Tarot cards are widely known to be used as a form of divination, but they actually started out life as playing cards. Although they have more cards, they are indeed very similar to your everyday playing cards; you have four decks - staves (clubs), swords (spades), pentacles (diamonds), and cups (heart). The main difference comes with the major arcana suit, which are used for fortune telling.
I first took an interest in tarot cards after watching an episode of Charmed many years ago, and bought myself a starter pack. I read through the guide book, admired the cards, and found it all fascinating. When it came to making a reading, however, I found myself at a loss. I had all the information at hand, but trying to interpret it into something that related to my question or my future was not as simple as it first seemed.
For example, The Magician card represents action, self-confidence, and determination but just because you have these traits, does not indicate whether or not you get the job you applied for.
I still enjoyed looking at the cards, but after a while, I stopped trying to make readings. Best leave that to the experts. Or perhaps learn how to become an expert? Instead of paying to have your fortune told, maybe you could take classes and learn the art for yourself. As informative as a book is, nothing beats learning from someone who knows what they're talking about.
On the 14th July, Tiffany Crosara will be running a workshop at Mysteries in Covent Garden. It is £100 to book, and will start with an introductory history, followed by a deep guided journey, in which you will meet all the the major arcana characters. In groups, you will get to explore mythology and symbolism behind each card, including their astrological & numerological influences.
If you want to go even deeper, then a £160 foundation course by Susan Corbie in Sevenoaks, Kent will give you all you need. Her next eight week course will start on the 26th September, and will include powerpoint talks, detailed handouts, a complimentary workshop CD, and an introduction to various card spreads.