Jack (playing card)
A Jack, also Knave, is a playing card
Playing card
A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic, marked with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games...

 with a picture of a man on it. The usual rank of a jack, within its suit
Suit (cards)
In playing cards, a suit is one of several categories into which the cards of a deck are divided. Most often, each card bears one of several symbols showing to which suit it belongs; the suit may alternatively or in addition be indicated by the color printed on the card...

, is as if it were an 11 (that is, between the queen
Queen (playing card)
The Queen is a playing card with a picture of a queen on it. The usual rank of a queen is as if it were 12 ....

 and the 10).

As the lowest face (or "court") card, the jack often represents a minimum standard — for example, many poker games require a minimum hand of a pair of jacks ("jacks or better") in order to start the betting.


As early as the mid-16th century the card was known in English decks as the Knave (meaning a male servant of royalty). It became Jack in 1864, when Samuel Hart, an English cardmaker, published a deck using J instead of Kn for the lowest court card. The Knave had been called a Jack as part of the terminology of All-Fours
All Fours, also known as High-Low-Jack or Seven Up, is an English tavern trick-taking card game that was popular as a gambling game until the end of the 19th century...

 since the 17th century, but this was not common usage because the word was considered vulgar. However, because the card abbreviation for knave was so close to that of the king, it was very easy to confuse them, especially after suits and rankings were moved to the corners of the card in order to enable people to fan them in one hand and still see all the values. The earliest known deck to place suits and rankings in the corner of the card is from 1693, but these cards did not become common until after 1864 when Hart reintroduced them along with the knave-to-jack change. However, books of card games published in the third quarter of the 19th century evidently still referred to the "knave", and the term with this definition is still recognized in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. (Note the exclamation by Estella in Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

's novel Great Expectations
Great Expectations
Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in serial form in the publication All the Year Round from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. It has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times....

: "He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!")


In decks with English faces, the jack and the other face cards represent no one in particular — this is in contrast to the historical French practice, in which each court card is said to represent a particular historical or mythological personage. The jacks in a French-styled deck have traditionally assigned names as follows:
  • Jack of Spades: Ogier the Dane
    Ogier the Dane
    Ogier the Dane is a legendary character who first appears in an Old French chanson de geste, in the cycle of poems Geste de Doon de Mayence....

     (legendary hero of the chansons de geste) or Holger Danske
    Holger Danske
    Holger Danske, or Ogier the Dane, is a legendary character appearing in medieval chansons de geste.Holger Danske may also refer to:*Holger Danske a Danish resistance group of World War II...

     (a knight of Charlemagne)
  • Jack of Hearts: La Hire
    La Hire
    Étienne de Vignolles, called La Hire, was a French military commander during the Hundred Years' War. His nickname of La Hire would be that the English had nicknamed "the Hire-God" . He fought alongside Joan of Arc in the campaigns of 1429...

     (French warrior)
  • Jack of Diamonds: Hector
    In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

     (mythological hero of the Iliad
    The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

  • Jack of Clubs: Lancelot
    Sir Lancelot du Lac is one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. He is the most trusted of King Arthur's knights and plays a part in many of Arthur's victories...

     or Judas Maccabeus
    Judas Maccabeus
    Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...


Last man Jack
Last man Jack
Last man Jack is a euphemism that has crossed into mainstream English from the sport of cricket.The term has come to mean "every single person", as in the following example:...

(sometimes stated as every man Jack) is a euphemism that has crossed into mainstream English from the sport
A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree...

 of cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...


The term has come to mean "every single person", as in the following examples:

They're scoundrels... to the last man Jack!

You're to rescue them... every man Jack of them!

The term originates from a cricket pun. In the cricket batting order
Batting order (cricket)
In cricket, the batting order is the sequence in which batsmen play through their team's innings, there always being two batsmen taking part at any one time...

, the worst batsman is listed at number 11. The "last man" (to bat) can therefore be referred to using playing cards terminology; following numbers 8, 9 and 10 comes Jack.


The figure of the Jack has been quoted in many literary works throughout the centuries. Among these is one by the English writer Samuel Rowlands
Samuel Rowlands
Samuel Rowlands , English author of pamphlets in prose and verse, which reflect the follies and humours of the lower middle-class life of his time, seems to have had no contemporary literary reputation; but his work throws considerable light on the development of popular literature and social life...

, a prolific writer of the end of the sixteenth and early part of the succeeding century. The Four Knaves is a series of Satirical Tracts, with Introduction and Notes by E. F. Rimbault, upon the subject of playing cards. His The Knave of Clubbs: Tis Merry When Knaves Meet was first published in 1600, then again in 1609 and 1611. In accordance with a promise at the end of this book, Rowlands went on with his series of Knaves, and in 1612 gave to the world The Knave of Harts: Haile Fellowe, Well Meet, where his Supplication To Card-Makers appears. It was probably written to the English manufacturers who copied the Court figures created by the French to the English decks.

Example cards

These card designs are based on those from a historical French deck, and include the historical and mythological names associated with the French cards. The Anglo-American designs can be seen in the photo at the top of the page.

