Lifestyle Fun

7 Fun Card Games You Can Play During Chinese New Year

To pass the time and feel the festivity.

Disclaimer: The article is not written to promote gambling in any way. We hope readers are able to reminisce about the happy moments and share blessings during this festival!

Who doesn’t love a good game or two?

Before the pandemic restrictions, people used to gather around in circles to play exciting card games as is the custom for those who celebrate Chinese New Year. 

After two years of quarantine and not being able to return home, many are looking forward to seeing long-lost friends, lighting firecrackers and munching on Chinese New Year snacks.

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7 fun card games you can play during chinese new year
Photo by weirdkaya

If you can’t wait to walk around in red with a chrysanthemum tea beverage in your hand and bond with relatives over a few rounds of card games, here’s a little rundown of seven different types of card games you can try out this week.


Some games require basic mathematical skills and quick reflexes, but the majority are entirely based on luck!

1. 21 Points

Others may know it as blackjack, but 21 points is one of the most popular and easiest games to learn for the young and the old. Play with two or more people after your hearty reunion dinner feast! 

The dealer will deal each player two cards and players have to make sure their cards are closer to 21 points or higher than the dealers’ without busting their card. Players can also choose to take extra cards to get a higher score. 

How To Play:

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  1. One player can have a maximum of five cards. 
  2. Picture cards: Jacks (J), Queens (Q) and Kings (K) are worth 10 points. 
  3. Aces can be worth 10 or 11 points (depending on what is best for your hand) when you have two cards and 10 points when you have three and more cards.

2. Cho Dai Di (Big Two)

The game is best played with four people and the main goal is to get rid of all the cards in your hand by placing cards of a higher suit.

Types Of Card Combinations:

  1. Two cards – must be a pair with same numbers or suit. (Ex: five of diamonds and five of hearts) 
  2. Three cards – must be a triplet with same numbers or suit. 
  3. Five cards 
  • Straight – consist of five cards arranged in numerical sequence,  regardless of the suit. (Ex: two of hearts, three of clubs, four of diamonds, five of spades and six of diamonds)
  • Flush – consist of five cards of the same suit. (Ex: two, three, six, eight and 10 of hearts)
  • Full House – consist of five cards that include a triplet and a pair. 
  • Four of a Kind – consist of five cards made up of four cards of the same number and one random card. (Ex: four 10 and a four)
  • Straight-Flush – consist of five cards of the same suit dealt in chronological order.  (Ex: six, seven, eight, nine and 10 of clubs) This is the strongest combination among all of them.

3. In Between

The game ‘in between’ can be a thrilling roller coaster ride where the winner either wins or loses everything. The game is rather fast-paced and many can partake.

The larger the difference in numbers between the cards, the greater your chances of winning.

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How To Play: 

  1. Players have to put candy or anything to represent money in a pool as an entrance fee and get two cards.
  2. Start betting on whether the next card you select is between the values of the two cards you have. 
  3. If the number is within the two cards you have, you gain the all the candy you bet on. If it’s outside the value of the two cards, you pay the exact amount you bet for. 
  4. Players that receive a card with the same number as the two cards they have will have to pay double, so pray that you won’t kena tiang!

4. Ngau

8 fun chinese new year gambling games to play | any5354 travel
Photo from any5354

This card game originated in Hong Kong and like blackjack, is based purely on chance! The banker and players are dealt five cards, and there are two steps to win. 

The easiest way to explain this is that players have to arrange 3 cards at the bottom and 2 above, making sure the bottom 3 cards are ‘playable’ before moving to step two.

How to know if it’s ‘playable’? The sum of the bottom 3 cards must be a multiplier of 10, or ends with a 0. (Ex: Q(10)+J(10)+K(10)=30, 3+7+10=20,  3+8+9=20)

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When all of the circumstances are met, you can proceed to look at your top two cards and the higher suit wins.

How To Play:

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  1. Picture cards are worth 10 points where Aces are worth one. 
  2. 3 and 6 are interchangeable, which means that players can swap from 3 to 6 or vice versa, whichever is most advantageous to them.

5. Find the Joker

Here’s a game that you have to beware of its deceiving looks.

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Photo from Once Upon A Journey

The cards are distributed evenly among the participants, and each player must get rid of all cards with the same number (Ex: four of ace and four of diamond).

The game continues until everyone has run out of cards, and the loser is the one who holds on to the joker card.

How To Play:

  1. Player A discards cards by placing them in the centre.
  2. Player A must then steal one card from another player’s card stack while avoiding receiving the poker card.
  3. Players continue to discard any pair of cards that are identical to the card in hand and the last person holding the joker card loses.

6. Spoons

Players must complete four cards of the same suit of any numbers and grab for the spoon as soon as their set is complete. 

How To Play:

  1. There should be one less spoon than the number of players. Spoons are placed in the middle.
  2. Each player is dealt four cards and the first player to begin the game draws a card from the remaining deck and either switches it with the cards on hand or passes it face down on the table.
  3. The next player will pick up the card and either switch or pass it. 
  4. Players can only have 4 cards in hand each time they pick up a card. Once a player completes their set, they can either grab the spoon quickly or sneakily. The loser will be the one left without a spoon. 

7. Heart Attack

Need that adrenaline rush to get you through Chinese New Year? This game would give you just that and more. 

How To Play: 

  1. Divide the cards evenly among players without looking at the cards.
  2. Players will have to call out cards in ascending order.  If the number or symbol matches what is uttered, participants must place their palms against the card stack.
  3. The slowest player will have to take all of the cards. Players must discard all of their cards to win and the loser is the one with the most cards!

So, a round of games, anyone?