Four ways to use playing cards for simple decision making


I’ve been reading playing cards for almost two decades and I believe they can be used to answer any question from deep spiritual issues to mundane questions about the weather.

I have used them to provide detailed physical descriptions and find lost objects. But one of the ways I use them most often is in simple decision making.

Structure of a playing card deck

The first thing to understand is the structure of a standard deck of cards. There are 52 cards in a standard deck, plus the Jokers. There are four card suits: Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds, and Spades.

  • Pip cards – these are the suit cards numbered Ace (1) through 10.
  • Face cards – these are the suit cards with people on them. There are three types of people – Jacks, Queens and Kings.
  • Joker(s) – there’s always at least one joker in the deck. Some decks will contain two jokers that look different from one another.

Every aspect of the deck has meaning. The suits give insight into your mood, behavior, and the areas of life that hold the most influence over you. The numbers represent cycles of life that are constantly changing. By understanding the number vibration, you can determine how circumstances are developing. The face cards signify important people influencing you as well as the roles you play. The Jokers are wild cards and, when they appear, your life is transforming in unusual ways.

Get out your playing cards

We’ll be looking at a few ways to use playing cards for simple decision making, so get out your playing cards. If you don’t have playing cards, get your tarot deck. As a tarot reader who became a playing card reader, my interpretations are very similar to tarot and are derived from my understanding of suit energies and numerology. These are my correspondences for the suits:

  • Cups = Hearts
  • Pentacles = Diamonds
  • Wands = Clubs
  • Swords = Spades

Since there are no Pages or Major Arcana cards in the playing card deck, you will have to remove these from your tarot deck. However, you can keep The Fool in the deck as the Joker.

Now, let’s look at 4 ways to use your playing cards (or tarot deck) for simple decision making.

1. Answer yes/no questions

Playing cards are ideal for answering yes/no questions. There are two red suits (Hearts and Diamonds) and two black suits (Clubs and Spades). In general, the red cards relate to a positive outcome due to patience and persistence (Diamonds) and optimism and happiness (Hearts). The black cards show challenges and obstacles borne out of frustration and impatience (Clubs) and pessimism and unhappiness (Spades). Therefore, I use the red cards for yes or affirmative answers and black cards for no or negative answers.

Let’s say we want to make some decisions about taking a vacation. First, we’ll start with a yes/no question.

Use all of the cards in the deck. Select one card and use the card color for your interpretation. Red card = yes. Black card = no. If you get the Joker, this might not be the right time to ask the question. Your life may be transforming in such radical ways that the question becomes irrelevant. The card chosen is the 10 of Diamonds. It’s a red card showing YES, it’s the right time to plan a vacation.


2. Make Choices

When there are choices to be made, playing card suit descriptions can be helpful. Like tarot, each suit has a variety of correspondences and relates to different desires and actions. Using this information can help you narrow down your choices.

Clubs reflect the drive, energy and ambition you put forward to reach your goals. They show your desire to get moving, take action, defeat the enemy, and achieve victory. Clubs relate to movement, action, exercise and adventure.

Hearts reflect your emotional state, the status of your relationships, and your ideals and wishes. They show your desire to share and cooperate, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and discover what truly makes you happy. Hearts relate to love, romance, dreams, and pleasure.

Diamonds reflect your sense of financial and emotional security, and issues concerning structure and stability. They reflect your desire to acquire things, to increase your financial status, and to feel satisfied with your progress and station in life. Diamonds relate to money, luxury, status, and investments.

Spades reflect areas of blockage, conflict, and a need for change and elimination. They show you when it’s time to move on, give up on a bad habit, or release a destructive or unhealthy pattern in your life. Spades relate to detoxification, rehabilitation, and transformative experiences.

Back to our vacation example… Let’s figure out what type of vacation to plan. Using our suit correspondences, we’ll designate Clubs to reflect an outdoor adventure, Hearts for a romantic getaway, Diamonds for a luxury cruise, and Spades for a detox spa. Use all the cards except the Jokers. Choose one card, looking at the card suit for your answer. We choose the King of Clubs, representing an outdoor adventure.


