What Kind of Card Games Did Pirates Play?

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By Ralph Torres

Pirates were known for their love of gambling, and card games were a popular pastime among them. In fact, some pirates considered gambling to be just as important as pillaging and plundering.

But what kind of card games did pirates play? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.


One of the most well-known card games played by pirates was blackjack. Also known as “21”, blackjack is a game where players try to get a hand total of 21 or as close to it as possible without going over. Pirates often played this game with each other or with crew members, using whatever cards they could get their hands on.


Another popular card game among pirates was poker. This game involves players making bets based on the strength of their hand, with the winner being the one with the best hand at the end. Pirates often played variations of poker such as “five-card draw” or “stud poker”, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to use cheating tactics like marked cards or sleight of hand.


Faro was another popular card game among pirates in the 18th century. This game involved players betting on which cards would be drawn from a deck, with the dealer dealing out one card at a time until all cards had been played. The player who correctly guessed the most cards would win the pot.

Three-card monte

Three-card monte was a simple but addictive card game that was often played by pirates and other gamblers in port towns. The game involved three cards (usually two black ones and one red one) that were shuffled around and players betting on which one was the red card. The dealer would use sleight of hand to manipulate which card was which, making it almost impossible for players to win.


These are just a few examples of the card games that pirates played. While some of these games are still popular today, others have fallen out of favor or been replaced by newer games. But one thing is for sure: pirates loved to gamble, and card games were just one way they satisfied that urge.