Category: Card Games

AN INTRODUCTION TO PLAYING CARDS AND COLLECTING BY VETERAN COLLECTORS TOM AND JUDY DAWSON

AN INTRODUCTION TO PLAYING CARDS AND COLLECTING BY VETERAN COLLECTORS TOM AND JUDY DAWSON

Who are Tom and Judy Dawson?

Once in a while, while traversing the wilds of the internet, you unexpectedly come across an outstanding resource. That’s exactly what happened to me when I came across a fantastic video featuring playing card collectors Tom and Judy Dawson, where they talk about playing cards as part of a 40 minute interview. Before I show you the video, you need to know a thing or two about Tom and Judy, who hail from Toronto, Canada. They are not your every-day playing card collectors. Tom was a former President of 52 Plus Joker, the American Playing Card Collectors Club, and was an active member until his sad passing away in 2016. At the time, they had the unique distinction of being the only members who had attended all 29 conventions up to that point, and Judy was editor of their newsletter for some 28 years. She remains involved on an executive level, and the club’s official website designates her as “Club Queen”.
They can rightly be considered experts in their field, and their credentials as authorities on the subject of playing cards is confirmed by an important work they co-authored and completed: Gene Hochman’s authoritative Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards. This four volume set of books was originally the creation of respected collector Gene Hochman, and was first published between 1976-1981. Very few people would have sufficient knowledge and expertise to revise and expand a work of this sort, but that’s exactly what Tom and Judy Dawson did with this impressive series of keystone books. With a main focus is on American playing cards, as the title indicates, it is a comprehensive guide to various decks of playing cards that were produced in the United States from the late 18th century onwards. As part of its catalogue it includes important information on scarcity, and besides covering individual decks it also covers different producers and brands. For serious collectors, it’s an essential reference tool. Lee Asher, the current president of 52 Plus Joker, offers this glowing praise for this book: “This is the best resource on collecting American playing cards, ever written. They took all of long-time collector Eugene Hochman’s research, and compiled it into one big volume.
In 2013, Ben Train interviewed Tom and Judy about playing cards, as part of Chris Mayhew’s “Series of Unfortunate Effects”. In this interview, Tom and Judy share some valuable information about the history of playing cards, different ways that they are used, as well as advice about being a collector, and much more. It was made available online by the current president of 52 Plus Joker, Lee Asher. The video is 38 minutes long, and I highly recommend watching it in entirety. In the material below, I’ve summarized some key things that you’ll learn from this interview, and share some of the material that these two passionate playing card collectors cover.

The Interview

History of Playing Cards

The interview starts with Tom giving a broad overview of the history and development of playing cards. While we can’t be certain of their true origins, this is likely in the Far East, possibly as an easier and cheaper way of playing chess-style war games. From here they eventually made their way through the Middle East and North Africa into Western Europe, and that’s where the first definite record of playing cards can be found in the late 1300s. Italians, French, and Spanish playing cards weren’t standardized like today, but used suits with a variety of symbols such as clubs, swords, and bells, and also had varying numbers of cards in a deck. The French were especially renowned for their playing card manufacturers, and today’s playing cards are largely based on old French designs. The backs of playing cards were originally blank, but over time things were added like images on the card backs, corner indices, double ended artwork for the court cards, and coatings on the paper. Playing cards were at one time called “pasteboards”, and were originally thick and bulky. But improvements in manufacturing led to thinner playing cards, with improved quality and handling. Prior to the adoption of indices, one manufacturer used miniature pictures of the card on opposite corners, which were called “Triplicates”, and the indices we use today were developed in competition to these, and were first described as “Squeezers” in light of the ability to hold a larger hand of cards. I was especially fascinated by Tom Dawson’s observation that although many people have tried to introduce innovations to playing cards, these never last, and the traditional style and designs always return. Evidently there is something truly “classic” about the deck we have inherited today!

Uses for Playing Cards

In this section of the interview, Tom and Judy share some of the fascinating ways playing cards have been used throughout their history, besides more obvious uses like card magic, and for playing the thousands of card games that exist. But even decks used for card games come in different sizes, e.g. containing 32 cards, or 40, 48, 52, and even 78 or more. So a deck of cards can mean a lot of different things, and many of the games played with them are very regional. Playing cards have been used very seriously for fortune telling, sometimes with individual cards having fortune information on them. Tarot decks typically have 78 cards, and each of the 22 trumps in these decks has a different picture and is assigned a different meaning. While such decks are sometimes used for the occult, many of them do have fantastic designs and artwork. This makes them very collectable, and even Tarot decks that are barely 20 years old can be worth large sums. Playing cards were also used for educational purposes (e.g. to teach math, science and more). Souvenir decks have been popular, because they have a picture on each individual card. When these started being produced in the 1890s, photography was still quite new and expensive, so a souvenir deck functioned as a nice miniature photo album. Because cards originally had plain white backs, they proved useful for note-taking, indexing, invitations, coupons, IOUs, and more, especially in a time when paper and cardboard was rare and expensive. Besides these secondary uses, there was even a time in the 1700s in Quebec when they were used as money cards. There are also people who build enormous card houses with playing cards, made out of hundreds of decks of cards. Brian Berg is well worth looking up given some of the unbelievable things he has made out of playing cards.

Card Boxes

In today’s market, some publishers like Theory11 devote a lot of attention to producing high end tuck boxes, and it is a big part of the marketing. While today’s techniques may be new, the idea of an attractive tuck box is not new, and throughout the history of playing cards there have been manufacturers doing interesting things with the card boxes. Tom explains that originally playing cards were just packaged in relatively plain paper wrappers, and there was no box at all. As the 1800s progressed, wrappers made way for something more sturdy, which led to the development of all kinds of boxes. Various interesting packaging was used, including boxes that had outer and inner cases, and small drawers. Congress Playing Cards used a packaging that would display the designs of the deck on the outside of the box. I really enjoyed seeing some of the unique ideas for packaging that Tom and Judy showed in this part of the video. One of my favourites that they displayed was a beautiful war deck from 1935 that was housed inside a book! After showing a lovely custom wooden box for the Circus Transformation Deck that was produced in 1988, Judy explains what transformation decks are, showing some example cards. In transformation decks, the pip cards are transformed into a design, by using the pips as part of the picture. I immediately felt a sense of kinship with the Dawsons at this point, because apparently transformation decks are a favourite for them, just as they are for me.

Collecting Cards

Tom and Judy decided to focus their own collection on standard playing cards (i.e. those with a traditional layout and traditional court cards), primarily older cards that are American in origin. It’s not that they don’t like custom decks, but the simple matter is that if you’re collecting anything you need to specialize in some way and have a focus. Tom gives an extensive list of different kinds of cards that are available to collect, including comic cards, tobacco insert cards, advertising cards, transformation cards, and war cards. All the wars have been commemorated in playing cards, as are many births and other important events in the lives of royalty. Judy puts it well: “You can actually create a whole history from playing cards.” She’s absolutely right, and in that respect playing cards are a mirror of life. Besides people who collect decks, there are also those who only collect single cards. This is usually due to their interest in the card backs, and they might specialize in backs on a particular topic like horses or landscapes. But there also people who only collect a particular card, like a Joker, or the Ace of Spades, in light of its special design and the name of the maker, effectively making it like the title page of a book. Judy considers collectors of Jokers the bane of other collectors, because these are one of the most prized parts of a deck, and a deck that is otherwise complete but missing an unusual Joker drops significantly in value. The condition of your cards is also important, and this is something Tom and Judy know more than a thing or two about, not just from their own experience, but also as authors of the Hochman book. Obviously the less used a deck is, the more valuable it is. Judy also makes some very good remarks about how a modern deck that is purchased and preserved won’t nearly have the same value as an older deck that is preserved. There are plenty of collectors today who have limited edition versions of modern decks, while in contrast vintage playing cards are much more scarce since they were typically bought in order to be used rather than collected. This is one reason the Dawson’s own interest is especially in old decks, or decks that were only produced in extremely limited editions (e.g. only 50 produced). Tom points out that a nice aspect about collecting playing cards is that you get the opportunity to do research and learn about your decks. There’s a lot of great books that can assist with this. There are also playing card clubs like 52 Plus Joker, and similar clubs in other countries, so there’s a lot of good resources available.

Show and Tell

In the final ten minutes or so of the video, Tom and Judy show us a range of different playing cards to illustrate some of the things they’ve covered. One deck shown is extremely scarce, with only 50 made. There’s even an example of a valuable deck of which only seven total were made; Tom and Judy believe that these decks were withdrawn before going up for sale. You’ll also see a card from a deck published in 1950, where the entire deck would be worth $15,000, and you’ll see a single card picturing a baseball hall-of-famer that on its own is worth up to $1500. As well as a range of historic Aces of Spades, a range of old Jokers is also shown, many from different advertising decks. Decks that advertise famous companies like Coca Cola are even more prized, since there are so many collectors of Coca Cola memorabilia around the world. Tobacco insert cards often featured lively burlesque artwork, and because they were released individually, people had to collect these decks one card at a time, making a complete deck of these even more prized. A charming music-themed German deck from around 1850 has cards with spectacular designs that can be placed alongside each other to produce a complete piece of music. You’ll even see a card from one of the 1805 Cotta transformation decks, and some other terrific examples of cards from old transformation decks.

