Now is the time to make the best of a situation that demands more quality time with our loved ones at home. Playing board games, watching movies, maybe finally getting around to reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf? And while you’re perfecting the art of being a sweatpants model, we want to give you something fun to do that doesn’t require a screen…well…except for the part that involves reading this.
It’s an odd time, but with perspective, positivity, and some card games, this can be an excellent opportunity to re-visit and re-define what the term “Quality Time” means by bonding with one another in the comfort of our home. Here are some of our favorite cards games to beat boredom: Click on the game title to be take to the instructions on how to play and crank the Coze-O-Meter (AKA Cozy Meter) to 11! Enjoy!
Object of the Game
The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand.
The player who is the first to have no cards left wins the game. The winning player collects from each other player the value of the cards remaining in that player’s hand as follows:
Each eight = 50 points
Each K, Q, J or 10 = 10 points
Each ace = 1 point
Each other card is the pip value
Deal 5 cards one at a time, face down, beginning with the player to the left. The balance of the pack is placed face down in the center of the table and forms the stock. The dealer turns up the top card and places it in a separate pile; this card is the “starter.” If an eight is turned, it is buried in the middle of the pack and the next card is turned.
Starting to the dealer’s left, each player must place one card face up on the starter pile. Each card played (other than an eight) must match the card showing on the starter pile, either in suit or in denomination.
Example: If the Q of Clubs is the starter, any club may be played on it or any Queen.
If unable to play, cards are drawn from the top of the stock until a play is possible, or until the stock is exhausted. If unable to play when the stock is exhausted, the player must pass. A player may draw from the stock, even though there may be a playable card in the player’s hand.
All eights are wild! That is, an eight may be played at any time in turn, and the player need only specify a suit for it (but never a number). The next player must play either a card of the specified suit or an eight.
Object of the Game
To be the player with the lowest score at the end of the game. When one player hits the agreed-upon score or higher, the game ends; and the player with the lowest score wins.
At the end of each hand, players count the number of hearts they have taken as well as the queen of spades, if applicable. Hearts count as one point each and the queen counts 13 points.
Each heart – 1 point
The Q – 13 points
The aggregate total of all scores for each hand must be a multiple of 26.
The game is usually played to 100 points (some play to 50).
When a player takes all 13 hearts and the queen of spades in one hand, instead of losing 26 points, that player scores zero and each of his opponents score an additional 26 points.
Deal the cards one at a time, face down, clockwise. In a four-player game, each is dealt 13 cards; in a three-player game, the 2 of diamonds should be removed, and each player gets 17 cards; in a five-player game, the 2 of diamonds and 2 of clubs should be removed so that each player will get 10 cards.
The player holding the 2 of clubs after the pass makes the opening lead. If the 2 has been removed for the three handed game, then the 3 of clubs is led.
Each player must follow suit if possible. If a player is void of the suit led, a card of any other suit may be discarded. However, if a player has no clubs when the first trick is led, a heart or the queen of spades cannot be discarded. The highest card of the suit led wins a trick and the winner of that trick leads next. There is no trump suit.
The winner of the trick collects it and places it face down. Hearts may not be led until a heart or the queen of spades has been discarded. The queen does not have to be discarded at the first opportunity.
The queen can be led at any time.
Rank of Suits
The spade suit is always trump.
Rank of Cards
A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Object of the Game
To win at least the number of tricks bid.
The first dealer is chosen by a draw for high card, and thereafter the turn to deal proceeds clockwise. The entire deck is dealt one at a time, face down, beginning on the dealer’s left. The players then pick up their cards and arrange them by suits.
Each player decides how many tricks they will be able to take. The player to the dealer’s left starts the bidding and, in turn, each player states how many tricks they expect to win. There is only one round of bidding, and the minimum bid is One. Every player must make a bid; no player may pass. No suit is named in the bid, for as the name of the game implies, spades are always trump.
The game is scored by hands, and the winner must make a certain number of points, which is decided before the game begins. Five hundred points is common, but 200 points is suitable for a short game. The player on the dealer’s left makes the opening lead, and players must follow suit, if possible. If a player cannot follow suit, they may play a trump or discard. The trick is won by the player who plays the highest trump or if no trump was played, the player who played the highest card in the suit led. The player who wins the trick leads next. Play continues until none of the players have any cards left. Each hand is worth 13 tricks. Spades cannot be led unless played previously or player to lead has nothing but Spades in his hand.
