Links: Card Game Books

There are many books of card game rules, but there is no single complete or authoritative guide. There are so many card games in the world that any one book can only cover a selection of them. Also, no writer can be an expert on every card game, so it is not surprising that most books contain occasional mistakes. Books also tend to be somewhat out of date, especially when describing games that have recently become popular. This web site ( has many of the same defects. The web format does make it easier to correct mistakes when they are found, and I try to keep up to date information from current players about how games are actually played. Nevertheless, it only covers a small proportion of the card that exist, and in many card game books you will find a fair amount of information that is not (yet) available on the Internet.

This page recommends a few general card game books with good selections of card games and information about them, with links for obtaining the books through I earn a small commission on orders through these links.

Probably the largest selection of card game rules available in a single book is found in David Parlett's The Penguin Book of Card Games (first published in 1979, expanded in 2000 to the Penguin Encyclopedia of Card Games, and further revised and improved in the 2008 edition). Because of the the huge number of games covered, the description of each individual game is quite short, and there is little space for history, tactical advice or rules for dealing with irregularities. This book is unusual in that it attempts to cover card games from all over the world, not just those popular in a single country.

New Complete Hoyle Revised

The New Complete Hoyle Revised, by Morehead, Frey and Mott-Smith, concentrates on American games and is a little dated, but has fairly detailed rules for each game. For many games it includes a discussion of tactics and rules for dealing with irregularities. Some American card players believe that the name 'Hoyle' refers to a single book that is an authoritative reference on all card games, but this is far from true. Many different writers and publishers promote their card game books by including the name 'Hoyle' in the title. This is one of the better examples.

David Parlett's The Oxford Guide to Card Games (Oxford Universtiy Press, 1990), reprinted in 1991 as the Oxford History of Card Games, though not completely up to date, is still by far the best general reference on card game history. Unfortunately it has been out of print for several years, but second hand copies can often be found.

The Bicycle Official Rules of Card Games, published by the US Playing Card Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA is inexpensive and contains instructions for a large number of American card games. The US Playing-Cards Company published many editions of its "Official Rules of Card Games" in revised versions every few years throughout the 20th century.

Barry Rigal's Card Games For Dummies gives thorough, basic introductions to a range of popular American card games. The somewhat jokey Dummies house style will not be to everyone's taste, but those who are happy with it will find that this freshly written book has a more up to date selection of games than many of its more traditional rivals, and that the rules given are more in line with modern practice.

Tarot volume 1 Tarot volume 2

For the history and rules of games played with Tarot cards, the standard reference is now A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack - Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2004), by Michael Dummett and John McLeod. Associated with the book is a web site from which a supplement, published in April 2009, can be obtained. These books provide a much expanded and updated version of parts of The Game of Tarot by Michael Dummett (Duckworth 1980), which has long been out of print.

There are many useful articles in The Playing-Card, which is the journal of the International Playing-Card Society.

Dick's Games of Patience

First printed privately in 1884, William B. Dick's Games of Patience or Solitaire with Cards is one of the earliest substantial collections of card games for one player in the English language. It was reprinted in 2005 by Westholme Publishing (Yardley, Pennsylvania). The book is 150 pages long and describes over 60 solitaire games, many of which are no longer well known.

The Gambler's Bookshop has a wide selection of books on gambling topics including card games.

Some books on specific games will be found on the pages of this site devoted to those games. In particular there is a separate page for Poker Book Reviews.

It can also be worthwhile to search for second-hand copies at where both in-print and out-of-print books may often be obtained at reasonable prices.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2005, 2009. Last updated: 7th January 2020