Why Do Card Decks Have Jokers?

Find out why Jokers exist in a pack of cards, and how they can be used.
6th March 2024

Why Do Decks of Cards Have Jokers?

For players at online casinos in the UK, it’s easy to forget about the presence of the Joker in the deck. Live dealers will take them out when the deck is used for the first time, and they are excluded from automated games like blackjack.

So, you may be wondering why the Joker is kept in physical packs of cards. If that’s the case, we’re sure you’ve wondered just why the Jokers are in there.

Well, we’re here to tell you that you should hold onto those cards - they can actually be quite useful.

What is the Joker Card?

Alongside the standard 52 cards you get in a deck, made up of four different suits, you will also find two Jokers. These have a picture of a court jester on, which was relevant in the Medieval era when they would perform for the King.

Jokers are arguably the most recognisable feature in a deck of cards, simply because they are instantly discarded in a lot of cases.

While Jokers aren’t associated with any of the suits in the deck, the colour of the card can be quite important - more on that shortly…

When Was the Joker First Used?

Jokers were first featured in a deck of cards during the 1860s in a game called Euchre as trump cards. At the time they were known as the ‘Imperial Bower’ or the ‘Best Bower’, before this evolved to ‘Jolly Joker’. Eventually the ‘Joker’ was the name settled on, and this became common practice.

Remember to hold onto your Jokers if you ever get a new pack of cards.

Is the Joker a Face Card?

If you go through a deck of cards, you will find three different ones with faces on - these are the Kings, Queens and Jacks. Even though the Joker cards do have faces, they are not classed in the same way as the others we’ve listed.

This may be confusing if you’re new to playing blackjack, poker or any other card games. The reason is that Jokers are very rarely used, so it would be pointless to group them in the same way as the active cards.

What is the Role of Jokers in a Pack of Cards?

If you’ve ever thrown away the Jokers from a deck, then you might want to go and fish them out of the bin. Their main purpose is to be used as a substitute in case you lose any cards.

You’ll remember that we mentioned the importance of the Joker’s colour at the top of this post - this is because it links to the cards it can replace. Should you misplace a Heart or a Diamond, then the red or colourful Joker would be able to step up. Losing a Spade or a Club would leave you reaching for the black or white one. Not all decks have Jokers with different colours, but we think it’s well worth trying to find one that does. Cards can get lost very easily, after all.

If you’re playing a card game in a casino online or in person, it’s not a problem if any of the deck goes missing, as the dealers can simply replace it with a new set. The same can’t be said for family game nights when you’re a card down!

Which Games Use Jokers?

When you play our online casino card games, the Joker isn’t used in any of the decks. However, it has been used historically and often played an important part in the structure of the game.

We’ve put together a selection of card games which have used the Joker, starting with one that you might not have expected…

The Joker has more uses than you might have realised...


That’s right - some forms of poker have been played using the Joker from as far back as the 1870s, when they were used as wild cards in various types of poker.

While they are rarely used in the modern day, you may still hear the term ‘Jokers’ when you’re playing poker if Pocket Jacks are dealt. If you’re not down with the latest lingo in the game, then check out our post on poker slang.


As we’ve already mentioned, this was responsible for the creation of the Joker. Euchre was a trick-taking game in which the Joker was the highest trump card, which meant players were hoping for it to appear. You can’t say that about it too often any more…


Another trick-taking game that used the Joker was Mighty, in which it was the second most valuable card - so not quite as significant as in Euchre. Players could only beat the Joker with the Mighty, which was usually the Ace of Spades or the Ace of Diamonds.


This card game uses all 54 within the standard deck, which means both Jokers are in play. Some variations of War can be played in which the Joker is the card with the highest value, trumping the Aces.

As this is a head-to-head game between two players, the aim is to pick up all of the opponent’s hand. To do this, you must win each battle by putting down a more valuable card - so the Joker is very important.

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