Cards of Power: Exploring the Symbolism Behind Face Card

Cards of Power: Exploring the Symbolism Behind Face Card

In the United States and beyond, every face card is a delight to hold because each plays a vital role in various table games—power, strategy, fortune, you name it! Considered top cards, they can form a solid hand.

These cards are of royal ranks—Jacks, Queens, and Kings. Therefore, they have deep historical significance, which is why designers or manufacturers pay attention to every detail, including their attire and regal expressions in both live and online casino games. Each face card has a story to tell.

In this casino news, we’ll discuss every face card in a standard deck, their history, and their variations.

Tracing the Roots of the Face Card from East to West

The precise origin of face cards often intertwines with the more elaborate history of playing cards, dating back thousands of years. However, historical records provide compelling insights into their origins. It is worth noting that the term, face card, became popular in the United States. They are called court cards in many other places where casino games of cards and table games are popular.

Historians believe playing cards originated in China during the Tang Dynasty between 618 and 907 AD. People used them for games and divination practices. However, face cards didn’t come from them; the Persians designed the first set of these cards but didn’t include actual “faces.” As they grew in popularity, they eventually found their way to Europe through trade routes. 

The earliest European playing cards first appeared in the 14th century and featured deck suits such as swords, cups, coins, and clubs. These decks often included court cards representing royalty, which evolved into the familiar face card we recognize today. By the 15th century, European card makers added specific historical and mythological figures aligned with medieval times. 

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The Birth of Royalty: Face Cards in the Context of Medieval Europe

During Europe’s Middle Ages, people highly regarded monarchies. The Kings represented famous and powerful rulers, legendary heroes, and religious figures like Charlemagne, King David, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar. As such, the King’s face card carried qualities such as leadership, authority, and sovereignty. This frequently marked them as the highest-ranked suited cards in various card games for 2 people.

Followed by the King face card is the Queen face card. People often see them as noblewomen or royal consorts of powerful rulers, embodying distinct qualities such as grace, beauty, and wisdom. Early Queen face cards must have been influenced by prominent historical Queens like Cleopatra, Queen Esther, or Queen Guinevere, as well as mythological figures like Athena or Hera. 

On the other hand, Jacks are often seen as commoners yet hold strong royal grounds. They are young male figures of the courtyard, such as knights, pages, or attendants. They’re the lowest-ranking court member, yet they have equal face values as the Kings and Queens face cards and are placed underneath them while playing various table games at casinos

Variations of the Face Card

There are different face card versions across diverse regions. In Germany, the standard deck used in card for both live and online casino real money games comprises three male face cards without any female presence being the Queen. The queen was excluded in the 16th century.  

The three male face cards cut across the four suits and comprise the middle-class soldier called the Unter or Under, a higher-ranked male — the Ober, and a powerful king called the König. These variations are also commonly used in Switzerland.

Similarly, the Italian and Spanish card decks shared similar features and evolved into the cards used today in table games and casino games. Three males are present, cutting across the four suits without a queen. At the lowest rank is the Fante or Sota, followed by the Knight called the Cavallo or Caballo, and finally the King (Re or Rey). 

The French face cards are the most famous variation in the United States today. They are used to play various card games like the Blackjack Funta Gaming table game. This card replaces the middle male with a Queen, making it the famous Jack, Queen, and King. Latin tarot playing cards feature three males and the Queen, starting with the Knaves, Jacks or Knights, Queen, and King.

Learn to use each card in your favor when playing your favorite card games, by using our online casino guides section.

Face the Cards at Your Favorite Games!

Each one of a deck is unique regardless of rank. This is applicable to both live and online casino games. However, having a power Spades of King could build an undefeatable hand, particularly in poker variations. These cards represent prominent figures in the royalties and stand out as the highest-ranking cards of every suit. Also, sometimes a deck can feature a Joker face card.

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