What Card Games Did the Colonists Play?

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By Eric Wilson

During the colonial period, card games were a popular pastime among the colonists. Although many of the games played during this time have since fallen out of favor, they played a significant role in shaping the history of American social life.

The Popularity of Card Games

Card games were enjoyed by people from all walks of life, from wealthy plantation owners to sailors on long voyages. They provided a way for people to socialize and pass the time, and were often used as a form of gambling as well.

The Most Popular Games

One of the most popular card games during this time was whist. This game was played with four players and involved taking turns playing cards in an attempt to win tricks. Another popular game was piquet, which was a two-player game that involved scoring points based on the cards played.

Other popular games included loo, euchre, and cribbage. These games varied in complexity and popularity depending on the region and social group playing them.

The Role of Gambling

While many people played card games simply for fun, gambling also played a significant role in colonial card game culture. Many colonists would bet money or other valuables on their ability to win at various card games.

Gambling was not always looked upon favorably, however. Many religious leaders spoke out against it as immoral and destructive to society.


In summary, card games were an important part of colonial social life and gave people a way to socialize and gamble. While many of the specific games played during this time have fallen out of favor, their legacy can still be seen in modern-day card playing culture.