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California Playing Cards

The French playing card design was adopted by the English. It eventually found its way to America where corner indexes were added, making it easier to hold and manage a handful of cards. America also reintroduced tarot's fool as the joker, and developed plastics to make the cards more durable.

As a design exercize, I want to take this centuries-old success, and refresh it for the 21st. There are problems that I want to address:

Royalty

I agree with the Second Continental Congress that people of noble birth are no better than anyone else. The French design, however, ranks the royalty above the other pips and peeps. We fought a war of revolution to become free of those assholes, but somehow they are still on our cards. Compounding the insult, ranking is determined by gender.

Zero

As a programmer, I know that the numbering of things begins at zero. The French design does not start at zero. It doesn't even start at one!

In the Chinese design, the numbers were quantities. But since the corner index innovation, these numbers are now understood to be ordinals. Programmers know that the ordinals start with zero. Someday, the rest of humanity will also know. We can use playing cards to teach the next generations to count correctly.

Ten

The ten rank was added using the Hindu Arabic numerals, which is great except that the corner index for ten rank cards contains two digits, whilst all of the other cards have only one digit or letter. That is just sloppy.

Suits

The original Chinese suits were denominations of money. The French suits are the result of centuries of mistakes and misunderstandings which accidentally led to an improvement. By making the suits more abstract, more game applications are afforded. Any four random symbols would work, but the French set has problems, at least as practiced by the English.

One out of four is not good. We should be able to do better.

The California Playing Card Design

The ranks include the digits 0 thru 9, and the letters A thru C. Instead of court cards or face cards, we have letter cards. Programmers call this base 13.

The suits represent themes of California.

0★
0★
0★
1★
1★
1★
2★
2★
2★
3★
3★
3★
4★
4★
4★
5★
5★
5★
6★
6★
6★
7★
7★
7★
8★
8★
8★
9★
9★
9★
A★
A★
A★
B★
B★
B★
C★
C★
C★

0▲
0▲
0▲
1▲
1▲
1▲
2▲
2▲
2▲
3▲
3▲
3▲
4▲
4▲
4▲
5▲
5▲
5▲
6▲
6▲
6▲
7▲
7▲
7▲
8▲
8▲
8▲
9▲
9▲
9▲
A▲
A▲
A▲
B▲
B▲
B▲
C▲
C▲
C▲

0?
0?
0?
1?
1?
1?
2?
2?
2?
3?
3?
3?
4?
4?
4?
5?
5?
5?
6?
6?
6?
7?
7?
7?
8?
8?
8?
9?
9?
9?
A?
A?
A?
B?
B?
B?
C?
C?
C?

0●
0●
0●
1●
1●
1●
2●
2●
2●
3●
3●
3●
4●
4●
4●
5●
5●
5●
6●
6●
6●
7●
7●
7●
8●
8●
8●
9●
9●
9●
A●
A●
A●
B●
B●
B●
C●
C●
C●

This then is the basic design of California Playing Cards. Card makers have liberty to improve on the presentation of the basic sequence.

Adaptation

In most games, 0 is the lowest rank and C is highest rank.

In games that order the suits: ? . The is highest and the is lowest.

Blackjack

The A B C and 0 are counted as 10. The 1 is counted as 1 or 11. The remaining cards are counted at face value.

Poker

The highest straight is 89ABC. The lowest straight (wheel) is C0123.

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