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How To Create Alternate Suits For Standard Playing Cards

Updated on November 11, 2014

I've already done several things with standard playing cards. I developed a way to redistribute the cards into four new suits. I developed a way to split the cards into six suits.

Now I wanted to develop a set of alternate suits for standard playing cards. The card ranks would remain the same, but each card would have both a standard suit plus a different alternate suit. You could switch from using one set of suits to using the other during a game.

What I Did

I started by creating a column of the 13 playing card ranks down the left edge of a sheet of paper. The top rank was Ace, the next rank down was Two, the next rank down was Three, and so on. The bottom rank was King.

Then I created four new columns across the sheet, one for each standard suit, The first of these columns contained 13 H's for Hearts, the second contained 13 S's for Spades, the third contained 13 D's for Diamonds, and the fourth contained 13 C's for Clubs. Each suit letter lined up with a rank in the original rank column.

Then I could add a column of alternate suits beside each of the four standard suit columns. I would be adding a column containing a mixture of three suits next to each column of standard suits.

I wanted to distribute the alternate suits as evenly as possible. If there were 12 cards in each standard suit, I could add each alternate suit to four cards. But there are 13 cards in each standard suit. So I needed to add two alternate suits each to four cards, and one alternate suit to five cards.

I decided to add each five-card alternate suit to an Ace, Four, Seven, Ten, and King. I added the 5-card Spade suit to the Hearts, the 5-card Diamond suit to the Spades, the 5-card Club suit to the Diamonds, and the 5-card Heart suit to the Clubs.

Then I looked at various placements for the two other alternate suits for each standard suit. I ended up with the following:

RANKS
SUIT 1
SUIT 2
SUIT 3
SUIT 4
Ace
H S
S D
D C
C H
Two
H D
S C
D H
C S
Three
H C
S H
D S
C D
Four
H S
S D
D C
C H
Five
H C
S H
D S
C D
Six
H D
S C
D H
C S
Seven
H S
S D
D C
C H
Eight
H D
S C
D H
C S
Nine
H C
S H
D S
C D
Ten
H S
S D
D C
C H
Jack
H C
S H
D S
C D
Queen
H D
S C
D H
C S
King
H S
S D
D C
C H

Making the Cards

You can add the alternate suit symbol beneath the top symbol and above the bottom symbol on each card in a standard deck of cards. Using a magic marker, you can draw the symbols on the cards, or you can write the letters H, S, D, and C on the cards which is easier. I would use a red marker for the Hearts and Diamonds.

Or you could mark the symbols on stickers and then stick them on the playing cards. You might be able to use the following to print the symbols on sticker paper, cut them out, and stick them on the cards.

How to Use the Alternate Suits

You can use the alternate suits playing Crazy Eights. When someone plays an Eight, they can specify a new standard suit, or specify a new alternate suit.

Or you can use the alternate suits playing Hearts. When you play a card to a trick, you can play a card if the standard suit or the alternate suit matches the standard suit that was lead.

Any other suggestions?

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