In poker — or any game for that matter — understanding the value of cards is vital. Whether you're playing at a land-based venue or enjoying online casino games at home, knowing the relative strength of each card is crucial.
When it comes to poker, skill and strategy are even more important. While you might be able to get by on luck alone elsewhere in the casino, poker is very different. And due to their value, face cards are an essential part of any strategy, no matter what variant you're playing.
In this article, you'll find out everything you need to know about face cards.
What Are Face Cards?
Most forms of poker use a standard deck of playing cards containing 52 cards, with 13 in each of the four suits. These are spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds, each represented by its own distinct symbol.
Spades and clubs are usually black, with the diamonds and hearts colored red. But the best online poker sites use a four-color deck to make them easier to differentiate.
Face cards are the “royal” or “court” cards, meaning the jacks, queens, and kings. They're easy to recognize as they feature the face of a royal member of the court. Traditional playing cards boast ornately designed face cards to help them stand out.
Each suit features one of each face card, making a total of 12 in the deck. That's one queen of hearts, one king of clubs, and so on. Aside from the four aces, face cards are the strongest in value.
While jokers aren't used in most online poker tournaments, they're still considered face cards when in play.
History of Playing Cards
It's hard to pin down exactly where playing cards come from and how old they are. However, most experts agree that the first playing cards appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty. This was around the 9th century, after the introduction of woodblock printing technology.
It's believed that people used early playing cards for games but also as a form of currency. Pips and characters drawn on the cards denoted their respective ranks and values, while cards won during games could be cashed in and traded.
Over the centuries, these cards spread across the Middle East and Egypt before arriving in Europe. There are records of playing cards from as early as 1371 in Spain. Nobles and common folk alike were soon playing games using cards. And with gambling having been a popular pastime throughout history, it was inevitable that cards would be used for wagering purposes.
The suits and symbols used on playing cards have varied greatly over the years. Long-extinct examples include cups, coins, sticks, swords, and roses. Even today, there are still variations available, but the classic French deck has become the standard, and it's these that are used when playing poker games online.
Origin of Double-Headed Cards
One of the most noticeable features of playing cards is that they're double-headed. This means that whatever position someone is sitting on the table, it's easy to see which cards are in play. A face card will never appear upside down because the top and bottom halves of the figure are mirrored. While we may take this feature for granted today, it's a relatively new development in the history of playing cards.
Double-headed poker face cards are much easier to use, as there are fewer issues with reading the cards. This style feature became mainstream in the mid-19th century. Today, it's rare to see cards that aren't double-headed, even at online casino tables.
How the Face Cards Affect Poker