Conclusion

Impressions

Tom and Judy’s passion for playing cards really shines through in this wonderful interview. From how comfortable they are with the subject material, it’s very evident that they are experts who are extremely knowledgeable. They were obviously a great team, and extremely respectful of each other, giving each other opportunity to share from their wealth of knowledge. Given that the focus of their own collection is on older standard playing cards, not everything they say applies to modern custom decks. Even so, there’s still a lot that can be learned from what they have to say, and my own knowledge about collecting playing cards was enhanced by learning about an area that I don’t have as much first-hand experience with myself. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to see some rare decks from the early 1900s and some playing cards that even hailed from the 1800s. I highly recommend that playing card enthusiasts take the time to watch the whole video, and learn from this lovely couple, who are keen to inspire others in the wonderful hobby of collecting playing cards.

Where next?

With their dedication and enthusiasm as collectors, Tom and Judy have left a legacy for us all. Not only can we benefit from the Hochman Encyclopedia they helped write, but we can also continue their passion for playing cards. Especially if you are a serious collector with an interest in American playing cards, here’s what you can do next: ● Get the book: If American playing cards are your thing, the Hochman Encyclopedia co-authored by the Dawsons is a must have. It also contains helpful information about grading and dating playing cards. If you’re interested in learning more about this, Tom explains the grading system they use in a separate interview clip that you can listen to here. Lee Asher also has two excellent articles which I highly recommend in relation to this. The first is about How to date a deck of USPCC playing cards, and the second is about How to grade playing cards. The grading scale that he presents there is taken straight from the Hochman Encyclopedia, and gives descriptions for how to grade a deck of cards into one of the following categories, on a sliding scale: As Issued, Mint, Excellent, Good, Poor, and With Faults. ● Join the club: The 52 Plus Joker Club has been around since 1985, and was originally created to meet the needs of American collectors of antique playing cards. The scope has since broadened, and what they offer today includes things like a printed and digital club magazine, an annual club deck, and playing card auctions. The highlight of 52 Plus Joker is undoubtedly the club’s annual convention in October, which is where collectors, designers, manufacturers, and enthusiasts come together to talk about playing cards, listen to lectures, buy and sell, receive awards, and much more. The Dawson Award is one of the awards given, and is a special achievement award named after Tom and Judy. ● Go to the convention: Attending the annual 52 Plus Joker convention is a highlight for playing card enthusiasts, although in 2020 the convention was held online using video conferencing, due to current COVID-19 restrictions. Check out the Convention page to find out more. Want to learn more? Visit 52 Plus Joker, the American Playing Card Collectors Club. ● Official links: Official websiteConventionsInstagramFacebook ● Interviews: Lee Asher (President)Don Boyer (Vice-President)
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk

THE THREE MOST PLAYED SOLITAIRE CARD GAMES IN THE WORLD

THE THREE MOST PLAYED SOLITAIRE CARD GAMES IN THE WORLD

Which Games Are They?

Solitaire card games played with a traditional deck of playing cards have existed for decades, going back as far as the 19th century. But there’s no doubt that the arrival of the personal computer into office spaces and homes has had an enormous impact in introducing these classic games of patience to the masses, and in popularizing them. Arguably the single biggest reason for this is Microsoft. Microsoft first began packaging a simple version of Klondike Solitaire with their operating systems with Windows 3.0, which was the third major release of Microsoft Windows, and came out in 1990. At the time, desktop computers had only just become a staple in homes and work-places. Part of the rationale for including a solitaire card game was to assist new users in learning how to use a mouse, and to help them become familiar with features like dragging and dropping, and the overall graphical interface of a personal computer. As Microsoft continued delivering new versions of their Windows operating system in later years, a couple of other solitaire card games were added, notably Spider and FreeCell. This development single-handedly revolutionized office-culture around the world. It’s a little known fact, but sources within Microsoft have stated that Solitaire is in fact the most used software program in the entire Microsoft family, even ahead of programs like Word and Excel. At the time, it even led to debates about whether introducing computers into the workplace would actually decrease productivity, due to real concerns that Microsoft Solitaire was leading to many hours of time wasted by employees.
What accounts for this tremendous success? First of all, digitizing what was already a popular game meant that it removed the practicalities and constraints involved in using a physical deck of cards. By eliminating the hassles of shuffling, dealing, and physically moving cards, and taking away the requirement for a reasonable amount of table space, all the book-keeping and tedious elements of the game were instantly eliminated. Now solitaire card games could be played much more quickly and easily. Software versions also created new opportunities for the game that didn’t previously exist. Digital implementations made it possible to record percentages of wins, best times, and win streaks, all of which give additional incentives to return to the game. They also made possible forms of the game that – for logistical reasons – would be difficult or impossible to play in real life with a physical deck. Digital versions of solitaire were also easier to learn, given the enforced rules, automated layouts, and instructional tutorials that typically accompanied them. And of course, solitaire has an addictive quality about it, given the inherent challenge of trying to win from a deal. Being able to easily and quickly play a game of digital solitaire makes it a highly attractive time-filler. Despite the advent of flashier and more impressive games, people keep returning to the simplicity of dragging cards around for a quick five or ten minute fix of Solitaire. But this also explains how the three most played solitaire card games in the world accomplished this status. As Microsoft Windows was slowly conquering the world and asserting its monopoly on the global market of operating systems and personal computers, their versions of solitaire were the ones that became firmly established into homes and offices. So we have Microsoft to thank for making Klondike the solitaire game that nearly all of us are familiar with. For many people, this is the game that they identify “Solitaire” with. With Microsoft adding Spider and FreeCell in later years, these two games were quickly adopted and became beloved by solitaire fans as well, causing them to leapfrog many other classic solitaire games in popularity, and make them the most commonly played versions of solitaire behind the evergreen Klondike. With the release of Windows 8 in 2012, this trilogy of titles was rebranded under the name “Microsoft Solitaire Collection”, as part of an ad-supported freemium package that also included two new solitaire additions: Pyramid and TriPeaks. While there are many other classic solitaire games that exist and are played around the world, in terms of the sheer number of games played, Microsoft’s holy trinity of Klondike, Spider, and FreeCell unquestionably reigns supreme. As proof of its success, Microsoft Solitaire was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019, alongside other greats like Doom, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Super Mario Kart, World of Warcraft, and The Legend of Zelda. To get there, it had to meet criteria that included being widely known and remembered, having enduring popularity, and not only influencing other games but culture in general. It’s estimated that it has been installed on over a billion devices, localized in 65 different languages, and is considered to be instrumental in paving the way for the growth of the casual game market.
Of course today there are many more ways to enjoy these popular solitaire greats. Besides apps for your mobile device, all you need is a web browser, and sites like Solitaired.com enable you to play them for free online wherever you are in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. Besides dragging and dropping cards with the click of a mouse on your personal home or office computer, touch screens have only helped to increase the number of ways you can play solitaire, especially on mobile devices. So let’s take a closer look at the three most popular solitaire card games.

