There are many fun ways you can spend an evening with friends, and these days your options are almost limitless. However, some are better than others.
Getting together to play a game of cards has its special charm that never goes out of style.
If you’re looking for a way to switch things around a little and do something other than gathering around Play Station or watching a soccer match, you might find this article quite inspirational.
It presents some of the best 3 player card games out there that are easy to learn and a lot of fun to play.
Three player card games come in all shapes and sizes. You can find some very simple ones to have a few laughs, or you can go for more challenging ones, where there is more skill involved.
There are no right or wrong picks here – just go with those card games that feel right for you and your friends.
Poker – Popular Game With 3 People Option
The great thing about poker, especially Texas Hold’em, is that you can have fun playing the game regardless of how many players there are at the table.
Sure, three-handed poker may not be the ideal scenario, but if you enjoy it, it’s absolutely fine.
For the best experience, you’ll want to have some poker chips handy. Although they’re not a must, as you can use coins or Monopoly money as well, it’ll add to the atmosphere.
The game of Texas Hold’em is played using the standard deck of playing cards with no jokers. Every player is dealt two cards face down to start the round, with five more community cards dealt across three streets (flop, turn, and river).
The goal is to make the best possible five card hand using your two face-down cards and the face-up community cards. The player who shows down the best hand when all the betting is done wins the pot. Alternatively, you can make your opponents give up before the showdown by betting, in which case you’ll also win whatever is in the middle.
Rummy – One of the Best 3 Player Games
Of all the different 3 person card games out there, rummy is probably one of the best. Rummy rules aren’t particularly hard to learn, so even if one of your friends is new to the game, you can easily bring them up to speed.
In a 3 player card game, a single deck of playing cards is used, and each player is dealt seven cards.
The goal of the game is to get rid of all cards from your hand.
You’ll do this by creating melds and runs.
Another great thing about rummy is that you can agree to play for as long or as short as you want.
You will simply agree on the number of deals before you start, and when it's all said and done, the player with the best score is the winner.
Since the game isn’t particularly demanding in terms of strategy (although you should keep track of what cards are being discarded), you can enjoy it with a few glasses of your favorite adult beverage as well.
If you’re looking for fun card games for 3, definitely give rummy a chance. Another great thing about it is that you can easily add another player to the mix if one of your friends shows up unannounced.
Looking for More Fun Card Games for 3? Check Out Go Fish
One of the simplest card games for three players is Go Fish, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.
It only requires a standard deck of playing cards, so you don’t have to worry about setting things up.
At the start of a hand, every player is dealt seven cards, and the goal is to complete books, i.e., sets of four cards of the same ranking (four Kings, four Queens, etc.).
To complete the books, you’ll ask other players to give you the cards you’re missing.
If they don’t have any of the cards you need, you’ll have to “go fish,” i.e., draw one card from the deck in the middle of the table, and the next player will take action.
Go Fish isn’t particularly complex, and you don’t need to learn any strategies beforehand. It’s one of those 3 player card games that you sit down and play – and have a lot of fun in the process.
There is the “adult” version of this game as well, and it involves drinking (what a surprise!).
As for the drinking game rules, the default is that everyone but the winner must finish their drinks at the end of the round.
But you're free to come up with your own rules – it's not like there is a Go Fish supervisory committee that will penalize you for breaking the rules. Try to keep things sensible, though, or it will be a short game night.
Crazy 8s – Fun Card Game For 3 People
Crazy 8s is another one of those tree player card games that are very easy to learn and don’t require players to be great with numbers or card strategies.
Crazy 8s rules are very simple – you are dealt five cards at the start of the round, and your goal is to get rid of all of them to win.
Everybody but the winner gets penalty points at the end of the round based on the cards they have in their hands.
One game of Crazy 8s is usually played until one player reaches the 100 point mark.
At that point, the play stops, and the player with the lowest score is the winner.
This is one of the best 3 player games if you’re looking for a fast-paced and fun game that doesn’t require too much thinking.
It plays very similar to Uno, but there are no special cards you can use to punish your opponents and make them draw a bunch of cards.
