What is a ‘Suicide King’?
The suicide king is the king of hearts, one of the 52 cards in a standard playing deck. The name comes from the design, which often appears to show the character with their own sword or knife in their head. The kings in a deck of cards are based on real monarchs from history. The king of hearts if often known as ‘Charlemagne’ or simply ‘Charles’, referring to France’s famed ruler Charles I. Each has its own set of nicknames, as well as collective names for the king group such as ‘cowboys’ or ‘knights’.
‘Suicide King’ Explained
If a poker or blackjack player says that they held the suicide king, they are referring to the king of hearts. In a pack of playing cards, there are four kings – one each for clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts. These are loosely based on old French monarchs, though over time the designs and styles have been altered. In a traditional pack of cards, each king was represented slightly differently, and the king of hearts wielded a sword, knife or axe behind his head in the picture. In bad copies of the card style by poor craftsmen, this blade often appeared to be causing a nasty injury to the character – the name ‘suicide king’ has stuck, even though designers have since corrected the common fault.
The king of hearts is based on Charles I and it has several nicknames which reflect this, including Charlemagne and Charles. The other kings are David (spades), Alexander (clubs) and Cesar (diamonds). Together these four cards form the second highest group in the pack, beaten only by the aces. In some games, aces play low making the king cards the most valuable and the most likely to win. In games of blackjack, kings all have a value of ten, along with the rest of the court cards.