A standard deck consists of 52 cards, four suits, and two colors. The four suits are Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds. Within each suit, there is a King, Queen, Jack, numbers 10 through 2, and an Ace. Although the Ace card was historically the lowest, the French revolution changed all of that. During this period, card games were played with Ace being the highest, which symbolized the importance and power of the lower class. Since then, Ace is usually considered to trump all of the other cards. An American deck of cards also contains two Jokers. These cards do not belong to any suit, but are necessary for certain games. The card that depict people are understandably known as face cards.
Playing cards are often used in tattoo designs, either to represent a love of gambling or to illustrate a greater significance. The most commonly tattooed card is the Ace of Spades. In most games, the suit of Spades is higher than other suits and the Ace card is highest of all cards. Therefore, the Ace of Spades, being both the highest card and highest suit, beats all other cards.
It is also known as the Death Card by some people because Vietnam vets wore it in their helmets. Some would leave the card on the body of those they killed. People who feel powerful or aspire to dominate in all aspects of their life would be drawn to the Ace of Spades tattoo. Gamblers especially understand the importance of this card, because it is the highest ranking card in nearly all variations of poker. Holding the Ace of Spades gives you the upper hand.
The Queen of Hearts is a character from Alice in Wonderland. She represents oppression and tyranny. Sometimes, a Queen of Hearts tattoo can symbolize perseverance against drawbacks and difficulties. A Joker tattoo often represents a wild or lucky chance. In poker, the Joker is often used as a wild card. Players can use this card as a sort of loophole, changing this free card to be any one they need. This is a popular tattoo for those requiring luck or who like to take chances. With a Joker tattoo, they will always come out on top because they will always have whatever they need. Good hands or winning hands, like the Royal Flush, also make great tattoo designs. Gamblers and poker fanatics often get tattoos of winning hands as good luck charms.
Card tattoos don't always represent a love of gambling. In fact, cards are often featured in tattoos that warn against the dangers of gambling and other nefarious activities. Common card designs feature cards surrounded by a banner that reads “Man's Ruin.” Another common card tattoo is the Dead Man's Hand. A famous Western gunslinger named Bill Hickok was shot while playing poker before the last card could be dealt. His hand, the two black Aces and two black eights, is a favorite gambling or card tattoo. The fifth, unknown card is of occasionally included, depicted as a blank card or down card.
A favorite legend tells that, when gambling was prohibited, card players claimed that their deck wasn't used for gambling, but for religious or astronomical purposes. Because of this tale, card tattoos sometimes portray a love of outsmarting the police or authorities. Although gambling is no longer considered taboo, it's restricted history, much like tattooing, which relegated it to the outlaws and fringe of society is very appealing to many people. Gambling tattoos often incorporate cards with other symbols, like poker chips and dice. These tattoos also include lucky tokens, like four leaf clovers, horseshoes, coins, or lucky numbers like 7 or 13. It is interesting that card tattoos can represent both good luck and bad luck, the intrigue of gambling as well as the dangers of indulging.
Card tattoos come in an assortment of styles. From traditional to new school and realistic to abstract and modern, there are endless artistic variations. Although the traditional deck involves two colors, red and black, tattoo designs often use different colors, either of symbol significance or simply design aesthetics. Likewise, the Kings, Queens, and Jacks are tattooed in all manner of styles.