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A playing card is a piece of specially prepared pasteboard, heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic that is marked with distinguishing motifs. Often the front (face) and back of each card has a finish to make handling easier. They are most commonly used for playing card games, and are also used to perform magic tricks, for cardistry, in card throwing, and for building card houses. Some types of cards such as tarot cards are also used for divination. Playing cards are typically palm-sized for convenient handling, and usually are sold together in a set as a deck of cards or pack of cards.
Playing cards are available in a wide variety of styles, as decks may be custom-produced for casinos and magicians (sometimes in the form of trick decks), made as promotional items, or intended as souvenirs, artistic works, educational tools, or branded accessories. Decks of cards or even single cards are also collected as a hobby or for monetary value. Different types of card decks can be found in different areas of the world—while the standard 52-card deck is known and used internationally, other types of cards such as Japanese hanafuda and Italian playing cards are well-known in their locales. Cards may also be produced for trading card sets or collectable card games, which can comprise hundreds if not thousands of unique cards.

Playing cards were first invented in China during the Tang dynasty.

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