8 easy card games to rock any party… er, fellowship

Photo by Hello Turkey Toe

Sometimes serving others is lounging about, playing easy cards games with friends.

Or perhaps it’s not lounging at all. Perhaps this is edge of your seat – even out of your seat – competition. Either way, a deck of cards and a group of friends can go a long way. Think of it as a bonding experience.

Of course, some people don’t like card games. My dad, for example, hates most of them. My mom on the other hand (pun slightly intended) loves them all. Take this for what it’s worth.

These are eight of my favorite easy-to-teach-and-learn card games (plus a bonus game). I play each of them at least once a month.

Each is played with a standard deck (or two) of playing cards. Some also require a pad of paper and pen for keeping score, and the game of Spoons literally requires spoons. Otherwise, you don’t need anything else to play these games – just willing hearts and competitive spirits. :)

1. Kemps

[For 4 or more players but must have 2 players per team] A game with partners and secret codes, what’s not to like? Click here for Kemps instructions.

2. Four-of-a-kind Go Fish

[For 2 or more players] Almost everyone’s played the classic version of Go Fish. Four-of-a-kind just ups the challenge for our post-modern generation. Click here for classic Go Fish instructions.

To switch to four-of-a-kind Go Fish, you match groups of four-of-a-kind instead of pairs before you can lay them down. Also, if someone asks for Queens for example, you have to give up all your Queens, not just one. The rest of the game is played like the classic version.

3. Sevens

[For 3 or more players] Subtle strategy and the randomness of the cards determine the victor here. It’s like competitive Solitaire… but fun. Click here for Sevens instructions.

4. 9-Hole Golf

[For 2 or more players] Calm and requires concentration, don’t try to talk or you’ll forget your cards. Also, don’t let the word “Golf” throw you – you’ll enjoy this game. Click here for 9 Hole Golf instructions.

5. Spoons

[For 3 or more players] Competitive, physical, and sometimes deadly, Spoons is best for large groups hungry for a challenge. Click here for Spoons instructions.

I created a version of Team Spoons that’s great for larger groups, say 20 people or more. You might like to try it once you get the hang of regular Spoons. Click here for added Team Spoons instructions.

4. Trash (a.k.a. Trashcan)

[For 2 or more players] Absolutely no skill involved, this is my kind of game (with the name to fit). Click here for Trash instructions.

7. Speed

[For 2 to 6 (or more) players] As you probably guessed, this isn’t a slow game – but it’s easy to catch on. And you can play a whole round in a minute or so. Click here for Speed instructions.

The instructions say to play with two players, and it’s probably best to learn that way. But… I’ve played with as many as six players. Just add more decks and piles as needed.

8. Up and Down the River (a.k.a. Oh H***!)

[2 or more players] Probably the most difficult to learn, but don’t worry because these are all easy games. I taught my cousins while on vacation last year, and they still thank me for it. It might be my favorite “real” game of the bunch. Click here for Up and Down the River instructions.

Bonus: Slapjack

[2 or more players] Fast paced and exciting, painful and painfully simple, this is my favorite “fake” card game so I had to include it. Click here for Slapjack instructions.

For added pleasure, agree to slap Jacks and Sevens. It allows more slapping and stretches out the game. By the way, I’m pretty much a world-class Slapjack player. Anytime you want to give it a go, look me up, and we’ll get our slap on.


Note: I actually play some of these games slightly differently than the instructions say. That’s because usually these games spread friend to friend without official rules anywhere. The instructions I’ve linked to, though, are the closest (and easiest to understand) that I could find.

I wish I could reach through this screen and play a game or two with you to show you how easy they are to learn. I hope you’ll stick with some of these instructions because I think you’ll enjoy the games once you catch on.

The hardest part is teaching the first person. After that, it’s all over. :)

Serving Suggestions:

(1) Learn some of these easy card games and try them with your friends. I don’t suggest learning them all at once. Instead, bookmark this page – take each game one at a time so you’re not overwhelmed. Savor them.

(2) What card games do you play? I’d love to here your suggestions in the comments.

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