The Tarot Card Game

The deck of tarot cards

The tarot deck is one of the most popular in the world. Its mysticism and magic are well known around the world and it has a large number of followers. However, many people do not know its history and uses.

At For Cards Lovers, we will reveal all the information you need to know about the tarot deck and you will become an expert.


History of the Tarot Card Game

The first documented tarot cards were recorded between 1440 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara, Florence and Bologna. At that time, additional cards with illustrations were added to the common four-card deck.

These new cards were called "trionfi cards", i.e. "trump cards", although they are often simply referred to as "trumps".

The earliest historical documentation of these triumphs can be found in a written statement in the archives of the court of Florence in 1440, when two of these maps were transferred to Sigismondo Malatesta (1417-1468), the famous Italian condottiero and nobleman, considered one of the greatest military leaders in Italy, at the head of the forces in Venice.

However, the oldest tarot cards that have survived are the 15 Visconti-Sforza tarot cards, which were painted in the 15th century for the rulers of the Duchy of Milan.

Duke Filippo Maria Visconti ordered a deck similar to this one as described by Martiano da Tortona, although this deck was lost. Tortona described a deck of 60 cards, 16 of which represent the Greek gods.


Number of cards in the tarot deck

In general, the tarot deck consists of a total of 78 cards that are divided into major and minor arcana.


However, there are different variations of the tarot deck and we can find people who use more or less cards.


Tarot combinations

As we said, tarot cards are divided into major and minor arcana. Arcana comes from the Latin arcanum, which means mystery or secret.

The minor arcana are 56 cards in four suits, also called "low" or "false". They are numbered from 1 to 10, plus the "honors" or "figures" which are the characters of the court : Sota, Queen, King and Knight.

As you can see, the clubs are the same as those found in an ordinary deck of cards. Some decks use gold, cups, swords and clubs, as in the Spanish deck, and others use the pike, heart, clover and diamond as in the French deck.

The major arcana or trump cards are 22 cards. The name Major Arcana is used in esoteric practice; the name Major Trumps is used in Tarot as a game, in which only the Roman numeral is shown on each card, plus a decoration that is the same on each.

In the varieties intended for esoteric interpretation, each arcana represents an archetypal character image with many symbolisms.

Although there are decks of cards that bear number and name, the oldest tarot cards have neither number nor name for these arcana. Also, they do not have a predetermined order.

The main decks of the tarot deck of cards


  • Tarot



Tarot is a card game of uncertain origin. Some studies indicate that Marco Polo could have imported it to Europe from China. Others suggest a possible Egyptian or even Hebrew origin.

The object of the game is to score more points than your opponents after a certain number of rounds. The most popular variation of Tarot is the 4-player game, although it is also possible to play with 3 players.


In each turn, one player is the "declarer" and faces the 3, called "defenders".

At the beginning of the game, the player who has the hand, i.e. the one who starts playing, is decided by automatic draw. In the next round, the player to the right of the current player will start. The game is played counter-clockwise.

As the turn is played, the cards won by the player who declared the turn are placed in his pile, while the cards won by the defenders are placed in the pile of the player sitting in front of the player who declared the turn.

Cards are dealt in threes, leaving one card in the middle of the table. These cards will form what we call a "discard" or "dog".

After the deal, each player can in turn choose one of the contracts or pass. These contracts are different benefits or conditions that can be used throughout the game.

To get points, we must make different combinations with the cards in hand. There are different types of games and they give a number of points according to the difficulty to obtain it. If you have a stronger combination than your opponent, you will win the round.

Editorial Team

Bibliography consulted

Forcardslovers was created by a group of card game enthusiasts. ForCardslovers.com is a website where we share the meaning and the interpretation of cartomancy, as well as our favourite games with the different cards that exist in the world and, moreover, you can play online the card games of the moment. Enter and discover also different magic tricks to surprise your family or friends!