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Books on Playing Card Games

Updated on January 2, 2017

Playing Cards

From an early age I was introduced to various games using playing cards, it was a time before computer games. Both my Grandmothers would keep me amused playing variants of Whist, Black Maria and Bezique. This generated my interest in both the design of the playing cards and the rules explaining the games.

I review below the contents of my library of reference books on Card Games.

The Book of Card Games, Peter Arnold, 1988

This is a useful reference for card games - to be played as patience or as group games. Laid out in a very simple manner:-
* Content list of games included [76 expanding to over 150 including variants]
* Introduction to card games and why the selections were made for this book
* Glossary of card game terms such as shuffle, cut, hand, trick, rank, in just a page and a half.
* Alphabetic listing of the games, including a brief history, number of players, number of cards or packs required, preliminaries, dealing, play, strategy, and usually black and red illustrations of hands or games in progress.
* General Index, including alternative names for some for the games
* Classified Index, grouping games by the number of players required, children's games and gambling games.
An excellent book covering the subject well. I have owned my copy since 1989.

The Book of Card Games

The Book of Card Games, Peter Arnold
The Book of Card Games, Peter Arnold

Chambers Card Games, 100 great games illustrated and explained, Peter Arnold, 2007

This is a useful reference for card games - to be played as patience or as group games.
Chambers Card Games shares its author with The Book of Card Games published in 1988 by Peter Arnold. This book seems to be an expanded and updated version of the earlier excellent book.
Laid out in a very simple manner:-
* Content list of games included [the book title would suggest 100! But could be double that number.]
* Introduction to card games and why the selections were made for this book
* Alphabetic listing of the games, including a brief history, number of players, number of cards or packs required, preparation, dealing, play including strategy, variants and usually black and red illustrations of hands or games in progress.
* Card Games basics followed by a Glossary of card game terms such as shuffle, cut, hand, head, foot, trick, rank and more.
* Histories of the pack of cards and court cards
* Customs, practices and etiquette, and a card sharp's guide - beware!
* Several Indexes, including alternative names for some for the games, index by number of players, type of game and type of player such as party, children's, student.
An excellent book covering the subject well, a good expansion of the Authors 1988 work.

The Penguin Book of Card Games, David Parlett, 1978

Another basic reference by David Parlett who has been writing about card games for many years.
The structure of the book is

  • Content list of games included grouped into card families.
  • Introduction to a reference work on 300 games
  • How to play cards, the basic methods and terminology used in the later sections of the book
  • The Good Game Guide is a key to symbols used in the next sections highlighting if the game is best suited to specific numbers of players or partnerships.
  • For each family of cards games an introduction and history, followed by detailed rules for playing each key variant within the family. Including cards/packs required, the deal, objectives, scoring, strategy and notes on play. Basic black and white diagrams are included.
  • A Bibliography of the authors reference sources is included
  • A short section of Technical Terms
  • Full index of games included

A detailed book covering the subject well. Whilst my original copy of this book is a penguin paperback, I also have a 1992 reprint in a hard back edition from Treasure Press.

The Penguin Book of Card Games

The Penguin Book of Card Games
The Penguin Book of Card Games

The Pan Book of Card Games, Hubert Phillips, 1952

This reference book contains rules for 50 card games and 28 games of patience, covered in 335 pages.

  • A contents list is followed by a brief introduction to card games.
  • A synopsis of the principle games included in the book.
  • The main text of the book describes each family of card game, including basic diagrams of play - in black and white and limited by the printing technology for paperbacks in the 1950's and 1960's. The games are grouped by the number of players required for the game, with additional sections for party games and finally patience.

For the games included, this book provides a good explanation of rules and play, but limited by the relative lack of diagrams provided in more recent books.

The Pan Book of Card Games

The Pan Book of Card Games, 1960 & 1980 editions.
The Pan Book of Card Games, 1960 & 1980 editions.

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