A standard deck of playing cards contains 52 cards, each with one of 13 ranks and one of 4 suits. The ranks are numbered from 2 to 10, then the face cards Jack, Queen, King and Ace. The suits are Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades. There is a specific order to the cards in a deck, with the suits alternating and the ranks going from low to high within each suit.
The order of symbols in a deck of cards is:
- Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King of Clubs
- Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King of Diamonds
- Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King of Hearts
- Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King of Spades
So the suits alternate Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades. Within each suit, the ranks go from Ace (low) to King (high).
Let’s look at this in more detail. A standard deck contains 52 cards split into 4 suits. The suits are:
- Clubs (black suit symbol ♣)
- Diamonds (red suit symbol ♦)
- Hearts (red suit symbol ♥)
- Spades (black suit symbol ♠)
There are 13 ranks in each suit:
- Ace – The lowest rank
- King – The highest rank
So for each suit, the 13 ranks always go from Ace (low) to King (high).
When putting the full deck in order, the suits alternate. First come the 13 cards of Clubs from Ace to King. Then the 13 cards of Diamonds, then Hearts, then Spades.
So the full order is:
- Ace of Clubs
- 2 of Clubs
- 3 of Clubs
- …(all 13 Clubs cards)
- Ace of Diamonds
- 2 of Diamonds
- 3 of Diamonds
- …(all 13 Diamonds cards)
- Ace of Hearts
- 2 of Hearts
- 3 of Hearts
- …(all 13 Hearts cards)
- Ace of Spades
- 2 of Spades
- 3 of Spades
- …(all 13 Spades cards)
Here is a visual table showing the order of cards in a deck:
|Clubs||Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King|
|Diamonds||Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King|
|Hearts||Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King|
|Spades||Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King|
This clearly shows how the 4 suits alternate, and the 13 ranks always proceed from Ace (low) to King (high) within each suit.
Why is the Order Important?
Having a standard order to the cards in a deck is important for a variety of reasons:
- Allows for consistent dealing of cards in card games – cards can be reliably dealt in a specific order for fairness.
- Allows players to memorize and count cards in card games to gain an advantage.
- Allows for card tricks and illusions – magicians can rely on a fixed order to perform card manipulations.
- Allows for quality control in card manufacturing – decks can be checked to ensure cards are in the right order.
- Aids in collecting complete sets of cards – collectors can identify missing cards in a deck.
So having a predictable, standard order is vital to the functioning and use of a deck of cards in everything from casual play to professional card manipulation.
Other Types of Decks
While the standard 52 card deck with 4 suits of 13 ranks is the most common, there are some other deck configurations:
Removes the 8, 9 and 10 cards, leaving 40 cards total. Keep 4 suits with Ace, 2-7, Jack, Queen, King in each.
Contains 2 standard 52 card decks shuffled together, for a total of 104 cards. All suits and ranks are included.
Contains 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana cards plus the 4 standard French suits (Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds) with 14 cards each (Ace through 10 plus 4 face cards).
A standard 52 card deck with 2-3 suits removed, usually leaving only one suit. Used in some casino games like Spanish 21.
While the ordering varies, the principles of alternating suits and ranking cards within suits low-to-high applies to most deck configurations.
Shuffling the Cards
While decks come in a standard order, one of the first steps when using playing cards is shuffling them. Shuffling randomizes the cards so their order becomes unpredictable.
Some common shuffling techniques include:
- Riffle – splitting the deck and interleaving the cards back together.
- Overhand shuffle – cards repeatedly stripped off the top and reinserted into the deck.
- Hindu shuffle – chunks of cards are peeled off and reassembled.
- Pile shuffle – cards split into piles then reassembled.
Casinos often use machine shufflers to speed up shuffling and ensure randomness. But skilled manual shuffles are still preferred in some cases since they are less likely to damage cards.
Shuffling is important because:
- It randomizes the cards, making card games more unpredictable and fair.
- It prevents players from counting cards or tracking a deck’s order.
- It replenishes the deck after games when cards may have been removed.
- It provides an element of fun and chance before playing card games.
Shuffling helps make each new card game feel fresh and challenging. Card manipulation experts can also perform impressive shuffling feats to entertain audiences.
