Card Gaming Knowledge

Playing cards and why I think they're so great

face up deck of playing cards

Playing Cards are probably the most advanced piece of gaming equippment and an essential to any advanced gamer because of how versatile they are. Playing cards are so advanced that they are on the same level as chess with how advanced and fantastic they are. I would even be willing to argue that card games are even some of the most advanced types of games based off their sheer mathematical possibilities alone. The amount of different games that can be played with a single deck of cards is astonishing. There are over 10,000 games that can be played using a standard deck of cards and probably even more games than that which are undocumented. My point is that playing cards are great. Playing cards function as a sort of portable gaming platform which is another thing that makes them great. They're small and portable, and they don't need any pieces, RNG devices, or boards. All you need to play most card games is a small empty flat surface and another player (and also the cards of course). While playing cards have not recieved a new update or booster pack in about a couple centuries (the last one featuring the jokers), they don't need one because they are perfectly balanced just the way they are. On this page I am going to document a couple of games as well as information about what is included in and makes a standard deck of playing cards. Most card games are imperfect information games.

What are Cards?

A playing card is a small rectangular piece of card stock or some other material usually 3.5 by 2.5 inches in size (about 8.89 by 6.35 centimeters). Playing cards can be made out of a large variety of other materials such as thick paper, thin plastic or cardboard, paper with a plastic coating, or a special cotton paper blend. One side of a card features a motif or picture which represents the card's value (called a rank), also featured in the corners. This is the front of a playing card and is often printed using the colors black, red, yellow, and blue. The other side of the card usually a pattern or image of some sort that matches the back every other card in the deck. This pattern is used to hide to value of a card either from other players or the player themself. This is the back of the card and is usually printed in one color, often blue, black, or red. The most commonly used and considered "standard" deck of playing cards contains 52 cards (54 cards including jokers, we'll talk about them later). However, on occasion some games may require less cards and as such certain cards must be sorted out of and temporarily seperated from the deck before play begins.

Every deck of cards is comprised of categories of cards called suits. In a standard 52 card deck, there are four different suits that cards belong to. The four suits are: Spades , Hearts , Clubs , and Diamonds . Cards in the Hearts or Diamonds suit have a red color scheme, cards in the Spades or Clubs suit have a black color scheme. Each suit contains thirteen cards, the type or value of a card is called a rank. Both the top left and bottom right corners of a playing card feature a small number or letter which says the rank of the card, this letter or number is called an index and is useful for quickly figuring out what the card is. Below the index is a small black or red symbol, this symbol is called a pip and is used to know what suit that card belongs to. If the card is not a king, queen, or jack then there will be the amount of pips as the rank in the center of the card. If the card is a king, queen, or jack (called a court, face, or picture card) then there won't be any pips in the center of card but there would be a singular pip next to the head of the person on that card. Below this is a diagram labelling all the different parts of a playing card.

There are two other cards that come with modern standard 52 card decks. These cards are called Jokers. Jokers are very notable as cards because they don't have any suit and there is only two of them. Most games require that the jokers be left out of the deck because they don't have the same aspects as the rest of the cards and they raise total amount of cards in the deck up to 54 which can throw off the game's balance. When jokers are included game, they usually rank above all the other cards or provide a special function different from the rest of the deck. Also, jokers feature either a star, the card manufacturer's logo, or the word "Joker" where the index and suit should be. Despite the jokers having a picture on them, they are not court cards and games rarely treat them as such. Below is a table of all the cards in each suit and their common numerical order.

Spades :AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenJackQueenKing
Hearts :AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenJackQueenKing
Clubs :AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenJackQueenKing
Diamonds :AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenJackQueenKing

The ace is a peculiar card because despite it being included in the card suits as a one most games assign signifigance to it, albiet to a lesser degree than the joker. These games change it by putting it as the highest ranking card (like the joker) or giving it a special function that other cards don't have making it more valueable and sought after by the players.

What are some card games?

Below is a list of some card games, all of these games use a standard 52 card deck. The instructions of the game will say if any cards should be sorted out or if they use the two jokers. Nearly all card games require that the deck be shuffled before the game begins, this is almost a constant. On this page every game requires that the deck be shuffled before play. There are many dfferent ways a deck of cards can be shuffled. The purpose of shuffling a deck of cards is to randomize the order of cards as to provide an element of chance to the games played with them. After all, a shuffled deck of cards can function and be used as an RNG even when they are not used for playing a game. This is another thing I like about playing cards, no two games played are the same because the card deck's random order provides enough variety without the need for dice or spinners. This also another reason why playing cards are some of the most portable pieces of gaming equipment and why I like them so much.

List of games featured:

Go Fish (for 2-5 players)

Go Fish is a game which uses a standard 52 card deck, the game can be played using the jokers with specific rules making the deck total to 54 cards but this is not required. At the start of the game each player gets dealt five cards (seven if two players are playing). Play proceeds clockwise from the dealer. Once each player gets dealt the cards, the deck gets placed in the center of the playing surface and optionally can be spread out to form a a small pile or "pond". The goal is to have the most points when the deck runs outs. On their turn, players pick an opponent and ask them if they have any cards of a specific rank. If they do then they give that player all of their cards of the rank asked for. If they don't have any of those card then they tell the player to "go fish". The player then draws one card from the deck or "pond" and adds it to their hand, their turn is now over. A player cannot ask for a rank that they do not already have at least one card of. If a player does have a card or cards of a rank they were asked for in their hand then they must give all the cards they were asked for to their opponent, they cannot lie. If a player has four cards of the same rank in their hand at any point, they immediately put those four cards into a small stack and place it in front of them face down. This is one completed book. A book is four cards of a matching rank (one card from each suit). Each complete book is worth one point. If the two jokers were shuffled in with the deck then they are treated like any other card with the only difference being how they are scored. Because there are only two joker cards, they cannot form a book and instead form what is called a pair. When a player has two joker cards in their hand, they stack and place those cards in front of them like they would a book. However, a pair is only worth half of a point. For example, four books and a pair is worth more points than four books but less than five books. If a player has no cards then they have to draw one card on their turn. The game ends when there are no more cards to draw from and no one has any cards in their hand. The person with the most points wins the game.


Pair (2 jokers)1/2 point
Book (4 cards matching rank)1 point

Trash (2 players)

Trash is a game which uses a 52 card deck and is played in a series of rounds. At the start of the game, each player gets dealt ten cards face down. The deck of cards then gets placed in the center of the surface between the two players. Players then arrange their ten cards into a five by two grid in front of them. The none dealing player goes first and play alternates between the two players. At the start of each turn, the player draws a card from either the deck or the top of the discard pile (next to the deck) and replaces a face down card on their grid with this new card. Which card on the grid gets replaced is determined by the rank of the card. Below is a diagram and table showing what rank means what card.

Rank:Position (x, y)
Ace(0, 0)
Two(1, 0)
Three(2, 0)
Four(3, 0)
Five(4, 0)
Six(0, 1)
Seven(1, 1)
Eight(2, 1)
Nine(3, 1)
Ten(4, 1)
JackAnywhere on the grid
King or QueenImmediately Discard

Jacks function as wild cards and can replace any face down card on the grid. Kings or Queens cannot be placed anywhere and are discarded when they are drawn, immediately ending the player's turn. When a player replaces a card, they take the face down card they're replacing and put the new card face up in its place. They then take the now revealed card that they replaced and repeat the process. If the card at the position of this new card's rank is already face up or if this new card is a King or Queen then it goes to the discard pile and this player's turn ends. When a player has replaced all the cards on their grid and everything is face up then they have won that round. When this happens, the top card of the dscard pile gets seperated from the rest and all the cards except this one get shuffled back into the deck. At the start of each round, players get dealt cards the same way as before but the player who won gets dealt one less card than before. Players arrange their cards into a grid in order from left to right top to bottom.

The deck gets placed in the center of the surface like before and that card which was kept seperate gets placed face up where the discard pile was. Play proceeds as usual with the only difference being that cards whose rank matches a position that no longer exists on a player's grid goes to the discard pile and that player's turn ends like it would if they drew a king or queen. This process repeats until the last round when a player only has one card remaining. If that player draws an Ace then they win the game. If they fail to draw an Ace on the final round then the other player wins and they lose.

Snap (2-6 players)

Snap is a game which is played using a standard 52 card deck with or without jokers. The goal of the game is to get all the cards (all of them, the entire deck basically). At the start of the game, the entire deck gets equally dealt out in a clockwise fashion face down to each player. The Players then take their cards and stack them face down to form a small draw deck instead of looking at them. The player to the left side of the dealer goes first and play proceeds clockwise. On a player's turn, they draw a card from their deck and place the card face up next to it. If at any point in the game two of the face up cards on the table match in rank then any player can shout "snap". The first player to shout snap when this happens gets both discard piles with the matching face up cards and adds them face down to the bottom of their own draw deck. If multiple players shout snap simultaneously and no one can figure who said it first then both of the discard piles wih matching face up cards go to the center of the playing surface to form what is called a "pool" or "pot". If any face up card on the table matches with the card in the center of the pot then any player can shout "snap pool" or "snap pot" and claim the contents of the pot for the bottom of their draw deck. If multiple players once again shout snap pool simultaneously then both of their discard piles go to the pool. If a player runs out of cards to draw from then they flip their discard pile face down and use that as their new draw deck without shuffling it. If a player runs out cards completely then they have to shout snap the next time an opportunity arises in order to get more cards. If they fail to do this then they are eliminated from the game. If they create a snap pool where there wasn't one before then they get another chance to get cards. The game ends when no one else except one player has all the cards, the last player remaining wins.

War (2 players)

War is a game which is played using a standard 52 card deck without the jokers. The goal of the game is to leave your opponent without any cards to draw from. At the start of the game each player gets dealt one face down card until there are no cards left beginning with the none dealing player. After all the cards have been dealt, instead of looking at their cards players turn them into a small stack which becomes their draw deck. Players both draw one card from their deck simultaneously and place it in front of them, these cards in battle. The card with the higher rank wins and the player who drew that card takes both cards from the battlefield and places them face up in their discard pile. The lowest card is a Two and the highest card is an Ace, suits don't matter. Below is a table which shows what order the ranks have in this game.


Each player has a discard pile which they keep next to their draw deck, if their draw deck runs out of cards then they flip their entire discard pile face down and use that as their new draw deck without shuffling them. Below is a diagram showing how a player positions their cards in front of them.

If two players draw the same card in rank then they go to War. When players go to war, they place three face down cards from their draw deck on to their card in the battlefield. They then both draw one face up card from their deck and place it on top of their other four cards. The player with the higher ranking card wins that war and gets to keep all of the cards on the field. They flip all of the face down cards up and place all of the cards in their discard pile. If both players once again draw the same card in a war then the process repeats and they place three more face down cards and one face up card onto the battlefield. If at any point a player has no cards in their draw deck and their discard pile then they lose the game.

Clock (solitare, 1 player)

Clock is a solitare game played using a standard 52 card deck with no jokers. At the start of the game, the player deals out thirteen card stacks with four face down card in each. The twelve stacks are arranged into the shape of a circle with the thirteenth stack in the center of the circle. The player then flips the top card of the center stack face up. The player takes this card and places it face up under the card stack at the clock position in the circle represented by the rank of the card. After doing this, the player draws a card from the stack they placed the last card under and repeats this process. Player can only draw from a stack with a face down card on top. If all the king cards in the center stack are face up then the player loses. If all the cards are face up in their proper stacks according to their rank then the game ends and the player wins. Below is a table showing what card rank belongs in what clock position stack. Fun Fact: A winning game of clock cannot be played in less than 52 moves.

Clock Position:1:002:003:004:005:006:007:008:009:0010:0011:0012:00Center

Golf (Solitare)

Golf is a solitare game played using a standard 52 card deck without the jokers. At the start of the game, the player deals out 7 columns of 5 face up cards and places deck beneath the columns. The space next to the deck is the discard pile. The player's first move is to either take one of the top cards or draw a card from the deck and place it in their discard pile. The goal of the game is to get rid all the cards in the column before the deck runs out of cards. After playing a card to the discard pile the player then chooses a card from the surface of the columns to play after it or to draw a card from the deck again. The player can only play a card that comes before or after the rank of the card on top of the discard pile. The only card with interesting rules are Aces because in the game's rank an Ace comes both after a King and before a two. When there are no columns left, the player wins. If the deck runs out before the player does this and no legal move can be done then the players loses. Below is a diagram which shows how the cards get arranged at the start of the game.

Rummy (2-6 players)

Rummy is a game which is played using a standard 52 card deck without the jokers. At the start of the of the game, if two players are playing then each player gets dealt ten cards, otherwise if there are more players then each player gets dealt seven cards. The deck gets placed at the center of the space and a single card gets drawn and placed next to it face up. The deck is called the "stock" and the face up card becomes the start of the discard pile. Play moves clockwise from the dealer. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand. This is done by laying off cards or using them to build melds. There are two types of melds, one is called a "run" while the other is called a "set". A Set can be made when a player has three or more cards of a matching rank. A Run can be made when a player has three or more cards of a matching suit whose ranks are in sequential order. Players can also layoff cards in their hand to existing melds. For example, if a player has a card whose rank matches that of an existing Run or they have a card whose suit matches that of an existing Set and the cards rank comes sequentially before or after the highest and lowest cards in that Set respectively, then they can put that card in that meld. On their turn, players must draw a card from the stock or the top of the discard pile. Then, they can build melds or layoff cards from their hand. They can do this as much on their turn as they are able too. Finally, the player discards one of the cards from their hand onto the discard pile. If the player drew a card from the discard pile at the start of their turn then they cannot discard that same card at the end of their turn. Once a player gets rid of all the cards in their hand then they win. If the stock runs out before anyone wins then the entire discard pile is flipped and shuffled. This is becomes the new draw deck or stock. Players do not have to end the game by discarding a card from their hand. While the game can end when a player has no cards left in their hand, most variations require that game be played in a series of rounds called "hands". In these variations the goal of the game is to be the first player to reach a certain point value. When a player wins a hand, all the other player's remaining cards gets counted up as the points for the winning player. While the amount of points needed to win the game changes and depends on both the variation of the game being played as well as the number of player, the system for scoring most of the time remains the same. Below is a table that shows how many points the other player's cards are worth.

RankPoint Value
Court Cards (K, Q, J)10
Ten to Two (10 - 2)Face Value
Ace (A)1

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