Everyone who has ever played with a traditional 54-card deck is probably familiar with the joker. This card became an inspiration for numerous characters of books and movies. The joker also inspired the well-known antagonist of the Batman comics series. However, why we still have the joker in the modern deck? Today, we are going to learn more about the history of the joker card.
History of the joker card: appearance
The joker is probably the most mysterious card in the deck – it is the only card without a suit. Usually, the joker is portrayed as a funny jester, but sometimes he is depicted as unkind and even sinister. Some card manufacturers even portrayed the joker as a woman. The traditional 54-card French deck contains 2 jockers, but there are several exotic decks with more than 3 jockers or no jockers at all.
The traditional deck includes colorful and black-and-white versions of the card. Usually, the colorful joker is considered the higher one. However, if two jokers look identically, one of them is usually marked with an asterisk or a tick. Sometimes, the colorful joker can replace any card of hearts and diamonds, while the black-and-white joker can replace any card of clubs and spades.
The joker, the clown, and the jester
There are different versions of how the joker became a part of a traditional deck. According to the first one, it was derived from the fool or the jester of the tarot deck. The depiction of the joker also supports this version – historically, the joker card portrays a clown or a court jester. Interestingly, in occult tarot, the fool is numbered as 0 or 12, which makes it the highest and the lowest card at the same time.
According to another version, the joker is a variation of the highest card in the game of Euchre. Although a lot of people believe that the name of the card is a noun form of the verb “to joke”, it actually comes from the mispronunciation of the German word Juker or Jukerspiel. The game of Juker or Euchre was the first game that featured this card. The jack of the trump suit or the imperial bower used to be the highest card in the game. However, sometimes the jack was replaced by the unnamed card which later became the joker. German immigrants popularized Euchre in America around 200 years ago, and since then, players started to implement this card into other card games.
The blank card
The role of the joker in card games is also very ambiguous. In some games, the joker is the highest card that beats all the other cards, including trump suited cards. Some online gambling sites in the US offer the Joker Poker – the variation of the game, where the joker is a Wild Card. here, two jokers are basically blank cards that can stand for any other card of the player’s choice. As the joker can represent any card in the deck, it is often used for the combination called five of a kind. This combination consists of 4 identical cards and the joker. For instance, the combination of 4 aces and a joker is considered the highest possible combination.
Additionally, casinos rarely use decks with jokers during poker tournaments. Two jokers in the game can significantly raise your chances of winning. And as casinos rarely want to adjust the odds, they simply exclude this card. However, you will find a lot of poker games with jokers on online poker sites in the US. For example, Intertops Poker features numerous variations of poker where you will be able to use the joker to improve your combinations.
Although a lot of people don’t know how to use the joker, this card can bring huge winnings in the right hands. Now, when you’ve learned more about the history of the joker card it’s time to apply your knowledge. The only way to learn how to use the joker properly is to practice – the more you play, the more it plays into your hands. And if you want to find out more about the history of playing cards, check out this article.