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How To Play Card Games With Rider-Waite Tarot Cards

    Can you use your tarot cards for more than tarot readings? Well, there are many card games you can play if you want to. Playing card games is a fun way of using a tarot deck. Why not invite friends to a fun game night?

    By removing the Major Arcana and the Pages, you have a regular playing card deck. This makes it possible to play any card game with tarot cards. The Rider-Waite deck lacks corner index pips, making it harder to identify the cards though. Examples of games are Solitare, Poker, and French Tarot.

    Even though tarot cards are commonly known as tools for divination and self-growth, there are games you can play with them. Most card tarot decks for gameplay are slightly different from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. This article will focus on card games you can play with a Rider-Waite deck style.


    You can play as many games with your tarot deck as with a set of playing cards. If you remove the Page and the Major Arcana cards from the Rider-Waite deck, you have transformed them into a regular playing card deck! The tradition of playing with tarot cards is very old. 

    Aaron from the Learn Tarot Card Games summarized the world of tarot card games in the video. If you are interested in learning more in-depth about tarot card games, I recommend watching this video.


    If you make your tarot deck equivalent to a playing card deck, you can play any playing card game with your tarot deck. The structure of playing cards and the tarot are very similar. You transform it into a playing card deck with two adjustments to your tarot deck.

    The suits represented in the Rider-Waite tarot deck (and others using the same system) correlate with the ones found in a playing card deck. Clubs are Wands, Diamonds are Pentacles, Hearts are Cups, and Spades are Swords. The joker equals the Fool in the tarot deck. You see pictures below to help you along the way.


    The most apparent difference between the decks is the number of cards. A playing card deck has 52 cards and a Rider-Waite deck 78 cards. 

    • Regular playing card deck – 52 cards
    • Rider-Waite deck – 78 cards

    You need to remove 26 cards from the tarot deck to make it equivalent to a playing card deck (52 cards). This is how you do it: Remove the Major Arcana cards and the Pages.


    Major Arcana consists of 21 cards. They are the ones with text on them, like “Death,” “The World,” and so on. In the picture below, you find the Major Arcana cards. 

     you find the "extra" court cards of the Tarot deck - the Pages
    In the picture, you find the “extra” court cards of the Tarot deck – the Pages. Remove them from the deck along with the Major Arcana cards..

    Regular playing cards have three court cards and the tarot four – you need to remove the access one from the deck. The access one is the Page. In the picture above, you find the Pages.


    • Playing cards: Knight (Jack), Queen, and King
    • Tarot: Page, Knight (Jack), Queen, and King

    Tarot deck (78 cards) – Major Arcana (22 cards) – 4 pages = 52 cards

    Leave the suits as they correlate with a playing card deck. You have to translate the tarot suit to the correct playing card suit. 

    • Clubs (♣) – Wands, Batons, Rods
    • Diamonds (♦) – Coins, Pentacles, Disks
    • Hearts (♥) –  Cups
    • Spades (♠) – Swords

    You can translate the Joker with the Fool in the tarot deck in most cases.

    You are now ready to play any game for playing cards with your Rider-Waite tarot deck.

    suits of tarot
    In the picture, you find the corresponding suits of tarot- and playing cards.
    Joker and the Fool look like.
    This is how the Joker and the Fool look like.


    There is no room to present all card games in this article, so I decided to show you the easy ones to play as a beginner. Many tarot card games have quite complicated rules so let’s keep it simple.

    I’m not used to playing card games with my tarot deck, so I interviewed Aaron from the Learn Tarot Card Games YouTube channel for insights.

    According to Aaron, you can, in theory, play any traditional tarot game with a Rider-Waite style deck. However, it’s kind of tricky as decks like the Rider-Waite are designed more to be laid out on a table. The artwork is meant to be laid out on the table. With a handful of cards, it’s challenging to get an overview of what you’re holding.

    Aaron continues; some decks use the Rider-Waite artwork, but with corner pips. This design makes it easier for gameplay.

    Some of the games traditionally played with tarot cards might need alternations if you use the Rider-Waite deck. 


    According to Aaron from Learn Tarot Card Games, the most common traditional Tarot game is the French Tarot.

    The game is quite complicated, though, so it takes some practice. The most common deck used for the card game is Tarot Nouveau.

    The Rider-Waite deck doesn’t have corner pips; it’s a bit harder than the French tarot deck. But it’s doable.

    As you notice in the picture below, the deck has pips and has a different look than the Rider-Waite deck. The cards correlate so that you can still use your Rider-Waite deck. Click the button below if you want to learn how to play French Tarot (link to

    Picture from
    Picture from

    I didn’t find a YouTube tutorial where they used the Rider-Waite deck for French Tarot, but this might help you along the way if you want to learn. Remember, you only need to switch the corresponding cards to the Rider-Waite version.  This tutorial is from Gather Together Games on YouTube.


    Poker is a fun game to play with your Rider-Waite deck. You can do it either by removing the Major Arcana or not. If you remove the Major Arcana, you are left with a playing card deck. You don’t need to remove any court cards as it will not change much. As mentioned above, as the Rider-Waite tarot deck lacks corner pips, it can be a little more challenging.

    If you want to play Poker with the entire tarot deck, there is a chart you can use to translate the Major Arcana cards into values. You find a chart and more information on the Pokerfortress site. Visit the rules and charts by clicking on the button below!


    According to Aaron from Learn Tarot Card Games, the most accessible games with a Rider-Waite deck are probably forms of Tarot solitaire. Many are familiar with the card game, and it’s straightforward to adapt to tarot cards.

