The Card Games People Play 

After the initial excitement of the holidays, you can be left wondering how to occupy your visiting loved ones. Why not hearken back to the days of yore when families looked to each other and not ESPN or after-Christmas sales at the mall for enjoyment. Sit down around the dining room table, put out a couple of bowls of nuts, candy or healthy trail mix and shuffle a deck or two of cards. Warm up the laptop because you'll need an Internet connection. You might find spending some time with the people in your life is even more rewarding than opening the electric drill or Nintendo Wii they got you for Christmas.

Google the term "card games" (in quotes), and you'll be faced with about 23 million hits. Finding the de facto expert site proves to be difficult, but the one with the most card games and instructions—which lends itself to the idea that maybe it's the authority on such things—is Pagat.com. On Pagat.com, you'll find instructions for pretty ubiquitous games such as Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Old Maid and Gin, but you'll also find information on more esoteric and certainly more complicated games from all over the world. Rules for Botifarra, which is played in a northeastern region of Spain, Minhata, which is played with a very specific kind of deck, and the German Sechsundsechzig can all be found on this site.

The site also has information on children-specific games, and with names like Zsirozas Mustamaija and Stealing Bundles, the young 'uns are sure to be intrigued.

What's particularly nice about the site is the way the games are classified. You can search through the listings alphabetically, by the game's objective, by the type of cards used and even by the country or regions where they're played.

Something else that might bring something more to a typical card game is the vast number of not only types of decks for specific games (euchre, bridge, etc.), but also card deck designs. A card-playing co-worker says she loves the decks she finds at UnclesGames.com. The shape and feel of some of their cards make for easier playing, and even if you aren't holding a great hand, at least you can look at the designs on the back of your opponent's. So, if the leftovers are put away, the wrapping paper's been recycled and your out-of-town family and friends are starting to get a bit restless, whip out a deck of cards. You might just have so much fun, they'll all want to come back to your house again next year.

For more card game and card deck ideas, visit Pagat.com or UnclesGames.com.

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