How to Keep Score
For making the contract (the number of tricks bid), the player scores 10 points for each trick bid, plus 1 point for each overtrick.
For example, if the player’s bid is Seven and they make seven tricks, the score would be 70. If the bid was Five and the player won eight tricks, the score would be 53 points: 50 points for the bid, and 3 points for the three overtricks. In some games, overtricks are called “bags” and a deduction of 100 points is made every time a player accumulates 10 bags. Thus, the object is always to fulfill the bid exactly.
If the player “breaks contract,” that is, if they take fewer than the number of tricks bid, the score is 0. For example, if a player bids Four and wins only three tricks, no points are awarded.
One of the players is the scorer and writes the bids down, so that during the play and for the scoring afterward, this information will be available to all the players. When a hand is over, the scores should be recorded next to the bids, and a running score should be kept so that players can readily see each other’s total points. If there is a tie, then all players participate in one more round of play.
Rank of Cards
K (high), Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A. (In many forms of Rummy, the ace may rank either high or low.)
Dealer gives one card at a time face down, beginning with the player on the left. When two people play, each person gets 10 cards. When three or four people play, each receives seven cards; when five or six play, each receives six cards. The remaining cards are placed face down on the table, forming the stock.
The top card of the stock is turned face up and becomes the upcard. It is placed next to the stock to start the discard pile.
When two people play, the winner of each hand deals the next. When more than two play, the deal passes to next the player on the left.
Object of the Game
Each player tries to form matched sets consisting of groups of three or four of a kind, or sequences of three or more cards of the same suit.
Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, players either draw the top card of the stock or takes the top card of the discard pile and adds it to his hand. The player may also lay down on the table, face up, any meld (matched set). If the player does not wish to lay down a meld, he discards one card, face up, onto the discard pile. If the player has drawn from the discard pile, he may not discard the same card on that turn.
A player may add one or more from their hand to any matched set already shown on the table. Thus, if threes are showing, they may add the fourth three; if 10, 9, 8 are showing, they may add J, or Q, J, 7, or 7, 6.
When a player gets rid of all of their cards, they win the game.
If all of their remaining cards are matched, the player may lay them down without discarding on their last turn. This ends the game and there is no further play.
If the last card of the stock has been drawn and no player has gone out, the next player in turn may either take the top of the discard pile, or may turn the discard pile over to form a new stock (without shuffling it) and draw the top card. Play then proceeds as before.
How to Keep Score
Each player pays to the winner the pip value of the cards remaining in their hand, whether the cards form matched sets or not. Face cards count 10 each, aces 1 each, and every other card its pip value.
A player goes “rummy” when they get rid of all cards in their hand at once, without previously having put down or laid off any cards. In this event, every other player pays double – twice what opponents would otherwise owe.
The standard 52-card pack is used. Some cards will be dealt and the rest will form the stock pile.
Object of the Game
The goal is to win the most “books” of cards. A book is any four of a kind, such as four kings, four aces, and so on.
Rank of Cards
The cards rank from ace (high) to two (low). The suits are not important, only the card numbers are relevant, such as two 3s, two 10s, and so on.
Any player deals one card face up to each player. The player with the lowest card is the dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards, and the player to the right cuts them.
The dealer completes the cut and deals the cards clockwise one at a time, face down, beginning with the player to the left. If two or three people are playing, each player receives seven cards. If four or five people are playing, each receives five cards. The remainder of the pack is placed face down on the table to form the stock.
The player to the left of the dealer looks directly at any opponent and says, for example, “Give me your kings,” usually addressing the opponent by name and specifying the rank that they want, from ace down to two. The player who is “fishing “must have at least one card of the rank that was asked for in their hand. The player who is addressed must hand over all the cards requested. If the player has none, they say, “Go fish!” and the player who made the request draws the top card of the stock and places it in their hand.
If a player gets one or more cards of the named rank that was asked for, they are entitled to ask the same or another player for a card. The player can ask for the same card or a different one. So long as the player succeeds in getting cards (makes a catch), their turn continues. When a player makes a catch, they must reveal the card so that the catch is verified. If a player gets the fourth card of a book, the player shows all four cards, places them on the table face up in front of everyone, and plays again.
If the player goes fishing without “making a catch” (does not receive a card he asked for), the turn passes to the left.
