Thanksgiving is this Thursday! Lots of folks are excitedly preparing for a Thanksgiving feast with their family, but in the back of their minds, they’re thinking, “what else are we going to do?” After the turkey is picked clean and all the pumpkin pie is gone, your family is still all together, and you’re searching for a way to keep everyone together and engaged to stave off that food coma. It’s a perfect time for a game of cards!
Not sure what you want to play this year? Try these games. They’re the five most popular games on our website over the last year:
- Cash (aka Kemps): Not only do you have to be first to get four of a kind, you have to send a secret signal to your partner telling them, too. When you get the hang of it, check out our companion guide to Cash signals to help throw your opponents off.
- Pitty Pat: A simple game of discarding your hand as quickly as possible by matching cards with the with the top card of the discard pile.
- Jack Change It: Like Crazy Eights, but need to kick it up a notch? Jack Change It has you covered by adding special powers to certain cards.
- Mexican Sweat: This poker variant will leave your players sweating as they slowly reveal their hands—to the rest of the table and themselves!
- Crash (13-Card Brag): A more laid-back, social variant of Brag that does away with the betting in favor of a point-scoring system. Players get 13 cards and divide them into four three-card Brag hands.
But of course, that’s just scratching the surface—there are over 230 games on our website. Whatever you decide to play this Thanksgiving, have fun and good luck!
Kontsina (also sometimes known as Koltsina or Kolitsina) is a straightforward fishing game for two to four players. Much like in Cassino, players try to capture cards laid out on the table. This can be done through matching cards in rank, or by adding the values of the target cards together to equal the rank of a card in your hand.
Like Xeri, Kontsina originates in Greece. There, the game is often learned and enjoyed by children. A more complex Greek game, Diloti, is similar to a merger between Kontsina and Xeri, allowing more latitude for strategy.
Object of Kontsina
The object of Kontsina is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank.
To play Kontsina, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, to make your Kontsina game the place to be, you’ll want to play using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also want something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up on the table. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player may play a single card from their hand. If the card doesn’t match any of the other cards on the table, it is called laying the card. A card that is laid simply remains on the table. However, if possible, a player will normally try to match another card on the table, as doing so allows them to capture the card.
The simplest way to capture a card is to merely match it by rank. For example, a jack can capture another jack, a 4 can capture another 4, and so on. Note that if there are multiple cards on the table of the same rank, a player can only capture one of them through matching.
Another way a player may capture a card is by playing a card that two or more cards on the table add up to in pip value. For example, a 9 could be used to capture a 5 and a 4, or a 6 and a 3, or a 2, 3, and 4, and so on. Aces are considered to have a value of one. Face cards do not have a value in this way and can only be captured by matching by rank.
When a player captures a card, the cards so captured, as well as the card used to capture them, are placed face-down in a pile in front of the player. This pile is kept separate from the player’s hand, and no player may look through it until the hand is over.
After playing one card, whether it captures anything or not, the player’s turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.
Replenishing the hands
When each player has played four times, everyone will be out of cards. The dealer then deals four new cards to each player from the stock, and the game continues.
Ending the hand
The hand ends when all of the players are out of cards and there are none remaining in the stock. Any remaining cards on the table are taken by the last player to capture any cards. Each player then looks through their captured-cards pile, and scores points as follows:
- Two points for capturing the most cards. If two or more players tie for capturing the most cards, these two points are not scored by anyone.
- One point for capturing the most clubs.
- One point for capturing the 2♣. (Note that the 2♣ still counts as a club for the purpose of capturing the most clubs.)
- One point for capturing the 10♦.
The deal then passes to the left, and a new hand is played. Game play continues until at least one player reaches a predetermined score, for example, 21 points. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, additional tiebreaker hands are played until a winner is determined.
Trash is a simple card game for two or more players. In Trash, players compete to fill in a ten-card layout first. The cards you get to place are the luck of the draw, however, pretty much making any form of strategy impossible. It is an excellent game for children, though, and can be used as a teaching tool for kids still learning their numbers.
Object of Trash
The object of Trash is to be the first player to fill in a layout of ten cards with one card of each rank from ace to 10.
To play Trash, you’ll need a one standard 52-card deck of playing cards for every two players besides yourself. That is, for two players, you’ll need one deck, for three or four players, you’ll need two decks, for five or six you need three decks, and so on. Shuffle all the decks together. It doesn’t matter if the back designs don’t all match. As always, using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will make your game night better.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing one card from the stock. If the card drawn is an ace through 10, they place it in the appropriate spot on their layout, as shown by the image above. Jacks are wild and may be placed anywhere in the layout. The player then flips over the face-down card previously occupying that space. They then place that card, and so on. A player’s turn ends whenever they expose either a card they cannot place on the layout, a queen, or a king. When this happens, they discard it and their turn ends. Discards are placed face up next to the stock, forming a discard pile.
The turn then passes to the next player. If the previous player’s discard fits into their layout, they draw it and begin their turn by playing it to their layout. Otherwise, they begin the turn by drawing a card from the stock.
If, at any point, a player draws a natural card that would fit in their layout in a spot currently occupied by a jack, they may place the natural card. The jack is then free to be played to any other space in the layout.
Should the stock be depleted before a hand ends, set aside the top card of the discard pile. Shuffle the rest of the cards, and turn them face down to form a new stock. The old top card remains as the first card in the new discard pile.
Game play continues until a player has filled in all ten spots of their layout. That player is the winner of the hand.
After the first hand, the cards are collected, and the deal passes to the left. The new dealer deals the winner of the previous hand a layout of only nine cards, leaving the previous 10 spot blank. To win a second hand, the player must only fill in the spots corresponding to ace through 9. However, this means that exposing a 10 will end their turn, the same as kings and queens. When this player wins a second hand, they are dealt an eight-card layout, corresponding to aces through 8s, and so on.
A player wins the entire game by being the first player to fill in a one-card layout with either an ace or a jack.
Forty Thieves, also known as Napoleon at St. Helena, is a two-deck solitaire game. Because so much of the game depends on the order the cards are dealt to the tableau, winning the game is very much dependent on luck, rather than skill.
A legend, likely untrue, says that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte played solitaire to pass the time when exiled to the island of St. Helena. This game is supposedly the version he preferred.
Object of Forty Thieves (Napoleon at St. Helena)
To play Forty Thieves, shuffle together two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. (It doesn’t matter whether the back designs differ, so using one of our two-deck sets works well.) Deal ten face-up columns of four cards each. These 40 face-up cards form the tableau. The spaces above the first eight tableau columns are reserved the foundations. The 64 cards in the deck stub then become the stock.
As aces are revealed, move them to the foundations. Each foundation may be built up with further cards of the same suit, in ascending rank. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low. (For example, a foundation starting with the A♠ would have the 2♠ played next upon it, then the 3♠, and so on.)
In the tableau, only the top card of each column (i.e. the card with no other cards overlapping it) may be moved. Multiple cards cannot be moved as a unit. Cards from the tableau may either be moved to the foundations or onto another card in the tableau of the same suit but one rank higher. When empty spaces occur in the tableau, they may be filled by any card.
Cards can be drawn from the stock, one at a time, and moved either to the tableau or the foundations. If a card from the stock cannot be used, it is placed next to the stock in a discard pile. When the stock is exhausted, the discard pile may be turned over to refresh the stock.
The game ends whenever all 104 cards are moved to the foundations (a win) or no further moves are possible (a loss).