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Education,Entertainment,Mental Health

These Card Games Could Make You Smarter

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I check out which card games could make you smarter by training your brain while you’re having fun!

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Brain Training

I don’t know about you, but I like challenges that test my brain and make me think. I am heavily invested in my daily Wordle game, and always feel delighted if I manage to beat my brainiac brother, and I enjoy figuring out problems and challenges for myself rather than getting somebody to do it for me. For this reason, brain training challenges always appeal, and I love learning new skills from platforms such as Tutor Hunt. But, forget flashcards and dusty textbooks, the road to intellectual enlightenment might just be paved with…card games?

That’s right, we might be able to ditch the mental drudgery and sharpen our wits with the surprising power of card games!

So, why card games? Beyond the sheer entertainment value, these pocket-sized brain teasers offer a unique blend of mental challenges:

  • Strategic thinking: Outwit your opponents, predict their moves, and craft cunning plans to dominate the deck. These games aren’t just about luck, they’re about outmaneuvering your rivals, one calculated card at a time.
  • Memory magic: Sharpen your recall skills as you remember card combinations, track strategies, and adapt to the ever-shifting game landscape. These games are a workout for your mental filing cabinet, keeping your memory agile and sharp.
  • Problem-solving prowess: Face off against intricate dilemmas, navigate unforeseen obstacles, and think your way out of tight corners. These games are like mini mental marathons, training your brain to think creatively and find solutions under pressure.
  • Social smarts: From reading your opponents’ tells to negotiating alliances and navigating the ebb and flow of group dynamics, these games are all about honing your social intelligence and mastering the art of strategic interaction.

Card games are also a fantastic way to encourage healthy brain training, which can improve cognitive skills and longer attention spans, so the experts at Casino.co.uk sent over a list of fun and challenging games that we can learn to play to both have fun, and get smarter!

Crazy Eights 

Crazy Eights is a fast-paced, fun card game perfect for parties, family gatherings, or simply kicking back with friends. It’s easy to learn but offers enough strategic depth to keep you entertained for hours.

Players: 2-5 players

Cards: A standard 52-card deck

Objective: Be the first player to get rid of all your cards.


  1. Deal: Deal five cards face down to each player. The remaining cards form the draw pile.
  2. Start: The player to the left of the dealer flips the top card of the draw pile to start the discard pile. If it’s an 8, discard it in a separate pile, then choose a new suit for the discard pile.
  3. Playing a card: On your turn, you can play one card from your hand on top of the discard pile. The card you play must either:
    • Match the rank of the card on top of the discard pile.
    • Match the suit of the card on top of the discard pile.
    • Be an 8. You can play an 8 on any card and choose a new suit for the discard pile.
  4. Special rules:
    • If you play a jack, the next player must draw two cards and their turn immediately ends.
    • If you play a queen, you choose the next player to play.
    • If you play a king, you reverse the order of play.
  5. Drawing cards: If you can’t play a card from your hand, you must draw one card from the draw pile. If you draw a card you can play, you can play it immediately. Otherwise, your turn ends.
  6. Winning:
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Cheat, also known as Bluff, Liar, I Doubt It, BS, or B*******, is a classic card game that’s all about lying and catching lies. It’s simple to learn but can be incredibly fun, requiring a mix of audacity, intuition, and memory.

Players: 2-6 players

Cards: A standard 52-card deck

Objective: Be the first player to get rid of all your cards.


  1. Deal: Deal seven cards face down to each player. The remaining cards form the draw pile.
  2. Start: The player to the left of the dealer starts by placing one or more cards face down on the discard pile. They must say what rank the cards are (e.g., “two queens”).
  3. Betting: The next player can either:
    • Challenge: If they believe the previous player is lying, they say “Cheat!” or “I doubt it!” The cards are then flipped over.
    • Pass: If they believe the previous player is telling the truth or don’t want to take the risk, they say “Pass” or “I believe you.”
  4. Resolving the bet:
    • Challenge correct: If the challenger was right, the accused player must pick up all the cards in the discard pile and their own hand.
    • Challenge wrong: If the challenger was wrong, they must pick up all the cards in the discard pile.
  5. Playing: If no one challenges, the next player takes their turn and does the same: placing cards face down and announcing their rank.
  6. Winning: The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the game!

Racing Demon (or Nerts)  

Ready to test your reflexes and memory? Buckle up for Racing Demon, a fast-paced solitaire game that combines the logic of Klondike with the adrenaline rush of a sprint race. This isn’t your grandma’s solitaire; it’s a heart-pounding challenge that will leave you panting for the finish line.