The game ends when all thirteen books have been won. The winner is the player with the most books. During the game, if a player is left without cards, they may (when it’s their turn to play), draw from the stock and then ask for cards of that rank. If there are no cards left in the stock, they are out of the game.
A standard deck of cards (no Jokers)
At least 2 players
Poker chips or substitute (optional)
Basic Poker rules
Learning to how to play basic poker is not nearly as hard as many people imagine. There are generally two types: Stud Poker and Draw Poker. The rules for these games are almost identical and both are presented here.
In Stud Poker, each player is dealt five cards (or seven for some games). Players then assess the relative strength of their hands and wager chips accordingly. The player who bids the most chips wins unless someone else is willing to match the player’s bet. In that scenario, the two (or more) players remaining will show their cards. The best hand wins all the chips.
In Draw Poker, each player is dealt five cards, and a round of betting ensues. The remaining players then may attempt to improve their hands by trading as many as three cards for a new three from the deck. If a player has an Ace, he may trade all four of his other cards if he so desires.
The rounds of betting work like this: Starting to the left of the dealer, each player has four options:
- Raise — A player who thinks he has a good hand (or who wants the other players to think he has a good hand) may increase the wager required to continue playing.
- Fold — A player who thinks his hand is not good enough to win and who does not want to wager the increased amount may lay down his cards. He cannot win the hand, but he also will not lose any more chips.
- Call — Once a player has raised the stakes, each player must decide whether to raise the stakes again, to give in and fold his hand, or to call, which means to equal the amount wagered by the player who raised.
- Check — If no one has increased the wager required to continue, a player may stand pat by checking, or passing on his option to bet.
While there are many varieties of poker games, the same basic rules apply to almost all of them. Typically, five or seven cards are dealt to each player. Players attempt to form the best five-card poker hand possible (see below). For every poker game, the same hierarchy of hands exists, and the better hands are rarer and more difficult to achieve than the lesser hands.
Individual cards are ranked from best to worst. The rank of a card often breaks the tie if two players achieve the same hand. The Ace is the most valuable card. From there, it goes in descending order: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
The ranking of hands, from lowest to highest value:
- High card. If no combination can be made, then a player’s hand is valued at the highest single card. If two players have the same high card, then the second highest card would break the tie.
Example: 5♣ 8♦ 10♠ Q♥ A♠
- One Pair. A pair is formed when you have two of any of the same cards.
Example: 9♠ 9♦ 5♣ 8♣ K♥
- Two Pairs. When more than one player has two pairs, the player with the highest pair wins.
Example: 9♠ 9♦ 5♣ 5♥ 8♥
- Three of a Kind.
Example: 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 5♣ 8♣
- Straight. A straight is a five-card hand consisting of a running sequence of cards, regardless of suit. If two players have straights, the straight of the higher card wins.
Example: 9♠ 10♠ J♦ Q♥ K♦
- Flush. When all five cards in a hand are of the same suit, it is a flush. If two players have a flush, the person with the highest card in that suit wins.
Example: 9♠ 5♠ Q♠ K♠ 7♠
- Full House. When a player has three-of-a-kind and a pair in the same hand, it is called a Full House.
Example: 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 5♣ 5♥
- Four of a Kind. If you are lucky enough to have all four of a given number, then you have a very powerful hand.
Example: 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 9♣ 5♣
- Straight Flush. Even rarer than four of a kind, a straight flush is made up of five consecutive cards, all from the same suit.
Example: 9♠ 10♠ J♠ Q♠ K♠
- Royal Flush. The best hand of them all is this famous combination, formed by a Straight Flush that runs to the Ace, making it unbeatable. Odds of being dealt this hand can be as high as 1 in 650,000 deals.
Example: 10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥ A♥
Play these games together, without chips or money, and let the kids try to master recognizing the hands and playing correctly. Older kids often enjoy just playing for chips, with no money tied to them. Simply winning by acquiring the biggest stack is enough.
Play for a prize
One of the things older kids like about poker is all the fancy stuff that goes with it. They will love it if you break out a green felt and real poker chips and make a friendly home game feel like an event. Don’t make the chips worth any money, but give out a small prize to the person who ends with the most chips. Your whole family will have a great time.
If you know of or have resources or tips that others could find useful, feel free to send them our way using the contact form on the Share with Us Page.