How Many Cards in a Deck? Standard 52 Cards Deck Explained

 

There’s no need for clickbait or any mystery. The answer is clear. There are 52 cards in a standard deck. But if it’s only the number of how many cards are in a deck that you’re after, counting the cards would’ve suffice.

I’m willing to wager that you are looking for a bit more.

Right?

I discovered that a lot of people ask questions about cards. Like ‘how many red cards are in a deck of cards’ or ‘how many Jacks are in a deck of cards’?

When you’ve played a while, these may be easy questions to answer. But every newbie has trouble at first. It gets easier once you learn a game of two.

That’s why I prepared this guide. It’s filled with examples from different games and their variants. Let’s go through a deck of cards together and learn everything there is to know about that little square box.

Let’s start from the beginning.

How Many Cards in a Deck?

You already know that there are 52 cards in a standard deck of cards.

 

The cards go from Ace (1) to 10 plus Jacks, Queens, and Kings. You will probably hear many people claim that an Ace is a high card. Or, simply put, that an Ace goes after the King. That is the case in hundreds of card games. But I always found that strange. If an Ace goes after the King, the deck starts at 2.

Besides, Ace acts as ‘one’ not only in cards. A die with a single dot, or a domino with one pip are also called Aces. And wouldn’t it make sense that a Medieval game would have a King as the highest-ranking card?

So, at least for the purposes of this guide, we will view the Ace as a low card (unless I mention specific game examples).

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How Many Cards Are in a Deck With Jokers?

Standard 52 card deck also includes 2 Joker cards that may be used in a variety of games form poker to modern variants of Gin. Most often a Joker will play as a wild card. The player holding a Joker card can replace it with any other.

However, there are also some games that include Jokers as special purpose cards. Sometimes, like in Old Maid, which we will return to promptly, a Joker is a harmful card.

There may also be one or two blank cards, just in case.

In total, a deck of cards includes from 54 to 56 cards.

What is a Face Card?

In blackjack or 21, you collect an automatic win if you score, well, a blackjack. Which is 21 points. To score this, you need have two cards (and two cards only) – a 10 of clubs, spades, hearts or diamonds and a face card.

What is a face card? As the name suggests, it’s the cards that have ‘a face’ – Jacks, Queens, and Kings. In games where an Ace can be considered a high card, it’s also a face card.

For example, in blackjack an Ace can be played as a low and as a high card. As a result, an Ace in blackjack is considered a face card.

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How Many Jacks Are in a Deck of Cards?

Beginners often ask how many kings are in a deck of cards. Or jacks. Or queens. Or how many Aces are there in a deck. If you have any experience with cards, you may find this question extremely basic.

But for newbies it is a frequent point of confusion. Here’s an example.

In poker, one of the strongest combinations is a four-of-a-kind. If you have four 2s, four As, four Kings, you’re in front 99% of the time. The reason for that is because it is extremely tough to collect all cards of the same kind in the same shuffle.

At this point, it’s easy to deduce that every card has 4 copies in a deck (clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts). But if you played a game where five of a kind is also a possibility? Does that mean there can be five kings in a deck? Or sevens? Or threes?

That’s where a lot of confusion is coming from. But the actual answer is much simpler. You take a four of a kind and add a Joker, as a Wild card. There’s your 5 of a kind.

How Many Hearts Are in a Deck of Cards?

Even when I was starting out playing cards, I used to get confused about this a lot.

Remember how we talked about the Ace card being the ‘low card’? This will help you remember how many hearts are in a deck of cards. Or spades, clubs, or diamonds.

Ace to 10 is ten cards.

Jack, Queen, King – that’s 3 more.

So, in every deck there are 13 cards with hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs. 52, overall.

But it does not mean that every game used all 13 cards of each kind. I already mentioned the Old Maid game. It’s very selective with the cards you use. Not only a Joker is a bad card for the player, to start the game you have to remove some cards first. Usually, an Ace of hearts is the first on the chopping block, but sometimes even as much as a half of the deck can be removed.

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How Many Red Cards Are in a Deck of Cards?

Or how many black cards are in a deck of cards? That’s easy. In a standard 52 card deck, red and black has 26 cards each. Because, as we have just established, each card type (spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds) has 13 cards going from an Ace to a King.

Diamonds and hearts are usually considered red cards.

Clubs and spades are usually considered as black cards.

What many beginners don’t know is that 100+ years casino card manufacturers have been printing four-color decks. Most frequently, they consist of green (clubs), yellow (diamonds), red (hearts), and spades (black).

4-color decks were introduced to reduce the number of mistakes (or cheating events).

Deck of Cards: Probability

Playing with different facts can be fun. So, to end this guide I want to give you some interesting probability facts with cards. If you’re an amateur poker player or an aspiring magician, you might even find them useful for the future.

Let’s start simple.

In a standard deck of 52 cards, 26 are black and 26 are red. So, picking a red or a black card is exactly 50/50. Which also means that you have a 1 in 4 or 25% chance to draw any club, spade, diamond or heart.

What if you want a King? Or a Jack? If suits don’t matter, you have 1 in 13 or 7.6% chance to draw. Drawing a specific card like a 3 of clubs? Or 7 of hearts? That’s 1 in 52 or 1.9% chance to draw.

That’s simple enough, right?

But what happens is a real-life situation when you’re not just picking a card out of a deck, but have to anticipate your chances of drawing the right card? In fact, any game strategy you find is based on probability. Even if it doesn’t make sense.

 

For example, you just entered a casino to play some blackjack. You don’t know about soft 17 or hard 17, so you pick the table closest to you. Did you know that Soft 17 (a dealer may stand on 17) and Hard 17 (a dealer must draw on 17) have 0.5% edge difference? On a Soft 17 table, a dealer will win 70.9% of the time, while on Hard 17 tables he or she will win 70.4% of the time.

Similarly, in poker, any action you want to make must be justified by the probability of winning. Even seemingly nonsensical bets are good bets, if the odds are good enough.

I hope that you learned a lot about cards today. Next time I will compile a more advanced guide going far beyond the number of cards in a deck.

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