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Top 10 card games for poker fans

8 March 2021

Poker has been one of the most popular card games for the better part of the previous century, but it is definitely not the only one you can enjoy. Aside from this exciting and highly-tactical game, many other card games are worth your time.

If you are an avid poker enthusiast, you might be interested in trying some of the games on this list to have fun with your friends between poker sessions. If that is the case and you have never played these card games before, make sure to try out at least a couple of it.

The first player who discards all of his cards in Crazy Eights wins the game.

The first player who discards all of his cards in Crazy Eights wins the game. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

10. Crazy Eights
The game of Crazy Eights is aimed at two to seven players with a simple objective - the first player who discards all of his cards wins the game. If there are five or fewer players in the game, one standard 52-card deck is used. When more than five players participate, two standard decks are used, making up a total of 104 playing cards.

Each player receives five cards face down, and the remaining deck is placed in the center of the table. The dealer turns the top card from the deck and puts it in a separate pile beside it. Starting with the player on the dealer’s left side, each player places a card on the separate pile.

The placed card must match the card that precedes it in either denomination or suit. The number eight card is the only exception, as you can lay it down even if it doesn’t match the face-up card in a pile.

If a player doesn’t have such a card to place, he draws from the deck until he pulls a suitable card or depletes the stock. If the latter occurs, the player must pass his turn. During the game, the player who reaches 100 points first wins the game. Here’s how each type of card scores:
  • Eights - 50 points
  • Face Cards - 10 points
  • Aces - 1 point
  • All other Cards are worth their index value
9. Pinochle
Designed for two to four players, Pinochle is a very interesting and engaging card game. It involves exchanging and putting together different card combinations to score points. Unfortunately, this game isn’t as well-spread out in the world as others on our list, mainly because it requires a special deck to play, making it a bit more complicated than other card games.

If you don’t have a special Pinochle deck, you’ll need to combine two standard decks and remove all unnecessary cards. Pinochle is most often played with a 48-card deck, but some simplified Pinochle decks only contain 24 cards or one card for each suit and ranking.

What makes this card game even more unique and extraordinary is that it uses an unusual ranking system and starts by dealing 12 cards to each player. The goal of Pinochle is to win “tricks,” which consist of a lead and a play. Upon winning a trick, players can meld their card combinations to score points. Pinochle comes with many rules and special ranking systems, so if you plan on trying it out, we fully recommend you reading up on the specific of how the game’s played.

8. Hearts
Aimed for a player group of 3 to 6 people, Hearts is best played with four players. The game is very easy to learn as it comes with a simple objective. The game is usually played to an agreed-upon score. After one player hits the score, it ends. The player who has the lowest score when the game is over is the winner.

Here is a couple of things to remember:
  • The player holding the two of clubs in his hand after the pass makes the first move.
  • Each player must follow suit if possible.
  • The suit’s highest card wins a trick, and the winner of that trick is the next player to lead.
This game is one of the oldest ones as it traces back to a similar card game played in France in the 17th century. The modern origins of Hearts date back to 19th century America.

7. Canasta
Often joked upon as a game that's only played by senior citizens in fancy resorts and cruises, Canasta is actually one of the more exciting and unpredictable card games ever invented. Another reason why Canasta is such a great card game, especially at parties, is that it’s one of the very few partnership games in which you can work in unison with other players at the table.

If you’ve never seen it in action, the rules of Canasta might seem weird and overly-complicated. Still, the game is relatively straightforward to pick up once you understand how everything functions. The game’s main objective is to form combinations of three or more cards of the same rank with or without the help of a wild card. Jokers and deuces are wild and are melded only with natural cards.

The game itself involves many gameplay mechanisms, such as freezing and unfreezing the pile, taking the discard pile, going out, comprising “canastas,” and much more. Just like with Pinochle, the exact rules are too long to explain in a short article, so we recommend you check out how to play Canasta in a dedicated guide if you want to find out more about this exciting card game.

6. Euchre
This game is most popular in Australia and New Zealand but has also found its player base in the US and Canada. In Euchre, the only goal of the game is to win at least three tricks. Those who manage to win all five tricks achieve what’s called a “march.” It is another very social card game that is played by four players, in teams of two. In particular circumstances, the player can also go solo if he thinks it will help him win the game.

