No-Play Gambling Games and Games of Chance
The most basic card game is not really a game involving "play." Instead, cards are simply turned up to see who wins the stake, or in the case of pub games, who pays for the drinks. Some degree of mathematical skill enters the point-count games such as Blackjack or Twenty-One. The most sophisticated games in this group are the various types of Poker, where a savvy player can win the stake without necessarily holding the best cards. To excel at Poker, one must be able to control facial expressions and body language in order to maintain a "Poker Face" that can bluff to success.


A poker-style card game for 4-8 players. Two versions, Single Brag and Three Stake Brag, are both played with a full deck of cards. The Ace of Diamonds, Knave (Jack) of Clubs, and Nine of Diamonds are called "Braggers" and act as Jokers or Wild Cards. Ace is High.Card game historian David Parlett calls Brag "the longest-standing British representative of the Poker family. . . the everyday game of workers, students, and the armed forces" (101).


A simple and primitive gambling game which was modified as a children's game of chance. Serious gamblers preferred a faster game with less card play.


Similar to Lottery, a simple gambling game that evolved into a children's game. Played as a round with any number of players, each one putting a set amount into the pool and the dealer putting in double. Players each get three cards, one card is turned face up as trump. The players take turns turning up cards until someone finds a higher card than the trump. He may then sell it, if he wishes; the holder of the highest trump takes the pool (Poole 65).


Considered the most sophisticated of the gambling games, Poker is played under many variations. In the basic game, players are dealt a hand of cards and then progressively raise the stakes against each other as to who is holding the best cards according to a previously agreed scale of values. On each turn, players may call (match) the previous stake, raise (increase) the bid, or fold (drop out). Players with poor hands can thus bluff their way to winning the pot, although they could also be forced to reveal their cards in a showdown. Successful poker players demonstrate control under pressure, a keen sense for reading other people, and some degree of bravado.

Vingt-un (Vingt-et-un)

The French variation of the American game Twenty-One. Appearing in the middle of the eighteenth century, Vingt-et-un was among the chief court games of Louis XV and preferred by Napoleon over all other games. Vingt-et-un is banking game in which the banker deals two cards face-down to each player, included himself. Each may ask for another card, or Pass. The object is to achieve 21 points on the value of the cards without going "bust," over 22 points and losing the stake. Ace is 1 or 11; court cards are 10 each; others are counted at face value.
Card-Exchange Games

Players put out one or more cards and take up a corresponding number either from players' hands, from an extra hand (dummy), or from the entire pack. In one form of exchange games, players try to avoid certain cards (Old Maid); in another form, players try to collect certain cards (Go Fish, Rummy, Gin).


(Go, Britain; Go Fish, USA) A very simple children's game where all cards are dealt out to the players, who then take turns asking for any and all cards of a particular rank in an attempt to accumulate sets of cards. Also, sometimes played like the American game Memory where all the cards are laid out in rows, face down. Players attempt to turn up two matching cards. The one holding the most pairs wins.

Trade and Barter)

Basically an old form of Poker which became popular throughout Europe in the eighteenth century. Three cards are dealt face down to each player who may then discard or exchange with other players in trying to get three of a kind, a three-card straight flush, a three-card flush, or pairs.
Matching Games, Playing Out

The objective of these matching games is to "play out" the hand until it is empty in games such as Crazy Eights, sometimes accumulating points in games like Cribbage. This group also includes single hand games such as Solitaire or Patience where the object is to play out of one's hand until all the cards are on the table.


Interestingly, Cassino is regarded as the only example in Anglo-American card games of a form of game nearly unknown in the west, but very popular in the east where the Chinese know it as "Fishing" (Parlett 133). In England, the game was first described in a 1797 book of card games. It is played in Italy as Scopa with a 40-card pack, in France as Papillon with 52 cards. Cassino is often described as a simple game for children. The two players may each have one partner, each player is dealt four cards face down and four cards are dealt on the table face up. Players attempt to capture the table cards by matching and taking, or by building on the table cards and then matching and taking on the next round. Play continues until all cards are used up or one player reaches 21.
Trick-Taking Games

Games in this group involve taking sets of cards known. A considerable degree of creative strategy is required with the best trick games such as Bridge, Whist, and Pinochle. Simpler versions of trick games count the number of tricks taken, more complicated games involve point-taking. Often considered very social games, depending on the players' skill and personalities, the games can become quite cutthroat. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both Whist and Piquet were played seriously for high stakes at the resort town of Bath.

