Have you noticed that everyone seems to be playing games at the moment? To an extent, that’s understandable – after all, we’ve all needed to find new ways to keep ourselves occupied over the past few months and there is only so much Netflix a person can take. But while the likes of Fortnite, Mario Kart or even Words With Friends all have their place, there are some classic game that have been around since long before the internet age.
No, we’re not suggesting dusting off that Monopoly board just yet, we are talking about card games. A deck of cards provides so many possibilities, and the following games are ones that are easy to pick up and can provide a lifetime of entertainment.
Beggar My Neighbor
Fans of classic literature will remember this as the game in which poor young Pip was well and truly “beggared” by Estelle in Great Expectations. The entire deck is split face down between the players, who take it in turns to lay a card from the top of their pile. If it is a number card, play moves on to the next player, but when a face card or ace appears the next player must deal a set number of cards. If they deal all number cards, the person who dealt the face card or ace collects the dealt cards and adds them to the bottom of their stack. Dealing another face card or ace moves play onto the next player. The object is to eliminate the other players by gathering all the cards in the deck.
Sometimes known as 21 or pontoon, blackjack is one of the best casino games, and certainly the easiest to play at home. It’s also incredibly easy to pick up, so whether you’re playing online at the high roller table or challenging your grandmother for fun, it is genuinely a game that appeals to every kind of card player.
In standard whist, seven cards are dealt to each player, heart are trumps and the winner is the player who wins the most tricks. It’s a great introduction to the basics of trick-taking games, but it soon becomes stale. Contract whist adds extra complexity that makes the game so much more fun. Players take it in turns to nominate how many cards will be dealt to each player before each hand. Then, after looking at their own cards, they must predict how many tricks they will win. Whoever says the highest number chooses which suit is trumps. Players score a point for every trick, plus a 10-point bonus for if they “make their contract” by winning the predicted number.
Another trick-taking game, this one works best with four players, as the entire deck is dealt. Unlike whist, the idea is to keep your score as low as possible. Hearts score at face value, while “Black Bess,” the Queen of Spades is worth 13. In general, the best strategy is to discard high cards when possible and avoid having to lead. If you find your score escalating after a few hands, you can get right back in the game by “shooting the moon” – this means winning all 13 hearts and Black Bess in a single hand – if you manage to do it, your score goes back to zero.
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