Never Bored With Board Games: A Deck of Cards!


A Deck of Cards
Difficulty Level: 2
Play Time: 5-30 minutes
Number of Players: 1-51
Recommended Age: 8+

The deck of cards is one of my all-time favorite gaming staples. Portable and compact, endlessly useful and amusing, a deck of cards transcends social and cultural boundaries. Card games allow for conversation and connection among players. Playing cards has a certain social value that many other competitive games lack. Since you can take the competition to whatever height you would like, you can adapt the game to any group. Friends, family, peers, or even strangers, everyone enjoys a game of cards. Games like Go Fish and Poker are pretty widely known, but have you heard of President or Eleusis? Here are some of my favorite card games for all occasions.
Hearts (3-7 players): Hearts is a game of strategy and patience in which players try to avoid getting points. To begin, the entire deck is split among all players. From then, players will take turns putting cards onto the table to get rid of their hand. After each player has put one card onto the table, some player will take the trick (the collection of cards) and put it in a pile off to the side. Watch out for cards of the heart suit, though, since each heart you have in your pile at the end of the game is worth one point. Even worse, the queen of spades is worth 13.
Spit (2 players): Spit is a breakneck game in which players attempt to get rid of their cards faster than their opponent. To set up, deal half the deck to each player and create four piles in the solitaire fashion, placing one card face down between the players. Then, with the rest of your cards in one hand, try to get rid of the cards in your piles as fast as you can once the middle cards have been turned over. You may play cards that are one number above or below the top card of a middle pile. Once you have played all of your cards, slap the pile you think is smaller and add it to the cards in your hand. Repeat the process until one player has no cards left.
President (3-16): President is another trick-taking game where players attempt to get rid of all of their cards to win and become president. After the entire deck has been split among everyone, players take turns putting sets of one, two, or three cards onto the table. When putting a set of cards down, they must be higher than that of the player before you. For example, if the player before you lays down two eights, then you must put down two cards higher than eight like two tens or two queens. You may not put down one card in this scenario. If you are unable to play any cards, or simply don’t want to, you must pass. If every player passes, then the cards are put to the side and a new trick begins.
Spoons (2-8 players): Spoons is a reflexive, fast-paced game of grabbing and passing. Each player is dealt four cards and then the rest of the cards are placed face down next to the dealer. Then, the dealer draws a card and passes a card to the player on their left, and so on. Once a player has collected all four of one card, they grab a spoon. Even if you do not have four of a kind and you see that someone has grabbed a spoon, you should also take one. Here’s the thing: There is one fewer spoon than the number of players. The player without a spoon is eliminated, and the game continues until only one player remains.
Egyptian Ratscrew (2-6 players): Egyptian Ratscrew is essentially an enhanced version of Slap-Jack. Instead of slapping jacks, players slap doubles or sandwiches. A double is any two of the same card played on top of each other, and a sandwich is exactly what it sounds like: a double with any card in between.
Eleusis (2-8 players): Eleusis is a game of deduction, where players try to identify the “code” that the codemaster created. To start, one person is elected as the Codemaster, who then decides on a code. Then, the deck of cards is split evenly among all other players. Players then take turns adding cards to face up piles to figure out what the code is. An example of a code is, “You can stack cards only in an alternating odds and evens order,” or “You can stack red cards only with each other, and black cards with each other.”

Since many card games are simple to learn, they enable easy social connection. Over the past year, for many in the Latin community, physically reconnecting with friends after COVID’s long separations, and just hanging out while playing a card game, was restorative. Sometimes a card game is just a card game—other times it is a moment for celebration.