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12 Different Types of Card Games

Group of people playing cards and dice.

Who’s got family that stays close by? If you are like me and have family members in the same city as yours, you probably get many visitors. Or are you the one doing the visiting? Whenever I visit, I’ve discovered that bringing a deck of cards with me usually leads to hours of fun and entertainment for everyone. I get to teach my young cousins the different types of games I know. As a result, some of the best memories of quality time with my family come from late nights playing cards. 

Some of the card games we usually play include Crazy Eights, Rummy, Old Maid, and Solitaire. If you are interested in learning more about card games so you can inject some fun into your family nights, here are some things you might want to know.

What are Card Games?

5 Cards with different number and flowers.

Card games are a group of games that employ cards. There are hundreds of card games, each with its own rules and goals. This makes each card game unique and challenging in its own way.

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However, despite the many differences between them, it’s possible to group card games into categories with similar defining characteristics. But before we get into the different categories, let’s take a brief look at the history of card games.

The History of Card Games

A deck of playing cards with heart flower.

The earliest reference to card games is found in Chinese literature of the 10th century. Unfortunately, apart from the general mention of card games, there is no indication of their markings or the types of games. 

Games of cards first were first reported in Europe in the 1370s. The cards most likely came to Europe as imports of merchants from Egypt. The first playing card to come to Europe were painted by hand. This means they were most probably luxury possessions for the rich. They gradually spread along the inland European trade routes in the 15th century, and they became a favorite pastime of the upper classes. 

Over time, cards became less costly, especially after the invention of woodblock printing by the Germans in the early 15th century. Their price was further reduced when the French invented painting through stencils. Stencil painting led to the simplification of card design to the now-famous suit marks.

These are what we now know as spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. The reductions in cost further boosted the social appeal of card games. This was when people started developing games suitable for several players.

1. Trick-Taking Games

Trick-taking card games are some of the most popular types designed for two or more players. There are several card games in this category. Most of the trick-taking games are outplay games. This means that each player has a hand that they use to play tricks or cards. Most of these games also feature several rounds.

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The goals of trick-taking games vary. In some instances, you will have to collect as many tricks as possible. On the other hand, you may only need to collect a specific number of tricks or avoid taking tricks altogether. The most popular games in this category include Hearts, Spades, Euchre, and Bridge.

2. Shedding Games

2 people playing UNO cards.

As you might have guessed from the name of this category, shedding games require each player to play their hand and shed their cards. The first player who manages to shed all their cards becomes the winner. In some variations of these games, there is only one loser. This is usually the last person left with cards. The most popular card shedding games include President, UNO, and Crazy Eights.

3. Matching/Melding Games

A man playing cards holding 3 jokers.

Also known as melding or rummy games, matching card games require the players to match their cards. When playing these games, you need to match a particular group of cards before the other player(s) can do so. Some variations of these games are similar to shedding games.

For instance, the main goal of the games will be to match the cards so you can discard the matches. The first player to match and do away with all their cards wins the game. If you are interested in playing matching games, you can look into games like Rummy and Canasta. 

4. Solitaire/Patience Games

An old man playing solitaire alone.

Solitaire is one of the most popular card games. However, unlike most, this game can be played by one person. There are several different types of games that fall under Solitaire games. Each of these games has tableau arrangements and goals. Some of the most popular varieties of Solitaire include Klondike, Spider, and FreeCell.

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When playing these games, the main aim is to develop card sequences and build foundations by suit. There are other variations of Solitaire that have a matching component. For instance, when playing games like Tripeaks and Golf, you must pair the cards to discard them from the tableau. You can only win the game when all the cards are matched and discarded. 

5. Vying Games

The definition of Vying is to contend with an opponent for superiority. As such, games that fall under this class are those in which the players compare their hands to discover who is holding the most superior card combination. These games are also known as “comparing” games. This category covers the majority of gambling games, including Poker.

6. Banking Games

A table for banker playing cards.

Banking games are generally less-skilled gambling card games that don’t involve a lot of strategy and planning. Instead of winning based on careful execution of plans, the outcomes of these games are determined by luck. Some of the most popular banking games include Baccarat and Blackjack. 

One of the most distinguishing features of these games is that all players face a dealer, also referred to as the banker. You must bet on eventually getting better cards than the dealer to win the game. The dealer will be the casino representative if the game is played in a casino. On the other hand, if you are having a nice family time, you can rotate the position of dealer or banker amongst yourselves. 

7. Staking Games

This is another category of games that features games based on luck rather than strategy. When playing staking games, the idea is to bet your stakes on the chances of a particular card turning up on the table. Trente et Quarante is one staking game that’s quite popular in European casinos. Another game that you will find in this category is Faro. This old game is still being played in some major casinos in the United States today. 

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8. Fishing Games

Group of Chinese people playing cards near a dock.

Fishing games are pretty popular around the world. In China alone, there are many different types of fishing games. You will also find that one of the national card games in Italy is a fishing game known as Scopa.  