A trickster figure

The lowest court figure of the Jack has been, from the earliest known European card games like Karnöffel
Karnöffel is a card game which probably came from the upper-German language area in Europe in the first quarter of the 15th century. It first appeared "listed in a municipal ordinance of Nördlingen, Bavaria, in 1426 among the games that could be lawfully played at the annual city fête...

 to the more recent ones like Euchre
Euchre or eucre, is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people in two partnerships with a deck of 24 standard playing cards. It is the game responsible for introducing the joker into modern packs; this was invented around 1860 to act as a top trump or best bower...

, mysteriously promoted to a higher or the highest position in the traditional rank of cards where the Ace or King usually occupy the first place. Games with such reversal include
  • Karnöffel
    Karnöffel is a card game which probably came from the upper-German language area in Europe in the first quarter of the 15th century. It first appeared "listed in a municipal ordinance of Nördlingen, Bavaria, in 1426 among the games that could be lawfully played at the annual city fête...

  • Jass
    Jass is a trick taking card game and a distinctive branch of the Marriage family, popularly supposed to be the progenitor of the American game of Pinochle...

  • Loo
    Lanterloo, also known as Loo, is a 17th-century trick taking game of the Trump family of which many varieties are recorded. It belongs to a line of card games whose members include Nap, Euchre, Rams, Mao, Hombre, and Spoil Five...

  • Primero
    Primero, Prime, Primus, Primiera, Primavista, often referred to as “Poker’s mother”, as it is the first confirmed version of a game directly related to modern day poker, is a 16th century gambling card game of which the earliest reference dates back to 1526...

  • Bezique
    Bezique is a 19th-century French melding and trick-taking card game for two players derived from Marriage via Briscan by the addition of more scoring features, notably the peculiar liaison of Q and J, under the names Bésigue, Binokel, Pinochle, etc., according to the country.-History:Bezique was...

  • Hearts
  • Noddy
    Noddy (card game)
    Noddy , Noddie, Nodde, is a 16th century English card game ancestor of Cribbage. It is the oldest identifiable card game with this gaming structure and a relative to the more-complicated 18th century game Costly Colours.- History :...

  • Clobyosh
  • Spoil Five
  • Forty-fives
    Forty-Fives is a trick-taking card game that is played in Ireland and on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in some parts of New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia where it is known...

  • Cribbage
    Cribbage, or crib, is a card game traditionally for two players, but commonly played with three, four or more, that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations which gain points...

  • Trappola
    Trappola is an early 16th century Venetian trick-taking card game which spread to most parts of Central Europe and survived, in various forms and under various names like Trapulka, Bulka and Hundertspiel until perhaps the middle of the 20th century...

  • All-Fours
    All Fours, also known as High-Low-Jack or Seven Up, is an English tavern trick-taking card game that was popular as a gambling game until the end of the 19th century...

  • Maw
    -Biology:* The stomach or mouth, usually of an animal* A fish's gas bladder * Abomasum, the fourth stomach of a ruminant-Games:* Maw , a card game*The Maw *The final level of Halo: Combat Evolved...

  • Doppelkopf
    Doppelkopf , also abbreviated to "Doko," is a trick-taking card game for four players. The origins of this game are not well known; it is assumed that it originated from the game Schafkopf....

  • Euchre
    Euchre or eucre, is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people in two partnerships with a deck of 24 standard playing cards. It is the game responsible for introducing the joker into modern packs; this was invented around 1860 to act as a top trump or best bower...

  • Sheepshead
    Sheepshead or Sheephead is a trick-taking card game related to the Skat family of games. It is the Americanized version of a card game that originated in Central Europe in the late 18th century under the German name Schafkopf. Although Schafkopf literally means "sheepshead", it has nothing to do...

  • Marjolet
    Marjolet is a French 6-card trick-and-draw game for two players using a 32-card piquet pack. It is of the King–Queen type, related to Bezique and Pinochle.-Rules:...

  • Skat
  • Polignac
    Polignac (card game)
    Polignac , the version of Knaves, is a French 18th century trick-taking card game ancestral to Hearts and Black Maria. It is played by 3-6 players with a 32-card deck. It is sometimes played as a party game with the 52-card pack, however, it is better as a serious game for four, playing all against...

  • Mouche
    Mouche may refer to:* Mouche de moutarde, a cataplasm to treat respiratory infections in Eastern Canada* Mouches volantes, a minor form of visual impairment* Bateaux Mouches, a type of boat...

  • Napoleon
    Napoleon (card game)
    Napoleon or Nap is a straightforward trick taking game in which players receive five cards each; whoever bids the highest number of tricks chooses trumps and tries to win at least that many. It is a simplified relative of Euchre, and with many variations throughout Northern Europe...

  • Black Maria
  • Juckerspiel
  • Pinochle
    Pinochle or Binocle is a trick-taking game typically for two to four players and played with a 48 card deck. Derived from the card game bezique, players score points by trick-taking and also by forming combinations of cards into melds. It is thus considered part of a "trick-and-meld" category...

