What Card Games Did They Play in the 1920s?

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By Ralph Torres

When we think of the 1920s, we often picture flappers, jazz music, and speakeasies. However, card games were also a popular pastime during this time. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular card games played in the 1920s.

Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy is a two-player game that was introduced in the early 1900s but gained popularity in the 1920s. The objective of the game is to create sets of cards that are either all the same rank or in sequential order.

Players take turns drawing and discarding cards until one player “knocks” by having a hand with less than ten points. The other player then has one more turn to try and improve their hand before scores are tallied.


Bridge is a four-player game that originated from an earlier game called Whist. It involves bidding, trump suits, and trick-taking.

Players bid on how many tricks they think they can take with their hand and then play to try and win those tricks. Bridge became especially popular among the upper class during the 1920s.


Poker has been around for centuries but gained even more popularity during the 1920s due to Prohibition. Many speakeasies hosted illegal poker games as a way to attract customers. There are many variations of poker, but most involve players betting on their hands and trying to have the highest-ranking combination of cards at the end of each round.


Canasta is a four-player game that was invented in Uruguay in the late 1800s but didn’t become popular in America until the 1920s. It involves creating melds (sets) of three or more cards with matching ranks and scoring points based on these melds. Players can also “go out” by playing all the cards in their hand and earning bonus points.

Contract Bridge

Contract Bridge is a variation of Bridge that was invented in the 1920s. It involves bidding on contracts that specify the number of tricks a partnership must take and which suit is trump. The game became popular because it added an extra layer of strategy to traditional Bridge.


While these are just a few examples, card games were a beloved pastime during the 1920s. They provided a way for people to socialize and have fun during a time when alcohol was prohibited and the economy was struggling. Today, many of these games are still played and enjoyed by people all over the world.