I think the description by Jeff McBride is something he uses for theatrics. There are many, many theories about the origin of playing cards. No one knows where they really came from. The earliest known written reference to playing cards is in Europe in 1377. The USPCC says on their website that they evolved from paper dominos in China in the 10th century. Even that is not necessarily true. No one knows. Europeans began mass producing modern playing cards with woodcuts in the last 14th century. Most of the references and written descriptions we have are from Western Europe. Gypsys had just reached Bulgaria and the Balkans at the end of the 14th century. So the gypsy connection doesn't fit. Here is an early Chinese "paper domino." This may be a precursor to modern playing cards.