The original Chinese playing cards appeared to be related to the Chinese paper money of the time. It looked like the Chinese people created the cards by copying paper money and then played Chinese games. A pack of Chinese playing cards was different form the European cards of today. They are much thinner.
During the Tang dynasty (618-907) as early as the 9th century, playing cards have been in existence. The relatives of a princess played a leaf game. The princess Tongchang played Chinese games i.e. the leaf game with the Wei clan members to pass time. The Song Dynasty (960-1279) Quyang Xui asserted that chinese playing cards have existed sine the mid Tang Dynasty. The Chinese word pai describes both paper cards and gaming tiles.
There were two main types of Chinese playing cards:
Kwan Pa'I is only 3/8 inch wide and contains only three suits - coins, strings of coins and myriads of strings of coins. A pack comprised of 30 cards - 9 of each suit plus an honor card. Coins-the honor card is known as Red Flower. Each string of coins has 10 coins and the honor card is known as White Flower. Myriad of coins is 10 strings of 10 coins. The honor card is known as old thousand.
Lut Chi was the other type of Chinese playing cards. These were used in the South of China and had an additional suit i.e. tens of myriads of coins. Lut Chi is also wider usually 1 x 1/8 x & 1/4 inches. Lut chi cards have 4 suits which have pictures resembling the original playing card suits of Asia and Europe. The string of coins resembles sticks or batons.
One popular chinese card game is poker. Chinese poker is well know game and often played in East Asia. It is also popular in other countries. It has become standardized for years and all professional players know the game rules. Chinese poker has to be played with a regular deck of 52 cards- no jokers and wild cards, up to 4 players in a table.
Zi Pai in mandarin is another Chinese game played with a specially printed deck. This games is popular in Mainland China particularly Huan Province. This Chinese game is interesting because of its general principles. The special deck has two series of cards and 80 pieces in total, from a number of 1-10. One has Chinese numbers characters and the other is numerical numbers. There are so many more Chinese games.