The first known reference to a card game comes from China in AD868. By the middle of the 15th century, Ming Dynasty players were using packs with four suits. Some people used wooden tiles instead, which led to the introduction of dominoes and rummikub.
Games spread across Asia into Europe. The Saracens and Moors were playing an ancient game called naib in the 14th century, and Egyptian decks with 52 cards survive from the same period. The suits were traditionally swords, clubs, cups and coins but the French introduced hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades and these have stuck with the Anglo-American decks of today.
Games for one person are called solitaire or patience. Two-player games like piquet and gin rummy remain popular, while partnership games like contract bridge and whist allow for plenty of intrigue. Poker pits players against one another in a bid to discover who has the best hand. In this fascinating ebook, Liam McCann examines the most popular card games in the world.