5 Fun Card Games For 3 Players

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Card games are an inexpensive, fun, and screen-free way to pass time. But many classic games are best for two, four, or other even numbers of players. But that doesn’t mean a group of three has to miss out on the fun. There are plenty of card games — for kids, families, or just adults — that can keep a trio entertained. The most fun card games for three players can also vary from quick, five-minute game-play to longer, more strategy-filled evenings.

Many card games, of course, only require a standard deck of 52, but it can also be fun to have purpose-built decks. Kids can play Go Fish with any deck of cards, for example, but cards with actual fish printed on them is just more fun for not much more money. And some games, like the wildly popular and nefarious Exploding Kittens, build on classic discarding games with laugh-out-loud details like a card that attacks an opponent with “1,000-year-old back hair.”

Family-friendly evenings aside, adults can also appreciate the excuse to break away from screens and engage in friendly competition. With adult board games exploding as a category, its no surprise that more fast-paced, flexible card games for the older set are also expanding.

The best thing about the best card games for three players, however, is that there isn't one right answer: You may have to settle for one mattress, dining room table, or shower curtain, but there’s nothing stopping you from collecting (and enjoying) as many card games as you want.

1. The Best Card Game For All Ages

Many “all ages” games rely on strategy that can be learned by even the youngest players. Exploding Kittens is indeed a game with, on the face of it, pretty simple strategy: avoid exploding by not drawing an exploding kitten card. Defuse cards, as well as cards that allow you to look into the future, skip turns, and even steal from your fellow players is where the fun comes in. The amount of strategy you decide to employ is up to you. Even younger kids who might not be able to plot and scheme as well as the older kids and adults will enjoy the goofy, personality-filled cards. Quick game-play keeps everyone engaged, too.

Also great: The NSFW version.

2. The Best Card Game For Older Kids

A small-group card game, Monopoly Deal also is the perfect solution for fans of the original game who don’t have hours to devote to the game. Running about 15 minutes, players charge each other rent, collect properties, and earn money just like in the regular game. Action, property, and money cards move the game along, and a healthy amount of luck keeps everyone on their toes. Reviewers say both their older elementary-aged kids and even whole families enjoy playing. "My family of three (two adults and an 8 year old) have played this game every night since its arrival two weeks ago, but adult groups also have a blast with it: It's quick, easy to learn and ridiculously fun," one reviewer says.

3. The Best Card Game For Younger Kids

Classic matching games are beloved by younger kids because they’re simple. Parents like them because they help reinforce pattern recognition, help develop motor skills, and even contribute to emotional development as kids learn rules (and how to stick to them). Kids can play Go Fish with any deck of cards, but younger elementary-age kids will love these bright, cheerful cartoons. Fish, rather than kings and queens, also make the game a fun way to learn about sea animals. Because it’s a classic deck of cards, kids can also reuse it to play other beginner games like War and Crazy Eights.

4. The Best Card Game For 3 Adults

While some adult card games, like Cards Against Humanity, are better with bigger groups, Joking Hazard is a game that is actually better with fewer players (but no fewer than three) players. Players take turns as the judge, and the other two or more players (up to four) create lewd, rude, and ridiculous comic panels. Players that win the round collect cards, and the player with the most cards at the end wins overall —though winning might be beside the point when you’re laughing each round. Since larger groups would slow down game-play considerably, this is perfect for small groups.

5. A Fun Deck Of Classic Playing Cards

Of course, there are lots of three-person games you only need a simple deck of cards for like Rat Screw and Crazy Eights. Bicycle is the name in the playing card industry, and they print their cards on long-lasting, tear-resistant card stock that is easy to shuffle and stands up to regular wear and tear. Best yet, they’re inexpensive, too. But if you want a deck that’s a little more fun, it doesn’t get better than a deck of unicorn cards. Everything else, including the face cards, are the same, just with purple flair.

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