Klondike

OverviewKlondike is the solitaire game most of us will be familiar with from our personal computer, or that we’ve seen bored staff playing in the office. It’s the quintessential solitaire card game that everybody should at least try once, and is the game most people have in mind when they think of “solitaire”. Its name has its origin in the late nineteenth century gold rush in the Klondike part of the Canadian Yukon, where prospectors would play the game in order to help pass the time. It sometimes goes under other names like Canfield (in the UK), although this latter name is technically incorrect, and actually refers a different solitaire game. Game-play: Using a single deck, the aim is to arrange all 13 cards of each suit in a complete sequence from Ace through King. These sequences begin with the Ace as the foundation and build upwards, hence games like this are typically described as builder type solitaire games. Cards are placed in an area called the tableau, and the initial deal involves laying out seven piles, ranging from 1 to 7 cards on each, and with only the top card of each pile turned face up. These cards can then be arranged within the tableau by building downwards in alternating colours, and moved between columns to in order to access other cards. Only a King or column built down on a King can be transferred to a free space in the tableau. Unlike an open game where all the cards are visible and face-up from the start of the game, Klondike is an example of a closed game, because not all the cards are known, and slowly become revealed as you make them available. Variations: The most common way of using the stock is to deal three cards at a time, but many people also play with an alternative rule in which you deal one card at a time, which is sometimes called Las Vegas Solitaire, and even played as a gambling game in some casinos. This gives you access to many more cards and increases your chances of completing the game successfully. To make the game harder, you can also limit the amount of passes through the deck to just three times, or only once. My thoughts: Depending on which variation you’re playing with and how many redeals you allow, a skilled player should be able to win standard game of Klondike nearly half of the time. It is very satisfying to finish a game and get all the cards onto the foundation, but be warned, because it’s also very addictive! Once you’re familiar with how the game works, you can polish off an entire game in as little as five minutes, making it an ideal choice for a casual game to keep returning to. It’s also a game you can get better at, and for some excellent suggestions on improving your strategy, check out the article 7 Strategies to Win Solitaire.
Related games: If you want an easier Klondike style game that you should be able to win nine times out of ten, try Westcliff, which has ten columns; or Thumb and Pouch. There’s also the easier two deck version of Klondike called Double Klondike, as well as Gargantua and Harp; while the two deck game Lady Jane is even easier yet, and you should be able to win 99% of the time. If you enjoy Klondike and want to try similar games, variations worth trying include Agnes Bernauer and Agnes SorelEasthaven adds a tricky Spider-like method of dealing the stock, while Bind Alleys and the closely related Pas Seul use a 6×3 tableau. Many other Klondike-inspired builder games exist which change more significant things about the game-play. One of the more popular ones is Yukon, in which the entire deck is dealt at the outset, and where you can move columns of cards even if the cards being moved aren’t in sequence. This gives you easier access to cards, but the columns consist of more cards to begin with. Two players: For a version of Klondike that enables you to play competitively with another player using two decks of cards, take a look at Double Solitaire. Players have their own deck and tableau, and the aim is to be the first to play all your cards to eight foundations piles which are shared. As well as turn-based play, this can also be turned into a real-time race game of frenzied simultaneous solitaire.

Spider

Overview: One of the two games that lurks most closely in Klondike’s shadow is Spider. Along with FreeCell, it has risen into prominence courtesy of Microsoft Windows, and chances are good that you’ve seen a version of it on your home computer along with other common games like Chess, Minesweeper, Hearts, and Spades. It is said to be a favourite of president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many consider it to be the best solitaire game since it gives a lot of room to overcome the luck of the draw by skillful play, and comes with a good chance of winning the game. According to Gregory Trefry’s Casual Game Design, by 2005 it had outstripped Klondike and become the most played game on computers that had Microsoft Windows, largely due the increased challenge it offers over the more luck-based Klondike. Game-play: A game of Spider uses two decks of cards, and the game starts after dealing out 54 cards out in a tableau of ten piles. Like Klondike, the aim is to get cards of the same suit in order from Ace through King, but in this case there are no foundations. Columns of cards remain in the tableau until you line up a whole column of a suit in order, descending from King down through Ace, at which point they are removed from the game. Cards can be moved within the tableau in a somewhat similar fashion to Klondike, but whenever you need fresh cards, the 50 cards remaining in the stock are dealt out 10 at a time across the entire tableau. Variations: In the standard form of the game, which is the hardest way to play, you play with all four suits, and while descending columns of alternating colours can be built, you can only move a stack if they are all of the same suit. This is generally considered the more Advanced form of the game, while an Intermediate form of Spider uses two suits and makes the gameplay easier by only using Spades and Hearts. The one suit game only uses cards from a single suit, and can be considered the beginner version, and serve as an excellent introduction to Spider. Officially all spaces in the tableau must be filled before dealing from the stock, but a more relaxed form of the game is possible by removing this requirement. My thoughts: Unlike Klondike, in Spider all the building happens within the tableau, so that immediately gives it a different feel. Winning Spider, especially in its standard form, can prove quite a challenge. But it’s also one of the best solitaire games in view of the analysis and skill it allows for. New players should begin with one suit Spider, and you can always progress to the more difficult and strategic versions later. Single suit Spider is easily winnable most of the time, and is a more relaxing way to play. But even an easier game of Spider will take two or three times as long as a game of Klondike. While taking longer to play, it gives more room for skill and thoughtful play, and comes with the reward of increased chances of completing the game successfully. Microsoft’s versions of Spider incorporated a scoring system, so that players could use “undo” in order to discover hidden cards and use this to determine their choices, but with a small point penalty.
Related games: Given the popularity and success of Spider, many other solitaire games exist that take over its basic concept, such as Mrs Mop, which has all the cards dealt face-up at the outset, and BeetleTarantula and Black Widow both make Spider easier by allowing you to move sequences in the tableau that are of the same colour (Tarantula), or of any colour (Black Widow). Spiderette is a single-deck version of Spider, and uses just seven columns Instead of ten, which are dealt out in a triangular style much like Klondike. Like the standard game, the way the cards are dealt can play a big role in whether or not a particular deal is solvable. Other common one-deck Spider games include Will o’ the Wisp (which has a 7×3 tableau) and Simple Simon. Special mention should be made of the popular game Scorpion, which allows stacks to be moved within the tableau even if they aren’t arranged in order, in the style of games like Yukon. It’s not easy to win, however, and the Wasp variation increases your chances significantly by allowing any card or stack to be placed in an empty space in the tableau, not just Kings. Three Blind Mice is another favourite Scorpion variant, and uses a 10×5 tableau.

FreeCell

OverviewFreeCell emerged out of relative obscurity in 1995 as a result of its inclusion in Microsoft Windows 95. Even though it was created by Paul Alfille already as early as 1978, it was only when it was brought into the public eye with the help of Windows, that it quickly became an addictive pastime for many, and gained a loyal following. Just a few years later it was included along with Minesweeper in the chapter “Computer and Online Games” of the published version of Hoyle’s Rules of Games. Fan websites were even created for it with information about the different deals, and strategies. Game-play: At the start of the game, a single deck is dealt face up into eight columns. There are four foundation piles, and as in most solitaire games, the goal is to build cards from each suit in ascending sequence from Ace through King. But in addition to these foundation piles, there are four storage cells that can be used to temporarily store a card from the bottom of any column, and that’s where the real fun of FreeCell lies. Cards in the tableau are arranged down in alternating colours, and such sequences can be moved between columns – but only with the help of available cells – while a space created in the tableau can be filled with any card. Variations: FreeCell has inspired many variants and related game, which are too many to list. Several of these are true to the basic concept, but simply increase the number of cards in the game. For example, there is also a two-deck version called FreeCell Duplex. There is also a version with three decks and one with four decks. My thoughts: FreeCell has the distinction of being a solitaire card game that lends itself particularly well to a digital implementation. In the Windows version, each unique deal was assigned a different number, nearly all of which were solvable, and people could use this number to attempt the same deal as other players. The computer could also calculate which moves were possible and which were not. While later versions came with over a million unique deals, the original Microsoft FreeCell supported 32,000 numbered deals, dubbed as the “Microsoft 32,000”. In the hey-day of FreeCell in the mid 1990s, a crowdsourced project assigned all these deals to different people, successfully completing all but one of them. Given that all the cards are visible at the start of the game, FreeCell is an open game and you have perfect information to work with from the outset, so there are no surprises awaiting you. Winning requires sheer skill, and there is very little luck.
Related games: FreeCell has among its ancestors Eight Off and Baker’s Game. In both games you build down in the same suit instead of in alternating colours. Eight Off gives players the added advantage of having more storage cells to use. It was the novel use of alternating colours that helped make FreeCell a big success, but these two predecessors are also very good. Given its tremendous popularity, FreeCell has inspired many other games of its kind, many with small twists to the setup or rules. One popular take on this style of the game include Art Cabral’s excellent Seahaven Towers, which has a different starting layout. Also highly recommended is David Parlett’s Penguin, which has seven reserve cells, and gives you three of your starting foundation cards but buries the fourth one at the bottom of the first column in the tableau; this is the “penguin” that you must free.

Conclusion

The above three solitaire games can all be described as builder-type games, and there are many other builder-type solitaire games that have been inspired by them or are related to them. The most popular ones besides the trilogy covered here include: Baker’s Dozen, Beleaguered Castle, Canfield, Forty Thieves, La Belle Lucie (Lovely Lucy), Scorpion, and Yukon. Each of these games is in turn a representative of its own family of games that provides variations of the same theme. So it’s worth trying each of these other titles too, to determine which ones you especially enjoy playing, and then exploring further within each family. But despite the tremendous diversity, these three reign supreme: Klondike, Spider, and FreeCell. Nearly everyone who has had a Microsoft Windows operating system on their computer at some point in their life will be familiar with one or all of these three solitaire games. This is particularly going to be true of those who were the early adopters of personal computers in homes and offices. Those who found themselves behind an office computer in the 1990s, lived in an era when video games weren’t nearly as advanced, impressive, or varied as what they were today. This was a time when social media didn’t yet exist, and when the world wide web consisted largely of text based websites that were accessed with slow dial up modems. In this environment, solitaire was the ideal companion for a lonely and boring day behind the computer, and a welcome distraction. The positive reception of Klondike, Spider, and FreeCell by this audience, has ensured that these three brands of solitaire will continue to have an enduring legacy, far beyond what even Microsoft ever imagined when first making them our friends. Almost 30 years on, these solitaire games have already stood the test of time, and will undoubtedly continue to be enjoyed by future generations. Where to play them? Head to Solitaired.com and try a game of KlondikeSpider, or FreeCell right now!
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk

POLITICAL PLAYING CARDS OVER THE YEARS

POLITICAL PLAYING CARDS OVER THE YEARS
Political playing cards were created during the 17th century by artists who wanted to convey specific messages through art. They put well-known figures in the hot seat, bringing attention to presidential candidates, members of congress, war generals, parliament and more. These cards are fairly similar to political cartoons. Both use satire to illustrate politicians, public figures and worldly happenings. The portraits, which are still produced today, address newsworthy topics in an artistic and entertaining way. So, since 2020 is a presidential election year, now is the perfect time for a playing card history lesson. Let’s explore how these illustrations and messages have changed over the years.

