Joker won't make you laugh, it makes you win
Find out about a very special card in the deck which is many times unfairly ignored - the joker. Fun to know, the first joker appeared back in the 1860's.

The Evolution of Joker

old jokerJoker, the extra card found in every modern card deck today is believed to be dating back to the 1860s. It is believed that the card was invented by American players who decided to introduce a trump card while changing the rules of the game. The joker has been known by several different names in the past centuries, like the jolly joker or the best bower.

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Let me introduce to you: The Joker!

It was around 1863 that jokers were first included in card packs in America. However, they reached quite late in England and other European countries. In earlier eastern card decks there were no Jokers or any other cards equivalent to it in the Indian Ganjifa cards or the Chinese Dominoes. In several Japanese decks, an extra card can be found with a pattern of a demon but these are quite different than Jokers.

The origin of the name

new jokerAccording to various scholars, the name Joker evolved from the German name Juker which was used for the Euchre game in Germany. The joker was first mentioned in the 1886 book, Euchre: How to Play it. The Railway Euchre game which is described in the book uses an extra card, which is the joker.

Another theory is that the name could have been derived from Poker, where it was mentioned first in the 1875 book American Hoyle. Both Euchre and poker spread in America at the same time, so it is still not clear for which game the Joker was first used. In the 1880s the Joker was first represented as a court jester or a clown. In a Tarot deck, the fool in the Trumps is quite similar to the Joker. Both of these cards have quite a lot in common, in terms of appearance as well as their function in a game. In a tarot deck the Fool is often used as the highest value trump. In other cases the Fool can be played at any time that a player wants but cannot win. The Fool had been a part of the tarot deck since 1400s but the Joker has only been recently introduced. So even though the image of modern day joker might have been inspired from the Fool, their origins are totally different. In a French 52 card deck, the Joker has only been added quite recently.

In several decks, two different Jokers are used to correspond to the Fool trump card in a Tarot deck. The black Joker corresponds to the Fool card of the Tarot deck and the Red Joker corresponds to the Magician which is also known as the Juggler. The Juggler is quite similar to the Fool in a Tarot deck.

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