Famous Card Game Rules
While you can play endless games with a standard deck of cards, some famous card games have well-defined rules and orders of play:
Players are dealt cards then bet based on the value of their hands. Community cards are revealed in stages like the flop, turn and river. Hands are ranked from high to low.
Players attempt to get as close to 21 without going over. Numbered cards are worth their face values, face cards worth 10, and Aces worth 1 or 11. The dealer draws last and must hit on 16 or less.
Players try making sets, runs and combinations of cards in their hand before the opponent. The first to reach 100+ points by forming melds wins.
A 4 player trick-taking game where players try to avoid collecting hearts or the Queen of Spades. Each heart is worth 1 point, and Q of spades is 13 points.
Learning the rules and objectives of popular card games helps you appreciate how the order of cards in a deck influences gameplay and strategy.
Card Counting Strategies
In games like Blackjack, players can gain an advantage by keeping track of cards that have been played from the deck. This allows them to predict when higher or lower value cards are likely to appear. Some card counting strategies include:
Cards 2-6 are worth +1, cards 10-Ace are -1, and 7-9 are 0. The running count estimates if more low or high cards remain.
Low cards are +1, mid cards are 0, face cards and Aces are -1. Track the count per deck to gain an advantage.
Omega II Count
Cards 2-6 are +1, 9-K are -1, Aces are 0. one of the more complex accurate counting systems.
While casinos discourage card counting, understanding it provides insight into how the order of cards being played factors into the odds.
Famous Card Cheating Scandals
Since card games often involve betting and money, some scandals have occurred involving cheating:
1891 Faro Scandal
Dealers conspired with patrons to cheat at Faro in a New Orleans casino, swindling millions from the establishment.
Phil Ivey Baccarat Case
Pro poker player Phil Ivey used edge sorting on flawed baccarat deck designs to gain an advantage and win $9.6 million.
1979 Pennsylvania Card Swindle
A gang stole and marked decks from a card factory, using the markings to cheat in Atlantic City casinos for years.
This highlights how understanding the order of cards in a deck can allow for cheating scams, though they are rare and risky.
Famous Card Magic Tricks
Many famous card magic tricks rely on techniques that manipulate the order of cards in a deck:
The magician can precisely place certain cards in positions in the deck to perform card tricks like locating the spectator’s card.
Making the spectator seemingly freely choose a card that the magician actually predetermined through deck manipulation.
Advanced card handling techniques like springs, aerials and fans to impress the audience by adeptly manipulating the deck.
Understanding card order enables magicians to perform memorable illusions and card flourishes.
Importance in Card Design
The standard symbols and ordering of cards enables some design elements in playing cards:
Patterns in the pip arrangements on numbered cards can create designs, making each card unique.
Having identical back designs allows cards to be flipped without giving away their value.
Cut out shapes on card corners enable quick identification when fanning through the deck.
Capitalizing on the predictable order of cards allows for artistic customization in card aesthetics and handling.
Card Collector Culture
Card collecting has become a sizeable hobby, with rare decks and pieces carrying great value:
Rare Historic Decks
Antique decks produced centuries ago can fetch 6 or 7 figure prices at auction.
Manufacturer flaws and misprints create unique cards prized by collectors.
Celebrity Autographed Cards
Signed cards from magic legends like David Blaine and Criss Angel gain value.
Understanding how a complete deck is composed enables collectors to identify rare and valuable specimens.
Usage in Gambling and Games
Beyond card games, the standard deck has many gambling uses:
Casino Table Games
Blackjack, Baccarat, Caribbean Stud and other table game decks have special designs to resist cheating but maintain card order.
Pull Tabs and Scratchers
Lottery style games often use card symbols and designs in a random order.
Digital slot machines incorporate elements of a deck of cards into spinning reels for player familiarity.
The iconic look and order of playing cards grants them an enduring popularity in gambling and game settings.
The specific sequence of the 52 cards within the 4 suits of a standard deck has become time-honored. This order facilitates card tricks, collecting, and most importantly, fair gameplay. While the arrangement can be temporarily shuffled, a deck restores to its set order to offer reliability. Whether playing Go Fish with your family or Texas Hold Em in a casino, you can depend on each King following his Queen.