Knavery of the Rump (1679)

In 1679, artist Francis Barlow designed playing cards to characterize Oliver Cromwell’s Government. As the head of state in the Commonwealth of England, Cromwell fought to remove the monarch from power. The 10 of clubs reveals Cromwell’s imbalance between his faith and morals. The card reads, Oliver seeking God while the K. (Don Hafelrigg K) is murdered by his order.

The Head

This infamous fact shows some perspective on the people’s perception of Cromwell — a couple of years after his death, those who supported the monarch dug up his grave, detached his head from his body and displayed it outside of Westminster Hall on top of a pole. It remained there for 28 years.

French Republic Playing Cards (1793-1794)

For obvious reasons, Liberal Republicans from France completely revamped their playing card deck in 1793. The rule of law, which suggests that no one is above the law, and the French Revolution, inspired the Revolutionnaire playing cards above. Since the French Revolution ultimately ended the monarchy, traditional court cards didn’t seem appropriate anymore. The Kings, Queens and Jacks were replaced by Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This holy trinity continues to act as an important part of their national heritage. The “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” motto was even written into the constitution in 1958.

Army & Navy Deck (1865)

Including text is not a necessity on political playing cards. Most of the time, when done properly, an illustration can successfully deliver the message on its own. In 1865, artist Andrew Dougherty commemorated the switch from wooden to ironclad warships through playing cards. The King, Queen and Jack court cards display caricature-like drawings of civil war naval members. These cards show the new iron ships in action as well as soldiers yielding rifle-muskets during the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack in 1862.

Anti-Religions Propaganda Deck (1931)

In 1931, Russian authorities created these playing cards to push their anti-religion agenda. The Joker card directly above quickly sums up the USSR’s motives. The winged man symbolizes capitalism and the kneeling figures are the four religions. The suits depict each religion as well: Clubs for Eastern Orthodox; Hearts for Roman Catholicism; Spades for Buddhism; Diamonds for Judaism. These drawings suggest that the Russians wanted their citizens to see religion as skewed and untrustworthy. This radiates propaganda, instilling the message that all respected religious figures are not as moral as they appear. The King of Diamonds features a rabbi reading the Torah while also engrossed by money. The Queen of Clubs shows an Eastern Orthodox nun with a man in the background. This insinuates that the woman finds him desirable despite her loyalty to God. The Jack of Hearts illustrates a Roman Catholic priest wrongfully thinking lustful thoughts amid a prayer.

Atouts de la Vie Card Game (1940)

During WWII, Madame Lucien Willemetz designed various card games. She is well-known for creating the educational board game Le Jeu de l’histoire de la France as well as the wartime card game Atouts de la Vie. This card game emphasizes work ethic, honor, discipline, etc. Ironically, the French government did not adhere to the principles they so desperately sought to instill in their citizens. Nevertheless, the object of the game is to collect all ten virtues.

NEWS & ART

Connecting news and art through playing cards is such an innovative way to tell a story. 2020 has certainly been jam-packed with activity. So, if you’re looking to create custom cards similar to the ones above, then find a person who or an idea that is important to you and illustrate it onto any playing card product. Some of our clients, including our own company, created COVID-19 decks at the start of quarantine. These decks are informative and capture the pandemic in all its uncertainties. You think it, we print it. To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on the custom request a quote form. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk

CARDOLOGY: THE SCIENCE IN PLAYING CARDS

CARDOLOGY: THE SCIENCE IN PLAYING CARDS

Magic, games and cardistry. These are just three ways we use playing cards. But there’s actually more to a deck than meets the eye, and it’s a mystical eye at that.

Cardology is a science that connects playing cards and astrology to guide us through life. This ancient magical method is called many names including the Cards of Life. Regardless of whether you use a custom-designed deck from Shuffled Ink or an ordinary one off the shelf, the science is present and will uncover your purpose (if you wish to divulge).

In one of our previous articles, Which Game Are You Based on Your Astrological Sign, we don’t venture into the realm of Cardology but rather relate your zodiac sign to a well-known card or board game. If you’re unfamiliar with astrology, then give it a quick read for an entertaining insight into the study.

Now, let’s explore Cardology as well as its origins, the birthday card chart and more.

The Mystic Test Book

Olney H. Richmond captured the true meaning of playing cards – Cardology – in his book The Mystic Test Book or the Magic of the Cards. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy to comprehend from start-to-finish, and there’s a clear reason why. When it was published in 1893, it was written for Order of the Magi members, a secret occult society revitalized by Richmond in the late 19th century.

Card Calendar Illustrated in the Test Book

A pack of playing cards is anything but standard. Each card represents our world in its entirety. Want to see for yourself? Take out any deck you can find and follow along!

1 deck = a year

52 cards in a deck = weeks in a year

4 suits = seasons in a year

12 court cards = months in a year

13 cards per suit = lunar cycles

red & black colors = day/night

A Deeper Look:

These excerpts from The Mystic Test Book further describe the relationship between the four suit cards and the Earth’s seasons:

Hearts as Spring: “In the Spring of the year, the birds mate. In the springtime of life or the first quarter, love is the master passion. The heart was therefore chosen as the emblem of the first quarter and the first season.”

Clubs as Summer: “Knowledge is best gained and retained in the summer of life…therefore the shamrock, or ‘club,’ became the emblem.”

Diamonds as Fall: “The third season, autumn, has for its emblem the diamond, representative of wealth. The third period of man’s life is the one in which he is best able to gain wealth…the crops are sold and the wealth of the harvest realized.”

Spades as Winter: Winter or the fourth quarter of the Zodiac is represented by the spade or acorn. By a strange and yet natural transformation, the acorn, which represented the symbolism of the death and burial of the physical form was changed … to the spade.”

Card Chart

With the Cardology Birthday Chart below, you can discover a lot about your past, present and future. Based on the Cards of Life, there’s a deep connection between your birthday/astrology sign and a deck of playing cards.

Based on your birth card, each component should resemble you personally. The suit cards have personality traits of their own while also making up the Earth’s seasons. The numbers further identify your attributes and the court cards carry their own set of inner rulings about your life. For example, if your birthday is June 24, then your birth card is the 6 of clubs. To see how the cards interact with your disposition, check out this article on Cafe Astrology.

Coincidence or not?

Now, it’s up to your discretion to accept the destiny shown in Cardology. In this article, we only scratched the surface on how playing cards reveal our character. There’s much more to the concept that even involves a bit of math, but we won’t dive too deep.

Let’s wrap this introduction to Cardology with a quote by Richmond:

“When we find a certain invention claimed by a large number of Nations, scattered over our globe, in widely separated locations, we must conclude that none of them were the inventors, but on the contrary, obtained the inventions of some nation proceeding them by many years.”

To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom request a quote form.

CUSTOM CARDS: DESIGN WITH A PURPOSE

CUSTOM CARDS: DESIGN WITH A PURPOSE
Our clients’ custom cards serve a unique and clear purpose. They create decks to raise awareness and educate, market their artwork, celebrate milestones and so on. With Shuffled Ink, the creative playing field is vast because there isn’t a cap on personalization options. So, if you’re looking to create a deck of cards with a distinct purpose, then feel free to follow our 4-step design guide. In this article, you’ll find helpful suggestions and strategies as well as examples of our clients’ custom card products.

1. The Purpose

Staying ahead of the game means constantly implementing new initiatives. If you’re a professional seeking to promote and market your brand or logo, an artist looking to use tarot cards as a canvas, or a card game designer working to crush your Kickstarter goal, then Shuffled Ink is best suited to bring your vision to reality. So, let’s run through the basics. Marketing 101
  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What is the message/purpose?
  3. How will you promote this campaign?
All three steps are extremely critical, especially if you’re designing custom cards for marketing, branding, promoting, client gifts, sales leads, trade shows, etc. It’s essential to nail down each of these steps, for example, you can easily craft an excellent message but misinterpret who the target audience is.