What You’ll Need:

  • A standard deck of cards
  • A clear playing area (ideally large enough for four rows of cards)

Getting Started:

  1. Deal the Demon: Deal 13 cards face down in a row, forming your “Demon.” This is your main opponent, the obstacle you must conquer to win.
  2. Lay Out the Lineup: Deal four cards face up in a row next to the Demon. This is your “Line of 4,” where you’ll build descending card sequences.
  3. Foundations: Create four Ace foundations in the middle of the playing area, one for each suit.


  1. Play from the Demon: Flip the top card of the Demon face up. You can play this card onto the Line of 4, building down with alternating colors (e.g., a red 8 can go on a black 9). You can also play it onto an Ace foundation to start its suit pile.
  2. Play from the Line of 4: Cards in the Line of 4 can be played onto other Line of 4 piles, onto Foundations, or back onto the top of the Demon if it’s empty.
  3. Refill the Line of 4: When a space opens up in the Line of 4, flip over the next three cards from the stock pile face down, then flip the top one face up, adding it to the line.
  4. Clear the Demon: To win, you must completely empty the Demon and move all its cards onto the Foundations or the Line of 4.


Kemps, also known as Canes, Cash and Kent, is a fun and fast-paced card game involving teamwork, secret signals, and a dash of deception. Perfect for families and friends, it’s a game that’s easy to learn but offers enough strategic depth to keep everyone engaged.

What You’ll Need:

  • A standard deck of 52 cards
  • Pen and paper for scoring (optional)

Number of Players: 2-6 players (must be in teams of two)

Objective: Be the first team to score four points (you can adjust this depending on your desired game length).


  1. Deal the Cards: Deal four cards face down to each player. The remaining cards form the stock pile, placed face down in the center of the table.
  2. Secret Signal: Before the game starts, each team must agree on a secret signal to use when one player has four of a kind. This can be anything from a wink to a specific hand gesture. Keep it discreet!
  3. The Grid: Flip the top four cards of the stock pile face up to form a 2×2 grid in the center of the table.
  4. Swapping Cards: Players take turns, one at a time, swapping one card from their hand with a card in the grid. You can’t take cards from other players’ hands or swap two cards in the grid.
  5. Four of a Kind: The aim is to get four of a kind (e.g., four queens, four 7s) in your hand. Once you have it, use your secret signal to your teammate without letting the other team know.
  6. Calling Kemps: If your teammate correctly identifies that you have four of a kind and says “Kemps!”, your team scores one point. If they incorrectly say “Kemps!”, your team loses one point.
  7. Discard and Draw: After you signal four of a kind (or the round ends without anyone getting it), discard your four-of-a-kind set and draw four new cards from the stock pile. Replace the cards in the grid with four new ones from the stock pile.
  8. Winning: The first team to reach four points (or your chosen score) wins the game!
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Ah, Memory, the classic game of matching pairs that’s both fun and brain-teasing! It’s perfect for all ages, from young children to adults looking for a quick mental challenge.

What You’ll Need:

  • A deck of playing cards (you can use a regular deck or create a custom set with pictures or other objects)
  • A flat surface

Number of Players: 2-6 players

Objective: Be the player with the most pairs of matching cards at the end of the game.


  1. Shuffle the Cards: Thoroughly shuffle the deck and lay all the cards face down in a grid-like pattern. Make sure there’s enough space between cards for players to flip them over easily.
  2. Take Turns: Players take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If the two cards match (e.g., two kings, two 5s), the player keeps both cards in a pile facing up in front of them and gets another turn. If the cards don’t match, they flip them back face down in their original positions and the next player’s turn begins.
  3. Remember the Cards: The key to winning is remembering where the cards are located. Pay attention to the cards as they’re revealed and try to recall their positions for your next turn.
  4. Winning: The game ends when all the cards have been matched. The player with the most pairs of cards wins!


And there you have it! We’ve journeyed through a wonderland of cards, exploring a diverse kingdom where strategy reigns supreme and mental agility is the ultimate weapon. From the lightning-fast reflexes of Crazy Eights to the subtle deception of Kemps, each game presented a unique intellectual challenge, proving that a deck of cards can be a powerful tool for mental gymnastics.

Remember, the next time you reach for a deck, you’re not just choosing entertainment; you’re choosing an opportunity to sharpen your wits, stretch your logic muscles, and maybe even develop a few cunning bluffs for real-world situations. So ditch the dusty textbooks and grab some friends – the smartest move you can make today might just be a shuffle and a deal.

And who knows, you might even discover a hidden talent for card-based brainpower. You could be the next bridge champion, the master of memory, or the undisputed king (or queen) of poker night. But most importantly, you’ll have fun along the way, building memories, honing your cognitive skills, and proving that there’s more to a card game than just luck.

So go forth, brave card warriors! Shuffle, deal, and let the intellectual adventure begin! May your cards always fall in your favor, and may your brain-boosting journey through the world of card games be as rewarding as it is fun.

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