Why do they include Jokers in a deck of cards?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Namie Ihara, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. Jokers are one of those funny things -- many decks don't have jokers, and in most cases you can lose the jokers and it doesn't matter. So why include them? And while we're on the topic, where did any of the cards in a deck come from? Why are there 52 cards, with four suits and 13 cards to a suit?

    According to Britannica.com, the 52-card deck that we use today is a modification of part of the standard Tarot deck, made up of the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, minus the knight cards. Probably around the 15th century, the deck started settling into the modern form we know today.

    The joker, however, did not appear until sometime around the 1860s. At that time, the game of euchre was extremely popular (it was later unseated by bridge). In euchre, under the British rules, there is a card known as the Imperial Bower (or Best Bower) that trumps all others. Decks of cards began to include a special Imperial Bower card, and it later morphed into the joker card that we know today.

    According to this page: http://www.cs.man.ac.uk/playing-cards/faq.html

    The "Best Bower" was invented for use in the game of Euchre in which two of the Jacks are named Right and Left Bower; this happened during the 1860s in the USA. "Bower" is a corruption of the German word "Bauer" used in Alsace, from where Euchre or Juker originated as the ordinary word for "Jack." This card evolved into the Joker during the 1870s. The Joker arrived in Europe in the 1880s along with the game of Poker. It was gradually incorporated into French-suited packs with 52 cards.

    got the info from how stuff works
  2. Interesting. Good history lesson. :) Thanks for posting this.

  3. :confused:
  4. I believe that some decks don't have jokers because only the USPCC can have jokers in their decks. For the other companies that have jokers in their deck, I believe they have to call them something different. However, I could be wrong. It even says it right on the box "We claim exclusive trade mark rights in Ace of Spades, Joker, name, number, back design, case design, and name of finish used on our various cards."

  5. Yes, I think you are wrong. Ive had decks from peru, china, chile, argentina, etc. and they all have jokers, even jumbo cards from walgreens have jokers.
  6. #7 PjPinsonnault, Aug 20, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2008
    52 weeks and four seasons in a year. 13 cycles in a complete lunar cycle. 2 colors for night and day. The kings and queens are thought to be modelled after actual Kings and Queens. Adding up the values of the cards, 1-13, gives you 364. Add in the whole joker and you get 365, like the days of the year.

    As you'll see in a few pages, there's actually 365.25 days in a year, so it could all be BS and random. Hell if I know.

  7. Wow, that's cool.

  8. I beleive that means that the joker design is in their trade mark rights, seeing as the ace of spade appears in other decks and seeing that all those variables are different in each different brand deck of cards.

  9. #10 kameron92009, Aug 20, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2008
    Man. That is just plain awesome. Seeing as everyone here is familiar with playing cards, it's cool to learn some interesting history behind them. :)

    Yeah, jokers are not owned by the USPCC. They can be found in many decks from various companies. The copyright that the USPCC has is on the design of their jokers, you know, the king riding a bicycle design? That's all they own. Not the whole joker card.

    EDIT: Looks like tsarothpaco beat me to the punch. ;)
  10. The joker is used in many card games so it is included in standard bicycle and bees,etc. Cuz the UPSPC sells the card intending that you play somecard game with them, and becaus emany games need jokers, then they have to include them.
  11. For those interested, the designation of royal cards to historical figures is attributed to the French, although the cards were used in decks long before representations were doled out.

    Paris court card names

    King of Spades - David

    King of Hearts - Charles (possibly Charlemagne, or Charles VII)

    King of Diamonds - Julius Caesar

    King of Clubs - Alexander the Great

    Queen of Spades - Pallas

    Queen of Hearts - Judith

    Queen of Diamonds - Rachel (either biblical, historical, or mythical as a corruption of the Celtic Ragnel, relating to Lancelot below)

    Queen of Clubs - Argine (possibly an anagram of regina, which is Latin for queen, or perhaps Argea, wife of Polybus and mother of Argus)

    Knave of Spades - Ogier the Dane/Holger Danske (a knight of Charlemagne)

    Knave of Hearts - La Hire (comrade-in-arms to Joan of Arc, and member of Charles VII's court)

    Knave of Diamonds - Hector of Troy

    Knave of Clubs - Could be Judas Maccabeus or Lancelot

    Again, this isn't fact, but just how some decided to represent the cards. Interesting, though.

  12. Lol you beat me to it. I was going to say basically the same thing. I have heard many old timers use this in their patter. It can make an interesting story line for many effects. It can build up suspense with ease.
  13. #14 iwannayoyo, Aug 20, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2008
    Now a question I was thinking when I read this is why the king of hearts is suicidal. I mean look at it, he is stabbing himself in the head. Can anyone answer that? Is he based on a king who commited suicide?
  14. I think The Sword isn't in his head. It's behind his head(look closely)

    I've used this patter in some mental tricks with cards - saying that back in the old days cards were used more for a spiritual thing rather than playing.
    Also I really like to use that patter when I'm performing "Angels"(Ultragaff). It's a really interesting story to the spectators and thats why it's good for misdirection.
  15. 52 weeks and four seasons in a year. 13 cycles in a complete lunar cycle. 2 colors for night and day. The kings and queens are thought to be modelled after actual Kings and Queens. Adding up the values of the cards, 1-13, gives you 364. In a Bicycle deck there is a Joker and a half Joker, giving you 365.5, the exact amount of days in a year.

    omg is it really true??? that would be sick

  16. Actually, there are 365.25 days in a year, not 365.5. Elsewise, we would have a leap year every two years. Maybe USSPC should include a 1/4 joker in each pack besides the guarantee one so that magicians could accurately use this in their patter so people like me wouldn't complain :)

    I can answer that. Because it's not the king of spades, it's the king of hearts.

    I solve so many problems they call me Sherlock Homes.
  17. ^ I can't even use the "it's late" excuse. Whoops, I'll go edit that.
  18. Aaah, you're right! I shouldn't post at work so I don't rush things!

    It still holds with the full Joker making 365. And I'd hardly count pointing out a numerical error complaining!

  19. I'd say this angle is more calender based than spiritual, but it does help add some depth, I agree.


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