2. Choose Your Custom Product

We are positive that our dedicated service and graphics team will suit your needs and help cultivate your message. One of the fantastic parts about creating with us is that any product you choose is entirely customizable, so you make the rules. While Shuffled Ink provides the blank canvas, you are the artist — paint anything you like and in any color(s). Here are our products:

Playing Cards

We have a variety of clients with bold visions for their playing card decks. Here are some messages that are often pursued:
  1. Bringing Awareness: Speak to others through art. Many creators use playing cards to bring awareness to various subjects like saving endangered species and our ecosystems, portraying history, etc.
  2. Promoting Brand/Company: Our clients also choose to print their company emblem, website and/or social media links on their deck of playing cards. This may seem like a simple act, but the impact is tremendous. Now, every single person who interacts with your playing card deck will have access to your supplementary content.
  3. Merchandise: Selling or handing out company merch is a fantastic way to manifest your message into clients’ minds.
EXAMPLES: These illustrations by Give Me a Brief, raise awareness for our planet’s most endangered species.
This deck was printed for both gaming purposes and to raise awareness about the Spotted Lanternfly invading our ecosystem.

Astrodog Media is a Video Production Agency known for crafting high-quality videos and other digital media for businesses, agencies, and brands. The custom faces include different types of dogs floating in space and the backs show the logo.

The SD Office of Highway Safety designed custom playing cards to emphasize the importance of safe driving. Their message is clear: Beat Death. Don’t Cheat it. Instead of including tips and strategies, they let the artwork do all the talking. Each face card includes a reaper-like creature to instill the lurking reality that if you drive recklessly, death may be around the corner.

Flash Cards

If your purpose relates to teaching or training a certain skill, then flash cards are the route to go. Our endless custom options are perfect for educational cards since every person has a different way of teaching and learning. Basically, you dream it, we print it!
  1. Train Employees: Creating PowerPoint presentations are not always an effective route for some business settings. These training flash cards encourage time management, communication skills, risk management, etc. It also reiterates the expectations that employers have for their employees and vice versa.
  2. Teach Interview Skills: It’s never too early or late to start prepping for an interview, which is why there will always be a consumer for this custom card product. Whether it’s their very first one or their hundredth, it’s important to cultivate how they are going to present themselves to a potential employer. Putting one’s best foot forward means that they aren’t reading off a script and studying the basic interview talking points. Rather, they are prepared for the most difficult questions.
  3. Learn a Language: Our clients are constantly setting the bar to new heights. An age-old skill like learning a new language can be interactive and exciting when you implement both visual and auditory elements. Our suggestion is to set your purpose apart from all others. Go against the grain and introduce a new way to learn a language. Consumers are always looking to try new things and if they like what they experience, then word will spread, and you’ll gain more clients.
EXAMPLES: These flash cards are for training purposes in a work environment.
This ultimate Interview Survival Kit includes over 50 tips & strategies to help secure your dream job.
These audio-enhanced flash cards, known as Linguacious are geared toward children. An image of the designated word is displayed with a QR code.  Upon scanning the code with your phone, you will hear the pronunciation of the word in the targeted language.  Here is a visual of the fronts- and backs- of these game-based vocabulary flash cards.

Card Games/Board Games

The overall purpose of card and board games is to entertain, but there’s obviously more to it than just that. If you’re looking to create a custom card game, the message should be locked down and clearly stated. A card game has a lot of different moving parts before it’s printed.
  1. Identify the theme: Having a distinct, unique and fun game will help set yourself apart from other game makers. Right now, you probably have an idea of what the game will be about. For example, will it feature zombies, robots and aliens? Or does it follow a question/answer format (similar to Cards Against Humanity)?
  2. Establish the Rules: This is the fun part! You are the all-knowing creator who is bringing this game to life. But make sure to keep your game’s purpose in mind at all times. You don’t want to stray away from the designated message you’re trying to relay.
  3. Graphic Design & Game Pieces: Customize your game to your heart’s content, including but not limited to the card size, card stock, number of cards, spinners and dice, booklets, instructions and game tokens.
“Some write books to be remembered. Long after you are gone, you will be remembered for the game you have made. So pour your heart out and make a great game…” True Frenemies Board Game Creator, Derek White.
Elephant in the Room Card Game. Players use the white cards to disclose whether they personally agree or disagree with the statement or not.

Tarot & Oracle Cards

If you’re passionate about sharing your knowledge and insight through tarot and oracle cards, let our team print your custom designs. Our clients use tarot to reimagine the world. These pieces are not only eye-catching but the meanings behind each one are equally enticing.
  1. Reinvent: Tarot has an extensive amount of history. Some clients enjoy reproducing decks that are decades old. This allows new tarot designers to reflect on the past and remember where the art form originated.
  2. Readings: Tarot and oracle readings can become quite deep and personal, so consider adding your own original designs to the deck.
  3. Market Art: If your art fits well in the spiritual realm, market using tarot or oracle cards. These decks include however many cards you desire, which allows for an endless supply of art concepts to dabble in.
Nicolas Conver’s 1760 tarot deck was faithfully reproduced by one of our clients for the purpose of restoring history. The deck is also available for purchase.
Make the mundane magical with custom oracle cards. This deck holds 36 allegorical messages to inspire your inner self.
The Wayhome tarot deck by Everyday Magic features images that weave in the magic of the mundane and imbue them with an enchantment that asks us to look a bit harder.

3. Exposure

We’ve found that online exposure is key to relay your brand’s purpose with custom card products. Simply being active on social media is a beneficial form of marketing. Over the past couple of years, we have used social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to market our custom cards. Recently, we started posting content on LinkedIn, which is an incredible site for companies and individuals alike to network and craft a professional message.

4. Client Product Shop

Once your cards are printed (even if we didn’t manufacture your product), you have the option to become a member of our Client Shop.
  • INCREASE AND DIVERSIFY YOUR SALES: Shuffled Ink’s goal is to invest in and cultivate a tight-knit community for our clients to feel comfortable marketing, promoting and selling their custom products. Many alternative online marketplaces charge significant referrals, percent of the sale and other exorbitant fees. This is not our approach! We truly believe that we will achieve our greatest success, by directly partnering and investing in our clients’ success.
  • MEDIA PROMOS: Most e-commerce sites will put your product live on their site and leave it collecting dust. That is not our mindset. Our goal is to actively communicate with you to ensure your message is heard. We will work alongside you to market, promote and sell your custom products on our media platforms. Prior to publishing content, we work with you to perfectly cultivate your desired message.
Here are a few examples of how we promote our clients’ products on our social media (whether available in our shop or not).
Contact us to become a member of our Client Shop or for general information about our products.

Custom Cards with a Purpose

We’re more than happy to chat with you about any and all of your ideas. Our purpose is to assist you. When you choose us to print your products, all hands are on deck. After all, your success is our success. To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom request a quote form. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Flash Cards at: ShuffledInk

NINTENDO’S HANAFUDA PLAYING CARDS

Hanafuda playing cards
The Nintendo Company is a dominating force in consumer electronics, but what you may not know is it started out selling handpainted playing cards. Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai in the late 1800s, manufacturing Hanafuda, also known as flower cards.

Flower Cards

  • The cards represent the calendar of Old Japan.
  • 12 suits dedicated to each month.
  • Four cards per suit.
  • The column on the far right represents the first month. Analyze from the bottom-up; the months are in order from right to left.
  • Used for gambling purposes and to play the Japanese Flower Game.

The 131-Year History

The Japanese government was against any Western influence, so in the early 17th century, they banned all playing cards and games that symbolized the culture. Yamauchi ended up successfully manufacturing the Japanese-inspired playing cards featured above. He worked around the restrictions by replacing the traditional Western-style suits, court figures and numbers with scenic nature landscapes. But the ban did not last forever. Once repealed on the cusp of the 1900s, Yamauchi established the Nintendo Playing Card Company. He continued to manufacture Hanafuda cards but added European-designed card products to the mix. On top of the tech consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Mario video games, Nintendo still creates playing cards to pay tribute to its roots.

Our Story

No matter what industry you’re in, redefining your products to keep up with the times is perfectly practical. In 1999, Shuffled Ink’s first product was the Super Deck, which came with a map and a deck of cards that included discounts and coupons for attractions, dinner shows, restaurants, shopping and golf & recreation. We marketed this product to Orlando hotels until 2006 when we reconstructed the company’s vision and became a custom game manufacturer. Today, we produce top-quality custom printed playing cards, customized card and board games, personalized tarot and flash cards and more! While Nintendo’s reach is on a larger scale than our family-owned company, the principle remains. Innovation is key.

