Card Games for Any Occasion

Over winter break, I got to go back home for a few weeks. Luckily, some relatives were visiting at the same time, and I got to spend time with some loved ones that I rarely get to see. This minor family reunion led to our classic get-together activity: playing cards. I was reminded that it’s actually a pretty fun way to pass the time. You only really need a few decks to entertain a crowd, and based on the popularity of Solitaire, it is an entertaining solo activity as well. So, if you’re ever looking for something to do, here are some card games to play at any occasion.

Card Games for One Person: Solitaire

What You Need: One Deck of Cards

Ah, the classic Solitaire. Everyone has heard of it, and has probably played it at some point, but how familiar are you with the rules? As indicated by its popularity, the game is fairly simple. Lay seven cards out face down. Skipping the first card, put cards face down on the next six cards. Repeat this step until you only stack a card on the seventh pile. Flip the top card of each pile over and you are ready to play.

Initially organize the face up cards in order numerically, alternating black and red suits. Flip any uncovered cards and order them as well. If you get to the bottom of one of the initial stacks, a king can go in the empty space. If you can’t play any of the face up cards, go through the extra cards that didn’t make it into any of the stacks. If you want the game to go faster, go through each extra card individually and playing them as you are able. A more traditional approach is to play with every third card. The goal is to uncover all of the cards and stack each suit from ace to king at the top of the playing board. A video explanation of Solitaire can be found here. As a quick warning, there is every possibility that you may not be able to win a round of Solitaire. Don’t give up! It makes it even more satisfying when you do win.


Card Games for Two or More People: 31

What You Need: One Deck of Cards and Three Tokens for Each Person

The set-up for 31 is incredibly simple. Each person gets three cards and three tokens. The rest of the cards go in the middle of the players, with one card from the deck face up and to the side in a discard pile. The tokens represent the lives of the players. When it is their turn, a player has the option to take the card on the top of the discard pile or from the top of the deck. Discard one card to complete your round. Each card is worth the listed value, with face cards worth ten points and the ace worth eleven points. The goal of the game is to get cards that add up to 31, or as close to it as possible, all in the same suit. Or, as an additional option, three of a kind can equal 30 points. When you feel confident you are the closest to 31, knock on the table. This makes it so that everyone else has one more turn, and then everyone shows their hand. Whoever had the lowest hand loses a life, and if the person who knocked doesn’t have the highest score, they also lose a life. People drop out of the game when they no longer have any tokens, and the last person with a token wins. One explanation for the game can be found here.


You may have been familiar with these games beforehand, and you may have noticed some rules are different from those you are used to. That’s the great thing about cards; the games can be adapted to any situation. There are plenty of other games to try, so go get a deck of cards and try some! You’ll have a laugh, and your guests will, too!


Images: Cover, 1, 2, 3