Card Games

"Card games are serious business!"

One of the classic genres of games. Card games are fairly simple: A series of cards with numbers, words, pictures or some other symbolism are dealt and then, either by yourself or with someone else, you pit the values of the cards against each other in what boils down in most games to basic math.

Playing cards originated in China as early as the 11th century and took the world by storm, making up the majority of modern games. When they came to Europe (via Arabic countries) in the late 14th century, the standard of 52 cards, with each of the four suits having cards numbered from 1 to 10 plus three court cards, had already been established. In Europe this system evolved in several directions (regional standards still exist in southern and central Europe). The de facto international standard of four suits most known today — hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs — appeared in 16th century France.

See Playing Card Motifs.
  • 31 - Cards are only counted if they are of matching suits, with whoever has the lowest losing a counter (commonly a quarter), if a player is the lowest four times, they are out of the game.
  • Blackjack/21 - the gambler's game; made into a game show, as Gambit
  • Bridge - the intellectual card game, with a rich Metagame
  • Euchre - a partnership-based trick-taking game in the Bridge-Whist family played with a deck of 24 cards (A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9 of each suit). A common pastime in the midwest of America, particularly the Great Lakes area, where it was probably developed by German immigrants; Michiganders are particularly fanatical about the game.
  • Go Fish - a simple game played by children and those who don't want to think too hard
  • Hearts - a variation on the classic "four-person trick-winning game" which was once popular, gradually became less so over time, and was then revived when Microsoft PCs started coming with an electronic version fitted as standard.
  • High-Lo: Try to guess which card in a line will be high or low. Also made into a game show, as Card Sharks.
  • Kaiser
  • Mao
  • Poker - the mathematician's game, with associated tropes
  • Preferans - traditionally, the most popular game in Russia. Now not exactly the most popular, but still with a cult following.
  • Rummy
  • Sheepshead - in the same family as Spades and Hearts; popular in Wisconsin.
  • Skat - traditionally, the most popular game in Germany.
  • Solitaire - the loner's game; actually a catch-all for hundreds of games played by a single player (not that the media recognize more than one or two variants).
  • Spades - another four-person trick-winning game revived by Microsoft.
  • Square - a game of the elementary skills of number-matching and teamwork (or, depending on who you're playing with, insanity and more insanity).
  • Tarot - a family of games distantly related to Bridge and Whist and played with various forms of Tarot decks. French tarot is particularly interesting because of its three-against-one playing style, but there are other versions played in Italy and central Europe.
  • Whist - a popular team-based card game ancestral to Bridge.

Other types of playing card decks are in use in Europe and Asia. These include French tarot, Italian tarot and Indian ganjifa. Mahjong may be considered a close cousin despite using tiles. The tarot deck, by the way, was originally (and still is) used for card games, and those games gave rise to the modern concept of a trump suit.

Then there are Collectible Card Games (CCGs). This genre combines the collectability of, for instance, baseball cards, with the mechanics of a card game. They generally have vivid artwork and complicated effects and strategies. Some take place in an original universe, and others are tie-ins to movies or TV series. Some are massively popular, with tournaments and thousands of cards.

Deckbuilding Games are a subgenre of CCGs. Players build their decks by exchanging cards during the game.

Between these are "dedicated deck" card games, which use cards with illustrations to implement whatever game concept the designer had. Like Collectible Card Games, these often have rule text printed on the cards. describes the rules for many card games around the world.

Oh, and don't mess with children's card games, because card games are Serious Business. Especially on motorcycles.

Alternative Title(s): Card Game