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News from Mathnasium of Tyrone

Word Problem Wednesday: Playing Cards with Ace and Addy

Oct 17, 2019

Math can be found in the most unexpected of places. In fact, some of our most beloved games involve using and practicing math ⁠— and we may not even realize it! Great math tutors often use playing cards, chess, or other popular games in their math programs for kids in order to encourage mathematical thinking.

Today’s word problem challenge gives students a chance to practice their elementary math skills such as patterns, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. It’s a fun way to give your brain a workout! Go ahead and give the question below a try.

Question: A brand new deck of 52 cards has the Ace of Hearts on top. The next card is the Ace of Spades, then the Ace of Diamonds, then the Ace of Clubs. The 5th card is the 2 of Hearts. If the pattern continues, which card will be 38th? How can you tell without flipping all the cards until you reach the 38th?

Take your time working it out. When you're ready, look below to check your solution against ours.


Solution: The pattern of the suits repeats every 4 cards. After every 4 cards, the value increases by 1. So, to find out which card is 38th, we divide 38 ÷ 4 = 9 sets of 4 cards with 2 left over. That means that the 38th card is 2 cards into the 10s. The second suit in the pattern is spades, so the 38th card is the 10 of Spades.