Best Card Games for Adults

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best card games for adults

When friends and family visit, having a fun activity on hand to keep folks entertained can help everyone have a good time. Card games for adults are an excellent option because they generally have simple rules, don’t take much time for each round, and can provide hours of fun.

Card games fall into several categories. There are cooperative games, team-building games, strategy games, and trivia games, to name a few. Card games for adults typically involve skill sets that children may not have or touch on material unsuitable for a younger audience. Many card games offer expansion packs that allow you to continue playing even if you’ve already “used” all the cards in the starter set.

With so many adult card games to choose from, finding the right one can be a bit daunting. You have to decide on the game type, the number of players, and how long the game should last. 

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Most people enjoy card games that combine elements of luck and strategy.

Key considerations

Game type

While all card games use cards to drive the action, there are a variety of game types. Here’s a look at some common types of card games.

Cooperative games: These games require you to work with a partner or team. A cooperative game is an excellent option for family or friend bonding. Because you usually go up against other pairs or teams, this type of game retains an element of competition as well.

Strategy games: For serious game players and super-competitive folks, a game that involves critical thinking skills can be ideal. However, a strategy game may create an intense atmosphere, so if you’re looking solely to have fun, it may not be the best option. 

Trivia games: Trivia games are not as intense as strategy card games, yet they provide an excellent opportunity for people who enjoy showing off their intelligence to shine. Some trivia games feature questions that call upon general knowledge while others focus on specific categories, such as music or sports. 

Simple, humorous games: If you want a low-key game that would work for nearly any type of gathering, consider a card game in this category. Some involve answering simple questions, like which food you’d choose between two options. Others require you to come up with humorous responses based on information or artwork on the cards. These games are great for breaking the ice; consider them for parties or other gatherings where everyone doesn’t necessarily know each other well.

Number of players

Not all card games are suitable for the same number of players, so it’s essential to consider how many people usually play games with you. For versatility, look for a game that’s just as much fun with a small number of players as it is with a large group.

Participants

Consider the specific people with whom you’ll be playing. Depending on group dynamics, different tones may be appropriate. For example, some adult card games contain adult or risque topics you might prefer to avoid with your parents or in-laws.

Fortunately, there are plenty of games that are perfect for mixed company, so you never have to worry about feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable, no matter who you invite to game night.

Playing time

How much time do you want to devote to a card game? Some games are so complex that a single round can take nearly an hour to finish. Other games move at a faster pace. Generally speaking, it’s best to stick to games that take less than an hour to complete so you don’t have to worry about your guests getting bored.

Most card games require sitting in a circle for optimal gameplay, so choose your setting accordingly.

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Features

Handheld vs. required playing surface

The majority of card games for adults call for you to hold the cards in your hands, which means you can play nearly anywhere, including in the car on a road trip. However, there are some games that require you to place the cards on a flat surface, such as a table. This requirement can limit you somewhat. If you’re playing on the go, a card game that requires a table may not be the best option.

Card material and finish

If you’re going to play often, you’ll want cards that are durable enough to survive repeated use. This includes the ability to withstand spills from food or drink during a party. Thick cards that are laminated and easy to wipe clean are ideal.

Replayability/expansion pack compatibility

You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you choose a card game you can play over and over again. Games that include a limited number of cards with questions or scenarios may not be able to be played more than once.

Fortunately, some card games are compatible with expansion packs. An expansion pack is an additional set of cards for a game that allows you to play it again and again — or change the game’s scope or theme. If you want to get plenty of gameplay from your investment, make sure there are expansion packs available.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Many manufacturers offer online how-to videos that explain game rules and strategies.
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Card games for adults: prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable card games for adults are basic strategy games for two or more players. They are decently replayable and typically don’t require a playing surface. Expect to pay between $5 and $12 for these card games.

Mid-range: Card games between $13 and $30 tend to offer a good mix of complex strategy, trivia, or humor as well as good replayability. They’re typically suitable for larger groups, and some are even played in teams. 

Expensive: The priciest card games for adults, between $30 and $65, involve complex strategy, trivia, or humor. Replayability tends to be excellent because multiple card packs are included. Some of these games are actually sets that include more than one game, so you have options for game night.

Keep the rulebook within easy reach during a game so you can consult it if necessary.

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Tips

  • Read the instructions carefully before playing a card game. Make sure that everyone playing understands the rules so there are no arguments or confusing moments during play.
  • Card games for four to eight people are often best. Having more players may make the game more interesting, but if too many people are playing, participants may get bored waiting for their turn. 
  • If you’re hosting a game night, it’s a good idea to have multiple card games to choose from. That way, if someone doesn’t like one of the games, you’ll have a backup ready to go.
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If you’re not sure which card game to choose, consider purchasing a set that includes more than one game so you have options.

FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of card games?

A. A card game can be fun entertainment for a night in, a dinner party, or a family holiday. It can also be an excellent ice breaker if you’re introducing people who don’t know each other well. Depending on the game, team-building may also be encouraged.

Q. How should I choose a card game if I’m hosting game night?

A. If you’re unsure what type of game would resonate with your group, a funny, lighthearted card game may be your best bet. You could also ask your guests for suggestions beforehand so you have a sense of the kinds of card games they enjoy.

Q. Can kids play card games for adults?

A. Some card games are designed solely for adults because they require skills that children don’t have or contain adult-only content. However, there are some adult card games that work well for teens or pre-teens.

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