3 player card games are, as the name describes, card games designed for three or more players. These card games, much like the 2-player variations, are naturally competitive thanks to the inclusion of multiple players. However, three player card games also have a specific niche in terms of camaraderie, with the social aspect being highlighted in play.
Unlike the more serious 2-player card games, 3-person card games involve a lot more interactions, due to the
All that is needed to play 3-player card games are the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck, which is easily found in convenience stores across the globe. In certain more traditional card games of European origin, the Spanish decks may be used, consisting of 40 or 48-cards. Fortunately, these decks have similar fundamentals to the standard 52-card deck, making it possible to play them with simple modifications.
Some of the most played three player card games are discussed in the following section.
What are the Most Popular Three Player Card Games?
Unsurprisingly, three player card games come in many forms, thanks to the creativity and developments done across multiple centuries. Some of the best three player card games are discussed below, with the basic instructions provided for each.
Rummy has always been amongst the most popular card games available, and Gin Rummy is arguably the most well-known. The game is part of the matching genre, with the goal being to compose a winning hand of melds by drawing and discarding cards. The game can be ended by “knocking”, at which point the unmatched cards are compared for scoring.
Another game from the genre of matching. Go Fish deals 7 cards to each players, and the game begins with a player asking a specific player for a specific rank of cards. If the player has those cards, they pass said cards over, but if they don’t, the asking player will need to “Go Fish”, where they draw 1 card from the stock. Once a set of 4 is acquired, a player puts it aside. The player with the most sets wins.
An easy card game for 3, taking inspiration from Egyptian Ratscrew. This game’s defining characteristic is the slapping mechanic. Each player is dealt cards face-down, and take turns playing out the top card onto the centre of the board. Once a Jack is played, all players slap on the card, with the fastest player taking the stack. At the end, a player getting all of the cards will be the victor.
A traditional game with a single Joker added to the deck, becoming the single unmatchable card. Once all 53 cards are dealt, players discard their pairs, and each player chooses one card from the right player’s hand without looking, discarding pairs if they are available. The person left with the Joker at the end is the loser.
Golf Card Game
Having the alternate name “Crazy Nines”, the goal is to end with the least points after 9 rounds. The game uses 2 52-card decks, and each player is dealt 6 cards, the remaining cards forming the stock. The players arrange their cards face-down in front of them and turn 2 face-up. Players draw and discard cards each turn to lower their score, with the lowest player winning.
The German card game from the trick-taking genre, this game is specifically 3-players only. One player becomes the declarer, and the rest become the defenders. The defenders will have to work together, without verbal communication, to prevent the declarer from winning.
Also known as 3-5-8, this game is popular among the Air Force, and is a trick-taking game for 3. The game involves playing out tricks, with the winning player leading the next trick. The unique aspect of Sergeant Major is the existence of targets, where each player needs to win 3, 5 or 8 tricks depending on the seating.
How to Play Three Player Card Games
Three player card games tend to follow similar rules to other multiplayer card game variations, with the main difference being the existence of named seats, where each player is assigned a specific role in the game, such as the “declarer and defenders” in Skat.
The dealer is responsible for the shuffling and distribution of cards, and is determined either during the bid phase or by deck splitting. Cards are dealt one card at a time, with the remaining cards set aside to form the stock.
Different game types involve different rules, but they are all based off the same foundation. This section covers the major genres of trick-taking and matching.
The Trick-taking games genre revolve around rounds, which are known as tricks. Each player plays one card to counter the trick-leader, with higher-ranked cards winning the trick if they are of the same suit. However, if the trick is led with a 6♣ and the other player plays a 7♥, due to the difference in suit, the trick is still won by the leading player.
Matching card games are about building hands to match specific win conditions. These games tend to revolve around drawing and discarding. The general rule is that players should always have the same amount of cards regardless, making card management an important part of the game.
Other matching games are instead about searching for matches. Games such as Go Fish are won by finding patterns and capitalizing on that knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are easy three player card games?
Despite being aimed at kids, Slapjack is very fun and easy to understand. The added excitement factor is hard to beat.
Which three player card games can I play with one deck?
Most three player card games can be played with one deck, with the exception of Golf as discussed above.
How do I play card games with 40 or 48 card decks?
The standard 52-card deck ca be adapted by removing the 8, 9, and 10 cards, creating the 40-card deck, or by removing the 10 cards to form the 48-card deck.