Well-Known Card Decks (& Why You Know Them)

Close your eyes and picture two cards: One face up, and one face down.

What does this tell you?

Well, dear reader, it tells us which card deck you imagine first.

Card decks are specific things, and both the back and front of the card will come from a specific one.

The card deck that springs to the mind’s eye first is likely to be the one you are most familiar with. If you grew up on a staple of Bicycle decks, you won’t imagine anything else – but if you were raised or trained with other decks, that might be what you picture.

Here are 7 well-known card decks (& why you know them).

1. The Flemish Hunting Deck


While I don’t imagine the Flemish Hunting Deck is one many people will picture first, there might be some players who do.

It’s one of the earliest surviving card decks in existence. One can only imagine how many games this deck saw in its time.

Reproductions are available, and some internet card games use the deck. Many players may (or may not) have spotted this deck before.

Have you?

2. The Solitaire Deck

If you grew up with a Windows computer in the house during a certain time, you probably have memories of Solitaire and Pinball buried away somewhere. Usually, I would go digging for Solitaire games in the mornings during slower internet times – what else?

The first inclusion of Solitaire happened in 1990, with Windows 3.0.

The decks featured here were designed by Susan Kare, graphic designer and person whom card players will thank forever.

Do you imagine a Solitaire deck first?

3. The Monarch Deck

If you see a Monarch when closing your eyes, then you must be a movie fan.

The Monarch deck is from the “Now You See Me” film and its subsequent sequel. Imagine a heist movie, but with more card tricks you can throw an Ace at.

The deck has been gaining popularity online and amongst card magicians.

It might just be your new favourite.

4. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Starter Deck


If you picture a trading card deck when asked to imagine an Ace, you’re a certain type of board and card player – and welcome to bridge!

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Starter deck is seen in the first episode of the TV show, and describes what the lead character starts off with.

The Heart Of The Cards is real, especially if this is the deck that springs to mind for you first.

5. The Mysterious Bicycle Knockoff Deck


Everyone has seen a Mysterious Bicycle Knockoff deck somewhere.

It’s obviously not made by Bicycle brand, but also obviously inspired by it. The icons on the cards might include any number of bikes or cycles in true knockoff tradition.

These decks are often cheaper, and easily available almost everywhere.

For many people, this is their brain’s go-to deck.

6. The Rider-Waite Deck


There are many players who lean towards tarot first, even though they play with other decks often. If tarot is your primary love or your affair alongside bridge, then the Rider-Waite Deck might be what you see.

It was released to the world in 1909, and countless decks have taken their inspiration from this.

Thanks to the contributions of Pamela Coleman Smith, we know most tarot decks with images based off her framework.

Is your mind’s first recollection a tarot deck?

7. The Large Print Bicycle Deck


Large-print decks are useful for some, but also just fun. They’re commonly available where toys and games are sold, and it’s safe to say that I imagine many readers grew up with one in the house.

Classic (and great for building card-houses), could your brain jump to the large-print Bicycle first?