There are many theories on when and where card games were invented, but we cannot be certain about that. The most common belief is that the Chinese invented card games and the first references appear somewhere around the 800s. Still, it is unclear whether those mentions were about card or dice games, but what we know for sure is that during the 15th century, card games took over the world.
We have passed hundreds of different variations of card games over generations. While rules may vary depending on geographical position and from player to player, there is still one thing they have in common. We can place them in certain categories or ‘families’ of games.
Over centuries, many types of card games have evolved such as matching, collecting, comparing, patience, solitaire, poker, etc. but also the one we are most interested in – trick-taking card games.
Trick-taking games are based on multiple rounds (tricks) where cards are played one at a time and the object is to win a trick.
We assume you are already familiar with the most popular one – Hearts, so let’s go through a brief list of games similar to this all-time classic. If not, playing a few games of Hearts will help you get familiar.
In Spades, we deal cards the same way as in Hearts. Each player (out of 4) receives 13 cards. The difference is that players can split into two teams and play against each other.
At the beginning of every round, teams set a bid for several tricks they are going to pull and their goal is to get the closest possible to that number.
Also, the Spade is always a trump suit. This means it is ‘stronger’ than all other suits. For example, if someone plays the Ace of Clubs and you play the Four of Spades, you win this trump. Only a stronger Spade can beat another card of this suit.
Unlike Spades and Hearts, Euchre uses only 24 cards from the deck. We should remove all the cards from Deuces to Eights before the beginning. We can do the dealing in different ways, but each player should end up with 5 cards in their hands.
Another difference is that any suit can be a trump. The players can agree on which suit gets to be the trump, or it is chosen randomly.
The scoring is different, but the rest of the rules remain the same.
Pitch, also known as All Fours is a popular game that has evolved into many versions but one thing remained the same – the scoring.
In this game players also bid on a number of several tricks, but each bid must be higher than the previous one. The player with the highest bid is called the ‘pitcher’. Trump is randomly decided and card placement happens following the same rules as in previous games we listed.
What is different is keeping score. The number of scored points is equal to the number of tricks, but this does not apply to the pitcher. The pitcher scores only if they reach equal or more than what they bid on. If this condition isn’t met, the pitcher scores minus points.
4. Oh Hell
Oh, Hell is also familiar under different names, since this caption was found offensive. It is also familiar as Blob, Blackout, Elevator, Up and Down the River, etc.
The number of players can vary from 3 to 7 and this is what the number of the dealt cards depends on.
What makes this game interesting and also complicated is that points are scored only if the number of the tricks is exactly the same as the bid number. More or fewer tricks will bring you negative points either way.
Another trick-taking game with a similar concept, but different bidding. All the players discard three cards from their hands. Each suit is worth a certain number and the total of these numbers is the number of bids. Clubs are worth 3, Hearts 2, Spades 1, and Diamonds are 0. So, for example, if you have to discard two Hearts and one Spade, your bid will be 5.
What makes this type of bidding difficult is deciding which cards are you going to discard and which are remaining in your hands. If luck is not on your side and the shuffle didn’t help you, you will have a hard time reaching your bid.
One of the most popular games all around the world also has similarities to Hearts. We can find the bridge in newspaper columns and there are hundreds of books on this topic. Bridge players can also compete in tournaments and championships all around the world.
In Bridge, each player gets 13 cards and is played among four players who are paired into two teams. We scored points if a group makes its bid or defeats opposing bids.
Players can also bid on specific suits. For example, a player can announce a bid of seven tricks with one Spade. Also, a bid can be ‘No-trump’, which means no suit will be a trump suit.
What differentiates Trump from other games is the ranking of trump suits. There are a few different rules on trumping.
In some games, we can fix Spades as trumps, while in others they can rotate on a fixed schedule, depending on the outcome of the previous hand, can be determined by drawing a card, or can be set by players.
Usually, the trump card cannot be played if playing a suit that will lead the trick is possible. In this version of the trick-taking game, the following suit is the highest priority.