The Penguin Book of Card Games: Everything You Need to Know to Play Over 250 Games (2 page)

BOOK: The Penguin Book of Card Games: Everything You Need to Know to Play Over 250 Games
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Related vying games

23 Banking games

Twenty-One/Pontoon, Blackjack, Baccara, Pai Gow Poker, Yablon, Speculation, Other notable banking games

24 Original card games

Abstrac, Caterpillar, Counterbluff, Dracula, Duck Soup, Galapagos, Garbo, Get Stuck, Over the Top, Parity, Cross Purposes, Throps, Gooseberry Fool, Bugami, Collusion, Mismatch, Seconds, Concerto, Tantony, Anarchy, Minimisère, Squint, Sex

Technical terms

Index of games


This book aims to provide a working description of as many card

games as possible that are or have been played in the western

world with the traditional four-suited pack. It is based on my

Penguin Book of Card Games, which first appeared in 1979 and is

widely regarded as a standard authority, but which, for several

reasons listed below, needs to be revised. For instance:

1. Some standard games played at tournament level, such as

Bridge and Skat, have undergone revisions to the of icial rules

published by the appropriate authorities.

2. Popular or ‘folk’ games that are not subject to of icial rules

(but which account for wel over 95 per cent of al card games

played) are in a constant state of flux, and it is obviously

desirable to keep abreast of developments.

3. Many previously unrecorded games have come to light in the

past 30 years – some relatively new, some previously thought

to be extinct, and some actual y extinct but whose rules have

now been recovered.

Two modern developments have boosted the discovery, or

recovery, of many more games than might have been thought

possible a few years ago.

One is a growing awareness that a society’s indoor games are as

distinctive of its culture as its arts, cuisine, or social customs, and

are worth recording for the light they throw on that community’s

personality. The exploration of card games has become a particular

pursuit of the International Playing-Card Society, founded in the

late 1960s original y as a forum for playing-card col ectors. Many

field researchers are members of the Society, and report their

findings in its bi-monthly Journal, now known as The Playing-Card.

Another has been a growth in the popularity of card-play itself,

and that, paradoxical y, through the very medium which might have

and that, paradoxical y, through the very medium which might have

been expected to have led to its decline – namely, computers. A

quick trawl though the murky water sof the Internet wil soon

throwu pop portunities to indulge in live play with physical y

remote opponents, news of clubs and tournaments devoted to an

increasing variety of games, newsgroups seeking information as to

the availability of cards themselves or rules of obscure games, and

websites devoted to a miscel any of cartophilic enthusiasms.

The most important of these is the Pagat website,

, conducted by John McLeod, a

prominent member of the IPCS and himself a wel -travel ed field

researcher. Its intrinsic authority is constantly enhanced by the

contributions of interested and knowledgeable players from al over

the world, making of it a living, growing, interactive encyclopedia

of the cybersphere. This links directly to the home page of the

Society via . Other useful

sites include my historic card games pages

, and that of Roderick

Somervil e, , for the

purchase of national, regional and other specialist playing-cards.

The various sets of national suit symbols used throughout this book

were taken from a font designed by Gyula Szigri which can be

downloaded from .

The designer makes no charge for their use beyond the normal

courtesy of acknowledgement.

Many thanks are due, and are duly tendered, to John McLeod and

Andrew Pennycook, with whom I have shared much information

and discussion over the years, and both of whom read various drafts

of the text and rescued me from a number of errors. (I regret to

record that Andrew Pennycook died in 2006.) Further

embarrassments have been saved me by Roger Wel s, my eagle-eyed

copy editor, with whom I have shared mutual y rewarding

discussions on mat ers of grammar and punctuation. My brother

Graham has, as usual, been invaluable as a foreign language


Additional thanks are due to al who have variously sent me

Additional thanks are due to al who have variously sent me

games, answered queries, al owed me to quote from their reports,

or checked portions of the text from an expert’s point of view, in

particular: Bob Abbot , Mike Arnautov, David Bernazzani, Thierry

Depaulis, Dan Glimne, Lynn King, Veikko Lahdesmaki, Noel

Leaver, David Levy (US), Mat hew Macfadyen, Babak Mozaf ari,

Robert Reid, Pamela Shandel, Elon Shlosberg, Anthony Smith, Gyula

Szigri, Butch Thomas, Nick Wedd and Jude Wudarczyk.

Cards by nature

No man who has wrestled with a self-adjusting card table can ever be quite the

man he once was.

James Thurber

Playing-cards are flat, two-sided gaming pieces with identifying

marks on one side and a uniform pat ern on the other, and are

employed in such a way that only their holders can see their

identifying marks. Dominoes and Mah-Jong tiles are similar, and al

are ultimately related through a common ancestor traceable back to

the China of more than a thousand years ago.

Because of their bipartisan nature – secret from one viewpoint

and identifiable from another – cards are used for two types of

activity: gambling games of chance, in which (basical y) you bet on

the identity of a card or cards seen only from the back; and games

of varying degrees of skil in which you manipulate them in such a

way as to win cards from your opponents, or form them into

matched sets, or pursue whatever other objective human ingenuity

may devise. The skil factor of any given card game is largely the

degree to which it enables you to plan your play by reference to

information revealed or inferred about the lie of cards in other

players’ hands. Bridge is a great game (by no means the only one)

players’ hands. Bridge is a great game (by no means the only one)

for the high degree of information that can be acquired before you

play a single card, and Eleusis one that bases its whole structure on

the acquisition of information.

Everyone knows, even if they do not play, that there are 52 cards

in a pack; that they consist of four suits cal ed spades, clubs, hearts

and diamonds (

); that each suit contains numerals 1 to 10,

topped by three courtly figures cal ed Jack, Queen, and King; that

the ‘1’ is cal ed Ace, and often counts highest of al . Most packs

contain one or two additional cards cal ed Jokers. They belong to

no suit, are used in relatively few games, and then in various

dif erent ways.

Not everybody knows, however, that this particular pack, though

universal in extent, is indigenous to only a few countries, including

France, Britain and North America, and is native only to France. Its

universality is due to two factors. One is inherent, in that it is the

simplest in design, therefore the cheapest to produce, and the

easiest for newcomers to become acquainted with. The other is

cultural, in that it is the pack from which have sprung such

international y favoured games as Whist, Bridge, Poker, Rummy,

and Canasta.

Because the pack of international currency coincides with the

national pack of France and Britain, and their former colonies, the

inhabitants of these countries are general y unaware of any

alternatives. In fact, however, other European countries (and their

former colonies) stil employ packs with dif erent suits, dif erent

courts, and dif erent numbers of cards in each suit, and, not

unnatural y, prefer them for indigenous games that have never been

played with anything else.

Earlier card-game col ections published in English describe

national or ‘foreign’ games as if played with standard ‘international’

playing-cards. In this book they wil be described as played with

their own cards, but (where practical) accompanied by a translation

into their French-suited equivalents in case you cannot find a


Six basic types of European playing-card systems are shown in

BOOK: The Penguin Book of Card Games: Everything You Need to Know to Play Over 250 Games
2.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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