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Many card games have two sets of cards that aren't in play, but could be:

  • a pile of cards (face down) that you draw from on your turn,
  • and a pile of cards (face up) where you discard any cards you're not using.

What are the proper names for these two places?

I wouldn't be surprised if different games use different names, but I'm just looking for the names that are the most common, and the most readily understood. Also, I'm thinking of both traditional 52-card games, and the various specialty card decks out there (like Dominion or Magic).

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2 Answers 2

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I think the most generic names would be "Draw Pile" and "Discard Pile".

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For traditional card games the proper terms as defined in both Hoyle and Official Rules of Card Games are

  • Discard pile
  • Stock

Drawing is the act of receiving cards from the stock.

You can also see these terms used by Wikipedia while defining the rules for various games such as:

These are both Rummy-style games. One of the defining features of such games is the two shared piles you are asking about. If you get outside of rummy-style games, the terms become more muddled.

If there are only a few cards left over that typically come into play at once, they are usually referred to as the Widow, talon, or kitty as in Euchre or Pinochle

For non-traditional card games, the names can be quite varied.

  • Magic: The Gathering: Library
  • Dominion: Deck
  • Thunderstone: Party Deck
  • Race for the Galaxy: Card Supply

All that said, Draw pile is a perfectly acceptable term in common usage.

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  • Great answer. In addition, taking a card from the discard pile usually refereed as Pick up while taking a card from the stock is called draw.
    – Cohensius
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 20:32
  • You mentioned the draw deck In Magic: The Gathering is the library, for completeness I'll include that the discard pile is the graveyard. Another distinction worth noting is that these are not shared like they are in rummy-style games; each person in Magic (and other similar games) has their own library and graveyard.
    – BradC
    Commented Mar 8 at 16:55

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