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The Evolution of Casino Card Games

Many historians believe that the first form of playing cards were found in ancient China, however Europe didn’t see their very first pack of cards until the 1370’s. The cards were individually hand-painted, making them luxury goods for the rich. In the modern-day, cards are used in many popular games like Blackjack and Poker, both at online casino sites and land-based establishments. But the question remains: how did these classic card games come about in the first place?

Read on to find out more. 

Suiting up with a pack of cards

Originally playing cards would display images of animals, plants, birds and flowers, whilst some were inspired by the social structure at a court, and it wasn’t until around 1500 when four main suits were developed. In Italy and Spain, these included chalices and swords, whilst Germanic countries saw hearts, acorns, hank bells and leaves. Meanwhile, over in France and England, hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs made their first appearance. 

In the 1800s, playing cards began to be manufactured by Americans, with simpler designs making them easier and cheaper to print. This meant that the cards became more accessible to a variety of people. At this time, decks with painted backs were also created to eliminate chances of cheating with worn out see-through cards. 

Blackjack

Blackjack is undeniably one of the most popular casino games of all time. Usually played with anywhere from one to eight 52 card-decks; the game made its first appearance in French casinos around 1700. Vingt-et-Un, as it was known at the time, gained popularity on American shores in the 18th century, and could be seen in New Orleans in 1820 in the newly-legalised gambling halls. 

In the 20th century, a promotion from the casinos of Nevada saw Vingt-et-Un become more commonly known as Blackjack, and the game remains ever-popular throughout the world and online with its simple gameplay and low house edge. 

Poker

Another card game that’s stood the test of time, evolving with modern technology and decks of cards unlike any other is Poker. Arguably one of the most well-known casino games of all time, historians believe that Poker actually stems from a domino-card game that was played by a 10th century Chinese emperor. Others, however, believe that it’s a descendant of a 16th century Persian card game. Despite this, Poker’s closest European predecessor was a game known as Poque, which was popular in France in the 17th century. 

In the 1800s, English-speaking settlers in North America adapted features of the game to create what’s now known as Poker. The game spread up the Mississippi River – a popular trading route – and gained popularity throughout the country before becoming a staple game within Wild West saloons. 

1871 saw Poker being introduced to Europe after Queen Victoria caught wind of the game and asked to learn the rules. The game then spread further thanks to American soldiers during the First World War, and later some other variations of the game developed, such as five-card draw, seven-card Poker and Texas Hold’em. 

The game then took to the screens of the nation when the annual competition the World Series of Poker aired on television in 1970. This helped Poker to rise further in popularity, becoming one of the first games to feature on online casino sites when the first one opened in 1996.