5 Fun Christmas Games To Play This Year


  

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 Christmas traditions in the UK is to play some games as a family - quite often these are card games.

At CasinoGuide, we have collected together our Top 5 fun Christmas card games below - take a look and let us know your own favourites!


1. Kings / New Market

kings3

 

This game 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!

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Complexity

Time

Players

4/5

45 mins

4-8

Game Objectives

To play a queen and claim the money on the King of the same suit

To play all of your cards and claim the 'pot'

 

Setting up

 

  • Give everyone an equal number of counters - or money if you want to play for keeps!
  • Remove all of the Kings from the deck and lay them face-up in the middle of the table. Shuffle the remaining cards.

 

Betting and Dealing

 

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.

 

The 'Dummy Hand'

 

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: 

Keep

Don't Keep

Queens

Suited runs

Mix of black and red cards

Jacks

Aces

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. 

 

Playing the Game

 

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).

  • If the player is unable to start a new round with the correct colour card, they must say so and the next player to the left starts the round instead, assuming that they are able to. If nobody can play, the round is over, and the pot rolls over to the next hand.

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.

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.


2. Chase The Ace

chase the ace

 

Another game with its origins in the many character-filled public houses once scattered throughout the British countryside, Chase The Ace is a very simple yet highly entertaining game 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.

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Complexity

Time

Players

2/5

30 mins

3-15

Game Objectives

To be the last player to have any ‘lives’ remaining

To not be holding the lowest card at the end of each hand 

 

Setting up

 

  • Everybody starts with 5 counters or equal value coins, which signify a player's 'lives'
  • Ensure that you have enough cards for every player to have one, and the dealer two. If you are playing with a very large group, you may require two decks.
  • The dealer shuffles the cards and deals one to each player, face down. The dealer finishes by dealing one extra 'spare card' to himself.

 

Stick or Swap?

 

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:

Stick

Swap

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.

  • Remember the aim of the game is to not have the lowest card. There are no extra incentives for having the highest. Therefore if you have just swapped your low card for a higher one, always stick!

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.

  • If a player has a King, they may turn it face up and cannot be swapped with.

 

Losing the Hand

 

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.

  • If two players have equally low cards, they must both pay one counter into the pot.

 

Win the Game

 

  • Once a player runs out of 'lives', they are out of the game.
  • The game is won by the last player standing (i.e. when they are the only player with lives left), and they claim the pot.

 


 

Chase The Ace is a great card game to play which despite requiring minimal set up and strategy, 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'.


3. Yip!

yip

 

An exciting game of bluff, luck, and triumphant shouting, Yip is probably known by many different names all over the UK.

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.

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Complexity

Time

Players

2/5

20 mins

4-10

Game Objectives

To be the last player to have any ‘lives’ remaining, thereby winning the pot

To avoid your card being matched (‘yipped’) by the player to your left

To ‘yip’ the player to your right by matching their card

 

Setting up

 

  • Each player is given five ‘lives’, represented by counters or coins of equal value.
  • Ensure you have enough cards for every player to have five each – if the number of players exceeds 10, you will need an extra deck of cards.
  • The dealer deals five cards face down to each player. Players pick up and hold their cards, keeping them hidden from their opponents.

 

Playing the Game

 

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.

  • Savvy players will base their choice of card on those already laid – if a card you are holding has already been played by somebody else, it is a good strategy to play it as the odds of the next player having one as well are reduced.

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.

 

Yip-yip-yip!

 

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!

 

Winning the Game

 

  • Yip is a ‘last man standing’ game. Once a player runs out of lives, they are out.
  • The winner of the game is the person who still has at least one ‘life’ remaining while all their opponents have none left, and claims the entire pot as their prize.

 


 

Exciting, noisy, and deceptively challenging, this 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.


4. Cheat

cheat

 

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.

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!

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Complexity

Time

Players

4/5

30 mins

5-7

Game Objectives

Play all of your cards until you are empty-handed

Catch out other players who are trying to cheat

Successfully cheat without being caught in the act

 

Setting up

 

  • You will need at least five players. If you have more than seven players, it is advisable to use two decks of cards.

  • Deal out all of the cards to the players.

 

Playing the Game

 

  • The game is played by laying cards that are the same as, one above, or one below, the previous player’s card. For example, if the person before you lays an 8, you can lay another 8, a 7, or a 9.
  • In Cheat, the deck is cyclical – meaning Ace is both high and low. Therefore if the player before you lays an Ace, you can lay another Ace, a King, or a 2.

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.

  • When playing cards, players always declare their value – i.e. “three Jacks”.

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.

 

Calling 'Cheat'

 

  • At any time after a player lays their card(s), and before the next player lays theirs, anybody in the game can call ‘CHEAT!’ and turn over the card(s) that player just put down.
  • If the player is found to have cheated, they must pick up all of the cards and the caller gets to start the next round as described above.
  • However if they are found to have been telling the truth, the person who called Cheat must pick up all of the cards and the other player may start the next round.

 

Winning the Game

 

  • The winner is the first player to get rid of all of their cards, but they aren’t declared the winner until the next player takes their turn – meaning if they are correctly called Cheat, they pick up the pile as usual.
  • A player is not obliged to declare when he is out of cards – by staying quiet he may be able to play his final card(s) without getting a Cheat call.

 


 

In summary, Cheat is a highly enjoyable game for people of all ages and abilities. It is a simple game, 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!


5. Irish Snap

irish snap

 

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!

 

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Complexity

Time

Players

2/5

20 mins

5-10

Game Objectives

Be the first to lose all of your cards

Don’t be the last person to ‘Snap’!

 

Setting up

 

  • Shuffle and deal out all of the cards.

  • Everyone holds their cards in a pile, face-down, without looking at them.

 

Playing the Game

 

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.

 

Snap!

 

  • A Snap occurs when a player lays a card with a value that is one above or one below the previous card.
  • If they lay the same card as the previous player, it is not a Snap – this is a key difference between Irish Snap and Traditional Snap.
  • When this happens, every player races to be the first to get their hand on top of the pile and shout ‘Snap!’
  • The player who reacts slowest and is last to place their hand on the pile loses the round and must then pick up all of the cards in the pile.
  • If a player Snaps at the wrong time, they must also pick up the pile and the game continues with the player to their left.

 

Playing the Game

 

  • The winner is the player who manages to lose all of their cards first and consequently survive (i.e. not be last) one more Snap round.
  • After the winner is found, the game typically continues until only one person is left holding all of the cards, but can stop any time.

 


 

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!


Summary

 

Here's a quick roundup of the five fun Christmas games covered on this page: 

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Kings / New Market

4/5

45 mins

4-8

Chase the Ace

2/5

30 mins

3-15

Yip

2/5

20 mins

4-10

Cheat

4/5

30 mins

5-7

Irish Snap

2/5

20 mins

5-10

 

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Merry Christmas from the CasinoGuide team!


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