Casino & Poker

How do you play card games with a tarot deck?

Tarot CardsNow that we’re well into October… the spookiest of all the months… we’re all gearing up for Halloween here at NetBet. There’ll be loads of promotions and deals on the way to get you in the mood for Fright Night. And there’ll be plenty of scary slots for you to get spinning.

But what about our card games this month? We don’t want them to feel neglected while the slots have all the fun. That’s why we’re going to teach you how to play games using a deck of tarot cards!

Tarot History

Tarot evolved from the earliest of playing cards just like today’s regular deck. Suits were not so rigidly set into hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds but also included coins, swords, cups, and bells. The tarot (or tarock, or tarocchi) deck emerged from these with suits of swords, wands, pentacles, and chalices and a series of 22 pictured trump cards depicting figures such as fools, kings, hermits, and high priestesses.

This gaming deck was taken by French occultist, Etteilla (pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Alliette) who reimagined it as a tool for fortune telling. He was the first to design a deck that was purely for the occult and not gaming. The trump cards became the major arcana, and each picture carried and important interpretation of a person’s future, decisions, or personality.

Before they were being used to tell anyone’s future, many types of decks were developed to play trick-taking games. You could get yourself a gaming deck but if you have the 78-card tarot knocking about, you could adapt it to play a few games that are still played in some parts of Europe today. That is if you’re comfortable playing games with instruments of magic!

Adapting your tarot deck

To set up your deck for most tarot games, remove The Fool from the major arcana to use as your trump cards. Pick two suits to be your equivalent of the clubs and spades and get rid of all the cards except the Kings, Queens, Knights, Jacks, Tens, Nines, Eights, and Sevens. The other two suits are your hearts and diamonds and you only need the Kings, Queens, Knights, Jacks, One, Twos, Threes, and Fours. This will leave you with 54 cards ready to shuffle and play.


Meaning ‘Call the King’, this is Austria’s most popular card game and is played with 54 cards as above. There are countless variations of this game, with many ‘house rules’ coming into play for different groups. With a little research and practice, it can be a fast-paced game for four people.

It’s a point-trick taking game that starts with an auction after all the cards are dealt in order to bid for a contract. Each contract is essentially a bet that they can win a trick a certain way or under certain conditions. Each contact has a different amount of points you win if it is successful and each subsequent player must bid a contract that beats the one that came previously. You can go for extra  points if you play a bonus and even more if you announce it. If you are new to Königrufen, it might be best to have cheat sheets with all the different contracts and bonuses to hand.

Calling the king comes into play when your contract requires you to have a partner. The contract holder will name a suit and whoever has the King in that suit becomes their partner but keeps that fact secret. Depending on the hand or contract, partnerships can be revealed very late in the game. With some strategic play, you can get the other three players into an unknowing partnership if you call your own king.

Scores are added up based on the value of the successful contracts and extra bonuses that are completed and can be settled by pushing money or counters across the table.

If you’re stuck for a new Halloween pastime this year, you could invite everyone around for a night of tarot. They’d certainly be surprised that a night of gambling was on the cards. Remember, tarot cards can’t be used to predict what kind of hand you’re going to be dealt!