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Historians have been unable to pinpoint the precise origin of the first card games, but they are believed to have been played over 2,000 years ago, before paper was invented. There has been evidence of card playing in ancient China, India, and Egypt.

As with dice, the Crusaders introduced cards to Europe in the fourteenth century, and although the church was soon preaching that they were the invention of the devil himself, Johann Gutenberg printed cards in A.D. 1440, the same year he printed his famous Bible. Consisting of 78 cards, the pack was called Tarots, and it formed the basis of today's deck of cards. The Tarots had four suits representing the four classes of feudal society. Swords, in Spanish spades, from which we get spades, symbolized the nobility. Merchants were represented by coins, frequently square in shape, which, when turned on end, became today's diamonds. The sign for the serfs was literally a club, then called a baton, and today the cloverleaf-shaped sign is still called a club. The emblem for the church was the grail, or chalice, and from its characteristic shape developed our hearts.

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This is the kind of thing you should worry about least. You will foil 99 percent of aspiring "mechanics," as these people are called in the movies, by simply using a cut card, insisting that the deck is shuffled and cut properly before every deal (as described in the previous chapter), and never allowing the deck to go out of sight. The 1 percent of cheaters who can consistently beat these measures have much more lucrative places to be than your living room.
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