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.
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.