Five Fascinating Facts About Playing Cards

Five Fascinating Facts About Playing Cards

Published: Wed, 26 Jun 2019 by Dr Slot

You only have to take one look at Dr Slot’s latest release to see that King Sized Spins is inspired by a traditional deck of cards. Starring the four rulers of the playing card kingdom, the King of Spades, King of Hearts, King of Diamonds and King of Clubs, this mobile slots spectacular is all about spinning in wins that are fit for a king.

You might think that the only thing worth knowing about a deck of cards is how it can win you money, but could there be more to them than most people realise? Dr Slot has done some digging and come up with five fascinating facts about playing cards. Already yawning? Read on and you might be surprised…

1. The King of Hearts is known as the ‘suicide king’

Almost everyone will be familiar with the four kings that rule over a deck of playing cards, but how closely have you looked at them? There are two things that stand out about the King of Hearts. Firstly, he’s the only king who doesn’t sport a rather stylish moustache. Secondly and probably more interestingly, he appears to be sticking a sword into his own head! How did we all miss that? This detail has earned him the nickname ‘The Suicide King’, although we’re not convinced he isn’t just scratching the back of his head with the pointy end.

The four kings have their own names too though, so luckily the King of Hearts doesn’t have to go by his unfortunate nickname. French card manufacturers in the 15th century gave each king names, inspired by great historical kings. The King of Hearts is Charles, after Charlemagne or Charles I. The King of Spades is David, the second king of Israel, while the King of Diamonds is Caesar, for Julius Caesar himself. Finally, the King of Clubs is named after Alexander the Great. So next time you fancy a night out playing poker with your friends, just tell everyone you’re off to meet Dave, Alex, Charlie and Jules.

2. There are too many coincidences for it to be a coincidence

We’re so used to the fact that there are 52 cards in a deck, four suits in a pack and 13 cards in each suit, we’ve probably never stopped to consider why that might be the case. Those numbers don’t just relate to decks of playing cards, and surely the following similarities line up too neatly to be a coincidence?

  • 52 cards in a deck – 52 weeks in a year
  • 4 suits in a pack – 4 seasons in a year
  • 13 cards in each suit – 13 weeks in each season
  • 12 royals (kings, queens & jacks) in a pack – 12 months of the year

3. Playing cards helped to free WWII prisoners

Now here’s where things get really interesting! Playing cards were reportedly used in the Second World War to help free American prisoners of war from their German captors. Allied forces would hide secret messages between the two layers of playing cards to smuggle them into the POW camps. Prisoners could then peel the two layers apart and find the information they needed to make their escape.

4. Motörhead weren’t the only ones to single out the Ace of Spades

Motörhead sang that ‘the only card I need is the Ace of Spades’, but what makes that card so special? Had you noticed that the ace of spades has a different design to the rest of the deck? Apparently this is due to a tax that was introduced in 17th century France. Bizarrely, they chose to only introduce this tax on one card: the ace of spades. Its design was modified to leave room for a stamp to show that the tax had been paid. Of course, some clever card players managed to bypass the tax by simply playing without the ace of spades. It’s said that this is where the saying ‘not playing with a full deck’ comes from!

Perhaps even more interestingly, the ace of spades also played a part in the Vietnam War. Historians claim that Vietnam’s soldiers believed that the ace of spades was an omen of death. In an effort to spook the enemy, an American playing card company created decks of cards that contained nothing but the ace of spades and shipped them out to US troops. They’d leave them scattered on the battlefields and alongside fallen soldiers to inspire fear in the enemy.

5. 52 SHRIEK!

You’ve probably got a deck of cards somewhere in your house. Let’s say you give it a good ol’ shuffle. Now, what if we told you that your deck of cards has never been in the same order before? Don’t believe us? Okay, what if we told you that no shuffled deck of cards in the country has ever repeated an order ever? Sounds impossible, right?

What if we told you that no shuffled deck of cards since decks of cards were invented (around 1000 years ago) has EVER been in the same order as another one?

At this point, you’re probably screaming “don’t be ridiculous Dr Slot, you fool!” at your screen. Well, you might be right. There is a tiny, teeny, eeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy chance we’re wrong. But probably not. And it’s all to do with a bit of maths! Yeah, we know, snoozefest. But stick with us ‘cause we promise this will blow your noggin!

The amount of different orders a full deck of cards can be in is astronomically high. To work it out is simple: you just take the number of cards (52) and multiply it by the next number down over and over until you reach 1 (i.e. 52 x 51 x 50 x 49…). This is written by maths boffs with an exclamation mark: 52! a.k.a. 52 shriek.

The result of this long calculation is a massive number. So big, it gets its own line: 80658175170943878571660636856403766975289505440883277824000000000000.

This means the chance of a deck of cards repeating an order is 1 in that number. To put that in perspective, imagine you’re shuffling a deck of cards while playing your favourite Dr Slot game with unlimited free credit (we wish, right?). Now, continue playing until you win the progressive Jackpot, shuffling your cards all the time. Keep going and every time you win the Jackpot, put a grain of sand in the Grand Canyon. Repeat until you’ve filled up that big old hole with sand. Once it’s full, do the same in reverse until it’s empty. Do that another 100 times and… you still wouldn’t even be CLOSE to completing all the possible orders!

Yeah, that number is THAT big. Damn, maths, you crazy.

See, we told you that Dr Slot had managed to discover some truly fascinating facts about the humble deck of cards! We can’t promise that you’ll bag yourself a win as big as 52 shriek… But we reckon you’ll probably settle for 25x your total bet if you find Queenie in the King Sized Spins mini-game! Give it a whirl today!


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