  • Reversis
    Reversis, or more rarely, Réversi, is a very old trick-taking card game of the Hearts group whose origin is supposed to be Italian, transformed into Spain and then in France. It is considered one of the two probable ancestor of Hearts and Black Maria, the other being Conquimbert, or Losing Lodam...

  • Schafkopf
    Schafkopf, also called Schaffkopf, is a late 18th century German trick-taking card game most popular in Bavaria, but also played in other parts of Germany as well as other German-speaking countries like Austria. Its modern descendants are Doppelkopf, Skat and the North American game of Sheepshead...

  • Ruff
    Ruff and Honours
    Ruff and Honours, a successor of the French game Triomphe with many different spellings, is a 17th century card game derivative of Ruff, the ancestor of Whist, which in turn was the forerunner of bridge and many other trick-taking card games like Whisk and Swabbers.-History:This game was first...

  • Klaberjass
    Klaberjass or Bela is a widespread international trick-taking card game that is most popular in Jewish communities. In its basic form it is a 6-card trick-and-draw game for two players using a 32-card piquet pack....

  • La Bête
    La Bête
    La Bête is a comedy by American playwright, David Hirson. Written in rhymed couplets of iambic pentameter, the Molière-inspired story, set in 17th century France, pits dignified, stuffy Elomire, the head of the royal court-sponsored theatre troupe, against the foppish, frivolous street entertainer...

  • Belote
    Belote is a 32-card trick-taking game played in France, and is currently one of the most popular card games in that country. It was invented around 1920, probably from Klaverjas, Klaverjassen, a game played since at least the 17th century in the Netherlands...

  • Five-hundred
    500 (card game)
    500, Five Hundred, is a game devised in America shortly before 1900 and promoted by the United States Playing Card Company, who copyrighted and marketed the rules in 1904. The game can be played by two to six players but the most common form is for four players in partnerships although some sources...

See also

  • List of poker hand nicknames
  • One-eyed jack
  • "The Jack", a song by AC/DC
    AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Commonly classified as hard rock, they are considered pioneers of heavy metal, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply "rock and roll"...

    , in which the playing card is a metaphor for a sexually transmitted disease
    Sexually transmitted disease
    Sexually transmitted disease , also known as a sexually transmitted infection or venereal disease , is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex...

  • The Knave of Hearts
    Knave of Hearts (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
    The Knave of Hearts is a character from the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.-Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:The Knave of Hearts is mentioned first in chapter 8, and chapters 11 and 12 deal with his trial for a tart robbery in which the King of Hearts presides as judge...

    , a character in Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll
    Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

    's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures...

  • The Jack of Diamonds
    Jack of Diamonds (artists)
    Jack of Diamonds , also called Knave Of Diamonds, was a group of artists founded in 1909 in Moscow. The group included Robert Falk, Aristarkh Lentulov, Ilya Mashkov, Alexander V. Kuprin, Alexander Osmerkin, Wladimir Burliuk, and Pyotr Konchalovsky. The Knave of Diamonds was a scandalous exhibition...

    , a group of artists founded in 1909 in Moscow
    Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

  • "Jack of Diamonds
    Jack of Diamonds (song)
    Jack of Diamonds is a traditional folk song. It is a Texas gambling song that was popularized by Blind Lemon Jefferson. It was sung by railroad men who had lost money playing Coon can. At least twelve white artists recorded the tune before World War II...

    ", a traditional folk song
  • Jack of Diamonds, the title used by George de Sand in the 1994 anime Mobile Fighter G Gundam
    Mobile Fighter G Gundam
    Mobile Fighter G Gundam, known in Japan as , is a Japanese animated television series directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa . Created to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the franchise in 1994, it is the first of the Gundam series to be set in an alternate continuity from the original "Universal Century"...

  • Knave of Hearts
    Knave of Hearts (film)
    Knave of Hearts is a 1954 film about the adventures of a French philanderer in Paris and London. In France, it was released as Monsieur Ripois . In the United States, it was originally released as Lovers, Happy Lovers!, then later re-released as Lover Boy...

    , a 1954 film directed by René Clément
  • The Jack of Hearts
    Jack of Hearts
    Jack of Hearts is a fictional character, a superhero in the Marvel Comics universe.-Publication history:Jack of Hearts first appeared in the black & white magazine Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #22 , and was created by writer Bill Mantlo and illustrator Keith Giffen...

     (Jack Hart), a Marvel Comics
    Marvel Comics
    Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

  • The Jack of Hearts
    The Jack of Hearts
    The Jack of Hearts is a 1919 short Western film directed by B. Reeves Eason....

    , a 1919 short Western film
  • "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
    Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
    "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts", is a song by Bob Dylan released on the 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. There have been two screenplays written based on the song: one by John Kaye and commissioned by Dylan, and another written by James Byron...

    ", a song by Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

  • Pub (trans. The Jack), an album by Đorđe Balašević.
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