You don't need to think too hard when playing Crazy 8s, but if you're keen on winning, try to get rid of your 8s and high cards as soon as possible and pay attention to the suits other players are picking, as this will give you some advantage.
Thee Player Card Games Classic: Old Maid (Black Peter)
Old Maid or Black Peter is in the group of fun card games for 3 that you can play without having to worry about any strategy whatsoever.
There is nothing you can do to influence the game's result, but it can still be a blast.
Black Peter has perhaps the simplest rules of all card games for 3 people described in this article, and you can learn them in 30 seconds.
To start with, one card is removed from the deck.
Usually, it's a black queen or a black jack (in the Black Peter variation), but it doesn’t really matter. Then, all remaining cards are dealt out to the players.
You can deal them one by one or in any other fashion you like. Since one card is out, not everyone will start with the same number of cards.
When all cards are dealt, all players need to remove any pairs they have from their hand (i.e., two cards of the same ranking).
After that, the dealer will spread out their remaining cards face down and offer them to the player to the left to pick one card.
If he or she makes a pair, they’ll have to discard that pair as well. Otherwise, they keep the card and then offer their cards to the player to their left to pick one.
When one player runs out of cards, i.e., they pair up all of their cards, they’re out.
The play continues until one player is left with just one card – the odd queen or jack with no pair. The player holding the last unpaired card is the winner.
Skat – a Trick Taking Game for Three Players
There aren’t that many trick-taking card games for three, which makes Skat a nice choice if you and your friends prefer to play something a bit more challenging.
This isn’t to say that Skat is overly complicated, but it’s not as simple as Go Fish, either.
The game is similar to Euchre in some of its elements, so if you are familiar with Euchre rules, you’ll have a good starting point.
The game is played with the standard deck of playing cards, but only 32 cards are used.
Aces through Sixes are removed before the play starts.
Bidding is the most complicated aspect of Skat, and that’s something you’ll have to read about and get yourself familiar with if you want to give the game a try.
The same applies to the scoring system, as Skat has its own set of rules of how points are calculated, and it’s very important to know this so you could play correctly.
Other than this, it’s played like other trick-taking games, where players must follow suit and the highest card of the suit wins the trick.
When a trump card is played, it beats all other cards, except for higher trumps.
I wouldn’t recommend Skat as a game that you just come up with and suggest out of the blue. If players aren't familiar with the rules and have never played the game before, you'll likely spend the entire night just explaining things, which is no fun.
It’s a fun game, though, so maybe you can have everyone look into it ahead of time and come at least somewhat prepared. That way, you’ll know if you actually like it and if it’s the kind of a 3 player card game that you’d go with in the future.
Golf – 3 Person Card Game That You Probably Don’t Know
Golf belongs to the group of cool and simple but very fun card games for 3, requiring no special skills and no particular effort to play well. It's mostly about the luck of the draw.
The game is played using the standard deck of playing cards, and it can be played by more than three players as well.
At the start of the round, each player is dealt four cards face down. The cards are arranged in a square in front of the player.
The remainder of the deck is placed in the middle of the table. The first card is taken from the top of the deck and placed next to it face up, starting a discard pile.
The goal in the Golf card game is to have the lowest score at the end of the round.
With this goal in mind, the first player to act (the player left to the dealer) will secretly check out their hand, but they’re only allowed to see the first two cards in front of them.
With this knowledge, they have three options:
- Take a card from the stock, check it out, and replace any of the four cards (but you can't check out the other two cards before replacing them). When you replace the card, you'll take your old card and place it face up on the stockpile.
- Take a card from the stockpile, but you decide you don't like it and discard it.
- Take the top card from the discard pile and replace it with one of your four cards.
- Knock the table, indicating that you're happy with your hand and announcing the end of the round.
As long as players are taking and discarding cards, the play continues clockwise. The moment one player knocks on the table, though, it means the round is about to end.
The remaining two players still get to complete their turns, i.e., replace any cards if they so choose, but once they do that, it’s time to turn the cards over and see who wins.
You’ll simply add up values for every hand and whoever has the lowest score is the winner.
