CARD GAMES EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW Games to Play at Home and at the Casino

Before there were smartphones, people passed their time playing some good old fashioned card games. Here are the top ones you really ought to know.

Hearts is one of those games that’s surprisingly difficult to explain yet surprisingly simple to comprehend. It’s a four person, evasion-type trick playing card game in which the goal is to take as few hands as possible and thus have the lowest score. Except of course for the one time you might actually try and take all the points and through a weird loophole end up giving everyone else an inappropriately high number of points, called “shooting the moon”. And yeah that’s where the phrase comes from. My first exposure to the game was as a ten year old up in a cabin with my brother, dad, and grandfather and I was shocked how addicted I’d become after learning how to play. I suppose it may have connotations of old ladies for some, but for me it will always be the game my father and grandfather taught me, one that we played long into the night in the frozen Minnesotan wilderness.

The favorite card game of lone assassins stationed in waiting and children clicking around on their parent's Windows ‘97. Despite being associated with individuals whiling away their time, the game can also be played cooperatively with a friend, or competitively with one deck per player. Also, did you know that Solitaire is only called Solitaire in the US and Canada? The rest of the world knows the game specifically as, “Klondike,” a particular version of the “Patience” category of card games. Patience originally developed in either Germany or Scandinavia and before making its way to France, England, and the Americas in the 19th century. Statistically speaking, 79% of Solitaire games are winnable, however significantly less are won in practice due to humans making unwise moves.

Blackjack, aka “21”
I don’t need to explain the rules of this one to you (fine I will: try to score 21 or less without going over), since this is probably the most popular and basic of casino card games. It’s simple to understand, fast-paced, and you’re always playing against the dealer, not other players. All of those factors contribute to drawing out the great scourge of casinos: card-counters. While technically legal in most states to count cards and do high order calculations in your head, the proliferation of so called advantage players in the 1960s has led to the most obvious ones being ejected or blacklisted from casinos altogether. Blackjack has been featured prominently in a number of books and movies, most notably 2008s “21” starring Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey.

Five Card Draw Poker
And here we have it folks: poker in its most standard form. Although rarely played in casinos or tournaments, this variation of poker is the most common form played in home games across America. If your dad had a standing Thursday night poker game, this is likely what they were playing. Combining mathematical skill, the reading and concealing of social cues, and Lady Luck herself, it’s no wonder poker has found its place as men’s preferred card game in American society.

Spoons is a card game every man should know if only because it’s simple and therefore a perfect game to play with children. It’s fast-paced, easy to learn and not dissimilar from musical chairs. Players pass cards quickly in an attempt to gather four of a kind and once they do, they grab a spoon from the center of the table. Once someone begins the grabbing, the other players have to immediately drop what they’re doing and grab a spoon, and since there’s always one spoon less than the number of players, the loser will always be the spoonless one. For a playful variation (known as Extreme Spoons), place the spoons in a nearby but inconvenient location, ensuring there will be a mad scramble and dash of exercise with every hand.

Texas Hold ‘Em
If you’ve mastered the Five Card Draw, it’s time for the beloved poker classic: Texas Hold ‘Em. As America’s now favorite poker variation, the game rose to prominence due to its popularity on the internet and for its general ease of play. It’s also been prominently portrayed in movies such as Rounders and Casino Royale. While nobody knows the exact origin of Texas Hold ‘Em, that didn’t stop the Texas legislature from passing resolution in 2007 declaring Robstown, Texas to be the game’s official birthplace.

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