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Face cards contain a jack, a queen, or a king, and there are 12 of them since each suite contains all types of face cards.
In a standard deck of 52 cards, face cards are the winning hands in most card games. Knowing how many are there will help you plan your next move.
History of Face Cards
In a deck of 52 cards, Ace through 10 is called pip cards, while Jack through King is a face or court card. Although China is rumored to be the origin of playing cards, many sources refer to Persia as the first country to have a standard deck with face cards.
Around 1370 in Italy, the first set of cards brought in by Islamic Egyptian merchants containing court cards was recorded. They did not contain any faces similar to Jack, Queen, and King because Islamic Law bans them.
In 1379 in Italy, the Chronicles of Viterbo recorded a new card game called Naib that the Christian Church banned. Shortly after, a new deck of cards was introduced, and this deck contained four suits, similar to the Egyptian kind, except there were new faces on the court cards.
In Italy, face cards became common, and they showed faces of a king, a knight riding a horse, and a jack or jane. About 100 years later, the horse riding knight was dropped, and face cards looked like the common Jack, Queen, and Kings we see today.
The colors were mainly black and red, and the production of the cards was cheaper. Later on, these cards were accepted by the British and the Americans.
Surprisingly, the faces on these court cards were not derived from French nobles. Instead, the Italians chose mythological and ancient royalties from Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian traditions.
There are no official declarations about who the faces on the court cards are, but several are listed.
The Kings are the following:
- Charlemagne for the hearts
- King David for Spades
- Julius Caesar for diamonds
- Alexander the Great for clubs
For the Queens, they were:
- Judith from the Bible for the Diamonds
- Rachel from the Bible for the Hearts
- Greek Goddess Athena for Spades
- Argine for the Clubs
For the Jacks, we have:
- Ogier the Dane for Spades
- Etienne de Vignolles for Hearts
- Hector for the Diamonds
- Lancelot for Clubs
These suggestions were only from one French source, and other sources will list different beings for the court cards. There was no single agreement about who the faces on the face cards were, and face cards without names sold better. Towards the end, the nameless court cards are victorious.
Let’s answer your other questions about the standard card deck’s face cards.
What is the probability of getting a face card?
Since there are 52 cards in a standard deck, the probability that you’ll draw a face card randomly is 12 over 52, or 23%.
Probability of drawing a face card
What are other style variations of a standard deck?
Here are several style variations available:
- Transformation Deck allows the player to manipulate the pip cards.
- Novelty Deck gives the face cards new and unique face depictions.
- Foreign Deck depends on the country and the suits used.
- Marked Deck, which magicians often use to perform card tricks.
Does the Ace card have a lower or higher rank than the King?
The rank of the Ace card mainly depends on the type of card game you’re playing. If the game is about the superiority of a card’s rank over another, the Ace card is considered the highest playing card and outranks the King.