In Golf, card values are as follows:
- Kings are worth zero points, making them the best cards to have
- Jacks and Queens are worth 10 points
- All other cards have their face values, and Aces are low, i.e., 1 point
If this seems too simple for your taste, there are some other Golf card game variations for three players that you can try. There is an option to play with six cards instead of four or even introduce Power Cards.
The Power Card variations are quite fun, and you can even come up with your own ideas for superpowers to give to specific cards. If you draw the card from the deck, you get to use its power. Some of the ideas to consider are:
- Look at an extra card
- Swap a card with your opponent
- Check out one of your opponent’s cards, etc.
In most variations, the game is played until one of the players reaches 100 points, at which point the player with the lowest score at that time is declared the winner.
Sette e Mezzo – One of the Most Popular Italian 3 Player Card Games
Sette e Mezzo, which translates as “seven and a half,” is a cool game that I learned as a kid when I was visiting Italy for the very first time. Although it's a gambling game by default, it seems everyone plays it there during the winter holidays, and kids are given a bunch of coins to use and play with.
Although Sette e Mezzo isn’t exclusively in the group of 3 person card games, you can definitely play it with just three players.
The game is somewhat similar to blackjack, but it’s played with a 40-card deck as eights, nines, and tens are removed. Regular cards have their face values (Aces are counted as one), while picture cards are worth half a point.
The game requires one player to act as a dealer, and the other two players will compete to try and beat the dealer. You can take turns being the dealer, so everyone gets a shot.
Each player receives two cards, and so does the dealer.
The dealer only shows one card, and players must decide whether they want to hit or stand. You can hit for as long as you don't go over the total of seven and a half.
When the players are done, the dealer turns over their second card, and they have all the same options as the players.
I’ll admit that this game probably doesn’t have the same allure if there isn’t at least some money on the line, but you can always come up with clever ways around it if you don’t feel like gambling.
For example, there could be challenges the losing side must complete after a certain number of hands. Plus, if one or more of your friends decide to join the party, they can jump right in and start having fun.
Cribbage – Three Player Card Game Variation
In its basic form, cribbage is best suited for two players. However, it belongs to this article on the best 3 player games because there is a 3-handed variation, and it's just as fun as the original one.
The best way to enjoy a game of cribbage is if you actually have the cribbage board and pegs, especially with three players.
We already have covered cribbage rules in detail, so I won't go over them again. It's a somewhat complicated game at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll have a lot of fun playing.
Again, it’s not one of those three player card games that you can just come up with and expect people to know, but it doesn’t take that long to learn, either.
If your friends are into card games, they’ll probably love it, especially because it involves the board and pegs, so it’s quite different from all other options in this article.
Ninety-Nine – Just Another Fun Card Game For 3
I’ll wrap this article on card games for three players with another trick-taking game, just so you have another game from this category if you don’t like Scat.
Ninety-Nine is played with a deck of 36 cards (Sixes through Aces) and one Joker.
Each player is dealt 12 cards to start with, and they make secret bids on the number of tricks they expect to win.
This is done by placing three cards face down in front of you, which leaves you with nine cards to use to play with.
Card suits, not values, determine the bid:
- Any diamond indicates 0 tricks
- Any spade indicates one trick
- A heart indicates two tricks
- A club indicates three tricks
The game is then played as most trick-taking games, with players following suit if possible, playing the trump suit, etc.
The goal is to get the exact number of tricks you secretly bid, which will earn you extra points.
If this game tickles your imagination, you can easily find more information on the exact rules and variations. I won't go into too much detail here, but I wanted to mention it just the same, as it's a cool option for those who like games that involve a certain skill element.
Best 3 Person Card Games – Have Your Share Of Fun
If you've stumbled upon this article looking for some game ideas for your next evening with friends, I hope it delivered. There are ten games in total, and they vary both in terms of difficulty and entertainment value.
There are some other 3 player card games out there as well, but I’ve picked these ten as I think they represent a good mix where everyone can find something for themselves.
In the day and age where technology has become so present in our lives, it might be nice to remember the good, old times, sit around the table, and play some cards with your friends.
Give it a try at least; you will have a blast, promise!