Traditional Card Games that Require a Lot of Strategy & Skills

Have you ever wanted to challenge your mind and test your strategic skills? If so, traditional card games might be the perfect option for you! Playing these games can be incredibly entertaining and brings many other benefits, such as providing an opportunity to socialize with friends, honing cognitive abilities, and developing a greater level of concentration.

From classic favorites like Spades to beloved complex choices like Hearts, plenty of options can provide hours of amusement. Whether you’re looking for a fast-paced game that requires quick thinking or something more slow-paced with lots of strategy, this blog post will help you discover the best traditional card games that require a lot of tactics and skills.

Top Classic Card Titles That Require Heavy Thinking

Trick-taking, meld-making, and bluffing are some gameplay elements that make card games intellectually stimulating. Fortunately, there are countless options you can try in your lifetime. However, let’s focus on the most exciting ones, designed for players who want to give themselves a slight headache.


Spades is a trick-taking card game invented in the United States in the 1930s. It’s the ultimate crowd favorite for Americans, best played by four players in partnerships. It was one of the most hyped-up games during that time because of its easy-to-understand game mechanics. Don’t worry, though, because it still offers some complexity, making it addictive and engaging.

Since it’s a trick-taking card game, the goal is to achieve the amount of tricks you bid. Bids refer to the predicted number of tricks that the team or player will win in a game. Since there are 13 tricks per round, the bidding can be from 0 to 13.

Spades are always the trump suit, and this card will always win regardless of the value of other cards. If no trump suit was played, then the highest card which follows the leading suit wins the trick. During the play, everyone must follow suit if applicable. If not, they can play other cards if they have no choice.


Another strategy-based card game that will bend your mind is Cribbage. Even though it’s a highly confusing classic title, many still love challenging themselves due to its complex scoring system. It’s no wonder you can easily find a free Cribbage platform anywhere! If you want to know more about this game, you should be familiar with its basics first.

Some basics to remember:

  • The game uses a Cribbage board and pegs
  • Ideal for two to six players
  • Players should reach 121 points to win
  • Each player receives six cards and discards two from their hand to form the crib
  • The crib will be used in the Show phase of the game
  • The non-dealer plays the first card and announces its value, followed by the next player
  • The count is cumulative, so successive cards add to the value and should be announced
  • Counts can’t exceed the number 31, and players say “Go” if they can’t play another card without exceeding 31

After the Play phase, the Show phase begins. During this time, their crib will be used to form valid combinations. Examples of combinations include cards totaling 15, runs, pairs, flushes, and nobs. Try playing Cribbage here.

Egyptian Rat Screw

If you’re looking for something fast-paced that can give you plenty of rounds, you should check out Egyptian Rat Screw. It’s based on Speed and Slapjack and includes some slapping action! Three or more players can join the game; the dealer is determined through deck-splitting. After that, the dealer will assign each player an equal number of cards. They’re not allowed to look at the cards before the play begins.

The first player to begin should be on the dealer’s left. After that, turns will be in clockwise order. Once a face card (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) appears, the player becomes the challenger who will challenge the next player. The challenged player is required to play either a face card or an Ace. The challenger takes all the cards in the pile if they can’t play these cards.

The slapping action is facilitated when certain card combinations come up. For instance, Doubles refers to two cards from the same rank. On the other hand, Sandwiches are two cards from the same rank with a different card between the two.


Another game that requires strategy between two teams is Kemps. Here, not only do you need to be good at the cards you pick, but you also need to work with your partner. The goal is to make a four-of-a-kind set. Once done, you will signal to your partner, and they will call out “Kemps.”

Some basics to remember:

  • Each player is dealt four cards, and another four cards are placed in the middle face-up
  • Players can exchange one of their cards from the face-up cards one by one
  • A new set of face-up cards will be placed after the first four has been used
  • Try to form a four-of-a-kind set to win
  • You can also call out “Cut” if you think your opponents already have four of a kind
  • If they don’t, your team receives a penalty

Winning the round takes a lot of skill and observation. You should read your opponent’s body language to know if they have already satisfied their four-of-a-kind. At the same time, you should be careful when swapping your cards to ensure you don’t accidentally give away what you need.


Last but not least on our list of incredibly tough card games is Hearts. What sets this apart from other games on this list is that it uses the same trick-taking genre, but you must also avoid earning these tricks. Penalty points are given to players who receive cards from the Hearts suit, and your goal is to have the least penalty cards as possible.

In the four-player version of Hearts, each will receive 13 cards. After that, they will pass three of their cards clockwise. The game begins with 2 Spades. If discarded at the start, the game begins with a 3 Spades. All players must follow suit, but players can play any card if they can’t. However, it will always go back to following the same suit again.

The game continues until all 13 tricks have been played, and scores will be tallied. Shooting the Moon means collecting all Hearts cards and the Queen of Spades, giving your opponents 26 points. Meanwhile, Shooting the Sun is when you win all the tricks. It gives your opponents 52 points.

Prepare Your Brain for Some Strategy Card Games

Who would have thought that classic card games would give you an exciting challenge? These are known for their unique game mechanics, making them initially confusing and seemingly difficult. Once you get the hang of them, you can quickly get addicted to their challenging gameplay!

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