Create Your Own

The playing card decks we all know and love are custom products, so who’s to say that you can’t create an iconic deck that’s similar to the Hanafuda cards? At Shuffled Ink, we have a vast amount of resources available. Not only is our graphics team by your side throughout the entire design process, but your artwork and colors will remain in its original form when printed onto our well-crafted card stock. Feeling inspired yet? Request a quote and get started on your special card project today! ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SOLITAIRE CARD GAMES

solitaire game playing with custom cards
I love games. And I love playing cards. So it won’t come as a surprise that I also love playing traditional card games. These can be a great way to spend time with family and friends, in a relaxed and casual setting. Especially if you own a custom deck of playing cards, it can be a wonderful way to enjoy the artwork and graphic design of a lovely deck at the same time – especially one that you’ve printed yourself with Shuffled Ink! But what if nobody else is around, or when you’re looking to kill some time when you’re on your own? That’s where solitaire card games come to the rescue. Especially in times of quarantine, solitaire card games are a great activity to enjoy, whether on the screen or with an actual deck. We all have moments where we’re alone and need something to keep us amused, and solitaire card games can provide hours of enjoyment. And they’ll provide something for all kinds of moments, with some coming down to pure luck, while many excellent ones require genuine skill, and can be a very rewarding challenge to play. There are plenty of other reasons to enjoy solitaire games with a traditional deck of cards today, especially in view of the ease in which you can play them, such as a good online site where you can play them for free on your web browser. This makes them easier to learn and play than ever before. Especially given the incredible variety of solitaire card games in existence, it also allows you to explore a wide range of different games with leisure. Solitaire cards games are a great way to fill time, and you can play as long or short as you like. And they can be as relaxing as you like, or as challenging as you like. They’re certainly incredibly satisfying, and even rather addictive. So let’s learn a thing or two more about them, and whet your appetite to give them a go yourself!

When Did Solitaire Games Start?

As it turns out, playing solitaire games with a traditional deck of playing cards places us in a fine tradition with a long history – long before they ever came to your personal computer – because people have been enjoying them for over two hundred years already. Germany is a likely place of their origin, and there’s a recorded mention of them already in the late 18th century. But their popularity especially bloomed in France in the early 19th century, and that’s when some of the best solitaire games were devised. It is also in these French roots that the alternative name “patience” appears to originate, along with other common solitaire terms like “tableau”. From France they eventually spread to English speaking countries, much like playing cards themselves did centuries before, and eventually solitaire card games became a popular international phenomenon enjoyed around the world. Even Napoleon is said to have whiled away many hours playing solitaire while in exile on St Helena. When you’re playing a solitaire card game today, you’re sharing in activity that has been enjoyed by many generations before you, and many of the great solitaire card games available are time tested and proven classics. But while solitaire card games have been around for a long time, the development of the personal computer was a real catalyst in popularizing them with modern audiences. Microsoft Windows has long had the practice of distributing a game of Solitaire with their operating systems, much to the relief of bored sales assistants and office workers around the globe. That single handedly turned solitaire one of the world’s most popular activities to do on a computer. Ever since the release of Windows 3.0 in 1990, Klondike Solitaire has been a staple on most personal computers, and it has now given hours of amusement to billions of people around the world for three decades. Countless people still turn to it for their quick five minute fix, which will of course be repeated many times over! Today Microsoft’s solitaire package has grown to include Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks, making these the most familiar forms of the game for the average person. Besides computer software, today there are also many websites where you can play a variety of different solitaire games online. Digital implementations like this allow us to play solitaire more quickly and easily, without all the hassles of set-up, shuffling, dealing, and moving columns of actual cards, making it even easier to fill a few spare moments. Besides simplifying the book-keeping elements of the game, they’ve also enabled versions of the game to be played that would be more difficult to do in person, like one suit Spider, where multiple sets of the same suit are used. The result of the digital revolution means that solitaire card games are booming like never before, and even people who don’t even own a physical deck of cards can spend countless hours enjoying different forms of these classic games. With a long history steeped in tradition, the computer age has injected solitaire card games with new energy and new possibilities, and there’s never been a better time to explore what these games have to offer.

How do Solitaire Games Work?

There are an incredible amount of different solitaire games in existence, and they comprise an enormous family of games in their own right. But many of them do follow a somewhat similar pattern. This usually involves laying out cards on a tableau or layout, with the goal of moving them to foundations, where you build up each suit in sequence from Ace through King. This is accomplished with the help of turning up undealt cards from the stock, and by building and transferring columns of cards within the tableau that match in value, suit, or colour. That’s a game of solitaire in a nutshell. But these games do have their own unique terminology, and this can best be understood by explaining how a typical game works, so let’s dive into a little more detail. First you create an initial array of cards by dealing them in an initial tableau as prescribed by the rules of that particular game. In some games the cards dealt to the tableau are all face-up, creating an open game. In a closed game some cards are dealt face-down, so you have incomplete information at the start of the game. These cards only become revealed when cards blocking them have been moved, making them available to be turned face up or moved. Face-up cards in the tableau are usually placed in an overlapping configuration or cascade, so that you can see their indices, and so you can plan accordingly. Depending on the game, the arrangement can be in overlapping rows, or overlapping columns. Your primary aim is to get cards onto the foundations, which in most solitaire games must begin with an Ace. Once you’ve placed an Ace, you can build up that foundation by placing further cards from that suit in sequential order. Your ultimate objective is to successfully build all the cards onto these foundations, in which case you have won the game. In solitaire card games, the standard sequence goes from Ace as the lowest ranked card to King as the highest ranked card. Usually you can only build from Ace through King, but some variations allow wrapping of a sequence so that an Ace can continue from a King, which is also called building around the corner. To achieve the goal of playing all the cards to the foundations, you must manipulate the cards within the tableau, in order to get access to the cards you need, and to uncover face-down cards. This happens by transferring face-up cards, either individually or in columns, from different areas of the tableau, assuming these cards are free to be moved and are not blocked by others on top of them. Building cards in this way usually happens in ascending or descending order of rank, and is a key element of good game-play. Usually if the aim is to build up cards in ascending sequence to the foundations, then cards in the tableau may be built down in descending sequence, often in alternating colour. If you create a vacancy in the tableau by removing all the cards of a pile there, you can strategically use this space to manipulate the tableau to your advantage by starting a new column of cards there. Often the entire deck isn’t dealt out at the start of game, and the rest of the cards are considered the stock, which you bring into play by dealing them face-up into a separate pile called the waste (sometimes called talon, although confusingly in modern usage this term is often used instead to refer to the stock). These are often dealt one at a time, but in some games, like the extremely popular Klondike, there are variations where you deal them three at a time. In some variations you can only go through the stock once, while other solitaire games may allow a certain number of redeals, or even an unlimited number. Not all games of solitaire can be successfully completed, but this is not necessarily the fault of the player. Sometimes a random deal will be theoretically unsolvable, and part of the challenge and fun of solitaire is to see whether or not you can achieve a win with a hand that you’ve been dealt. But you can’t just blame the deal, because poor choices can lose a game in which you might have achieved a much better result with optimal play. You definitely learn to improve your play, and strategic choices will usually be rewarded!

