Card Games That Are Tough To Master

min read
A group of friends playing cards around a wooden table.
BetMGM Sep 12, 2023, 2:58 AM

Whether you like to play online casino games or prefer the experience of visiting a casino in person, there are many exciting card games for you to enjoy. But while some people may like card games that are easy to learn and play, some people appreciate hard card games that are difficult to master.

Here are three card games that are easier or harder to learn, but are complicated card games to master.

1. Cribbage

Cribbage is a card game designed for two players that is of moderate difficulty, meaning that it’s not very simple to learn. The goal of the game is to make certain combinations of cards in order to earn points, with the game ending once the first player reaches a specific total. This total is usually 121, but it may differ depending on which version of the game you’re playing. Scores are tracked on a cribbage board using pegs. 

Many aspects of this game make it hard to master, including taking advantage of the “crib” (this is described below) and how to play cards to work for you and against your opponent, elevating the level of strategy required to get good at the game. 

How To Play Cribbage

The game begins with the players cutting the deck to decide who will deal first. The player with the lowest value card starts the game by dealing each player six cards. Each player then looks at their hand and decides which four cards they want to keep and which two cards they want to discard into the “crib.” 

Next, the dealer cuts the deck and reveals the top card from the bottom half of the cut deck. This card is the starter card and goes towards points at the end of the game. If a jack is revealed, the dealer begins the game with a two-point bonus on the cribbage board.

The non-dealing player begins by revealing their first game and announcing its value. Players then take turns revealing cards, with each card combining with the value of the previous card. For example, the first player reveals a 4 and announces “four.” This is followed by the second player who reveals a 7 and announces “eleven.” Jacks, queens, and kings are worth 10 points, while an ace is worth one point.

Players continue this pattern until a player either:

  • Reaches an exact total of 31.
  • Cannot play another card without going higher than 31.

If a player is able to make a total of exactly 31, they receive two points. If a player is the last person to play a card without going higher than 31, then they will receive one point. 

This continues until both players have no cards in their hands. All players, starting with the dealer, figure out the total value of their hands when combined with the starter card. Two that make a total of 15 or are a pair reward you with an additional two points. If you have three of a kind, you score six points. If you have four of a kind, you get 12 points. You also get bonus points for each card in ascending or descending order. The crib counts towards the dealer’s point total, with an extra opportunity to score a point if the starter card shares the same suit as a jack in the crib.

After the scoring is complete, the other player becomes the dealer and the action repeats.

3 Tips for Cribbage

Here are a few tips to help you get better at cribbage:

  • If you’re the dealer, put your most valuable cards into the crib. If you aren’t the dealer, put your least valuable cards into the crib.
  • Consider discarding cards that could help form a sequence of ascending or descending cards.
  • Don’t lead with a 5 or 10 as this gives your opponent an easy opportunity to make 15 and get two points.

2. Blackjack

Blackjack is a game that’s easy to pick up and play, and is playable in-person, as a digital game, or in a live dealer casino games format by up to seven players. The goal of the game is to get a higher value hand than the dealer without going over 21. Due to its simplicity, it’s one of the most popular experiences and far from being an underappreciated card game.

While blackjack is genuinely easy to learn, players will need to learn a variety of skills in order to get good at the game, including how to play specific cards, which bets are worthwhile and which are not, and card counting. 

How To Play Blackjack

The game begins with all players deciding how much they want to wager. The dealer deals a card face up to each player and themselves. They then deal another card face up to each player, but a card face down to themselves. Players then decide whether they want to stand (not get any more cards) or hit (ask for another card) depending on the value of the cards in their hand. 

Once all the players are either happy with their hands or bust, the dealer must reveal their hidden card. Once the card is revealed, dealers must also decide whether to hit or stand, but this depends on the total value of their hands. If a hand is less than 17, they must hit. If their hand is 17 or higher, they must stand. If any of the player’s or dealer’s hands exceed a total of 21, they are bust and lose the game. If any of the players have a natural blackjack (a combination of two cards that equal 21,) they win and must be paid out. If none of the players or the dealer are bust, hand values are compared. Players who have a hand that is worth more than the dealer will get paid out. Players who have a hand that is worth less than a dealer lose their bets.

