Did Romans Have Card Games?

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By Eric Wilson

The Roman Empire is known for its rich history, art, and architecture. But did you know that the Romans also enjoyed playing games While it’s unclear whether they had card games as we know them today, there is evidence that they played games using cards.

The Roman Deck of Cards

The Roman deck of cards was called the “tesserae” and was made up of small rectangular tiles made of bone, ivory or wood. These tiles were often decorated with symbols or images that represented the various ranks in the Roman military or other important figures in Roman society.

While these tiles were not used in a traditional card game sense, they were used to play various games of chance. Players would toss the tiles on a table and then bet on which ones would land face up or face down.

Other Roman Games

In addition to the tesserae, the ancient Romans enjoyed playing a variety of other games. One such game was “Latrunculi,” which was a strategy game similar to chess. Another popular game was “Tali,” which involved rolling four dice and trying to get certain combinations.


While there is no definitive evidence that the ancient Romans played card games as we know them today, they did have their own version using tesserae. Additionally, they enjoyed many other games that required strategy and chance. So, it’s safe to say that gaming has been a part of human culture for thousands of years!