Understanding Card Games As A Beginner

Understanding Card Games As A Beginner

A standard deck of cards has 52 cards. With this standard deck, the number of card games that exist is almost countless. Many of these develop in and stay limited to one nation and/or culture. However, some card games are so popular that they cut across such national or cultural bounds. By and large, experts sort card games into five categories. Note that the categories are based on the overall gameplay. The actual rules or even goals can vary wildly between games in the same category.

  • Trick-based games are played in multiple rounds. In each round, players lay down a single card from their hand, and based on preset rules and parameters, one card wins out (i.e. the player of that card ‘takes the trick’).
  • Matching games are all about matching or putting cards in a certain sequence. Examples include Rummy and Mahjong.
  • In shedding games the player’s objective is to empty their hand earlier than other players do.
  • Collection-based games incentivize the players to acquire all cards in the deck.
  • Comparing games are basically ‘showdowns’ where players go toe-to-toe as their card values are directly tallied against each other.
  • Solitaire games are designed for solo play, and are often about building a certain layout.

Get to know the cards themselves

The ‘deck’ or ‘pack’ of cards is the full set of cards. What does that mean? The full range of a deck is a total of 52 cards – 4 suits with 13 cards from each suit. A suit is a symbol – it can be either club, spade, heart, or diamond. The first two of these symbols are always black in color (hence ‘black cards’) and the last two are red (red cards). Each suit contains, in order of ‘rank’, Ace (considered ‘one’ in some cases), 2, 3, 4 … 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. Other than these 52 cards, some games involve a ‘Joker’. The joker is a wildcard in most games, i.e. a card that can adapt itself to be a dummy of any card. Therefore having the joker can be a major advantage. 

Popular Card Game Terms

The first hurdle you will face as a beginner is the special terms that the crowd use.  Card games have their own lingo and their own jargons. Some of these words are: 

  • Age refers to the order of priority in which the players take turns. For example, most games advance in a clockwise order. In that case, the ‘eldest hand’ is the player next to the dealer going counter-clockwise, i.e. the player to the dealer’s immediate left.
  • A ‘bid’ is a proposition to win a certain score threshold.
  • ‘Bluff’ is a pretense about your cards, i.e. deliberately misrepresenting your hand.
  • Black Lady and Black Maria are both alternate names for the queen of spades. 
  • Court Cards refer to the face cards (also called picture cards), i.e. King, Queen, and Jack. (Not the joker) 
  • Carte Blanche means a hand without any court cards.
  • ‘Coup’ basically means a very skilful move that is potentially game-winning.
  • Dealer is simply the person who deals the cards, usually opening the game or the round. 
  • Face-down means a card is placed on its face, which means you cannot see the contents. Face-up is the opposite.
  • Your ‘Hand’ means the current set of cards directly in your hand. 
  • Index is the number and suit of the card printed on its corner. 
  • Having a ‘long card’ in your hand means other players no longer have a card of that suit.
  • One-eyes can mean either the King of Diamonds, Jack of Spades, or Jack of Hearts. 
  • Pip is another word for the suit of a card. Pip value refers to its numeric value.
  • Rank is another way to denote the card’s numeric value, i.e. any two similar cards of the same suit – 2 of Hearts and 2 of Spades, or Queen of Hearts and Queen of Diamonds – have the same rank.
  • ‘Reneging’ or ‘revoking’ is failing to follow suit, i.e. failure to play a required card for the round.
  • Spot cards are cards from Ace to 10, i.e. all cards that are not Court Cards or Joker.
  • Suicide King means the King of Hearts, so called because of the sword behind his head. 
  • To designate a card the ‘trump’ means to make that suit outrank the rest. For example, a 2 of a trump suit would still beat an 8 from any non-trump suit. 

The sheer variety of card games makes it impossible to cover all the bases. Seasoned players are not aware of all the lingo of card games. However, if the basic lingo is set, a beginner can have a better shot at enjoying a card game.

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