamonds, and all the rest of the diamonds follow. The summer begins with the Ace of Clubs and the autumn with the Ace of Hearts. The winter commences with the Ace of Spades, and the last week of the year is the King of Spades.
"Joker Day" is the start of a new year, and the cycle repeats itself with the Ace of Diamonds.

As part of the storyline, the man was coincidentally alone on the island for 52 years, so each year was in turn represented by a card; Year One was the Ace of Diamonds, Year Two was the Two of Diamonds, etc.
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  #20  
Old 03 March 2011, 11:19 AM
Ulkomaalainen Ulkomaalainen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaime Vargas View Post
Here in Spain we have three types of packs (...)
Having just played a nice round of "Mus" yesterday, I feel inclined to add, that traditional German card games also come in three different sizes. Most popular is the Skatblatt of 32 cards (7-10, JQKA, normal suits), but we also have Schafkopf with 24 (9, 10, JQKA) and Doppelkopf with 48 (as "Doppel" means "double", you can guess that it's also 9, 10, JQKA, but two of each). Schafkopf usually does not use the "normal" French suits of diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs, but the German ones of Schellen (bells), Herz (hearts), Laub (leaves) and Eichel (acorns) respectively, which are ascending in worth in this order in all German card games.

The Austrians and the Swiss have different games, suits and orders altogether (the Swiss also play counterclockwise, as do the Spanish and the Chinese).

In whatever game, we have a shorter year.
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