The Mystery Behind the Joker Card: Why It Was Included in a Card Deck?

A deck of cards is fun for everyone, from playing card games, building a card house, cool magic tricks to creating your collection of cards. There are different ways to have fun or spend time with a deck of cards. The standard full deck of cards consists of 52 cards + 2 special extras. The standard modern French card deck consists of 4 suits (diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs) and, of course, special cards such as the joker card. The joker card is distinctive and easily found in any deck of cards. It is usually depicted as a man in a clown costume with several objects in his hands. Have you ever wondered exactly why joker cards become part of a deck or what joker cards are used for?

When were joker cards first used?

It all started with their invention in the 1860s. Some experts believe that the joker is a hybrid between the blank card and the jack of clubs, but most people attribute the origin of the peculiar joker card to Euchre, an old American card game. To spice up the game, some Euchre players created the joker card as a high-value card back in the day. Over time, American card producers incorporated the joker card into each card deck, making up the modern-day 54 card deck.

What are joker cards used for?

Joker cards first appeared in card decks in the years following 1860 and have been an integral part of any card deck ever since, just like the usual ace or spade cards. Jokers serve several purposes, but for some card players, joker cards may be described as useless depending on the particular card game. While for other players, joker cards serve as replacements for cards in the deck that may have been lost or damaged. To do so, simply note the suit and rank of the lost or damaged card. 

In some card games, such as poker, a joker may be used as a “wild” card or, sometimes, a card with special functions. Card games that specifically use the joker card include poker, go fish, euchre, canasta, and, of course, “chase the joker.”

  • In Euchre (the origin of the joker card), jokers are used as the most powerful trump card or best bower (a card with a higher rank than any other card).
  • Go fish: in this card game, jokers are used to make up the 27-number total needed to win and avoid a 13-13 card tie.
  • Indian rummy: no matter the variation of rummy you are playing, the joker is the most significant card. Jokers help players complete sequences and win when a sequence has been formed.
  • Canasta: here, the joker or deuce can be a wild card. The joker has more significance due to having 50 points while melding, whereas the deuce has 20 points when a meld is being formed.
  • Crazy eight’s: when a joker is played it cancels the turn of the next player.
  • Poker: apart from Texas Hold ‘em poker variant, joker cards can be used as wild cards (meaning they can take the function of any other card depending on the situation).
  • Chase the joker: the joker is used as a substitute for the ace card in this self-named card game.
  • Mighty: the joker is the second most important card here, but it cannot be played as the first or second trick.
  • War: depending on the variation being played, the joker is used as a more significant card than the rest in the deck.

If card games are not your forte, you can always create your own collection of cards with jokers. However, you still have a long way to go to the biggest collection of joker cards. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest collection of joker cards owned by Tony De Santis is 8,250 cards.  

No matter what you need a deck of cards for, there is always something for you to do with those goofy-looking joker cards. Now you know exactly why those special cards are added to the card deck. So next time you pick up a deck of cards, make sure you shuffle out a jester, or you could try another option and download free slots for fun.