Resources for Playing Solitaire

How to learn Most solitaire card games are easy to learn, and you’ll find plenty of places online that provide lengthy lists of the different solitaire card games that exist, along with rules for each. As always, a good place to start your journey is Wikipedia, which has a page offering a list of common favourites. There are many websites set up by dedicated solitaire enthusiasts, some of whom have created software to help play the game on your mobile device or personal computer. These software programs typically go far beyond the two or three versions that Microsoft Windows has available, and offer you one hundred or more different ways to play. Many of these also serve as a resource, like BVS Solitaire Collection, and besides the software they have created for Windows, Mac, and iOS, they also host comprehensive rules. The Solitaire Game Rules page will help teach you Klondike, the most well known solitaire game, and introduce some variations. In former times, the only way to learn how to play solitaire was by having the good fortune to be taught it in person by someone you know, or by wading your way through a pile of written words in a book. I remember trying that latter method as a teenager, and often giving up in frustration, as I tried to make sense of the words and turn them into an arrangement of cards on the table, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to figure out the rules. Nowadays it is so much easier to learn how to play solitaire, by simply playing it with a digital implementation that automatically enforces the rules and teaches you how to play. This makes it much more realistic to try new forms of solitaire, and I highly recommend this as the best way to learn, and to enjoy playing. Where to play There are several websites that offer solitaire card games, and enable you to play for free straight from your web browser. My personal site of choice recently has been Solitaired, which I can recommend. It has over 250 different solitaire variations, is ad-free, and I’ve found the gameplay smooth and straight-forward. Other sites to try include World Of SolitaireClassic Solitaire, and Solitaire Network, which also offer an extensive number of different solitaire games, supply rules for each, and provide free online play. If you’re looking to explore the wonderful wide world of solitaire games beyond the limited menu provided by Microsoft, another alternative is to get some dedicated software for your personal computer or mobile device. Recommended commercial options for Windows include BVS Solitaire Collection, as well as SolSuite 2020 and Pretty Good Solitaire. The Python Solitaire Game Collection doesn’t have as slick graphics, but it’s completely free, has an extensive collection of games, and there is also a companion Android app that is also free. There are many free apps available for iPad and iPhone, but these tend to be supported by ads, which can become a little annoying. Of the free apps available, I’ve had good success with Solebon Solitaire (Solebon), Solitaire City (Digital Smoke), Full Deck Solitaire (GRL Games), Solitaire Suite (Rikki Games), and 250+ Solitaires (Alxanosoft), all of which get you started with a very strong selection of the most popular solitaire games. The commercially produced apps tend to offer more games or polished features, and I suggest the following as the better ones: BVS Solitaire Collection (BVS Development), Solebon Pro (Solebon), Pretty Good Solitaire (Thomas Warfield), Solitaire Forever II (Solitaire Forever), and Hardwood Solitaire IV (Silver Creek Entertainment). If you’re looking for a smaller collection of favourites to start with, try Solitaire Till Dawn (Semicolon), Astraware Solitaire (Astraware) or Solitaire Deluxe 2 (Mobile Deluxe), all of which are free and offer around a dozen or two popular favourites for free. Naturally once you’re familiar with the rules of a particular solitaire game that you really enjoy, then you can grab your favourite custom deck of playing cards, and use that! There are miniature decks available for this purpose, but I think you’ll get most satisfaction if you play with an attractive poker-sized deck. You will often need a decent amount of space to work with, and I highly recommend playing with a quality deck of playing cards to make your shuffling and dealing more pleasing on both a practical and an aesthetic level. If you need suggestions for a modern high quality deck, I suggest checking out the selection of Theory11 decks at PCD here. What to play It’s important to realize that not all solitaire games are like the classics familiar from Microsoft Windows, such as Klondike and Spider. You should make an effort to explore the diverse range of solitaire games available, and even if you think you don’t like Solitaire card games, it could just because you didn’t like the one or two forms of the game you have tried until now. To get you started in your search, here’s a list of some of the more popular solitaire games, arranged in different categories according to type: ● Adding & Pairing: Golf, Monte Carlo, Pyramid, TriPeaks ● Builders: Baker’s Dozen, Beleaguered Castle, Canfield, Forty Thieves, FreeCell, Klondike, La Belle Lucie (Lovely Lucy), Scorpion, Spider, Yukon ● Non-builders: Accordion, Aces Up, Calculation, Clock Patience, Cribbage Solitaire, Gaps (Montana), Grandfather’s Clock ● Others: Miss Milligan, Osmosis, Sir Tommy, Sultan (Emperor), Windmill I also highly recommend Bowling Solitaire by genius game designer Sid Sackson. It is entirely unlike all the other solitaire games mentioned, but is an incredibly thematic and clever game.
Recommendation So what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time in history to explore the fun and variety of solitaire card games, especially with the help of a digital assistant who can help teach you some different games and manage the book-keeping and administration elements of the game for you. And especially if you’re stuck at home as a result of quarantine or other restrictions, this might just be the thing you need to help keep you busy and amused. So fire up that solitaire software or website, or whip out a deck of cards, and fill a few minutes with a satisfying challenge! About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.   ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk

ALTERNATIVE USES FOR PLAYING CARDS

ALTERNATIVE USES FOR PLAYING CARDS
There are all kinds of reasons why people collect playing cards, and it can even be a hobby in itself. And why not? People collect all kinds of things, so why not playing cards! Especially given the wonderful and creative designs of the high quality custom decks that are being produced in recent years, they do make the perfect collector’s item. But maybe you’ve got a growing collection of custom playing cards, and you’re wondering what else you can do with all those playing cards. Or perhaps you’ve worn out a deck, and it no longer handles well enough for performing with, so it’s ready for retirement – what do you do with it now? It turns out that there’s a whole lot more you can do with a deck of cards than you might think. Here are a baker’s dozen great ways to get some real mileage out of your playing cards. Some are silly, some are creative, and still others are just mundane – but perhaps you’ll find something here that inspires you!

1. Magic

If you have an interest or background in magic, then you already know this, and it may even be the main reason you own a deck of playing cards in the first place! Every kid growing up should learn at least a few good card tricks, and all you need for that is a decent quality deck of cards, and the help of your public library, or of course the internet and youtube. Any set of playing cards will work, but ideally you want cards that handle well.

2. Cardistry

Cardistry has been defined as “the performance art of card flourishing”, although “juggling with playing cards” is an equally apt description. Many readers have probably heard of cardistry before, but for the doubters, I can assure you that it is a real thing, and it even has a Wikipedia page on the subject here! Cardistry is about doing things like fanning and cutting cards in a creative way and with a high level of skill, thereby turning it into a performance art. Instead of doing ordinary cuts and shuffles, expert cardists are able to do one-handed cuts, complicated shuffles, turnovers, tosses, and catches, in a way that is a beauty to watch. You can even buy decks of playing cards that particularly lend themselves well to cardistry. A good example is the Virtoso deck, which was specifically designed for cardistry, and has a real visual appeal when fanned and flourished. Search for “cardistry” on youtube and you’ll find lots of tutorials to get you going with any deck.

3. Card games

There are many wonderful card games that can be played with a deck of cards, including popular traditional favourites like Bridge, Hearts, Spades, Euchre, Rummy, and Cribbage. And if you like the excitement of gambling style games, there’s Poker, Blackjack, and many more. Besides the traditional favourites you might already know, there are many excellent card games, and in most cases you can learn the rules for free online. The best website on games with playing cards is easily Pagat.com here. Some easy games that I highly recommend trying include Knock Out Whist, Blitz, Scopa, and President, while games like Oh Hell give room for more skill. If you need more suggestions for great card games, check out this list of my personal favourites here. There are some great books on the subject too, with David Parlett’s Penguin Book of Card Games being the most comprehensive – it’s a great resource, and will help put those arguments about rules to rest once and for all!

4. Solitaire games

There’s some terrific solitaire games that you can play on your own with a deck of cards, and it can be a good way to pass the time, or even to enjoy your favourite custom deck of cards. Personal computers have popularized solitaire games like Canfield, Klondike, Freecell, and Spider, but there are many other excellent solitaire games out there. A good place to get started is the Wikipedia page on the subject here. If you’re new to this kind of thing and want to begin with something fairly easy, I’d suggest Golf, Pyramid, or Monte Carlo. For something more challenging, try a fan game like La Belle Lucie, or one of its easier variants (e.g. The Fan, Bristol).

5. Artwork

Many crowdfunding projects for playing cards offer an add-on option to purchase an “uncut sheet”. This is a complete printed sheet showing all the cards in a deck prior to them being cut into playing cards. I never really saw the value of this, but a family member recently bought one of these uncut sheets and put it into a glass frame, and it looks absolutely amazing! Or try making your own with your favourite custom deck. Especially with a creative and artistic deck, putting playing cards on display in this way can turn them into beautiful works of art. These works of art make great decorations to hang on the wall, while also giving a tribute to your passion for playing cards and magic.

6. Bookmarks

A deck of playing cards can make a great supply of bookmarks! Especially if it’s a special custom deck with nice artwork, but is a little too worn for continued official use, why not re-purpose the cards and use them as bookmarks? I’ve often done this, and my playing cards have often found themselves doing wonderful service to keep track of which effect I’m working on in my magic books, or even as a handy marker in a fiction novel I’m reading at the beach or beside the pool. Any custom deck will work, but cards with metallic ink or foil backs make especially classy looking bookmarks!

7. House of Cards

Building a house of cards, or a “card tower”, is not as easy as it looks! Also called “card-stacking”, there’s a Wikipedia page here devoted to this subject too. Bryan Berg (USA) created a world record 72 stories in 1992, and since then has kept and broken this and numerous other related records, including the tallest house of cards, and largest house of cards. In 2010 he built a replica of a hotel, which took 44 days and 218,792 cards (more than 4,000 decks) – it weighed over 250kg, and was 3 metres tall and 10.5 metres long. See a video profile about Bryan here. Some googling will help you find some techniques to improve your card stacking abilities.

8. Polyhedrals

George Hart has some great ideas for using playing cards to create complex polyhedral shapes. You can find out more at his website here, which includes full instructions. A great idea for math class perhaps?

9. Impossible Bottles

Put a deck of cards into a bottle! Wait a moment, you say, that’s impossible! Well, isn’t that why they call it an impossible bottle?! But there are ways to do this, although you may have to dig a little to find the secret. Some Kickstarters offer these as add-on options for purchase with a new deck of cards. Jamie Grant is a well known creator of these, and his impossible bottles typically cost $100-200. So unless you’re really keen, perhaps this is something to the experts. I’m certain there’s only one way to get something into a glass bottle, and that’s through the neck, and it’s a very time-consuming, difficult, and near-impossible job. I know someone who makes these as a hobby, and they are impressive and mystifying to see firsthand, but they do require a lot of effort to create.

