I grew up in a house of five. We had a penchant for taking road trips to see family, or to declare certain nights “Family Game Night.” Though we were all fans of board games, it was always easy to keep a deck of cards around to be ready to entertain ourselves. There are plenty of card games out there, which are good to know (all the variations of poker, blackjack, Solitaire, etc.) The list I have compiled is one, which I believe, gives versatility to your card playing, and all the games are fairly simple to understand. I will just give you my reasons for why you should know how to play the game, and I’ll link you to a set of rules which I believe to be coherent.
First up is Rummy, also called Gin Rummy. This game is easy to play, once you have a handle on the rules, and Rummy can be played with anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6 people. Since it is a game in which points rack up quickly, any hand can change the course of a game. Usually the game is played to a set point value (100 points, 200 points, it doesn’t really matter), but, if you’re like me, and you like to play in restaurants or coffee shops to pass the time, Rummy is easy enough to stop whenever you are interrupted.
There are a lot of variations of this game in the world, and I am sure that there are some variations from place-to-place as well. When you look at the rules, I would suggest you take the option of not forcing a play to the table if the top card from the discard pile is taken, but enforcing all the restrictions if they choose to “dig” for a card. Have fun!
A staple in my household. This is the farmer’s card game, and, growing up in the midwest, everybody learned how to play at some point. I have a fond memories of playing in Euchre tournaments with my brother, and even winning! This is a partner game to be played with four people. So, whenever one of the kids was out for the night, my parents and the remaining children would sit down and play a few games. One of the odd, but beneficial, parts of the game is you only play with the cards 9-A (going up). It’s possible the game was so popular in my house because we had a hard time keeping a full deck around.
Euchre is a tricks-based game, and, like other trick-based games, involves trump. There are some funny rules in Euchre about trump, and it is hard to catch on if you are just watching with no idea of how the game is played. I encourage you to check out the rules, find some people who know how to play, and let them guide you. You might even pick up some of the farmer lingo like being “in the barn,” or the infamous celebratory dance “churn the butter.”
This is another 4-person game, which made it a regular in my household, but Hearts is a individual’s game, no partner. I learned to play this playing Hoyle Classic Games on our old computer. Hearts is all about following suit, keeping control, and understanding card distribution. Hearts and Euchre together are a fine introduction to strategic card playing and being aware of the other players in your game.
It’s scored kind of like golf, in that you don’t want to accumulate points (hearts), but there is a wonderful bit of riskiness involved, because if you collect all the hearts on a given hand, everybody else gets all the hearts. This is called “Shooting the Moon.” Hearts is a fun game that will keep you on your toes, and teach you a little bit about how to follow what other players are doing.
This game is fun, fast, and secretive. A common game at camp and at the pool, this partner game is all about getting 4-of-a-kind and letting your partner know, without anybody else noticing. The key to Kemps is coming up with a good signal, and keeping your eyes up! The gist of it is, when you get 4-of-a-kind you give your partner the secret signal and they declare “KEMPS!” to say they know you have 4-of-a-kind. When that happens, all the other pairs get a letter. First pair to have K-E-M-P-S, loses. The other way you can get other pairs letters is by identifying their secret sign, and calling them out on it before the partner declares “KEMPS!”
In my experience, Kemps is best played with 2 or 3 partner pairs. You can do it with more, but if you do, I suggest adding a second deck of cards. This game is a lot of fun, and very energetic. I played couple weeks ago with my girlfriend, her brother, and his wife. At the end of the game all of our hearts were pounding…we probably had to stay up an extra half-hour to let ourselves settle down before going to bed. So, my advice, don’t play before bed!
Obviously, this is not a be-all, end-all of card games. There are innumerable fun card games out there, these are just the ones that I think give you versatility as a friendly card player. Comment, and let me know what other card games you enjoy!