Christmas is a great time to play card games with your family and during the current CVOID-19 restrictions, there’s never been a better time to break out the playing cards and learn some more games, one that bring people together and don’t rely on you winning or losing money to have a good time. But which games?
Fortunately for you, we’ve got five classics that are easy to get playing quickly and a whole lot of fun. It’s up to you and your family or friends to decide if there are prizes to be won.
One of the most enjoyable ways to play card games with your family is the game of Cribbage, or ‘crib’. Playing two-handed crib with just one opponent is great, but do try four-player crib, which adds in a lot more layers of play and, of course, banter as you’ll have to team up with Uncle George when he doesn’t know a knight from a knave.
We’re written about how playing crib can help your poker game here and we can’t recommend it enough for those moments over Christmas when you and a couple of others are looking for a quick game to play. Each game of crib lasts around 15-20 minutes played properly.
A very old game, Piquet is strictly for two people but is an absolute classic. With plenty of bluffing, straights and sets are just as valuable in the game as they are in poker, and there’s no doubt that playing Piquet can assist you in some poker strategies, too.
There’s also no doubt that of all the games we suggest that you play over Christmas with friends and/or family depending on the travel restrictions in your sector (there’s a sentence that would have sounded crazy a year ago), Piquet is the best card game to bet on. You can go point by point or how many of the seven individual rounds you’ll play to make up a whole game. Great fun.
Possibly introduced to you by an older member of your family when you were young, Rummy is a classic, although you may wish to read our guide to how Rummy can help improve your poker game before you deal every player seven cards and dive in.
The conclusion of a game of Rummy is enormous fun and can actually get quite tense, with everyone holding out for that one card they need, which is often is someone else’s hand. Exciting, dramatic ending, an absolute belter of a festive card game.
This could hardly be simpler to play. Deal out all 52 cards around the players you have and clockwise from the next player to the dealer’s left, declare and place face down cards in ascending order, starting with ace, two, three then going up to king then around from ace again.
You must declare the next corresponding number, so don’t take anyone telling you that you can play one above or below; this variant of the game ends with everyone having four of each suit and is terrible. The perfect way to play is the pure original. If you don’t have any of the cards you should be playing (or want to get rid of ones that don’t help you) then you can put them down instead. If someone thinks another player declared cards they didn’t play, i.e. “three jacks”, then they can call “Cheat!” and if they were correct, that cheater picks up the entire discard pile.
With the object of the game to get rid of your cards, you better make sure that you’re right in accusing others of cheating, however, as if you’re wrong and they were telling the truth then you pick up all of the discarded cards. Perfect for that post-Christmas-dinner parlour game feel when everyone is a little sozzled, even the family cat.
5. Old Maid
This one is even simpler than Cheat, but no worse for it. In Old Maid, you must remove three queens from a standard 52-card deck before the game begins. Tradition dictates that you leave the queen of spades in the deck.
The aim of the game is to escape the game and get rid of all your cards by discarding pairs face up on a discard pile and not get left with the only impossible-to-pair card in the deck, the ‘Old Maid’ queen of spades. To do this, all the cards are dealt out, then each player discards all the pairs of cards they were dealt, but not sets of three, only pairs.
With all the initial pairs out of the way, whoever sits to the left of the dealer then offers their cards without showing them to the next player around the clockwise circle. That player must choose one. If they pick a card that makes a pair with one in their hand, they discard that pair then offer to the next player. If their card doesn’t pair up, it is added to their hand, with the added twist that they could, of course, choose the Old Maid card, which can only be passed and can never be paired.
Whoever is left with the Old Maid is pointed at and laughed at for being a childless spinster. Or you know, your little brother.
Enjoy these festive card games that should fill your family or friendship bubble with laughter and glee, or at the very least, the desire to open that tube of potato chips or find out which liquer chocolates taste of something other than mouthwash.