    Divide the rows according to the four suits and the Major Arcana. When you play with tarot cards, you will have five rows, not four as playing cards.

    Watch the video below by Crossroad Cardslinger on YouTube. I love her tutorial; it’s straightforward to follow along. 

    I loved playing this game. It was easy to learn and gave me insights into my deck. If you want to connect or learn a new deck, this is an excellent game.


    Word association with Tarot cards is a fun game you can play alone or with friends. The rules are straightforward. A great benefit from this game is that you can use it as practice if you are a reader. I found the rules on Quora, and they are posted by Paulina Kostruba (link to the post – Quora)

    Playing solo: You start by choosing a random word, like “strength.” It works best if it’s not a physical object but a feeling or concept. Shuffle the tarot deck and pull a card. Look at the card and combine the target word “strength” with the association you get from the drawn card. 

    Remember that you don’t need to know the “card meanings.” You say what comes on top of your mind. Like “strength is fun” if you, for example, pulled the Sun card. 

    How to play with more than one person: Each player takes a turn selecting the target word, and everyone pulls a new card from the deck. Try not to censor yourself and blurt out the answer. This can be so much fun.


    Snap is a fun game to play with a Rider-Waite deck. You have to remove the Major Arcana, but you can let the Pages be if you want to. In this video, you find the rules with examples. 

    The game is straightforward and suitable for beginners. We tried it at home, and it was easy to learn – and very fun! My husband and kids had issues recognizing the suits, so it took a while to shout Snap. So, a tarot reader has the upper hand.


    There are card games you can play with tarot decks. When tarot cards were first invented, they were used as playing cards. In some countries, the tradition of playing with tarot cards has survived (Britannica, link to article).

    Like the Rider-Waite deck, most modern tarot decks are not optimal for card games. This is because they lack corner index pips, the indicator in the corner of the card. This makes a Rider-Waite tarot deck a bit harder to play with. If you fan the cards in your hand, you cannot see what card it is.

    Decks for divination are pretty hard to play with, as they have no indicators at all – just imagery. If the deck doesn’t follow any structure, like suits and alike, they are very hard to play with. You can’t translate the cards to fit card games for playing cards.

    Some tarot decks do have corner index pips, so I recommend checking your tarot decks; maybe you have a deck with corner index pips.  

    Because of the pip-situation with the classic RSW decks, it’s more common that you use a tarot deck with the Tarot de Marseille structure. Instead of imagery on the cards, they also have pip indicators (not as corner pips, though).

    In the picture below, you see what I mean. The cards without corner pips are hard to read when you hold them fanned in your hand. This makes playing card games a bit tricky and slows the game down.

    you see how cards with corner pips make playing card games a lot easier.
    In the picture, you see how cards with corner pips make playing card games a lot easier.


    We have talked about it a lot in this article; the downside with a Rider-Waite deck is the lack of corner pips. But there is an easy solution to this. There are tarot decks designed to work as playing cards as well. 

    Before you go wild and buy a corner pip tarot deck, be sure to check the decks you have at home! There are Rider-Waite decks with corner pips, even if they are not that common.

    Pamela Colman Smith’s Rider-Waite Playing Card Deck is a tarot deck with corner pips. I don’t own it yet, but it’s on my wishlist.

    However, one strange thing is that they have not included the suits from the playing cards in the borders – the clubs, diamonds, and alike. There is significant room for it at the edge. This could have been neat when you play games with the cards.

     play games

    Aaron from Learn Tarot Card Games recommended the Divine and Play Tarot deck by Matt Green (link to Kickstarter). Another alternative is The Standard Playing Card Tarot for tarot card gameplay.


    One might ask why it might be an excellent idea for a tarot reader to use the cards for games. Well, at first, I was a bit skeptical, as I’m not much of a card player. I hardly knew how to play poker before I started researching this article.

    I tried the Word Association game, and I enjoyed it. It’s like a speed draw. I was amazed at gaining insights when I let my guard down.

    I was drawn to the Solitare game. One benefit I instantly recognized was how easy it was to connect with my new deck. The game was an easy and unrestrained way to communicate with the cards.

    I thought it was more like having a good time with a friend. The tarot deck didn’t need to perform, and neither. I understand this is not for everyone, but give it a try. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

    Another great benefit is using it to milden the fear friends or family might have regarding tarot. By playing with the cards, they get comfortable with them. They see for themselves that the cards are not dangerous or “evil.” They are just cards that can be used for games and tools for spiritual growth. 

    If you feel conflicted using the same cards for games as for readings, I recommend you use a separate deck for this purpose.


    Are tarot cards supernatural?


    There are many card games you can play with a Rider-Waite style deck. The deck is not optimized for card games as it lacks corner pips. This makes it hard for the player to identify the cards when holding them in a fan.

    You can play most card games for playing cards by stripping your tarot deck from the Major Arcana and the “extra” court card – the page. This will leave you with a 52 card deck of the same structure as playing cards. 

    The same goes the other way around. You can read cards with a deck of playing cards as well. The opportunities are endless. 

    One benefit of playing games with your tarot cards is that you get to know your deck without the pressure of delivering a reading. It’s like having fun with a friend.

    Word Association is a great game for this. I never tried it before researching this article, but it’s a practice I will continue doing with new decks.

    There are tarot cards with pips to make it easier to play games. I think those are great for letting your family and friends get familiarized with tarot if they are a little fearful of them.

    Either way, you can do so many things with a tarot deck. It’s not limited to readings. Enjoy the wonderful world of tarot cards!

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric


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