Playing cards are very colourful and they weave an equally colourful world around the players of card games. Mathematics and card games are perfectly intertwined with each other. Almost all the card games revolve around the mathematical concept of probability. However, several card games make extensive use of Mathematics. In fact, card games are used to teach number concepts to learners in an interesting way. They have proved so immensely helpful in this field that parents and teachers have been devising new card games to make kids interested in learning Maths. In this article, we are going to delve deeper into a few Mathematics-oriented card games.

Indian Rummy

This traditional card game of skills is a hot favourite among Indian denizens. It is a card-melding game in which each player gets 13 cards. The aim is to form relevant combinations of sequences and/or sets from these cards. To exemplify, 2♦, 3♦, 4♦ is a pure sequence or a pure run; 4♠, 4♣, 4♦ is a pure set; 2♦, joker, 4♦ is an impure run, and 4♠, 4♣, joker is an impure set. Players pick and drop cards upon their respective turns to accomplish the task. But how does the game employ number principles?

Indian Rummy is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one joker. Calculations begin as soon as you get your cards and with each picked or discarded card, they need to be done afresh:

  • What cards might be there in the closed deck?
  • What are your prospects of getting the cards you need?
  • What runs and sets your opponent(s) could be aiming at? (You calculate this on the basis of cards picked and discarded by them)

Apart from this, to meld your cards, you constantly work out the possible runs and sets in your mind. What are runs and sets? They are actually examples of permutations and combinations. And to form them, you make calculations using probability, based on the questions mentioned above.

Sweep or Seep

The game uses a 52-card deck sans jokers. A game of 4 players, it can also be played by 2 people. Players aim at capturing cards with point values. The total point value is 100: all Spades (♠) cards hold points same as their face value i.e., King♠ = 13, Queen♠ = 12…. Ace♠ = 1; all Aces are worth 1 point each; 10♦ = 6 points. Rest of the cards do not have any points or we can say they have nil point value in rummy online or offline.

In addition to collecting cards with points, you get bonus points by picking a sweep. Sweep you pick at the beginning of the game is worth 25 points, the one at the end of the game is worth 0 points and the rest of the sweeps are worth 50 points. When the game is over, points of each player are counted.

During the gameplay, you play a card from the cards in your hand. You have the choice to build a house or pick up a house. A house is a pile of two or more cards on the floor. The smallest house has a capture value of 9 and the biggest house is 13 (King). You can make a house only if you have a card equal to the capture value of the house. For instance, to build or pick up a house a house of 11, you must have a Jack in your hand. Besides, at any time only one unique value house can be there. A house formed by you can also be picked by your rival player or team.

We can notice that the game is all about calculating the points and making use of probability at each step to know your points and deduce where you and your opponent stand.

Blackjack or Twenty-One

It is a thrilling game with simple rules that requires strategy. A standard 52-card pack is used. Generally, 2-8 decks are made use of. All the players get turns to be the dealer. The dealer runs the game from shuffling to dealing of cards. You play against only the dealer. So, it does not matter how many other players are there. You try to beat the dealer by getting a count of 21 or as close to 21 as possible, but without crossing 21.

Each of the face cards carries 10 points and other cards have a value same as their face value. However, in case of an Ace, it is your personal choice to count it as 1 or 11.

Each player gets 2 cards face up while the dealer gets one card face up and the other face down. After this card distribution, all the players check their cards. If any player has an Ace along with a point 10 card, s/he can declare a ‘blackjack’. If no player has a blackjack, the dealer can call the game if s/he has a blackjack. This implies that everybody loses to the dealer.

The game presents the players with different scenarios. For example, whether they want to sit with what they have or would like to get another card, etc. Different options could potentially have altogether different outcomes.

Players choose their course of action as per their mathematical calculations based on probability and point calculation. They do this keeping in mind their point total and the dealer’s open card.

The Gist

Card games are an excellent means of recreation and find favour with people of all ages. Almost all card games involve practical application of the mathematical principle of probability. A player good at Mathematics can play these games better and has greater prospects of winning. Certain card games such as Indian Rummy make use of number concepts to a greater degree as compared to other games. Card games have always been a great aid in helping students gain a sound hold over mathematical concepts in a fun-filled manner. So, engage in card games and learn Mathematics with dollops of fun!