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What card games work well with a large number of players (say 6+ players) and only require a standard pack of playing cards? I'm particularly interested in games where the rules can be explained fairly quickly, but there is still a reasonable level of tactics. Also it would be preferable if the game can be played in a single room.

One game per answer please.

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Are games that require two standard card packs okay? –  Drew Hoskins Nov 2 '10 at 22:26
    
Yes that would be fine. I was looking for card games that can be played on the fly with a random collection of people. Probably finding a pack of cards per player would be asking too much, but I think most people have a couple of decks of cards in their house. –  tttppp Nov 3 '10 at 9:08
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9 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Eleusis

This is one of my favourite card games. You have to use inductive reasoning to figure out the dealer's secret rule. It's actually better with a large group because you learn more from other players' mistakes while waiting for your turn to come around.

It can be a bit intimidating for new players, so you might want to start with a small group playing Eleusis Express to get the hang of it.

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Wow - the express version looks great for a group of new players. Thanks for the suggestion. –  tttppp Nov 4 '10 at 17:39
    
And it's unlike Mao in that the rules don't persist, so there's no expectation that people know the rules already and therefore each player is on even footing. –  Joe Z. Feb 26 '13 at 16:37
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If you have enough players (8+) you can play werewolf with playing cards:

  • Clubs 2-9 == Wolves
  • Hearts 2-9 == Villagers
  • Jack of clubs == Hunter
  • Jack of diamonds == Thief
  • Queen of hearts == Cupid
  • Queen of spades == Witch
  • King of diamonds == Seer

  • Ace of Spades == Mayor marker

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It's a wonderful game, extremely simple both to explain and to play, with heavy diplomacy, bluff and bluff-detection as your only weapons. And, well, a good hearing helps in case someone is careless ^^ –  Lohoris Nov 2 '10 at 17:38
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The best large-group card game that I know of is Up and Down the River, which Wikipedia knows as Oh, Hell. I find the rules given by Wikipedia to be confusing, though, and found a better set here at eHow. (Note that both of these rulesets differ slightly from the version I'm familiar with, as there are endless variants of most of these games.)

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This was the card game to play at lunch back in High School. We called it "Prediction". Our scoring was a bit different, but we regularly had multiple games of 3-10 players going. –  Pat Ludwig Nov 2 '10 at 16:16
    
What we called it in college can't be repeated in polite company, though the name I know it by most commonly is "Oh Hell." The rules on Pagat pagat.com/exact/ohhell.html describe in the variants section our scoring method (if I remember correctly, it's been a while), with each player earning 10 points per trick bid if they make their bid, or losing 10 times the difference between their bid and their tricks if they're over or under. –  Brian Campbell Nov 2 '10 at 17:05
    
I love this game, but I think it only plays well with 4 players. Any more then the suits get diluted and becomes more of guessing game then a strategy game. –  Chris Persichetti Nov 2 '10 at 19:12
    
@Chris: With 6+ players we always used two decks, which alleviates this problem. –  JSBձոգչ Nov 2 '10 at 19:33
    
@JSBangs: Sounds good. Curious how do you determine who wins the trick if the two of same card is played? –  Chris Persichetti Nov 2 '10 at 21:29
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Many poker variants, including the very popular Texas Hold'em, can support a large number of players. In Texas Hold'em, each player is dealt only two cards of their own, there are 5 community cards, and 3 burn cards, meaning that you could in theory support 22 players if you deal out all of the cards, though generally you play with 10 or fewer players on a table, maybe up to 12 or so.

It does require something to bet with—chips, pennies, stones, dried beans, or any other form of counter—so it can't be played with just a deck of cards, but usually it's pretty easy to find some kind of betting counters. If you don't like gambling, you can play it as a tournament, in which each person gets a fixed number of chips and the last player left with chips wins.

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Personally, I really don't like playing money-betting games without using real money. Even if the amount of money is ridicously low that's fine, but when it's zero it completely fucks up the gameplay. –  Lohoris Nov 2 '10 at 17:40
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@Lo'oris That's why I recommend playing it in a tournament format if not for money. That way winning or losing the tournament is at least at stake (or coming in second or third). Yes, some people might not take it as seriously as others, but that's true regardless of what game you play; if you have players who don't hope to win or care about winning, that can throw off any multiplayer game. –  Brian Campbell Nov 2 '10 at 18:17
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Creights is a very engaging, Uno-like party game played with a standard deck. It is about 70% luck and 30% skill, in my estimation.

It scales easily to about 7-8 players, but requires two decks shuffled together with 5/6+ players. It doesn't require those two decks to have the same backs, but make sure to remove a couple of 5s from the deck if you play with two decks.

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You can find lists of card games for different numbers of players at pagat.com. In particular, Looking for Friends (找朋友) looks interesting, though I haven't tried it. It's described as a trick-taking game that works well with large groups.

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Liar is simple, requires some tactics to have a chance to win and can be played by all ages.

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Good suggestion - we know a similar game by the name cheat (+1) –  tttppp Nov 22 '10 at 7:52
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Mao can work well with large numbers of players, or you can open a few more decks and get several different games going in the same room. It's also an intriguing game to watch, for those who don't understand how to play.

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Hearts (yes, similar to the Microsoft game) works surprisingly well with 8 people and 2 packs: I've not tried with more, but there's no theoretical reason why not . Racing Demon (one pack per person) is also good, if a little raucous with high numbers.

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