3 Curious Card Games

The Wonderland Girl had an incredible adventure in Wonderland – she met all sorts of wonderful people and played all sorts of silly games. The silliest game of which was played with a Queen and a pack of playing cards – so she’s decided to share with us 3 curious card games, perfect for playing at an afternoon tea party this summer!

Why hello there, cats and rabbits! I’m the Wonderland Girl. On my magical adventure into the world of wonder, I met some wonderful friends – and some fierce enemies! The fiercest of which was of course, the Queen of Hearts. She and her pack of playing cards enjoyed playing games, and whilst I was in her captivity, I picked up a few card tricks!

I have decided to share with you some of my favourite games to play with cards. In fact, I have chosen 3 curious card games that will excite the imaginations of all those who wonder! So the next time you are invited to a Mad Hatter’s tea party, be sure to bring your pack of cards to impress your friends! Just don’t tell the Queen of Hearts…

3 Curious Card Games

Go Fish

Firstly, we have a game called “Go Fish”. You know – I once heard a story about a walrus and a carpenter. The carpenter built a restaurant, and the walrus convinced a group of young oysters to leave their home of the sea to visit. But they were tricked… And the walrus ate them – every one! A story like that is quite enough to put one off fishing for life. So don’t worry, no fish will be harmed during this game!

For this curious card game, you’ll need between two and six players! One person must be elected as the dealer. They shuffle the deck of cards, and deal out cards. If there are two or three players, each player gets seven cards – if there are four, five or six players, each gets five cards. The remaining cards get placed face down on the table – this becomes the “fishing pond”.

The aim of the game is to collect “books”. A “book” is a group of four cards, that are all the same rank – meaning they have the same value, and you collect one from each suit – hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. For example, if you collect all four 3s (the 3 of hearts, the 3 of clubs, the 3 of spades and the 3 of diamonds) then you have a full “book”. And you must lay the book down on the table in front of you.

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The player sat to the left of the dealer takes the first turn. On your turn, you must ask any player in the game to give you a card. You must have an existing rank in your hand to ask for more – for example, you can only ask another player if they have any 9s if you also are holding at least one 9 card. If you ask a player for a specific rank and they have multiple cards of that rank, they have to give you all of them. So If you ask a player for a queen and they have three queens, then they must give you all three!

So it’s very clever to remember which cards other players are collecting… If you are lucky enough to receive a card from another player after asking, then you continue your turn and ask another player for another card.

If you ask a player for a card and they don’t have one… They tell you to “GO FISH!” And you must pick up a card from the “pond”. You put this card into your hand, and the turn moves on to the next player.

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The first person to empty their hand wins the game! And if nobody empties their hand, the game ends when the “pond” is empty. The winner is then decided by who has the most completed “books” placed on the table.

Make sure that each time you play, the “dealer” role moves round by one person, so that everybody gets a chance to go first. Top Tip: if you have a second pack of cards, combine the two to make the game last even longer!


This game is called “Spoons”. But don’t be fooled – these spoons are not for eating with! Besides, one must always check for a label that says Eat Me before one tucks in to any delicious treat. No no, these spoons have a very different purpose indeed!

This game requires four players or more, and spoons – yes, real spoons – one fewer than there are players. Choose a dealer at random, and then have the dealer shuffle the deck and deal four cards per player, placing the spoons in the middle of the group, and the remaining cards in a face down pile to the right of the dealer.

The aim of the game is to collect all four cards of a rank, similar to the “books” we collected in the last game! So you’ll want to collect all four 8s, or all four kings for example. Once you have collected these, you must silently pick up a spoon. If you see another player pick up a spoon before you have collected all four in a rank, you must also pick up a spoon. The last person to realise the spoons are being picked up will miss their chance and end up spoonless!

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To start the game, the dealer picks up a card from the deck to their right. They can then choose to either pass on that card, or swap it with one in their hand. They put the discarded card to their left, face down. You can only have four cards in your hand at once! The player to the left of the dealer then picks up the face down card to their right (the one the dealer has just discarded!) and then chooses to pass it on or swap it for one in their hand. This continues round the group.

There is no time limit for making the decision to keep or pass on the card you pick up, so you may notice that a small pile of cards can build up to each player’s right – cards passed on by the player before them. You continue round the circle, passing on cards or swapping them with your deck, until you have collected all four of a rank. And then… The race to pick up spoons begins!

If you are the player who didn’t get a spoon and therefore lost the round – you receive the letter “S” by your name on the scoresheet. If you lose again, you get the letter “P”. Then the letter “O”. Can you guess what word this spells out?

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The game ends once somebody gets “SPOONS”! There is a fun variation of this game – if you don’t happen to have any spoons nearby, you can always touch your nose instead. So when a player collects four of a kind, they touch their nose. Then the loser of the round is the last person to notice, and also touch their nose!

Old Maid

Now this is a game that the Queen of Hearts doesn’t enjoy very much… It’s called “Old Maid”. But thankfully in this instance, the villain Queen is nowhere to be seen! And we can play however we like… To play this game, you must remove one card from the pack – one queen – and you’ll never guess which queen I like to exclude! Can you see why she doesn’t like it?!

Choose a dealer at random, and have them shuffle the pack (minus one old maid!) and deal out between all players (there must be a minimum of three). It doesn’t matter if the numbers are slightly uneven! Each player must then look at their hand, and pair up all of their cards. You can pair up your cards either by their rank or their suit. So if you have two 5s or two aces, they can be paired – or if you have two cards which are clubs, or two which are both diamonds, they can be paired too. Once you’ve made a pair, place them face up on the table!

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A pair of Alices!

Once you have made as many pairs as you can, the play changes. The player to the left of the dealer begins by offering their cards to the next player – holding them up so they are hidden from the next player’s sight – and the following player will blindly choose one of these cards. If the card pairs up with another in their hand, they can place them down. If not, they offer their cards to the next player in the same manner.

This continues round the circle until all the cards have been paired up and placed on the table. One card will remain – one queen – and the person holding it, unable to pair it, becomes the “Old Maid” and has lost the game!

Oh I do hope you enjoyed learning about these delightfully curious card games. I will always remember my adventure in Wonderland – and although I’d like to avoid seeing the Queen of Hearts again, I can’t deny that she and her pack of playing cards certainly taught me a trick or two!

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Written by Fiona Lynn