4 Card Games Every Family Should Know How to Play
Learning to use a deck of cards is not only great fun for the whole family, it also provides some sneaky developmental benefits for kids. Try out these card games for a family fun night with hidden educational benefits!
2 players (or a group divisible by 2)
When playing war, the objective is to win all 52 cards. Start by dividing the deck evenly between the two players. Each player flips the top card over, and the player with highest card gains both cards. The stakes are especially high if there’s a tie. If both cards are of equal value, then each player places three additional cards face down. The fourth card is placed face up, and whoever has the highest card takes the whole loot.
Alternative Suggestion: To claim all the cards can take quite a while, so if you’re looking for a shorter game, simply set a 10-minute timer and see who has the most cards when the time expires.
2 or more players
This classic card game is a family favorite for a reason! The goal of Go Fish is to collect 4 of a kind. The game starts by dealing 7 cards to each player. The starting player asks another player if he or she has any of a certain type of card. For example, “Do you have any 4s?” If the player has that type, he or she must give all their cards of that type to the asker. If the player does not have that type of card, they reply “Go Fish,” which prompts the asking player to draw one card from the “fish pon,” or the pile of extra cards. The first one to get 4 of a kind is the winner.
2 or more players
The goal of this card game is to be the first to put together a layout of 1-10, with Aces being 1s. Jacks are played as wild cards, and queens and kings end a player's turn. (Some play a version where both queens and kings are wild and jacks end player's turn.)
If you have 2 players, you’ll only need one deck; however, you’ll need to shuffle in an additional deck for each set of 3-4 players or a total of three decks for 5-6 players.
The game begins by dealing 10 cards to each player. The cards are placed face down in two rows of 5. Players cannot look at their cards. The winner is the first to have the two rows face up in sequential order. The top row, furthest from the player, should be Ace through 5 from left to right, and the second row closest to the player should be 6 through 10 left to right. Remaining cards are placed in a stockpile in the middle face down.
Play begins when the first player draws a card from the stockpile in the middle. If the card is an Ace-10, it is placed in the appropriate place in the player’s sequence, displacing the face down card. A turn continues until the player comes across a card such as a king or queen or a card whose spot has already been filled. Unplayable cards are placed face up in a discard pile next to the stockpile. The next players can draw either from the face up discard pile or from the stockpile to begin their turn.
Jacks can be placed anywhere in the sequence as a wild card but can also be moved if the player draws the card the Jack is standing in for. For example, if a Jack is in the 2 spot but the player draws a 2, the Jack can be moved to an empty spot so the 2 can be played.
Golf is a great game for slightly older children, as basic counting and addition are required. Like golf, the object of the game is to have the lowest value at the end of the game.
Start by dealing each player 6 cards face down. The remaining cards are placed in the middle face down. Flip the top card and place it beside the stockpile as the discard pile. Arrange the 6 cards in two rows of 3 in front of each player. Choose 2 of these cards to turn face up, while all other cards remain face down.
To achieve the lowest number of points, players can either swap the cards in front of them for lesser value cards or they can pair cards up with cards of equal value. Beginning with the player to the dealer's left, players take turns drawing single cards from either the stock or discard piles. The drawn card can either be swapped for one of that player's 6 cards or discarded. If the card is swapped, then the drawn card is placed face up in that player’s rows. The round ends when all of a player's cards are face up.
To determine which player has the lowest score, use the following card values:
Each ace counts as 1 point.
Each 2 is minus 2 points.
Each number card from 3 to 10 scores its face value.
Each jack or queen scores 10 points.
Each king scores zero points.
A pair of equal cards in the same column scores zero points for the column (even if the equal cards are 2s).