Each player will be given a few cards to hold when playing these games. The remaining cards are then placed on the table face-up. When your turn arrives, you will have to play a card. If your card matches any of the cards displayed on the table, you can capture the card it matches with and save it facing down, close to your own.

If your card doesn’t match any of the cards on the table, you add it to the layout, and the turn passes to the next player.

9. Catch and Collect Games

This is the category with the simplest card games. Catch and collect games are usually played by kids. They are considered an easy and fun way to introduce your kids to cards and their values. So, if you are looking to introduce your kids to a deck of cards, these will do the trick.

One of the most popular catch-and-collect games is War. This game involves dividing a deck of cards equally between two players. The players should then reveal the top card of their deck simultaneously. The cards are compared, and the player with the highest value card captures the lower value and adds them to their deck. To win the game, you will have to collect all the cards.

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10. Collectible Cards Games

A man holding Yu-Gi-Oh playing card games.

This is a vast class of card games, each with a different set of rules and a defined structure. When playing collectible games, each player usually has a deck that they build by trading or buying different cards. The goal of these games is to collect the rarest cards and become part of a worldwide community of collectors. Some of the most popular games under this category are Magic, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh! 

11. Multi-Genre Card Games

Apart from these classifications of these card games, there are several hybrids that are available to learn and play. Most of these games have a primary feature that places them in a single category, but they also contain features of games in other categories too. 

For instance, one of the popular card games known as Go Fishing is primarily a matching game. However, it can also be classified as a trick-taking game since you need to collect cards from your opponents. Interestingly enough, regardless of its name, it’s not a fishing game, even if it contains some of the details in its rules similar to fishing games. Likewise, several variations of Solitaire have features of shedding and matching games. 

The point is that classifications of card games are not exclusive. The majority of card games have features from more than one category. Placing the games in parent categories just indicates the main characteristics of the games, and this enables you to better classify the games into types that appeal to you the most.

12. The Best Card Game for Family Fun Nights

A little girl playing UNO cards.

One of the best card games to play with your family is Crazy Eights. Anyone who has played Uno before will learn Crazy Eights quite quickly. This game is best played with anywhere from two to six players. However, it can also be played with more. To play Crazy Eights, you should first deal five cards to each player. If you are playing with only two players, it’s best to deal seven cards each. 

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You will need a starter pile. To create one, just place a single card facing up. The card should not be an eight, so return it to the deck and pick another one if it turns out to be one. The rest of the deck will make the draw pile. 

The first player should lay down a card on the starter pile. They may only place a card that matches the number on the card or the suit. For instance, if the card on the starter pile is a seven of spades, the player may lay down a seven of any suit or a spade of any denomination. If the player doesn’t have a card to play or chooses not to, they must draw from the stock pile. To win this game, a player must get rid of all their cards.

One of the fun rules in the game is that the eights are wild. This means you can play an eight of any suit regardless of what card is on the starter pile. The player who lays down an eight will then announce what suit is now in play. 

Card Games FAQ

Several questions are commonly asked regarding the deck and playing cards. Here are some questions you may need answers to.

Are There Different Card Sizes?

There are two general card sizes. These are Poker size and Bridge size playing cards. These cards differ in terms of width. However, the difference is not too marked. Poker size playing cards are 2.5 inches in width, while the latter have a width of 2.25 inches. 

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Why Should You Cut a Deck of Cards?

Cutting a deck of shuffled cards is done to avoid cheating. While this doesn’t change the ordering of the deck, it does disrupt the general positioning of each card in the deck. A lot of games require that cards be cut just before dealing.

What Do the Court Cards represent?

In modern decks, court cards don’t hold much symbolism. However, they were often crafted to represent a specific King and Queen in the past. They would also represent other high-profile individuals. At the moment, King and Queen represent generic people of the appropriate royalty. On the other hand, the Jack represents a male servant in the court of the King and Queen. 

The Standard Play Deck Contains How Many Cards?

Each standard playing deck contains 52 cards. The deck features four suits: Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds. Each of these suits contains an Ace, Queen, King, and Jack. You will also find cards with the numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. 

Which is the Highest Ranked Card in Most Card Games and Why?

The ace is the highest-ranked card in the majority of card games. It’s thought that this card symbolizes the general commoner, while the other court cards represent royalty. Many games have the ace (commoner) ranking higher than any other card to represent the general majority overthrowing the power holding royalty.

What is the Default Arrangement of a New Deck of Cards?

The majority of newly opened decks of cards are arranged in a specific manner. When you start from the bottom face-up card, the first card you will encounter is usually the Ace of Spades. The cards will then build to the King of Spades. This sequence repeats for the sets of Clubs, Hearts, and lastly, the Diamonds.

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How Many Different Arrangements of Cards Can You Come Up With When Shuffling a Standard Deck of Cards?

When you shuffle a standard deck of 52 cards, you can come up with 8*10^67 or 52! (52 factorial) potential specific orderings. This number is so large that no two random shufflings of a deck of cards can produce the same arrangement.

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