How to Play the Tarot Card Game

Despite the fact that history records show the concept was born in Italy, some believe by the Taro River, during the 15th century, people still want to know how to play the tarot card game. One of the common problems people run into when researching this topic, has to do with so many different countries sporting their own versions, styles, rules and even names.

One really odd thing is that as of yet, there is no universal known origin for the word Tarot. The theories vary wildly. Some speak of descending angels and Israelite magic, while others spin yarns of Arabic legends and the ancient Quran. We know that people first started experimenting with and playing cards around 1495, but some early documents recovered through archeology date tarot-like references as early as 1227.

Its initial name was Trionfi, but along the way it’s been referred to as Tarochhi,and Tarock as well. The first thing to understand when discovering how to play the tarot card game, is that in many ways it’s similar to the western world’s uses of an ordinary Poker deck of cards. The difference is that the group of games that can be played with Tarot cards originated in Europe.

All too often the Tarot cards are believed to be prophetic, and used by mystics or seers to divine the future. This came along later, and historians believe had absolutely nothing to do with the original function of the cards. They were most likely first created as ways to help children study, and then developed from there.

Basics that help explain how to play the tarot card game:

  • There are four suits in the deck, just like an American Poker deck with hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs.
  • Tarot Deck has 78 cards total.
  • Each suit has what are called “pip” cards, and number from 1, or ace, to ten with four face cards - King, Queen, Knight, and Jack.
  • Altogether they equal 14 cards because of the extra Jack card, rather than the western 13.
  • Instead of the “Joker” Tarot has the “Fool”.
  • For people used to more Americanized games like Black Jack and Poker, learning how to play the tarot card game can be confusing and rather difficult.

Traditionally there are four players, and like other card games the cards all have an assigned value, can cause bonuses, bids ranging from really small to huge, and each player is supposed to get 18 cards in their hand from the dealer.

The rules are complicated, the scoring can get rather complex, and the bonuses even more so as the game situates to two, three, or five players. Most often for westerners, or anyone else for that matter, trying to learn how to play the tarot card game, they ask the dealer to read their fortune instead. In modern times it’s rare to come across people that play the actual ancient card games, whether the French or Italian versions. No matter what, from their muddied and mystical history, to their present day staying power, the Tarot cards are extremely interesting and engaging.

Photo Credit: Pearlmatic

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