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"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.

Before paper cards, wood or bone tiles were often used and can still be found in some types of "card" games. Tile games like Dominoes and Mahjong even share game types with cards, such as the Trick-Taking Game.

Playing cards originated in China as early as the 11th century and took the world by storm, making up the majority of modern games. In Europe this system evolved in several directions (regional standards still exist in southern and central Europe).

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Modern Playing Cards

When they came to Europe (via the Silk Road) 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. The de facto international standard of four suits most known today — hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs — appeared in 16th century France.

  • 22 — A trick-taking game in which your goal is not to take the last trick. Players who take the last trick add their last card to their score and deal the next hand. Players are eliminated upon accruing 22 points until only one remains.
  • 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 (aka 21) — the gambler's game; made into a game show, as Gambit
  • Bridge — the intellectual card game, with a rich Metagame
  • Bullshit / BS / Cheat — a popular card shedding game that rewards outrageous cheating
  • Canasta — A partnership-based melding game that originated in Uruguay. Was a massive fad in the U.S. in The '50s, and is sometimes claimed to be the reason standard decks started including jokers.
  • Crazy Eights — a matching game, fairly simple in its basic form, but it having No Unified Ruleset can result in Calvinball levels of complexity. Commercialized as Uno.
  • 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
  • Kings — a combination card and drinking game.
  • Old Maid — Another game popular with children. Match pairs of cards while trying not to get left with the only one that doesn't match.
  • 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.
  • Durak — The other popular Russian card game, which poked Preferens from the top of the heap. Can also very easily turn into card-based Calvinball.
  • 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).
    • Freecell — a Solitaire variant with the possibility to win almost any game.
  • 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).
  • Truco
  • Whist — a popular team-based card game ancestral to Bridge.

Collectible Card Games

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

Similar to CCGs in that players have individual decks, but they are created during the game from a shared pool. No collectibility is involved, and all players have equal access to cards.

"Dedicated Deck" games

Between CCGs and Deckbuilding Games are these, which use cards with illustrations to implement whatever game concept the designer had. Like in CCGs, these often have rule text printed on the cards and decks are set-up before the game. As in Deckbuilding Games, there's usually a fixed number of cards per deck that aren't collected individually, though there may be add-on decks.



Ganjifa (aka Ganjapa or Gânjaphâ) is a card game from the Middle-East and Indian subcontinent. The cards can be circles or rectangles and have a long history. The Other Wiki has more.


A number of different card sets and games that fall under two general categories, Portuguese-derived and Eawase Karuta. The original cards were imported to Japan by the Portuguese sailors.

  • Portuguese-derived Karuta
    • Hanafuda / Go-Stop — 48 card deck, with four cards for each month of the year. The Korean version Go-Stop adds jokers.
    • Harifuda / Hikifuda — 48 card deck with 8 copies of one through six cards.
    • Kabufuda — 40 card deck with Jacks as the only face card.
    • Komatsufuda — 48 card deck closest to the Portuguese deck, lacks 10s and has Tarot-style suits.
    • Unsun Karuta — 75 cards, has 5 suits with 15 ranks. There are three extra face cards and one extra suit compared to modern playing cards.
  • Eawase Karuta
    • Iroha Karuta — The game with yomifuda (reading cards) and torifuda (grabbing cards), with two sets of 100 poem cards.
    • Uta Karuta — Used for matching games, has 48 syllables in hiragana used to complete 48 proverbs.

Tarot Games

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. The tarot deck was originally used for card games (before fortune-telling) and gave rise to the modern trump suits. 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