10. Card Throwing

Have you ever tried throwing a card? It’s much harder than it sounds, but there are techniques you can learn to throw playing cards long distances and at high speeds. It’s not that difficult to learn the proper grip and method for throwing a card. To get some idea of the basics, head to Wikipedia again here. If you get real good, maybe you can start competing with Rick Smith Jr, who is the world record holder for throwing a playing card 216 feet and 4 inches at a top speed of 92 miles per hour. Seriously! When you’re as good as him, you actually can slice fruit with a playing card! There are several instructional DVDs available that will teach you how to do this kind of thing, but for now you can check out Rick Smith Jr’s tutorial on youtube here. But even if you aren’t ready to start destroying fruit, it’s a lot of fun to try, so I definitely recommend giving card throwing a shot! You can even buy special cards designed for the purpose, like the Banshees deck, which add a “sonic scream” when the cards whip through the air.

11. Fortune telling

One of the oldest forms of fortune-telling is called cartomancy, and uses playing cards. Personally I don’t give it any more credibility than reading palms, tea-leaves, stomach rumbles, or cloud shapes, but it certainly uses playing cards. Many specialty Tarot and Oracle decks exist. But cartomancy can also be done with a standard deck of 52 cards and Jokers as well. While any deck will work, some decks like the KADAR Fortune Playing Cards are especially geared to this purpose, and they work great for magic too.

12. Bicycle Noisemaker

How do you make a bicycle sound like a motorbike? By affixing a playing card to your bike frame with a peg, and having the card flap loudly on the spokes as the wheel turns. Using playing cards to soup up bikes and make them sound like an engine is something that kids have been doing for years – certainly I did it many times in my childhood! Nowadays you can even buy an official product (Turbospoke Classic) to do this. But using a playing card works just as great for kids today as it always has! If you need help figuring out how to do this, head to Instructables here for directions.

13. Emergency Kit

When you’re really stuck, you never know how a playing card might come in handy. Do you have a wobbly table that needs levelling out due to an uneven table leg? Playing cards are perfect to use when you need just a few layers underneath that one table leg to get things straight. Has that steak dinner left something between your teeth at a fancy restaurant? In a pinch, you could even use a playing card as a toothpick, and while it wouldn’t be my first choice for re-purposing a deck of cards, in an emergency it might work! Playing cards to the rescue!
Finally, let’s conclude on another magical note. Some tricks and moves can be brutal on playing cards, and even destroy them. And yet as always, you need to be able to practice these tricks before you’re ready to perform them in public. An old deck of cards is perfect to use for this purpose. Many magicians will put their old decks to good use by “destroying” them as part of their magic practice. The “Mercury Card Fold” and routines involving a “Torn and Restored Card” are just waiting for your old playing cards! Isn’t it great to know that playing cards have such a variety of uses?! So next time someone challenges you about the amount of decks of cards you own, point them to this list. Meanwhile, happy playing with your playing cards! About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.   ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk

PROMOTE YOUR ART USING CUSTOM CARDS

PROMOTE YOUR ART USING CUSTOM CARDS
Not sure how to start promoting your art? Consider printing 54 of your original designs on a deck of playing cards! With our text, image and card size options, every component of your product is completely customizable. Here are some tips on how to optimize marketing your artwork with our custom cards.

Playing Card Art

1. Personal Branding Your Art

Every creator must establish his/her brand. A personal brand is how an individual’s business is perceived based on actions taken to market product(s) within an industry or a community. This means that your artwork should exemplify what you stand for as an artist. Luckily, the possibilities to create are endless. Your 54-card poker-sized deck comes with two jokers, all of which are customizable. Your card project can feature 54 different art designs, 4 consistent artwork sets for each suit, one illustration set to the card backs and faces, etc. With any idea that comes to mind, we will ensure that your vision comes to fruition. Now, there are more card options to choose from when promoting your artwork. If your art fits well in the spiritual realm, market using tarot or oracle cards. These decks include 78 cards, which allows for an endless supply of art concepts to dabble in.

Tarot Card Art

2. Custom Packaging

Presentation is equally as important as the art you choose to showcase. After all, the card packaging will catch the consumer’s eye first. Just like the card backs and faces, the packaging is completely customizable. Here are our specialty box options:

Custom Two-Part Box

Custom Tuck Box

Post-Consumer Custom Tuck Box

Hard Clear Plastic Case Classic

White Window Tuck Box

white-window-tuck-box

Plastic Banding

plastic-banding

3. Social Media Exposure

Nowadays, social media is among the main tools used in business and personal marketing. If you don’t have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, we highly suggest that you create at least one. These platforms are perfect for publicizing your exclusive illustrations and products. We recommend that you include your social media handle(s) or website(s) on the deck of cards. This directs future and current consumers to your supplementary art pieces and collections. Gaining followers on these media sites will only increase website traffic and engagement.

4. E-Commerce Site

Once your art is printed on any of our custom cards, consider establishing an online store to support your product(s). Setting up an e-commerce site makes it easier for clients to purchase your designs, whether they are featured on a deck of cards or canvas. If you aren’t interested in creating your own online platform, Shuffled Ink will lessen the load by selling your card products in our Client Product Shop on Shopify. Even if we didn’t manufacture your product, you’re still able to sell in our shop! Alternative online marketplaces charge significant referral and percent of the sale fees, but this is not our approach. We achieve our greatest success by directly partnering and investing in your success. After all, our motto since 1999 has always been “Your success is our success”.

How It Works?

Our Client Product Shop works in two easy ways:
  • Purchase bulk inventory for Shuffled Ink to store and sell
  • On-demand production arrangements that allow you to sell your product without having to purchase bulk inventory
When you opt into our Client Shop program, there are NO:
  • % of sale or referral fees
  • setup or service charges
  • monthly minimums or inventory storage costs

Market Your Art

The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity and customization, which is why we don’t charge fees for extra colors. Whether you prefer a matte, smooth or linen finish, your art will remain in its truest, original form when printed onto our well-crafted card stock. The principles of marketing are constantly changing. So, take advantage of your opportunities and get your art out into the world with our playing card products. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk

POKER REPRESENTED IN FILMS

royal flush
Poker is often called the national card game of the United States. You’ll find that this household game is played nearly anywhere — in casinos, at home and on the internet. Even Hollywood producers have tried to manifest this popular game of deceit and tension into entertaining blockbuster films. Here are some scenes from movies and tv shows that use poker to drive essential elements like the plot, characters, dialogue and more.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Paul Newman has acted in numerous films that feature America’s favorite card game. This scene in the movie Cool Hand Luke is known as one of the most accurate portrayals of poker. Newman’s aloof character, Luke, starts off by betting a mere dollar. This gives off a lack of confidence, insinuating that he does not have a good hand. But that is only the beginning of his bluffing skills.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEvbUTWKLMc

The Sting (1973)

Set in Chicago during the 1930s, two con men played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford scam mob boss, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) and acquire a generous amount of money. The showdown between Newman’s and Lonnegan’s character is filled with suspense, tension, and above all, deceit. While poker players lead their opponent astray with his/her stature and expression, Redford actually cheats to win. The deceptive switch occurs between 0:59 and 1:15.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=773E6GPll3A

Casino Royale (2006)

If produced effectively, audiences often praise films that incorporate poker into the narrative. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the game, the scene’s atmosphere is often still captivating. Many viewers end up holding their breath in anticipation of how the scene will unfold. Casino Royale stars Daniel Craig as James Bond. The setting takes place at a high-stakes Texas Hold’em tournament. In this scene, 007’s convincing poker face leads his opponent off course. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJtzqqkC6sw

Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)

This comedy film sheds light on the times when poker games end poorly for the players. Nicholas Cage’s character, Jack Singer, ends up losing $65,000 to a professional gambler and con man (James Caan). Singer’s does, in fact, have a good hand but his fatal downfall is that he bets more money than he actually has. Nonetheless, this is the catalyst for the plot of the movie. To pay off his debt, he allows the con man to take his fiancée on a vacation to Hawaii.

Friends: Season 1 Episode 18 (1994 – 2004)

“The One With all the Poker” Poker and its many variants are played quite seriously, which is why Hollywood likes to portray it as such. But there are shows and movies that add comedic relief to the game. In this episode of Friends, the gang sits down to play poker. The game starts with Phoebe hilariously revealing the cards she needs and Rachel offering up her own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWsq2sJL7SM

Play Your Cards Right

Whether it’s just for fun or, as Monica Gellar calls it, “serious poker”, our 54-card poker-sized decks are suited for any poker setting. Here are a few features that put us ahead of the game in the custom playing card arena.
  • Print custom backs and/or faces – same price
  • Choose standard bridge or poker size – same price
  • Print 1 or 1 million decks
  • Pricing starts at $17.60 for a deck of standard cards
  • Pricing at 5,000 decks starts at $1.61 each
  • Print 1-4 CMYK colors – same price
  • Premium and casino cards stock available
  • Custom sizes are available
To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form.   ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk