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Three classic card games everyone should know

7th February 2022 Print

Playing cards have a history dating back hundreds of years. There are few pastimes so old that are still popular in the 2020s, but cards are the exception. Indeed, some are more popular today than they have ever been. Here are three games that are easy to learn and fun to play.

Stop the bus

There are numerous variations on rummy-style games, but this gets the nod over the rest because you get to shout. “stop the bus!” With seven cards each, it’s a race to the best hand, collecting either sets or runs. When you think you’ve got a good enough hand to beat the other players, shout those immortal words. Everyone else gets to play once more before hands are shown and a winner declared. 

There are different variations, including a fast and furious version with just three cards each, in which three card poker ranks determine the winner. 


Here's an absolute classic that was first played in pre-revolutionary France in the 18th century. Some 250 years later, it is a game you will see at every online gambling site. Indeed, it is consistently ranked the most popular of all casino games, both online and in the real world. Everyone knows the rules – hit or stand depending on how brave you feel, but don’t go over 21 or you get nothing. 

When you play against the dealer, you can reduce the house edge significantly by following basic strategy. This essentially means learning how to evaluate your cards and the dealer’s upcard to decide on the optimum call in every situation. Blackjack looks simple and is easy to play, but you can keep on learning and strategy can be surprisingly nuanced.


Known in some circles as Black Bess and in others as Black Maria, this is a trick-taking game with a twist that makes it a cut above the rest. The entire deck of cards is distributed between the players, so it’s ideal for four. But any number can play, and the twos of clubs and or diamonds can be left out if necessary. Hearts is negative-scoring, meaning you need to keep your score as low as possible. Hearts score at face value, and the Queen of Spades scores 13. 

The best strategy in Hearts is to keep a low profile and try not to get stuck with the lead. Scores are added up over multiple hands, and if you find yourself with the penalty points piling up,, you can take the high risk strategy of “shooting for the moon” – if you win all the hearts and the Queen of Spades, your score resets to zero – but if the other players realise what you are doing, they will try to stop you!

There are dozens of other games you can try, from proven classics like Beggar My Neighbour and Contract Whist to more modern creations such as Crazy Eights. But the three that we have outlined above make a great starting point in the world of card games.