The game uses a standard 52-card deck, but you have to remove specific cards depending on the style of Euchre you’re playing. This means that you can end up with 32, 28, and even only 24 cards that are used in the entire game. As mentioned above, you play your game with a partner against two other players. Partners should sit opposite of each other and can employ a variety of different strategies to win over their opponents.

5. Spades
Invented in the US in the 1930s, the Spades card game wasn’t that popular internationally until the 1990s. However, today it’s played all over the world, in many different variations. It can be played solo against other opponents or in a partnership. Like many other games on this list, the main objective of this game is trick-taking. The game of Spades is suitable for two or more players and uses one standard 52-card deck.

Every player gets a 13-card hand. After the hand is dealt, each player must estimate how many tricks he expects to win. This is called a bid, and you have to say a number between one and 13.

After everyone names the expected number, the game starts, and you chase your ticks. If you fail to meet your target, you’ll get penalized. If you manage to clear it, you get points. The first player or team that wins a certain number of points (the mark is usually set at 500) wins the game.

In Criibbage the objective is to be the first player to reach 121 points.

In Criibbage the objective is to be the first player to reach 121 points. (photo by Flickr)

4. Cribbage
Cribbage dates back to England, as far as to the 17th century, and draws its roots from a game that has been present for a century before that, called Noddy. This game has several distinctive features that make it different from any other card game we’ve talked about on this page. These include the cribbage board used for score-keeping and two scoring stages - the play and the show.

The game’s object is to be the first player to reach 121 points (in some variations, 61 points). To do so, you must earn points during the play and make various card combinations. Not only this, but you also have to learn the combination counts and how to use the Cribbage board to keep track, so it takes some time to learn Cribbage rules.

But, if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort in learning the game, Cribbage can provide you with great fun and very exciting gameplay.

3. Bridge
Often considered the ultimate trick-taking card game, Bridge is easily one of the most entertaining card games you can play. In fact, Bridge is so famous that the International Olympic Committee recognizes it as a sport. Tens of millions, if not more players, enjoy this game all over the world.

The bridge is played by four players who form two partnerships, taking positions identified by the four world sides. Each player receives the same number of cards as in Rummy - 13. After this, the 13 cards should be sorted into separate suits each.

The game itself is divided into two parts - bidding and play. This divide makes Bridge a multi-faceted game and a very engaging and interesting one, with a relatively short playtime of around 7-8 minutes per deal.

2. Rummy
Rummy is played with two standard 52-card decks, with a total of two jokers. The main objective of the rummy card game is to arrange the cards in your hands into a valid sequence. But, to win the game, you have to make two different sequences. One sequence needs to be pure (three numbers of the same suit in a row), and one sequence can be composed out of any set or number sequence. The former is a crucial part of the entire game as, without a proper pure sequence, you cannot win the game.

Aside from this base rule, playing Rummy is relatively straightforward. Each player is dealt with 13 cards, and the game supports from two to six players. After the cards are dealt and the game begins, each player has to draw and discard cards to combine and form combinations in his hand into valid sequences and sets. The player who manages to do this first can make a declaration and win the game.

Rummy is a very fast-paced game and, with skilled opponents, can be very quick and exciting. On average, each game takes between 10 and 15 minutes, though the time can be shorter if someone’s lucky enough to be dealt good hands. Numbered cards have a value equal to their face value, while Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces are valued 10 points. The game has no “end-objective” if you play several of them in a row, but keeping score is a good way of determining the winner after multi-hour sessions.

1. Gin
Unlike any other game on our list, which can support a flexible number of players, Gin is a two-player card game exclusively. It’s a game invented in the early 1900s and is more of a rummy variant than an original game on its own. It’s equally popular as a social and gambling game and is arguably the most-played two-player card game in the history of playing cards.

Each player is dealt ten cards and must use them to form combinations of three or more cards during the play. The player who forms combinations from all of the cards in his hand can announce Gin. He’ll score 20 points, plus the value of the opponent’s unmatched cards. The game’s objective is to be the first player to cross the 100-point threshold over several hands.

Each deal’s average playing time is around 15 minutes with one single 52-card deck, minus the jokers. Some gin players play the game with two decks so that they maximize time efficiency. While one player is dealing with one deck, the other is shuffling, and vice versa.
Top 10 card games for poker fans is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com
Tadas Peckaitis
Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com