Card Games Using Jokers

By Neal Taparia - 7/10/2024


Card games are a timeless form of entertainment, relaxation, and community-building. One of the classic aspects of playing with a standard fifty-two-deck is adding the Joker to games.

Some games automatically include the Joker, while others can use it in variants to introduce an element of chance and surprise. Rummy, Hearts, and Old Maid are all games that can use Jokers when being played.

Understanding card games using Jokers can open up a new level of enjoyment and challenge for any card game enthusiast. In fact, even games without Jokers, like classic Hearts, often get a fresh twist with the inclusion of these wild cards.

Jokers in Card Games

The Joker card first appeared in American card decks during the Civil War. It was designed to be a trump card for the game of Euchre, but uses for the Joker expanded and became a common inclusion in standard decks. Jokers do not belong to any suit but are instead used as wild cards, substitutes, or trump cards.

The Role of Jokers in Modern Card Games

Today, Jokers are a staple in both complex and simple card games. They can be a part of the basic rules or add unpredictability and require players to adjust their strategies on the fly. Here are some popular card games that utilize:


How to Play

Rummy is a game in which players aim to form sets or runs of cards. Each player is dealt a hand of cards and takes turns drawing and discarding until someone forms the required sets or runs and has no cards in their hand.

Impact of Jokers

Jokers are commonly shuffled into the deck in Rummy, and can be used as a substitute for any card. This makes it easier for the player with the Joker to complete a combination, but deciding when to use it to best effect requires skill.

Players have to decide the best use of their Jokers, whether to complete a set or to hold onto them for a more critical moment. However, they are not counted during scoring.


How to Play

Hearts is a trick-taking game, similar to Spades and Bridge, but it’s unique in that it’s a game of evasion–players try not to take tricks. The game ends after a certain number of deals decided before the game begins, or when any player reaches a certain score. The player with the lowest score wins.

Impact of Jokers

When Jokers are added to Hearts, they count as a card with no value that can always follow suit. Jokers can’t win tricks, so they are hugely beneficial.

Old Maid

How to Play

Old Maid is a perfect game for players of all ages. An entire deck of fifty-two cards is dealt evenly among players, including one Joker.

Players take turns putting pairs of cards of the same rank on the table. If they’re unable to do so, they must take a card at random from the hand of the player to their left.

If the card they take makes a pair with one in their hand, they can play that pair. Otherwise, their turn is over. The player who empties their hand first wins the game, and the rest of the players continue to see who will be stuck with the Joker.

Impact of the Joker

Built into the game in a way different from its use in the above games, the Joker in Old Maid works as the perfect standalone card that’s visually unique and stands out from every other card.

Final Thoughts

The Joker is an iconic card, and it brings a sense of chaos and delight to any game in which it appears. If you’re bored with a card game you know too well, but don’t want to learn entirely new rules, see if there’s a version that uses a Joker, and make the game new for you all over again.

If you want to learn more about the history and meaning of cards, check out our post on card symbol names!