The value of players’ hands are decided by their face value. However, jacks, queens, and kings are all equal to 10, while an ace is either equal to one or 11, depending on the total value of a player’s hand.

3 Tips for Blackjack

  • The insurance bet is a high-risk side bet and should generally be avoided.
  • Always split a pair of aces and a pair of 8s.
  • Hit on a hand worth 16 or less, but stand if your hand is worth 17 or higher.

3. Poker

You’ve seen two other card games that poker players love so it makes sense to include poker on this list. For anyone wondering “Is poker hard to learn?” — the answer is that it’s moderately difficult to pick up and play. However, it is the hardest card game on this list to master. It’s playable in person, in a traditional digital format, or as a live dealer casino game. There are many different variations of the game which cater for between two and 14 players. However, in most variants, the ideal number of players is between 6–9. The goal of the game is to win the “pot,” either by having a hand that’s worth more than other players’ hands or by causing all the other players to fold their hands.

How To Play Poker

There are many different variants of poker, but the most popular is Texas Hold’em. And this is how to play this beloved variant of the game. 

In an informal game, the game begins with a dealer being decided. This is often done by cutting a deck of cards and the player with the highest or lowest value card becomes the dealer. In a formal game, there is a dedicated dealer. The dealer begins by dealing one card to each player face down. The dealer then deals another card to each player face down. These are the player’s hole cards.

The player to receive their cards first is the small blind and must put half of the minimum bet into the pot. The player to their left is the big blind and must put the minimum bet into the pot. The small and big blinds rotate to the left as the game goes on.

Once all of the players have their cards, the preflop round begins. Players decide whether they want to:

  • Check: This is to make no wager and let the next player take their turn. 
  • Bet: To add their wager to the pot.
  • Fold: To discard their cards without revealing them and wait for the next round of play.

If a player bets, each player following that player must either call (match the bet,) raise (increase the bet,) or fold (discard their cards.) This includes the players who had previously checked. 

If there is more than one player still in the game after the preflop round, the flop round begins. Three community cards are added to play, face-up. These are considered shared cards that are used in conjunction with each player’s hands to make even stronger combinations. The action takes place as normal, with players deciding to check, bet, or fold.

If there’s more than one player still in the game after the flop, the turn round begins. During this round, a single additional community card is dealt. Again, the action takes place as per previous rounds, with players deciding whether to check, bet, or fold.

If there is more than one player still in the game after the turn, the final river round begins. Again, a single additional community card is added to play and players decide whether to check, bet, or fold. 

If any players are still in the game, the showdown begins. All players reveal their cards and the player with the highest-value hand wins the pot.

The ranking of hands in poker is as follows.

  • Royal flush: An ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 of the same suit.
  • Straight flush: Any series of consecutive cards of the same suit that’s not a royal flush.
  • Four of a kind: Four of the same card.
  • Full house: A three of a kind and a pair.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits.
  • Three of a kind: Three of the same card.
  • Two pair: Two different pairs.
  • Pair: A pair of the same card.
  • High card: The highest individual card in a player’s hand.

3 Tips for Poker

  • Learn which hands are worth playing and which hands aren’t worth wasting your money on.
  • Understand how your position at the table affects whether you should play aggressively or more conservatively.
  • Watch how your opponents play so that you have a better understanding of how to exploit their weaknesses in the following rounds.

Find Fun and Challenging Card Games at BetMGM

If you’re looking for gambling card games that are both fun and challenging, you can find them at BetMGM. BetMGM’s online casino offers exciting card games like baccarat, blackjack, poker, Let It Ride, and many more. There are also other thrilling gambling experiences like online slots, jackpot slots, craps, roulette, and variety games if you enjoy more than just card games.

Register at BetMGM and try your hand at your favorite card games and more.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.