The idea of playing cards seems to have been around forever. You probably can't imagine a time when card decks were not popular. But how long have card games actually been around? What is the history of card games?

History of Cards

Naturally, the history of card games has to go back to the history of playing cards. After all, playing cards were invented for a reason. Technically, card games may be thought to go back even further, to the dominoes or tiles that Chinese gamblers and game players used as the medium for their contests before technology allowed for the creation of cards.

Cards themselves were invented by the Chinese shortly after they invented the concept of paper sheets, around the ninth century.

European Card History

In the 14th and 15th centuries, playing cards made their way to Europe, where the Europeans refined the decks, creating the four suits and the court cards that we know today. Many of our most popular card games have roots in this period of playing card history.

History of Trick-Taking Games

One of the most popular genres of card games today is the trick taking game, where players try to collect "tricks," or groups of cards created by each player placing a card on the table. One of the ancestors of modern trick-taking games is Ecarte, a French game that was played in the 19th century.

Many of the earlier card games did not use the full 52 card deck, and Ecarte was no exception. Ecarte made use of a 32 card deck, 7 through King in all four suits, with the ace included as ranking in between the ten and the jack. Each player received five cards and could score points in a number of different ways, one of which was by winning the most tricks.

Modern Trick-Taking Games

Current games based on or similar to Ecarte include bridge, hearts, Euchre and spades. While not typically gambling games, these are games played commonly in households all over the world by people who are probably not all aware of the game's European origins.