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How to Tell the Future With Regular Playing Cards

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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.

Royal Mischief Playing Cards

Royal Mischief Playing Cards

How to Use Playing Cards in a Reading

When we think of cartomancy (telling fortunes with cards), we almost always think about tarot. However, regular playing cards can fulfill the task almost as well. There is a loss of detail that is present in tarot, but you can allow your intuition to fill in the gaps with practice. It's a question of 'tuning in'.

First of all, you need to know how playing cards work within the framework of a tarot deck. So if you haven't already, check out How to Read Tarot with Playing Cards. In that article, I explain the structure of a fortune reading deck.

Once you have the basic idea, bookmark this page: List of Meanings for Playing Card Tarot. It's a handy reference. Have a play around with some basic spreads (layouts).

Reading Future Outcomes

It's important to understand the cards can only give you a hint of what's ahead. They are a snapshot of the energy around you in the present time. This snapshot has a logical outcome. Yet, you can change that outcome by your own choices and actions. What you can't do is change other people, so some circumstances are beyond your control. All you can do is either go with it or do something to mitigate the situation.

For example, suppose a reading shows a relationship break up. Well, if you are the one instigating the end, then it's going to happen unless you change your mind and refrain from doing that. Although, if the cards predict it, it probably will happen eventually.

But maybe it's your partner who wants to break up? Unless the relationship radically changes, there isn't much you can do. S/he is set on a course of action. At least you have some warning.

What Kind of Deck Do You Need?

Just regular playing cards. Make sure they are all present. There should be 52 cards. You can use one Joker, if you wish, making 53. It's entirely optional. The Joker is the traveler, the Fool in tarot.

The deck I'm using is really weird. It's the Royal Mischief Transformation Playing Card deck by Patrick Valenza (who created the Deviant Moon Tarot). There are illustrations on these cards, but they don't really represent the traditional meanings, so just look at them but disassociate the images from the interpretations.

Royal Mischief Ttransformational Playing Cards

Royal Mischief Ttransformational Playing Cards

Example of Telling the Future Using Playing Cards for a Reading

We need a question to ask, so let's invent a person who's in a difficult situation. Sally thinks her husband is cheating on her, and she wants to know if their marriage will end in divorce. In real life, I'd advise her to arrange some couples' counseling, but this is made up, so we'll go with it.

Question: What is the future for Sally's marriage?

I will make up a three-card spread which should provide some information for Sally to work with. It's better than saying, "Yup, divorce."


  • What does Sally need to know right now? Ace of Clubs
  • What action should she take? King of Diamonds
  • The outcome of the marriage? Six of Spades
'Sally's' spread

'Sally's' spread

You can see how quirky this deck is, as some illustrations are in portrait and others in landscape. I've laid them out so the images are visible.


So on checking my List of Meanings page, we have the Ace of Clubs equivalent to the Ace of Wands, "Spark of inspiration, passion. A new love affair, the idea for a business or life-change."

That means Sally, herself, may embark on an affair, but more likely, it is confirmation her husband is cheating. Her suspicions are correct. She also needs to know the affair will probably be short-lived and will burn itself out. That may or may not impact her future decisions. This card also indicates a life change, so using your knowledge of the cards and situation, you can deduce that this episode will have a profound impact on Sally's life.

The next card is the advice offered. The King of Diamonds is the counterpart to the King of Pentacles in tarot, "Businessman, achievements through hard work. Enjoyment of luxury and fruits of own labor."

I would guess this is someone whom Sally could consult. I'd describe the character of the King of Pentacles in detail to see if she recognizes him as someone she already knows. If she doesn't know him, this card likely represents a professional person she can and should ask for help.

The last card is the most telling. The outcome. The future card. The Six of Spades is the same as the Six of Swords in tarot, "Moving on, a change of direction, travel; putting the past behind you."

It does not tell Sally that her marriage will end. Sixes in tarot and cartomancy mean recovery. Getting to a better place from a difficult one. The Six of Swords means a faltering journey forward. A challenging situation to navigate but highly achievable.

In my mind's eye, I visualize the regular tarot image of a small family moving towards their future in a rowing boat. They are moving from rough to tranquil water.

Therefore, the relationship can be rescued if both parties desire and are willing to work for it.

I told you the illustrations are nothing to do with the real meanings. Fun though.

Using Your Intuition to Develop the Reading

The reading is done, and you gave Sally her answers. However, bear in mind those answers are based on the situation right now. If nothing changes drastically, the outcome will be as you interpreted it. Yet, next week, Sally's husband might get his lover pregnant. Or perhaps the lover has a partner who takes action your reading could not predict.

Without being too direct, you have to explain to Sally how outcomes can change. Your intuition is your greatest ally. If a thought pops into your mind, it is invariably correct. Again, watch your words, but do your best to convey them to your client.

I don't generally recommend reading about the same situation too soon. Still, in this case, I would ask Sally if she would be willing to have her cards read again in around a week to 10 days to see if the previous interpretations have consolidated and how circumstances will unfold in the next stage.

You have to remember that an 'outcome' when reading the future is never the end of the story. Either it continues to develop, or it turns into a new beginning.

Practice your readings and remember to have fun.

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.

© 2021 Bev G


Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 27, 2021:

Thanks, Doris. Yes, playing cards came many centuries before tarot and were probably use first in a fortune telling game.

Tarot has a more complex structure and the cards were used for a game called Tarocci.


Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 26, 2021:

Very interesting article and well explained. I didn't know playing cards could be substituted for Tarot cards, but it does make sense. The deck you used for examples are hilarious. Really cute cards. Very enjoyable read.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 24, 2021:

Aw, thank you, Misbah. Your words are very much appreciated. xx

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on August 24, 2021:

Bev, Do I really need to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your article? ;)

It was a fascinating and enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing.

Blessings and Love to you!!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 24, 2021:

Thank you so much, Brenda. I find the system fascinating and there is always more to learn. xx

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 24, 2021:


You're articles are always intriguing.

A simple deck of cards instead of tarot cards.

The joker is the traveler, the fool in the tarot.

Sally will have decisions to make.

Nice article.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 24, 2021:

Well, you have now, Amara :D

Thank you.

Amara from Pakistan on August 24, 2021:

Hi Bev G.. Its an interesting article. Tarrots always intrigue me, but I have never come across any card reader.

Love and respect..

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 24, 2021:

Thank you, Jan.

Jan Stepan from Sweden on August 24, 2021:

This was very interesting to read. Nice content! :)