Historians believe that the first card games were played by the Chinese in about A.D. 800. By the thirteenth century, card games appeared in Italy, then became popular in other countries of Europe. Playing cards did not resemble the modern version with four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades) until the 1500s, when such cards were used in France.
Further Information: Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.