Many games are played with cards as a primary device. Let it be a paper, a plastic or even a virtual one, the game might be as enjoyable as it was in China in the 9th century, where and when card games are said to have been invented. Proliferation of card games in Europe started only in the last quarter of the 14th century.
When talking about cards we all have some papers of identical size and shape with a face side and a back side in mind. Most of the times the back sides are indistinguishable and the face sides are rather unique. Before paper was invented people used bones, tiles, pieces of wood or other small items to play games and all these can be regarded as some predecessors of the cards we know nowadays.
Traditionally a deck of cards or more precisely, the deck we are all familiar with originates from France, has four suits and contains 52 items. The suits we use currently were introduced around 1480 and replaced the Latin ones. The new symbols were needed in order to simplify the production, and printing the clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds was much easier than using full-colour art for each card. In Japan, however, the 48-card deck, deriving from the 16th century is the most frequently used one.
Today there are two basic types of cards available in the market. The most popular one is the paper card, coated in plastic and the other one is the 100% plastic card. The paper one is less expensive and of course the quality is poorer. Do not be surprised if the paper card tears, bends, creases or just simply wears off in the course of usage. These bends or torn edges might mark the cards. This, however, doesn`t happen to plastic ones, which explains why casinos use only these professional quality cards. They are extra durable and easy to clean which is a more important factor than you might think. If you want to use a shuffling machine, only plastic cards can be inserted.
The standard size of poker cards is 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches but the narrow poker deck that is 2 ¼ x 3 7/16 inches or the bridge deck with its 3 ¼ x 3 ½ inch size are also popular.
How about the face design of poker cards? There are five common designs, namely: standard, super or jumbo, magnum and dual index or peek. Standard index size design is the most common one and most of the players prefer to have this type in their hands. Jumbo size is for players who have eyesight problems. In magnum index size printing takes up all the space on the face of the card and for this reason it is not recommended to professionals. Peek ones have the regular size of print on the face but an extra fine print is placed on the corners, so players who like keeping their cards on the table and peel up just the corners to peek will probably choose this type.
As for the back side design, this can range from simple patterns to graphics designs or photographs. It is up to you what you choose since the face side is what really counts.