How to Play Easy Card Games

By Tom Ryan

Whether you are simply trying to pass the time on a long trip, looking for an uncomplicated activity to keep a rambunctious group of children busy, or you just like learning new ways to have fun, a single deck of cards can provide several different games for all ages. Before moving on to complicated, strategic card games, it is a good idea to try out some easier ones, like "Go Fish" or "War." Both games are fairly easy to learn, and are suitable for anyone who is old enough to count and understand the value (also called rank) of each card.


Deal the entire deck to each player, keeping the cards facing downward---do not look at any of your cards. Each player should have the same number of cards.

Turn over the top card in each person's pile (at the same time), and place the card in the center of the playing space. The player with the highest value (or ranking) card, regardless of suit, takes all of the cards, turning them over so they are facing downward and placing them at the bottom of his pile.

Repeat this process of turning over cards until two cards of the same value (such as two jacks) are pulled at the same time---this situation is called "war." The two players who are at war each turn over the next card in their piles. The person with the higher-ranking card receives all four of the face-up cards, adding them to the bottom of her pile.

Continue turning over cards until one player accrues all 52 cards. This player is the winner.

Go Fish

Have each player draw a card from the top of a shuffled deck of cards. Whoever pulls the card with the highest value is the dealer.

Deal seven cards, facing downward, to each player (groups of players four or larger will need to deal out only five cards to each player).

Place the remaining cards, facing downward, into the center of the playing space. Spread the pile of cards out to form a "pond," from which cards will be "fished.".

Collect the cards you have been dealt, turn them over, and arrange them so that cards with the same rank/value are next to one another. For example, a lucky player who receives three jacks would place them next to one another, so that he can more efficiently see what cards he has. The goal is then to collect groups of four cards with the same value, regardless of suit---four jacks or four eights, for example.

Begin taking turns asking any other player for the cards you need in order to possess a group of four like cards---the player sitting to the left of the dealer gets the first turn. For example, a player who has three jacks would ask another player if he had any jacks. If the asked player does have the specified card, he must give it to the asking player. If he does not have the card, he tells the other player to "go fish," which means to draw a card from the "pond" in the center of the playing space.

Place groups of four like cards face up, as you accrue them, so that the other placers can see them. If you receive a card that completes your set during your turn (from either an asked player or the "pond"), you get to take another turn. If not, then your turn is over and the player to your left takes a turn.

Repeat this cycle until one person gets rid of all of their cards. This player is the winner.