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From the spectacular living show that is Las Vegas to the halls of Atlantic City and back in time to the Wild West, Americans have been betting on card games for as long as the country has existed.
While the original games that were played were naturally all European exports, over time the rules have been adapted and adjusted to the point where there are distinctly American versions of each as well as entirely new games on top. Below are some of the top picks of card games across the U.S.
American Blackjack Variants
The origin of Blackjack is mostly a mystery, but the best guess suggests that it began hundreds of years ago in Spain. From there, the game travelled through Britain before hopping the Atlantic. Blackjack has since evolved and taken on many different forms, including online blackjack at Paddy Power which takes the core elements of the game and presents them in an accessible digital experience that can be played anywhere in the world. Today, the game is very much tied to both Vegas and Atlantic City.
The key differences are found in the number of decks used and the special options available. Both Vegas Strip and Atlantic City Blackjack have the dealer using multiple decks, four and eight respectively, although the main goal of the game is the same; 21 without going over. Both versions allow for hand splitting and doubling down on hands, while Atlantic City also adds the early surrender rule for hands that don’t have much hope.
As a game where the goal is to avoid scoring points, Rummy is something of a unique game. It’s as much of a mainstay around the American card table as poker or blackjack, with plenty of unique variants in America and spreading out across the world.
The rules are simple in the basic version. Each player draws each turn, then discards cards in defined sets and aims to have an empty hand first. The other players then add to their score for every card remaining in their hand, with the lowest-scoring player at the end of the game being the winner. It’s a simple concept that can be excellent for beginners to step up to after learning blackjack.
To play spider solitaire, you’ll need two decks of cards with no jokers, or 104 cards, shuffled before every game. There are 10 piles of cards with 6 cards in each of the first four piles, and 5 cards in each of the last six piles. The top card in each pile is placed face up, which makes up the tableau. Above that, you will have the foundation. The main goal is to arrange the cards in the columns in descending order from King to Ace and then you’ll move the finished pile to the foundation.
There are many variations of Spider Solitaire, including 1-suit, 2-suit, and 4-suit. While this game is great for playing with a physical deck of cards, it’s also available to play online for free. One website, Solitaired, allows users to play unlimited games of Spider Solitaire, along with features like undos and hints to make it through difficult games.
A quintessentially American game, Pinochle (often pronounced like Pea-Knuckle) is a kind of mix between a trick-taking game and a hand-building game according to expert site Bicycle Cards. Players will play cards from their hands until no one can beat the current card in play.
The winning player will then get the chance to ‘meld’ the cards left in their hand into combinations like four-of-a-kind or any Q and J combination which is the titular Pinochle. This is where actual points are earned, so holding back key cards is a very careful balance.
There are plenty more American card games that there wasn’t space to mention, such as a dozen different American varieties of poker as well as a handful of lesser-known games invented in the States. Make sure you give these a try as they are part of the country’s heritage!
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