Sometimes, you will find that many card games are based on two players or larger groups, and it can be challenging to think of ones that only involve precisely three players.
So, I have put together a helpful list of three-player card games which you can play with your friends and family.
I have included most of the competitive games involving beating your opponents.
Many three-player card games are relatable to one aimed at two players. However, they involve a lot more player interaction, and you must wait longer between turns.
All the games I will discuss today need just a standard deck of 52 cards, which, if you don’t already own one, can be easily obtained from most stores and online sites such as Amazon.
Top 3 Person Card Games
There are probably more three-player card games out there than you realize, and some of them you may already be familiar with or weren’t aware that you can play with three people.
So, below, I have included the most popular three-player games and given a quick brief on their gameplay and instructions. So, let’s take a look.
1. Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major is a popular card game often played by people serving in the Air Force. This trick-taking game involves selecting tricks and trying to win them by having the highest-ranking cards.
It’s an excellent game to play at home because the rules are simple, and the length is short, meaning you can play multiple games while keeping the score of who has won the most.
What makes Sergeant Major unique is that each player has a different goal. The dealer must win eight tricks, the person to their right must win five, and the person on the left must win three.
If you win more or fewer tricks than your goal, a card exchange takes place in which the players who are up can donate their cards to a player who is down. Any player who is up at the end of the game receives positive points, and the person with the highest amount wins the game.
2. Old Maid
Old Maid is a traditional card game in which one of the Joker cards is included in the gameplay. The game uses a complete set of cards dealt out among the players. Once players have their cards, they blindly select a card from the opponent sitting to their right.
The cards are put to one side each time a pair is matched. Because a joker is hidden in the pack, one person will be left holding it by the end of the game. Whoever this person is, loses the game.
3. Gin Rummy
You’ve probably heard of the card game Rummy, and you might also be aware that there are many variations, such as Liverpool Rummy, amongst others. Gin Rummy, however, is probably the one you’re most familiar with.
This matching card game involves players trying to build a winning hand. This is done by taking cards from the drawing deck and discarding them as and when necessary.
The end of the game comes when someone cannot match up cards, the term for which is “knocking.”
4. Crazy Eights
This game is quite similar to the game Uno. It involves each of the three players being dealt five cards each, with the end goal of getting rid of them as quickly as possible.
There are quite a few variations of this game, but if you want to learn more about the game in detail, you should look at our guide on all the strategies of crazy eights.
5. Go Fish
If you’re into matching card games, then Go Fish is probably one you want to check out. It’s one of my favourites and always comes into play during our game nights.
It starts with each player being dealt seven cards. Next, the first player will ask one of their opponents for a specific card of one rank. If that person is holding the requested card, they must sacrifice it to the player who has made the request.
However, if that player does not have the card in question, they will use the term “Go Fish!” This means the person who asked must take a card from the stockpile.
When a player reaches a complete set of four cards (ranked by suit and number), they can put these cards to one side. The game aims to eliminate all your cards by creating as many complete sets as you can.
Skat is a German card game that involves trick-taking and requires precisely three players, no more, no less.
Each player starts the game with ten cards, and the game then works on declaration and bidding.
Whoever bids more points is named the declarer, and the other two players are the defenders. The game’s main idea is that the defenders work against the declarer to stop them from winning the game.
The catch is the defenders can not communicate by talking to one another, so they need to use quick white and sneaky tactics without the declarer knowing what they’re doing. You can find out the full rules of Skat with our in-depth guide.
If you’ve watched a James Bond movie, you might recognize this game from one of the many casino scenes.
Baccarat is probably one of the most historical games still played in the modern day, dating right back to the 1500s. Still, if you’ve never heard of it for some reason, then you should find out more with our detailed guide on how to play Baccarat.
In the game, all players are dealt two cards, and the game aims to come as close to nine as possible by deciding whether or not to bet on another player. It is mainly a game of luck, so there isn’t much skill involved once you understand the rules.
8. Golf Card Game
Some people call this game Crazy Nines. I think it depends on where in the world you are, but I’ve always known it as the Golf Card Game, so we’ll stick with that.
Similar to an actual game of real-life golf, you will play through nine rounds.
Each player is given six cards at the start of the game, and the remainder of the deck becomes the stockpile.
All three players then lay their cards out in front of them, face-down, before upturning two of them. The opponents then take turns picking a card from the stockpile and discarding it or swapping it for one in their own hand.
The idea is to get your cards down to the lowest numbers possible. The person with the lowest score at the end of gameplay is the winner.
Personally, I love a good old-fashioned game of Slapjack, mainly because of the slapping and tension it creates within the group, although I can’t say I love the bright red hand at the end of the game.
This is a super easy card game, which is pretty much explained within the title. The cards are dealt out between the group, and then, taking turns, each player puts a card in the middle of the table at quite a rapid speed.
Whenever a Jack is put down, all players must slap their hands down on top of the Jack. Whoever has their hand at the bottom of the pile, touching the card, takes the stacks.
The game is won by the player, who eventually ends up with all of the cards.
This trick-taking card game involves players making bids in order to win the game, and with the same concept as Spades, you have to bid the same amount of tricks that you hope to win.
You can only declare your bid by removing three of your current cards. The offers are also placed discretely, so the other players can not see what you’re bidding.
Players must follow suit with their trick-taking, and if they cannot do this, then the highest-ranking card can be played. At the end of the game, whoever has the highest score is the winner.
11. Let It Ride
Let it Ride is another poker-style game that is popular in casinos.
Each player is dealt three cards to start the game, and two cards are placed face-down in front of the dealer. Players get paid throughout the game depending on the strength of their hand.
During the game, players will have two opportunities to withdraw their stakes, first when they look at their hand and again when the first community card is shown.
Like poker, different hands can be won throughout the game, such as a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, and so on, and each one is worth a number of points. Players are paid out at the end of each round according to their hand. The player with the best hand wins the game.
So, if you have been racking your brains trying to think of a new game to play with just three players, this guide has given you multiple choices, whether you like a classic trick-taking game or a more traditional casino-type game.