For most, Christmas is one of those magical times of the year meant to be spent in the company of family and friends. Increasingly, with people moving all over the world, Christmas can be the only time of the year where the whole family comes together.
There is enormous diversity to be found in different families and friendship groups, particularly when it comes to Christmas traditions. One of the more popular traditions in the UK is to play some Christmas card games as a family - quite often these are card games.
At CasinoGuide, we have collected together our Top 5 Christmas card games below - take a look and let us know your own favourites!
One of the Christmas games to play which falls under the category of a 'pub game', conjuring memories of smoky old British establishments buzzing with the chatter of the local residents, a warm fire, and the distant crack of a pool cue.
To play this game you need at least four and ideally no more than eight players. Here's our quick rundown on how to play!
1. Each player bets one counter on a King of their choice, and puts one counter in the 'pot' - usually this is positioned in the middle of the four Kings.
2. The dealer deals a hand to each player, including one extra 'dummy hand' for themselves.
1. The dealer assesses his hand and decides whether to take the option of looking at the 'dummy hand'. As a general rule, follow this guide:
Mix of black and red cards
Mostly red or black cards
2. If the dealer looks at the second hand, he can still opt to take his original hand back, at the cost of one more counter. Alternatively, he can keep it for free and his original hand becomes the 'dummy hand'.
3. Starting from the left of the dealer, the 'dummy hand' is offered to each player in turn. If a player wishes to look at it, they must pay one counter, and if they decide to go back to their original hand, it costs them another counter.
4. Once the 'dummy hand' has been offered to the player on the dealer's right, the hand can begin.
1. The first round of every hand begins with the player to the dealer's left playing their lowest red card. If there are two potential 'lowest reds' (i.e. Ace of Hearts and Ace of Diamonds), the player can choose
2. Players then play their cards in chronological order - for example, if the first player puts down the Ace of Hearts, the next card must be the Two of Hearts, and the person holding that card must put it down and declare its name. Multiple suited cards in a row can be laid at the same time (i.e. 4, 5, 6 of Spades)
3. If at any point there is nobody who can lay another card, the round stops. This includes when a player lays a Queen and claims the money on the King of the same suit. The player who laid his card last then begins a new round by playing his lowest card of the opposite colour - for example if the previous round ended on the 10 of Diamonds, he must lay his lowest black card (i.e. a Spade or a Club).
4. Continue playing until one player runs out of cards - this player claims the pot and all cards are shuffled and re-dealt for the next hand.
This game can continue indefinitely, but can be ended by gradually removing Kings from the game until there is only one left. This will typically build a very large 'pot' of counters on the single King, and when that is claimed, the game is considered to be over.
New Market is a firm family favourite all over the UK, and like all card games, can invoke a surprising amount of emotion - making it one of the more popular Christmas games to play with family.
It's a great choice for families with children who want to play a more 'grown-up' game with the adults, as it requires little regard for strategy or technique.
Another game with its origins in the many character-filled public houses once scattered throughout the British countryside, Chase The Ace is a one of those highly entertaining Christmas card games that the whole family can enjoy.
This game requires at least three players, and can theoretically be played with any number higher than that - although for optimum engagement it is wise to not let that number exceed 15.
1. Players all look at their cards, ensuring that nobody else can see them.
2. The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Based on their card's likelihood of being the lowest card in the round, they must make a choice; stick with their card or swap it with the person to their left. As a general rule, anything above a 7 is a fairly safe bet to stick with:
8 or more
7 or less
3. If the player decides to swap, the player to their left must oblige. However once the swap has taken place, the first player must now keep the swapped card, even if it is lower than their original card.
4. If a player decides to stick, the decision passes on to the next player to the left, who may choose to stick or swap with the player to their left.
1. Eventually, the game will make its way back around to the dealer. The dealer must look at only one of the cards he dealt himself, and keep the other one face-down to one side.
2. If the player to the dealer's right wishes to swap, the dealer must oblige and swap the card that they have looked at.
3. The dealer then turns over his card, and decides whether to stick with the card he has been given, or swap it for the 'spare card'. As with the other players, once the decision is made, it cannot be reversed.
