“I am sorry I have not learnt to play at cards. It is very useful in life: it generates kindness and consolidated society.” – Samuel Johnson.
Probably the most cost effective way of entertaining your customers – after all how much does a pack of cards cost? Card games can provide some of the best fun in a pub.
There are a huge number of card games to choose from and has even been the subject of academic research at Oxford University; with a classification system called the Partlett Classification system. I only mention this because it breaks the types of games down into areas that will tell you the type of games people like to play:
This is by far the largest main category. Each player has a hand of cards and a move consists of playing out one or more cards to the table to achieve some effect. The play ends when some or all of the players have run out of cards to play.
Card Exchange Games
Each player has a hand of cards and a move consists of exchanging a card or cards. The exchange may be with another player or with a stock of face-up or face-down cards on the table. The objective is generally to collect certain cards or combinations of cards.
In these games there is little or no actual play of cards. The result is determined simply by comparing the cards dealt to the players to see which is best, or sometimes simply on the turn of a card or cards to decide whether a player wins or loses. In some games there may be an opportunity to improve your position by drawing some extra cards, or by choosing how to arrange your cards into groups. There are many gambling games in this category, often with elaborate betting procedures.
These are games in which the object is typically sort the pack of cards into order, by moving cards on a layout according to specific rules. You may have thought all patience games are solo but many are competitive.
Because there are just too many to describe I’ll just point you to…
Depending on where your pub is in the country you may find that certain card games have predominance, such as Cribbage or Yeuka; these are often played by your older customers and some still have competitive leagues where teams play all year round. If you are lucky enough to have such a game being regularly played in your pub then get involved, learn to play it and make a point of looking after these customers (for instance in my last pub I always made a point of bringing them out a basket of roast potatoes on Sunday lunchtime when they played).
Poker has become very popular in pubs in recent years, please see this separate article on poker.