I'm a professional tarot reader, but when I don't have a tarot deck with me, I can use a deck of playing cards to provide a useful reading.
Using Playing Cards as Tarot
If you are looking for a quick guide to reading playing cards as you would tarot cards, then you’ve found it. I've put together a basic list of meanings for the cards that you can refer to any time.
By necessity, this list of playing card interpretations is short and to-the-point. However, if you take each keyword or phrase as a kernel of an idea, you should be able to build on it in a tarot reading. Take into account the circumstances of the person asking the question. Try to combine the meanings of two cards to come up with a third. Use your imagination and tap into your intuition.
You might want to go deeper and learn the structure of tarot as it applies to playing cards. If so, I have another article—How to Read Tarot With Playing Cards—that breaks down the basic elements so you can read any card for any question. By the way, reading cards of any kind to obtain information is called "cartomancy."
A note about these playing cards: The cards used to illustrate this article are Ghost Playing Cards by Bicycle. They are a little confusing because they are mostly black, with just elements of red to differentiate Hearts and Diamonds. They are excellent quality and, like all the Bicycle decks, good for cartomancy.
Playing Cards as Tarot Meaning Chart
|Playing Card||Tarot Card||Meaning|
Joker (2 included)
Fool (1 included)
taking a risk (positive), doing something foolish (negative), innocence (unknowing)
action, passion and inspiration (see chart of each card's meaning below)
emotions, feelings, fulfillment, and, of course, love and loss (see chart of each card's meaning below)
connected to thought and communication. All the activity that goes on in our minds; ‘head stuff' (see chart of each card's meaning below)
relate to the material word; all that we see and touch: money, work, practical projects, homes, etc.; the practical aspects of relationships (see chart of each card's meaning below)
It’s entirely up to you whether you include the Joker/s or not. The Joker is the playing card representative of the tarot Fool. Keeping it simple, the Fool is numberless; he is the unformed consciousness that journeys through the tarot, undergoing transformation, self-understanding, challenges, and generally educating himself via those experiences. Personally, for a quick playing card reading, I’d leave it out.
However, should you choose to include either one or all, then the meaning assigned is: taking a risk (positive), doing something foolish (negative), innocence (unknowing). Which of those interpretations you select depends on the question.
The Suit of Clubs
Clubs are the equivalent of the tarot suit of Wands. They represent action, passion and inspiration. They are associated with fire.
- Ace of Clubs: Spark of inspiration, passion. A new love affair, the idea for a business or life-change.
- Two of Clubs: Planning, delays, waiting for the signal to move.
- Three of Clubs: You’ve done all you can, hard work pays off.
- Four of Clubs: Celebration, rest, stability, pause.
- Five of Clubs: Competition, petty arguments, fights, not working in harmony.
- Six of Clubs: Success, victory, good exam results.
- Seven of Clubs: Standing up for oneself. Defending your viewpoint.
- Eight of Clubs: Events moving quickly, getting organized (fast), possible pregnancy.
- Nine of Clubs: Stressed, but unbowed. Determined to finish the task/fight.
- Ten of Clubs: Responsibilities, weighed down, burdened but almost at the end of the project/life-stage.
- Jack/Knave of Clubs: Feckless charmer. Passionate affair. Individual unable to focus on one task.
- Queen of Clubs: Passionate, enthusiastic, fun. Career woman.
- King of Clubs: Leader, always aware of the larger picture, not good at details.
The Suit of Hearts
Hearts are the same as the tarot Cups. They represent emotions, feelings, fulfillment, and, of course, love and loss. Hearts are associated with water.
- Ace of Hearts: New love, beginnings of a deep connection, conception.
- Two of Hearts: Mutual attraction, love, friendship.
- Three of Hearts: Celebration of friendship, a girls’ (or boys’) night out, end of an emotional cycle.
- Four of Hearts: Emotional stability, possible low-level depression; unaware, or deliberately ignoring the positive aspects in life.
- Five of Hearts: Loss, sadness, depression, grief.
- Six of Hearts: Childhood, nostalgia, memories, the past revisited, an old flame appears.
- Seven of Hearts: Feeling-based choices, indecision, going astray.
- Eight of Hearts: Leaving, splitting up, change of direction.
- Nine of Hearts: Fulfillment, understanding that solitariness is not loneliness, contentment.
- Ten of Hearts: family, love, achievement of emotional peak.
- Jack/Knave of Hearts: A person who is in love with being in love. Romantic suitor, short-term love affair.
- Queen of Hearts: Someone to turn to; she offers emotional support, a listening ear. Watch out for darker undercurrents; she may have problems of her own.