Loo (Lanterloo)

A card game marked by many variations, Loo is a round game best for five to seven players where players bet and play for tricks. In each round, players may pass, play, or "miss" (exchange from an extra hand). Trumps must be led and suit followed. Each trick won earns a third of the pool, and a player taking none is "loo-ed" and must ante up. In Unlimited Loo, the pool grows rapidly, leading to the game's reputation as a potentially vicious gambling game. In the nineteenth century, Loo was a highly popular round game for any number of players.


Piquet is regarded as the national game of France, and has long been considered the best card game for two players although it passed from popularity in the early 1900's. In England, Piquet (also known as Picket) was played as early as 1532. The game uses 32 cards and is played to 100 points or exactly six deals. Players are dealt twelve cards, the remaining eight cards for the stock. Cards are exchanged from the stock to improve the hands, tricks are played at no trump. Piquet is particularly interesting because it has resisted trumps and is strategically similar to chess (Parlett 180).


Half-way between Loo where it's "every player for himself" and Whist where partners work together to accumulate points, Quadrille is marked by temporary alliances with other players. The game is a variation of Hombre (Ombre) played by four people with a forty cards; the objective being to take the most tricks. Quadrille was popular among Englishwomen in the early 1700's but grew outdated later in the century with Napoleon's rise to power and the increasing popularity of Whist.


An ancestor of Bridge, the trump game of Whist is played by two couples sitting opposite one another. If Piquet is the national game of France, Whist is certainly the national game of England. Earliest versions of Whist such as Ruff and Honours were considered rather low-class, but by the 1700's Whist had moved into coffee-houses, academic circles, and the fashionable circles at Bath. Each player is dealt thirteen cards, the last turned up for trump. Players must follow suit, if possible, or discard. The person playing the highest trump or highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The partnership taking the most tricks scores a point for every trick taken past six. A game is won by the first side to reach five points over as many deals as it takes. A rubber is won by the first side to win two games. Whist is a deceptively simple game that gives savvy players an opportunity to exchange information about the relative strength of their hands, and play out to their advantage.
Glossary of Terms
ante - In gambling games, an initial contribution made by each player to the pool.

cutting the deck - To lift the top portion of cards from the deck in order to reveal a highest (or lowest) card to determine dealer; or in order to place the top portion at the bottom of the deck to hide the bottom card.

court cards - The Jack, Queen, and King of each suit. Also called the Royals or Face Cards.

deal - To distribute the cards to the players. Unless the rules state otherwise, cards are dealt face down in rotation around the table, usually from the dealer's left (clockwise) around the table to end with the dealer.

dealer - The player who deals the cards. Dealer may be selected by cutting the deck or drawing the lowest (or highest) card. Deal passes to the next player with each hand, in the order of play.

deck - A standard deck of cards consists of 52-cards; thirteen each of four different suits.

draw - To take to be dealt one or more cards from the stock deck.

dummy - An extra hand dealt face up on the table.

exchange - To trade cards from the hand with the waste-pile or with another player.

fish - A card game; also, fish-shaped markers or counters.

pip cards - The number cards 2-10; the pips being the small suit symbols equal to the value of the card, the Two of any suit equals two points, etc.

pool - (pot) The money accumulated throughout play. Usually players contribute (ante up) at the beginning of play, and sometimes throughout the game, as in Poker. At the end of play, the pool is awarded to the winner.

round - One time around the table for each player to have the opportunity to play.

rubber - A set of three or more games, won by the first side to win two out of three or three out of five. Commonly applied to whist games.

sequence - A combination of three or more cards in numerical order or ranking order, 9-10-J, A-2-3-4.

stake - A player's contribution to the pool; the sum total of the money or collateral a player will bet.

stock - Cards left over from the deal which are placed in the center of the table and used later in the play.

suit - A series of cards distinguished by a common symbol, or the symbol itself. In a standard 52-card deck, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, Clubs.

trick - In a game like whist or bridge, a set of cards equal to the number of players who have each contributed one card to the play.

trump - 1) A superior suit, any card of which will beat that of any other suit played to the trick; 2) To play a trump card.

waste-pile - A stack of discarded cards, usually face up

shuffle - To mix up the order of cards in the pack.

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