3. Rank Several Options

This method works well when you have several options to choose from. Now that we know what type of vacation to take, we still need a location. We have a list of 5 different options (Arizona, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Hawaii and Alaska) and would like to see how they rank from the most enjoyable place for our outdoor adventure to the least enjoyable place.

Use all of the cards except the Jokers. Choose one card for each option. The ranking goes from King (highest) to Ace (lowest). These are the cards chosen.


Here’s the ranking from most to least enjoyable location:

1. Hawaii – Queen of Clubs
2. Jamaica – Jack of Hearts
3. Puerto Rico – 6 of Spades
4. Arizona – 3 of Diamonds
5. Alaska – Ace of Diamonds


4. Determine Timing

With playing cards, we’ve determined what to do and where to go on vacation. Now we need to figure out the best time of year to go.

There are 52 playing cards corresponding to 52 weeks of the year. There are also 13 cards in each suit corresponding to the 13 weeks in each season. The Ace represents the first week of the season while the King represents the 13th week of the season. Here are my seasonal correspondences for each suit:

  • Clubs = Spring
  • Hearts = Summer
  • Diamonds = Autumn
  • Spades = Winter

Use all cards except Jokers. Select one card. The number on the card reveals the week and the suit reveals the season. The 6 of Diamonds is chosen, signifying the 6th week of Autumn which is the last week of October.


Using these four decision-making methods, we’ve come to the conclusion that our next vacation will be an outdoor adventure in Hawaii planned for the last week of October.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these simple decision making methods using playing cards. Be creative and brainstorm new ways to use the card colors, numbers, and suits to answer your questions.

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  1. jasey says:

    I looked into learning tarot with playing cards and there was a poem to help remember what the numbers were for. New beginnings troubles etc. I can’t find it now. Can you help?

  2. Niju Mohan says:

    Hi Beth,

    Do you have any book that you can recommend me about reading playing cards? I want to explore this bit.

    • Hi Niju! I wrote the article and teach an online course on reading playing cards called Your Future Is In The Cards on With playing cards, there are many different systems and vastly differing interpretations unlike with tarot where the meanings are more consistent. So it’s best to research playing card systems out there and find one that appeals to you and study it. There’s one book I recommend: Speed Learning Cartomancy: Fortune Telling with Playing Cards by Julian Moore. Good luck!

    • Great question Jessica! I’d say tarot is a lot easier to learn for two reasons:

      (1) tarot already has a consistent system of interpreting the cards for the most part and lots of resources to learn to read them. Even if you have different tarot decks, you can find resources that will explain how to read the system of tarot. Playing cards have no consistent system so each playing card reader may have learned a completely different set of meanings for the cards. I always advise people to research a system that resonates with you and just stick with that.

      (2) tarot is visual and many people are visual learners. The visual gives you a place to start understanding the card and you can apply the story method of reading which is just saying what you see. I’ve also discovered that many tarot readers are actually using the images to scry meaning rather than interpreting the card itself. With playing cards, the visual boils down to colors (red and black) and shapes (suit emblems). I find its simplicity appealing since the artwork of many tarot decks overwhelms me.

      Hope that helps!

  3. helen says:

    hi beth,

    i asked playing cards when will i get a job and how soon will i start; this is what i got –
    ace of diamonds, 8 of diamonds and 3 of diamonds…i was confused by this and pulled 5 of spades. any help appreciated. thanks H

    • Hi Helen! If you’re using my 3-card spread, I would interpret this as you currently have an opportunity for greater security, most likely though some work experience. The Ace in the first position gives me the impression an opportunity has already presented itself. There will be a change of status soon (8 of Diamonds) which leads to an increase (3 of Diamonds). This may be an increase in workload or pay…not necessarily a new job. It also shows getting a job little by little as if it will happen slowly.

      If, however, you set the intention of pulling a timing card based on the seasons to answer your question, the Diamonds cards mean the job won’t come through until August.

      I’m not sure how the 5 of Spades plays into this since I’m not sure what you were intending to clarify. Less is more. Pulling more cards for clarification often leads to more confusion instead of clarification. Hope that helps!


  4. HELEN says:

    Hi Kristen,
    my partner pulled three cards out asking about a new job opportunity.
    8 of spades, 9 of spades and 9 of hearts. regards H

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