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The Penguin Book of Card Games Paperback – April 28, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Parlett is a games inventor, consultant and author. He is a card games expert of international repute. A former language teacher then technical journalist, he has been freelancing in the games world since editing Games and Puzzles magazine in 1974. His many books include: The Guinness Book of Word Games (1995), A Dictionary of Card Games (1992) and The Penguin Book of Word Games (1982). He lives in South London.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 2nd edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141037873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141037875
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on May 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Oddly enough, despite dating to 1979 in its initial edition, this book is more or less the dead tree version of the Pagat card game website. Comprehensive, wide-ranging, and dryly humorous, "The Penguin Book of Card Games" covers a wide range of card games from around the world, or at least those that can be played with a standard deck or some variant thereof. (Japanese, Korean, and Indian games, unfortunately, get short shrift, but the Chinese get a bit of attention as the inventors of playing cards in the first place.)

It's actually somewhat unfortunate that this isn't a commonly available book, as it really does belong on the shelf next to Hoyle/Morehead and Scarne. There's a fair amount of historical information involved, including the medieval German game of Karnöffel and the original 20-card Mississippi riverboat version of Poker. Parlett also injects a distinctly British sense of snark, inserting surprise asides to break up what would otherwise be a book with a rather tedious Edith Hamiltonesque tone (Parlett's comment on strip poker: "It is difficult to tell who has won, and why."). Since it tries to be descriptive more than prescriptive, it also doesn't shy away from presenting games such as (ahem) "President" that Hoyle/Morehead studiously avoid, whether because of the name or the somewhat sub rosa nature of the game (in the case of the latter, a game popular with kids when adults aren't looking).

Overall, this is a remarkably difficult book to find; I stumbled across it by accident. That's a damn shame, because any serious gambler or strategy gamer should have it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dallas Petersen on December 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is exhaustive. If you're looking for something that covers nearly every card game known to man--past, present, and future (I'll include that because the author includes some of his own creations--perhaps they will become as loved as some of the other games he covers)--then you will find this book useful. I give this book four stars because some game descriptions aren't "standalone" enough for my liking--they require reading additional game descriptions to understand the game fully. A small quibble, but enough to make me drop my rating by a star.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Middlebrooks on July 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book with many different card games to learn for vacation on the kindle since it was going with me anyway. This is a good one for that. The back stories of card games and cards in general make this an excellent reference and was a surprisingly nice touch.
My one complaint is that the text is horribly edited(or converted or... I don't know what to blame exactly). Many words run together with no spaces. Many of the card symbols are just plain wrong (for example see the game Kaiser and see what suits you replace cards in). The words running together is irritating but livable. The symbols being wrong makes for interesting rule interpretation as you just have to guess what they mean.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hulgan on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a much less formal encyclopedia of card games than several others I've read. I like how Parlett inserts his opinions and background on the games rather than just listing them and diving into the rules.

I'm glad I bought it on kindle so now I can pull up the rules on my phone anytime I need a reminder. One thing that is not great about the kindle version is that many, many passages havewordsruntogether which is quiteannoying. I haven't bought many kindle books so I'm not sure if that's a common problem or not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Blue Rose on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book. Very comprehensive and really good instructions with diagrams and winning or scoring hand lists for complex games like Cribbage.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So far I have found this book to be an excellent and fairly comprehensive reference for traditional card games. I have read the introductory material and rules for a few games and found the writing style to be accessible and the rules to be as comprehensible as I would expect.

I expect to get lots of use out of this book and I am very happy with my purchase.

About the formatting; before purchasing I read a number of reviews stating that this book suffered from some serious OCR and formatting issues. While I am sure the authors of those reviews were not imagining things, as of now (April 2014) the book seems to have been fixed. I did notice that most of the diagrams and tables are images and some of them take up entire pages; I am guessing that this might have been their solution to the formatting issues. The image solution doesn't bother me as the text in them is an appropriate size, although you might have an issue you if you can only read really big text sizes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mike Fedeski on December 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is by all accounts the definitive book on card games, and is written in a lively and engaging manner. All the more shameful, then, that the publishers should have given no attention to the formatting of its ebook edition. There is little need to detail all the deficiencies - one only has to look at the Amazon sample. They involve most obviously the spacing of words, the spacing of section headings, and the formatting of tables. The last of these makes many explanatory tables unintelligible. This is not one to cherish.

I base this judgement on viewing the Amazon sample on an iPad Kindle app. I share it in the hope that eventually the publishers will get round to giving the matter attention, after which those minded like myself could consider buying the book.
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