You'll never guess what your ancestors did over the card table!



Timeless classics and treasures now forgotten

Described by David Parlett

These pages Front cover
Published 1991
by Oxford
University Press
present (a) histories of classic games such as Poker and Euchre and (b) details of historic games, such as Gleek and Quadrille, that are now only museum pieces. This project was started at the suggestion of John McLeod, who tells me that visitors to his award-winning Pagat website for the rules of card games often inquire after the play of some old game that they have come across in period novels or films or readings in cultural history.

Some of the descriptions first appeared in my Oxford Guide to Card Games (1990, republished as A History of Card Games in 1991), but I've since been revising them in the light of further research and discoveries. If you have any comments, queries, or suggestions for additional entries, please me.

In the table below, p = number of players, pp = playing in fixed partnerships, 2-4p = 2, 3 or 4 players, 2/4p = 2 or 4 players (not easily or usually 3).

See also: A family tree of card games - historical infographic.

Blackjack Pontoon, Twenty-One, and related point-count games
Calypso The personal trump game from Trinidad (4pp)
Chinese "Leaf" game Did the Chinese really invent card games?
Costly Colours The colourful cousin of Crib (2/4pp)
Euchre A classic American game of European origin (2/4pp)
Gin Rummy The great game of Hollywood and Broadway (2p)
Gleek An old English of tricks and bluff (3p)
Karnöffel Europe's oldest known card game (2, 4, 6p)
Laugh & lie down An hilarious pairing-off game of Tudor England (4/5p)
Loo A once notorious trick-taking gambling game (3-7p)
Losing Lodam The Gargantuan ancestor of Hearts (3-7p)
Maw The five-fingered game of the Gaels (2-7p, 5 best)
Noddy The knavish ancestor of Cribbage (2/4pp)
Ombre One of the greatest classics (3p)
Patience Origins and history of card solitaires (1p)
Penneech The game that changes trump from trick to trick (2p)
Piquet The aristocrat of card games (2p)
Poker Origins and history of the great American pastime (2-10p)
Pope Joan Introducing "the Curse of Scotland" (3-7p)
Quadrille The courtly ladies' game of 18th century France (4p)
Quinto Invented c.1900 by "Professor Hoffmann" (4pp)
Reversis The 16th-century ancestor of Hearts (4pp)
Speculation Jane Austen's Mansfield Park game (3-7p)

gap Balloon up gap Link gap Globe 
gap topgapgap index gapgapnav