Playing Card Designers Share Their Favorite Card Games

Picks The Beat 4/13/2022
April 13, 2022
Picks The Beat

Playing cards. Can you think of a home you went to that didn't have at least one deck? They easily make the every day carry (EDC) list. Plop them on the table and you'll see people's faces light up with anticipation. They make awesome conversation starters. How many times have you gotten to talking about the card games you grew up playing with family? Keymaster's had the pleasure of working with some amazing illustrators to design playing cards of our own. Here are their favorite games to play with them.

Clark Orr, designer, Mastermind Playing Cards

Favorite Game: Bullsh*t

I’m probably in the minority of people whose relationship with cards are primarily based in the realm of sleight of hand card magic more so than playing card games. Although, before my fascination with card manipulation and close up illusions set in, I learned a good amount of card games - rules of which I’ve mostly lost in the cobwebs of my cerebral cortex. That said, one of the games I’ve had the most fun with is Bullshit (a.k.a. BS!). Bullshit is a bluffing game where 3-5 players have the deck‘s entirety evenly distributed. The object is to exhaust your pack in the discard pile by either bluffing or telling the truth about the card(s) you’re lying down. Each player discards in card order. You can bluff or be called out (by calling “BS!”), which can inadvertently add the entire discard pile to your packet (if you’re lying) or to the packet of the bluff-caller, if found to be a legitimate discard. It’s a fun, low-stakes, light-hearted game, just how I like it. 

Josh Emrich, designer, Dead-Luxe Playing Cards

Favorite Game: Steal the Pile

Steal the Pile or “Steal Pile” is a simple matching game, and it's the first classic card game I learned to play with my Grandfather. I, in turn, passed this game onto my kids. It’s great way to introduce preschoolers to card games and teach for preschoolers color, number and shape matching — with the added joy of thievery!

As my kids mastered the game, I added a math twist: you can also make matches if two or more face-up cards of lower value add up to the higher value card from your hand.

Brian Buccaroni, Fifty-Nine Parks Print Series, featured in the Parks Playing Cards Green and Brown Decks

Favorite Game: Cribbage

I've never been much of a card player so I usually stick to FreeCell Solitaire, but my dad loved Cribbage! He would often play with friends and they'd have two-person team tournaments. I will always remember him coming home so excited to tell me about those nights. Running me through the games, breaking down the moves he made and how mad everyone would get because just when they thought they had him beat - he'd come back and win. He taught me how to play and we'd have some games together but I never really got any good at it. However, because of him and those memories it will always remain one of my favorites. I still have all of his Cribbage boards - including a big wooden one that I keep hung up on a wall in my house.

Kyle Key, Keymaster team, Parks Playing Cards (card back design)

Favorite Game: Pinochle

Hands down my favorite playing card game is Pinochle. Now technically you have to play the game with a custom Pinochle Playing Card deck so some people may have negative opinions of my choice, but I’m standing firm on my pick. I spent my summers growing up playing with my grandparents on their Illinois farm. It was played between games of Pit and Grandma’s custom rules to Bingo. Pinochle brought the whole family around the table and created lasting memories. It doesn’t hurt that Pinochle has everything you’re looking for in a card game: some set collection, high stakes bidding, the satisfaction of calling the trump suit, trick taking, and of course the classic partner miscommunication. Still to this day I have no idea what it meant when Grandad would knock on the table and wink at me right before he outbid me, his own partner, by ten. Like I said, classic partner miscommunication.

Mm. Some classics. What are your favorite card games to play? Head this way to explore these *chef's kiss* playing card decks. And speaking of magic tricks, we're talking about magicians and favorite card tricks over in the Caper: Europe Facebook Group. Click here to join the conversation.

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