Now is a great time to be a gamer. There are so many games on so many platforms that are so realistic. Many have online multiplayer modes, so you can almost literally play with anyone anywhere.

But sometimes, a virtual or online game doesn’t quite fit the bill. Board games and card games have a nostalgic appeal to many people that advanced video games simply do not possess. Moreover, if you play games in a coffee shop or other public gathering place, a video game is usually not appropriate. Finally, just like many people enjoy holding the paper pages of a good book, many people enjoy the look and feel of a real card game.

Poker Games
For decades, the high-stakes poker game has been a staple of movies and TV shows. Even today, in just the last few years, the World Series of Poker has drawn millions of viewers to ESPN. It’s very easy to recreate that same excitement and atmosphere anywhere you have a deck of cards, a few good friends, and a lot of spare change to use as poker chips.

Stud Poker: When many people think of poker, they think of Texas Hold ‘Em, which is the most popular form of stud poker. This game is very easy and fun to play, because it only involves drawing cards, placing bets, and a lot of gamesmanship, so there is plenty of opportunity for non-card conversation and fun.

Draw Poker: The draw-discard games require more concentration, so they are a little tenser. Some people like that tension, and some people also like the fact that there is a skill element to draw poker. It’s not just blind luck.

Blackjack: This game is very fast-paced and easy to play, so it’s a great change of pace, especially as the evening wears on and the party needs a little spark.

All games are even more fun if you win, and there are lots of ways to get an edge in poker. As an example, try this card counting guide for blackjack. Counting cards is not cheating; it’s just a way for really smart people who have a plan to win more blackjack hands. That’s why casinos ban the practice. Losers, and not winners, pay for those big grand hotels.

Non-Poker Games
Sometimes, it’s good to avoid tension and excitement. Poker also has a bad name among some people. If that’s the case, try one of these non-poker card games:

Spades: One of the only partner card games is great for low-key gatherings. It’s also very easy to play, because the players don’t need to know the hand hierarchy of poker (two pairs beats a pair, three of a kind beats two pairs, and so on).

Gin: In many ways, this classic tea party game is a slower version of spades that’s specifically designed for two people.

Hearts: This game is a lot like spades, except the trump cards are different. It’s also a little more adversarial, because there are no partners.

The best way to get a game started is to simply dive in. Gather some friends in a non-TV room, pull out a deck of cards, and just watch what happens next.

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