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A guide to the myths and legends of Joker card

A guide to the myths and legends of Joker card

A guide to the myths and legends of Joker card

Thu Apr 30 2020 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Unfold the mystery surrounding playing cards by learning the myths and old legends. Find out its history, origin and why it was designed the way it is. 

Joker Card Origin 

The Joker card is a playing card that can be seen in most modern French-suited card decks. During the 20th century, Joker cards were found in Spanish and Italian suited decks except for the stripped decks. 

The Joker card originated in the United States during the Civil War. It was created for the game of Euchre as a trump card. 

The theory about the Joker card is that it came from the word Euchre.  

The Trump card was called the best bower which meant the best “farmer” or Jack in German. The German spelling for Euchre is actually ‘Jucker’ and it was later misunderstood as the sound of ‘Joker’. That is why the fool imagery was put into the card. 

Joker cards don’t have suits or ranking. The main purpose of the card is to put a break from the order of playing or to disrupt. They are considered the element of surprise.

The most common deck of playing cards used today is the standard 52-card deck. There are also countries that use a different set of cards. For instance in Central Europe, they use 32 or 36-card German-suited packs. In Italy, 40 or 48-card Italian suit packs are used. Playing cards were used as early as the 9th century in China because of the game called ‘Game of Leaves.’

Here are the different types of playing cards: 

Normal Pack  

The normal pack contains 52 cards and are divided into four types: the hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades. There are cards that have letters on them. For example, ones have a letter A on them which are called Aces. Elevens, twelves, and thirteens have the letters J for Joker, Q for Queen, and K for King. 

Truncated Packs

The Truncated packs include the Piquet pack, Euchre pack, Pinochle pack, and Spanish/Italian pack which all have different numbers of cards. 

Expanded Packs

Expanded packs always have additional suits and the most common expanded pack is the Tarot packs. It consists of 78 cards which are the standard 52, an additional face card per suit, a unique suit, and a card called the Fool. 

Myths and Legends

Myths have emerged surrounding card games over the years since its discovery. From its roots in China, Persia, and Egypt, legends were associated with the cards to further its origin and history that are still recognized to this day. 

In 1893, Olney H. Richmond stated that a person’s path can be determined by examining the cards that are connected to their birth date. His method was a combination of science and magic which also include astrology, astronomy, and numerology.

The cards have legends behind their names: 

  • The Joker  is associated with the December 31st birthday, and it corresponds to the fool card in the tarot. 
  • It is said that the two colours of the suits represent Yin (black) and Yang (red); Yin being the feminine, and Yang being the masculine. 
  • The Kings, Queens, and Jacks are a total of 12 which represents 12 months of each year. 
  • Each suit’s thirteen cards are equivalent to the 12 signs of the zodiac and the ‘sun behind the sun’. 
  • The 52 cards represent 52 weeks in a year. 
  • The number seven is considered to be the ‘centre’ of the suit. It is said that it’s connected to the original seven planets known to the ancients and stands for the number of the soul of man.   
  • The number nine represents the cycle of human experience and is considered the universal number.   
  • Hearts are associated with the fire element and are ruled by Venus and Neptune. 
  • Clubs represent the Air element and are ruled by Mercury, and Mars. 
  • Diamonds are associated with water and are ruled by Jupiter. 
  • The Spades represent the winter and are ruled by Saturn and Uranus.

Here are some of the beliefs that exist to this day.:

52 is a Lucky Number

In Asian traditional beliefs, it is said that people playing a card game need to consider using the number 52 because 52 represents the number of weeks in a year. If someone uses this number, the gods will bless them. 

Don’t Foretell the Future on a New Deck 

In most traditions, people that foretell future events use a new deck of playing cards. There is a belief that if a person foretells the future and plays a card game, that person will lose in every game using that deck.  

The Left Hand Curse

According to Chinese superstition, playing a card game using your left hand is considered rude and the gods will punish you for it. 

Singing, Whistling, and Dropping Cards

It is believed that players should not sing, whistle or drop the cards because, according to superstition, it is a sign of contempt against the Gods. In Western culture, these acts are a sign of rudeness and can bring bad luck. 

Sitting Cross-legged 

It is believed that players should not sit crossed-legged when they play any card games because it will make the player lose focus on the game. 

Functions in Other Games

The Joker card often functions as a wild card on many games. It can function as the top trump, a skip card, and the lowest or highest-ranking card. The joker’s use varies on each type of game but it is usually used as informal replacements for lost or damaged cards. The card is overlooked entirely. Below are some of the roles the Joker card plays in other games:

  • In Euchre or 500, the Joker card is considered the highest trump or ‘top bower’. 
  • In Canasta, the Joker card is the wild card. 
  • The Joker card is also considered a wild card in the game of Gin Rummy.
  • Chase the Joker is an alternative version of Old Maid and the Joker card is a replacement for Ace.
  • The Joker card can be a wild or bug in Poker. 
  • In War, the Joker beats all other cards.
  • Joker card is marked as ‘high’ and ‘low’ in the game of Pitch. 
  • In Daihinmin, the Joker card is a wild card or deuce.
  • The Joker card is a ‘skip’ card in the game of Crazy Eights.
  • Joker cards are considered ‘junk’ or highest trumps in the game of Spades. 
  • The Joker Card is the lowest-ranked card in Double King Pede.
  • Joker cards are considered the highest value card in Dou di zhu.

Now that you learned about the myths, legends and uses of the playing, it’s time to practice and put your knowledge to the test by trying out some of Bitcasino’s games such as High Hand Hold’em Poker High and Three Card Rummy.   

Words by: Rainielle Barlaw


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A guide to the myths and legends of Joker card