Now is the perfect time to learn these classic card games 

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  • Recent events around the world have prompted a re-examination of how we spend our spare time. For many, staying at home has provided an opportunity to actually do some of those things we have set aside for “when we get some spare time.”

    Here, we examine a perfect case in point. Card games are among the oldest, yet most resilient, pastimes. Today, they provide the perfect way to pass quality time with loved ones, whether its family members in the same house or by playing online. Here are some of the most popular, that are really not so complicated to learn as you might think. 

    Hearts

    Also known as Black Bess, This trick-taking game with a difference will keep you entertained for weeks. It uses the entire deck of cards, and can be played by any number of players, but is ideally suited to four. This is a negative-scoring trick-based game, where the object is to keep your score as low as possible. Hearts score at face value, while the Queen of Spades scores at 13. The best strategy is to try to “keep your head down,” avoiding winning tricks and getting cards dumped on you by the other players. An intriguing aspect of the game is the option of “shooting for the moon” – in this high risk strategy, if you “win” all the hearts and the Queen of Spades, your score is reset to zero.

    Poker

    The most popular card game of all time, many say it takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. That might be true with more complex variations like Texas Holdem, but why not start simple with three-card poker? If you’re home alone, it’s the perfect choice via sites like Comeon, where you can play in a live casino setting against a real dealer – but from the comfort of your armchair. It’s really no harder than blackjack, so why not give it a try?

    Contract whist

    Most of us have played basic whist, where seven cards are dealt each, heart are trumps and the winner is the player who wins the most tricks. Here, we add an extra level of complexity and fun. Players take it in turns to nominate how many cards will be dealt to each player. Then, each looks at his cards and predicts how many tricks he will win. Whoever says the highest number then gets to nominate which suit is trumps. Players then score a point for each trick won and a 10-point bonus for “making their contract” – ie, winning the number of tricks they predicted.

    Solitaire

    Another game ideal for those of us stuck on our own, but the internet age has produced so many variations on traditional Klondike solitaire that there is no excuse for getting bored. Spider solitaire takes the game to new levels by incorporating multiple decks, but for the ultimate challenge, try Russian solitaire. It’s regarded as one of the toughest versions of the game, but that makes it all the more gratifying when you succeed! 

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