4. Once the dealer has declared his decision, everybody reveals their cards. The player with the lowest card puts one of their counters into the pot and the next hand begins.
Chase The Ace makes our list of great card games for Christmas because it requires minimal set up and strategy, and is still very entertaining for players of all ages.
Its name comes from the way that an Ace is often passed very quickly around the table during gameplay, giving the impression of the Ace being 'chased'.
An exciting game of bluff, luck, and triumphant shouting, Yip is probably known by many different names all over the UK and is one of the loudest and most exciting Christmas games to play.
The etymology of this particular name being a slight deviation on ‘yep’ – slang for ‘yes’ – which the player shouts when they deprive a fellow player of one of their ‘lives’. This game ideally requires at least five players.
1. The player to the dealer’s left chooses a card from their hand, puts it down in front of them and declares it.
2. The first player to go is always at a disadvantage because they have little information to base their choice of card on. However, if they have more than one of a card (i.e. three Kings) it is sensible to start with one of these as the odds of the next player having one are dramatically reduced.
3. The next player must now play their card. If they don’t have a card of the same value as the one previously laid by the player to their right, they may lay any card they choose.
4. However, if they have the same value of card as the one just played by the player to their right, the player has no choice but to play the same card and shout ‘Yip!’
5. The ‘yipped’ player must then put one of their counters into the pot and the game continues in sequence.
6. The hand continues in this fashion until all cards are played, at which point they are collected, shuffled and dealt again.
One of the most exciting elements of this game is that it is possible for players to lose more than one ‘life’ at a time. This occurs when a player has ‘yipped’ someone, and the player immediately after them also plays the same card, shouting ‘yip-yip’. This results in the ‘yip-yipped’ player losing two ‘lives’ instead of one – the player who originally lost their ‘life’ does not lose any more however.
This rule can extend ad infinitum; with a single deck of cards the maximum number of lives lost at once is three, resulting from all four of the same value cards in the deck being played consecutively. However with multiple decks, the possibilities are endless!
Exciting, noisy, and deceptively challenging, this Christmas card game will unlock your competitive and cunning streak!
A simple game nonetheless, and fun for the whole family, Yip is a timeless classic that will keep everybody smiling this Christmas.
This game is particularly popular with those who enjoy shouting and have a good poker face – but is great fun to play with the whole family. Definitely one of the more controversial card games for Christmas.
A relatively simple concept requiring nothing more than a deck of cards, Cheat is a game that almost anybody can play with little trouble. And it’s not often that cheating is encouraged as one of a game’s main mechanics!
1. The player to the dealer’s left starts by playing any card that they choose face up. If they have more than one of the same card, these can be laid together.
2. The game continues with the next player to the left laying one or more cards face down and declaring their value. But here’s the twist: they can lie.
In summary, Cheat is a highly enjoyable game for people of all ages and abilities. It is one of our more simple Christmas card games, but one which contains many possibilities for different strategies and tactics.
It’s always fun to find out what kind of player everyone will be; safe and straight, tricky and unpredictable, quiet and cunning, or something completely different!
This game is a more tense and exciting take on the traditional game of Snap, and works best when played in a reasonably large group of 5-10 people – as long as everybody can reach the table or flat surface you are playing on!
Irish Snap is at its most fun when played by a like-minded group who don’t mind hurting their hands a little bit!
1. The player to the left of the dealer begins by laying his top card face-up in the middle, starting the pile.
2. The players take turns playing their top card and laying it on top of the pile face-up.
3. The game continues in this fashion until a Snap occurs.
Surprisingly tense and unsurprisingly noisy, Irish Snap is a truly entertaining game to play with your friends or family over Christmas.
Just be careful of the other players who might have more delicate hands than yours!
Here's a quick roundup of the five fun Christmas games covered on this page:
Kings / New Market
Chase the Ace
Do you play any of these games? Is there a classic or a favourite of yours that we missed off the list? Let us know via the Contact page! And don't forget to spread the word by sharing:
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