If you consider yourself a pro card player, you know that having the right game can make all the difference. After all, why settle for just concocting good poker night rules or throwing out your usual deck of cards when you can dive into some exhilarating and unique games?
Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic card games to choose from if you want to step up your game – from classic Hearts and its variations to more competitive games like Cribbage.
Whether getting ready for intense tournaments or polishing off an old favorite with family on a quiet evening, we have compiled the top five incredible card games for those who take their hobby seriously!
Traditional Card Games Professional Players will Love
Are you an expert card shark who wants to put your knowledge and skills to the test? If so, below are some games you should familiarize yourself with for more unique and competitive gameplay options.
A popular card game that you might have heard of before is Hearts. It’s an engaging, trick-taking card game where you do the opposite! Instead of taking tricks, you’ll be avoiding them since you can only win if you have the least penalty points.
Cards from the Hearts suit are usually equal to one penalty point, and other variations, like the Black Lady, will incorporate the Queen of Spades for more thrill as it gives you 13 penalty points. The goal is to avoid these cards and keep your points as low as possible.
Apart from Black Lady, another version called Black Maria incorporates the Queen, King (10 points), and Ace of Spades (seven points). These cards complicate the game, but you can try shooting the moon to subtract 43 points from your penalty points by capturing all penalty cards.
Cribbage has a rich history and has existed since the early 17th century. It’s known for its unique scoring system, which includes pegs that players use to keep track of their scores on a Cribbage board.
The basics of a Cribbage game:
- A two-player game where each player tries to score points by forming combinations of cards in their hand.
- The traditional scoring is through runs, pairs, flushes, three-of-a-kind, and fifteens.
- Runs are three or more cards in consecutive order, while a pair has two of the same card. Fifteens are cards that add up to 15, and flushes are four or more of the same suit.
- The objective is to go around the two tracks and complete the circuit until you reach 121 points before your opponent does.
At first, Cribbage can be confusing. However, the more you play, the easier it will be for you to master. It’s the perfect game if you’re good at making combinations and following patterns. Plus, it’s often played in pubs and bars, making it a great social game for friends!
Euchre is a popular trick-taking card game where four players are divided into two teams and use a standard deck with the numbers 2 to 8 removed. It was said to have originated from the old Alsatian game called Jucker, but it was introduced in the United States during the 19th century. It was also the first card game that introduced the Jokers into the modern deck of cards.
The game begins with each player receiving five cards in clockwise order. Moreover, how the cards are distributed differs since the first player accepts three cards, the second player receives two, and the third player receives one until the dealer has three cards. After that, a second batch is dealt to bring each player’s cards to five.
The goal is to win at least three tricks and gain points by taking the majority of tricks in a hand. It can be achieved by playing the highest card from the suit of the first card played unless there’s a trump. If your team manages to take all five tricks, they march or sweep the hand and gain an additional two points.
Also known as Contract Bridge, four players play this trick-taking card game in two competing partnerships. A standard deck of 52 cards is used, and the suit’s rank from highest to lowest is spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Meanwhile, the card’s ranking from highest to lowest is ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Specifics of Bridge:
- Dealer deals cards one at a time to each player until everyone has 13 cards
- Auction is when players make a call (pass, bid, double, redouble)
- Bid contracts are a specific number with either a trump or no trump
- Successive bids must be higher than the last one
- Tricks consist of four cards
- Declarer’s partner must spread his cards face-up and should be grouped in suits and a trump
- All players must follow the suit of the led card. If they don’t have a card from the same suit, they can play a trump card.
- Winners of each trick lead the next
Once all 13 tricks are played, the result is scored. Scoring can be confusing since many factors, such as the contract type, number of tricks taken, and premiums like honours or slams, can affect it. However, once you get the hang of it, Bridge is an incredibly thrilling game to play with friends.
Last but not least is Pinochle. It’s one of the most difficult trick-taking card games that’s part of the Ace-Ten family. Ace-Ten means the cards Aces and Tens are of particularly high value. This classic two-player card game resembles Euchre, Spades, and Bridge. However, it also has melding elements that make it more tricky.
Each card and meld has specific values for scoring. For instance:
- Ace: 11 pts.
- 10: 10 pts.
- King: 4 pts.
- Queen: 3 pts.
- Jack: 2 pts.
- Last trick: 10 pts.
- Nines: have no point value.
The trick-taking portion in Pinochle is the same as other games, but the melding part is where it gets interesting. Melding happens when players show specific combinations of cards from their hands, which are then added to their score. Some common melds are Pinochles (Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades), Aces Around, and Marriage (King and Queen in the same suit). The first player to reach 1,000 points wins.
Prepare Your Strategies for More Challenging Card Games
If you have what it takes to be a card game master, why not try these formidable games? Each offers a different experience and eccentric gameplay to entertain you for hours. Gather your friends, pick a game, and have fun trying out different strategies to win! Who knows, you might discover your new favorite card game. The best part is you can play them on your smartphone or PC for those who want to develop their skills first!