the history of marked cards

The History of Marked Cards

By Miya Zhang 0 comment

When playing cards were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty around the 9th century AD, people began to study card tricks. Marking cards has always been one of the essential card tricks. Next, I will tell you what has changed in the way of marking playing cards from ancient times to modern times.

Traditional Marking

Historically, the first attempt to alter the cards in a method only apparent to the marker or conspirator was by bending, adding small visible marks to the cards.

Later, in the early 19th century, when the earliest playing cards with card back designs became popular, players began altering the designs on the backs of playing cards. They tried to alter the designs on the obverse sides of cards by using various inks, pigments and scratches to add or remove backside lines or patterns.

how to mark deck from scratch

This is a common way used by magicians, which hides the secret marks on the card back. By looking at the back of the card, you can identify the opposite value and suit. This traditional card marking technique includes block-out work, cut-out work, and tinting work. If you want to know more, you can read this article.

Reader Systems & Coded Systems

It isn't pleasing to mark each playing card manually. On the other hand, the more you mark yourself, the easier it is to reveal your secrets.

Therefore, at the beginning of the 21st century, there are two main types of marked cards designed and produced by playing card manufacturers with the most commonly used marking systems: coded systems and reader systems. To this day, they are still the magician's preferred deck.

Coded Systems:

Marked decks with coded systems

Reader Systems:

Marked decks with reader systems

In addition to these two marking systems, there are other more mysterious ones, which you can find on some magician websites.

The fatal shortage of all the above-mentioned marked playing cards is that the marks are visible after all, and the opponents can easily see through the card marks. In addition, these marks are very small, and you can only recognize the marks when you are close to the card. When you stare too much at the back of the card, your behavior will be suspicious. So these marking ways can only be applied to magic shows. For poker game tricks, card marking requires science and technology to enhance.

Marking Cards with Invisible Ink

Technology brings good news. Given infrared optical technology and computer printing technology, we can operate industrial inkjet printer to print infrared invisible ink markings on the back and even sides of playing cards. Of course, you can also mark playing cards with an invisible ink pen, but the handwriting may not be invisible enough.

Since 2010, invisible ink marked playing cards are super popular once they came out. Different from traditional ways to mark poker cards by original marker, the recent high-end card printing technology has brought the quality of marked decks to a much higher level. Although other device is needed to read these marked cards, they are hardly exposed in the game.

invisible ink marked cards

The history of marked playing cards is a mysterious journey. Over time, those humble playing cards become full of magic. Although more and more people like online poker, the excitement brought by the collision of poker tables and poker cards, I believe everyone will miss it.