- King of Hearts: Kindly counselor, gives wise advice based on experience. Possible alcoholic or addict of some kind.
Read More From Exemplore
The Suit of Spades
Spades are equivalent to the tarot suit of Swords. They are connected to thought and communication. All the activity that goes on in our minds; ‘head stuff.’ Spades are associated with air.
- Ace of Spades: Flash of insight, revelation, realization, understanding, idea.
- Two of Spades: Reluctance/refusal to acknowledge the truth, withdrawal. Possible communication difficulties.
- Three of Spades: Breakdown in communication; misunderstanding leading to a rift, fight, or break-up.
- Four of Spades: Recovery, recuperation, time-out.
- Five of Spades: Deception, bullying, walking away from a disagreement. Resistance or non-resistance.
- Six of Spades: Moving on, a change of direction, travel; putting the past behind you.
- Seven of Spades: Theft, recovery of property or abstract quality (confidence, self-esteem, etc.). Subterfuge.
- Eight of Spades: Feeling there’s no choice, backing oneself into a corner, can’t see the way out—although the solution is right there in plain view.
- Nine of Spades: Nightmares, repetitive thought, problems, anxiety, depression.
- Ten of Spades: Endings, mental breakdown, the only way is up. New beginning.
- Jack/Knave of Spades: Someone on a mission. Single-minded individual. Clever, sarcastic, intelligent.
- Queen of Spades: Truthseeker, efficient person. She cannot put up with indecisiveness or stupidity.
- King of Spades: Professional, good at his job, highly motivated and intelligent. Advisor, lawyer, accountant, writer.
The Suit of Diamonds
Diamonds are equal to the suit of Pentacles in tarot. They relate to the material word; all that we see and touch. They cover such areas as money, work, practical projects, homes, etcetera. Diamonds can also represent the practical aspects of relationships. Diamonds are associated with earth.
- Ace of Diamonds: Prize, gift, new home, new project, new job.
- Two of Diamonds: Balancing the budget, time management. Juggling resources.
- Three of Diamonds: Focus on work. Honing skills, teamwork, collaboration.
- Four of Diamonds: Guarding resources, not socializing; holding oneself apart from society.
- Five of Diamonds: Needing help, destitution, lack of money, loss of job.
- Six of Diamonds: Charity, offering/receiving help, supporting another financially.
- Seven of Diamonds: Materially well-off yet spiritually dissatisfied. Looking for a possible new direction.
- Eight of Diamonds: New job, change of career, improving skills, undergoing training or teaching.
- Nine of Diamonds: Material and spiritual independence. Satisfaction, happiness in solitude.
- Ten of Diamonds: Family, inheritance, traditions, family business, social gatherings.
- Jack/Knave of Diamonds: Hard worker, loyal person, hidden attributes.
- Queen of Diamonds: Home-lover, nest-builder, mother, female leader.
- King of Diamonds: Businessman, achievements through hard work. Enjoyment of luxury and fruits of own labor.
If you have any questions, do ask in the comments. However, please don't ask for free readings or ask me to interpret your cards for you.
Remember that you should never make an important decision based on what you see in the cards. Tarot readings are for entertainment only.
More Articles About Using Playing Cards for Tarot
How to Work Out Playing Card Tarot Combinations in Spreads. When you begin to use ‘spreads’ (i.e. more than one card), it gets a little complicated because cards interact, or rather, the meanings overlap.
Use Playing Cards for Tarot Readings: Questions of Love. When you have a pressing "yes" or "no" question, but no one to talk to nor a deck of tarot cards to consult, pick up a pack of playing cards.
Tarot With Playing Cards Yes/No Answers. This is a fast, down-and-dirty guide to what playing cards answer ‘yes’ to your questions and which ones say "no." Oh, and be aware, there could also be some "maybes" in there, too!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I shuffle playing cards for a tarot reading?
Answer: You shuffle the cards in the same way you would if you were playing a regular game. Everyone tends to have a preferred way of shuffling, so go with whatever you feel comfortable with.
Here are some ways of laying out the cards for a reading: https://hubpages.com/fortune-divination/Playing-Ca...
Question: How do you deal the deck to read tarot?
Answer: This article will answer all your dealing and spread questions: https://hubpages.com/fortune-divination/Playing-Ca...
Question: How many times do I shuffle a regular deck of cards?
Answer: Shuffle the deck thoroughly but the number of times is up to you. I don't count, I just keep doing it until they feel ready for action.
Question: I get the Four of Hearts again and again when I ask about my ex boyfriend. What is the meaning of this?