Five Traditional Card Games

I wonder how many people are aware of the variety of traditional card games that can be played with a standard deck of playing cards. Most probably played card games such as Crazy Eights and Memory when they were kids. Many have played on-line games such as Hearts, which is standard on PC computers. (Is Hearts also on the Mac?) And Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and other casino games are quite popular. But how about games like Casino (not a gambling game), or Go Boom, or Oh Hell, or Kings Corners, or Michigan? Some of these games may be familiar to some readers, but I’m sure that there are lots of people who haven’t heard of any of them. Let me describe them.

CASINO is a fishing game where you use a card in your hand to capture one or more face-up cards from the table. You can capture cards with the same rank as your card, or you can capture sets of cards that add up to the rank of your card, or both. Or you can use your card to build a set of cards on the table that you will take on a future turn, unless your opponent takes it first. Or you can lay a card face-up on the table. The player with the highest score based upon the cards she or he has captured wins.

GO BOOM is a trick-taking game with a twist. The tricks are worthless. It’s like Crazy Eights because you must play a card with the same suit or the same rank as the last card played. And it’s like Crazy Eights because, if you cannot play a card to a trick, you must draw cards from the draw pile until you can. Each player plays one card to the trick with the highest card winning the trick. The first player to get rid of his or her cards wins.

KINGS CORNERS is a layout game in which you play cards onto eight piles surrounding a draw pile. There is a pile above, below, to the right, and to the left of the draw pile. Kings are laid on the four corner spaces around the draw pile. You build descending sequences of cards on the piles where each card is one number lower than and the opposite color of the card beneath it. You can place a card or cards on a pile. You can move one pile to another if the sequence and color-pattern is followed. You can start a new pile if the space in the layout is empty. And if you lay down all of your cards during your turn, you win.

MICHIGAN is a sequence-building game in which you play cards onto an ascending sequence of cards. For each hand, all of the cards are dealt out to the players plus to one extra unused hand. The player to the left of the dealer plays the lowest card held in any suit. The players then lay down the cards in that suit in ascending order until either the high card is played or the next higher card is unavailable. The player who laid down the last card then lays down the lowest card held in any suit, and the game continues. The first player to run out of cards wins.

OH HELL (or OH PSHAW in genteel circles) is a trick-taking game in which each player must take the exact number of tricks bid on a hand in order to score. With four players, thirteen hands are played. One card is dealt to each player in the first hand, two cards in the second hand, and so on. For each hand, each player in turn bids the number of tricks she or he will take. The total number bid by all players must not equal the total number of tricks, so the dealer must make the last bid accordingly. Then the player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. If you take the exact number of tricks that you bid, you score points for that hand. If not, you score zero points. After the last hand, the player with the most points wins.