Many gambling games utilize playing cards. Although games can be traced to prehistoric times, the use of cards did not become prevalent until the invention of paper in China about 2,000 years ago. It is likely that the Chinese and the Koreans were the first to use card-like objects for gambling. Systematic decks or series of cards can be traced to Hindustan (northern India), dating to about 800 CE. The Chinese and Koreans probably had cards during the same era, and Europeans developed card games in the Middle Ages, aided especially by the development of the printing arts. Cards were present in Italy in 1279. The nature of today’s deck of cards was gradually established over the 15th and 16th centuries.
The sailors on Columbus’s first voy¬age to the New World played cards on board the Pinta, Niña, and Santa Maria. Except for graphics, cards have not changed much since those times. The modern deck is made up of the same 52 cards divided into 4 groups, or suits, of 13 cards each. Two suits are red in color. In the French system, they were named couer (“hearts”) in honor of the clergy and carreau (“diamonds”) in honor of the merchants. There are two black suits, which were named swords or pique (“spades”) in honor of the nobility and trefle (“clubs”) to represent the peas¬ants. In each suit, there are cards num¬bered from 1 (an ace) to 10, and there are also three picture cards—the jack, queen, and king.
In the American colonies, there were many card players, and printers such as Benjamin Franklin were happy to supply them with cards. Cards were so popular that when the British found they needed more revenue to support their adminis¬trative activities in the colonies, they decided to tax playing cards. Franklin quickly became a tax protester, then a tax rebel, and finally a revolutionary demand¬ing independence for the colonies. The British would have been best advised to leave the card industry alone when they were choosing items to tax.
The wide proliferation of cards led to an ever-expanding number of games and a great variety of rules for those games. Confusion reigned supreme over gaming until Englishman Edmund Hoyle (1672– 1769) began composing a series of books on the manner of playing games. In his early career, Hoyle was a barrister. He was also a gambling instructor. When he was over 70 years old, he wrote A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist. He also published books on the games of brag, quadrille, and piquet, along with guides on the dice game of backgammon and also chess. By the time he died at the age of 97, he was considered the author¬ity on card games, and whenever a dis¬pute arose over the rules of a game, someone would inevitably introduce the solution with the words, “according to Hoyle.” In the 20th century, several game rulebooks incorporated his other works and honored him in their titles (e.g., The New Complete Hoyle [Morehead, Frey, and Mott-Smith 1964] and According to Hoyle [Gaminara 1996]).
The 20th century saw the introduction of many new games such as poker and blackjack that had not been played dur¬ing Hoyle’s life. Nonetheless, he remains one of the greatest card experts of all time.

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