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New Suits For Standard Playing Cards

Updated on July 29, 2014

A New Idea

Early in 2011, I came up with the idea for a new four-player card game that would be played using a different set of playing card 'suits'. Instead of using Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades, it would use Red-Odd, Red-Even, Black-Odd, and Black-Even. The game would be played as a series of rounds. In every round, the players in turn would each try to play a card with a suit that was not already played in that round. Thus the game Roebuck was born.

There was one problem. The two odd suits each had 14 cards (Aces, Threes, Fives, Sevens, Nines, Jacks, and Kings), while the two even suits each had 12 cards (Twos, Fours, Sixes, Eights, Tens, and Queens). I decided simply to ignore this problem, and added a variation that allowed the Aces to be used as wild cards.

A Further Look

But the idea of new suits stayed with me, and late in 2011 I took a closer look at it. I started with a situation that didn't occur in Roebuck. Each new suit is made up of pairs of cards with the same number or letter. The Red-Odd suit for instance has a Five of Hearts and a Five of Diamonds. In each pair, which card has the higher rank?

I looked for a pattern that would be easy to remember. I reasoned that diamonds are found underground (low), and that animal hearts are usually found above ground (high). So for Red pairs with the same number or letter, the Diamond would be the low card and the Heart would be the high card. And I reasoned that spades are used to dig in the ground (low), and that clubs (clovers) are found above ground (high). So for Black pairs with the same number or letter, the Spade would be the low card and the Club would be the high card.

But the different card-counts for the red and black suits still puzzled me. Then I realized that an Ace could be odd (1) or even (14). I decided that the Ace of Hearts would be the low Red-Odd card, the Ace of Diamonds would be the high Red-Even card, the Ace of Clubs would be the low Black-Odd card, and the Ace of Spades would be the high Black-Even card. This way, each suit would have a sequence of cards in which the standard card suits would alternate, and each suit would have 13 cards.

The Suits Became

Red Odd
Red Even
Black Odd
Black Even
A Hearts
2 Diamonds
A Clubs
2 Spades
3 Diamonds
2 Hearts
3 Spades
2 Clubs
3 Hearts
4 Diamonds
3 Clubs
4 Spades
5 Diamonds
4 Hearts
5 Spades
4 Clubs
5 Hearts
6 Diamonds
5 Clubs
6 Spades
7 Diamonds
6 Hearts
7 Spades
6 Clubs
7 Hearts
8 Diamonds
7 Clubs
8 Spades
9 Diamonds
8 Hearts
9 Spades
8 Clubs
9 Hearts
10 Diamonds
9 Clubs
10 Spades
J Diamonds
10 Hearts
J Spades
10 Clubs
J Hearts
Q Diamonds
J Clubs
Q Spades
K Diamonds
Q Hearts
K Spades
Q Clubs
K Hearts
A Diamonds
K Clubs
A Spades

Using the Suits

These new suits presented some challenges. Cards at the same level in different suits (pairs, three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind) could be a bit difficult to keep track of. Hearts and Clubs with the same number or letter were at the same level, and Diamonds and Spades with the same number or letter were at the same level. But the number or letter on a Diamond or Spade was one higher than the number or letter on a Heart or Club at the same level. Six of Diamonds, Six of Spades, Five of Hearts, and Five of Clubs would form four-of-a-kind. This seemed opposite the card sequence, but was caused by the placement of the Aces.

And straights could be even more difficult. The following is a five-card straight - Five of Diamonds, Five of Clubs, Six of Clubs, Eight of Spades, Eight of Hearts.

So it can be challenging to use these new suits in card games. A simple game like Crazy Eights would become "Crazy Eights of Diamonds and Spades, and Sevens of Hearts and Clubs". Playing within one suit would be easy, but moving between suits would be more difficult. For example, you could move from the Three of Clubs in the Black-Odd suit to the Four of Diamonds in the Red-Even suit.

Poker would be even trickier with its pairs, two-pairs, straights, full-houses, and four-of-a-kinds.

Hearts wouldn't be bad, a bit tricky sometimes determining which card takes a trick. And it would be renamed "Red-Odds".

But people sometimes need a mental challenge, especially older people like me. It would be good to play a game with new suits once in a while just to exercise your mind.


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