Card Game Glossary

The world of card games has its own distinct language. William Whitehurst / Getty Images

The world of card games has its own distinct language. Some of the card terms are commonly known, such as "deal." Others are more obscure, such as "void." Here are definitions for many card-game terms:

Bid: A spoken declaration to win a specified number of tricks or points; also, to make such a declaration.


Contract: An agreement to win a certain number of tricks or points in a game or round.

Cutthroat: Each player playing on his or her own.

Deal: The act of portioning out the cards to the players; also, the period of play in the game between one deal and the next.

Declaration: A statement to fulfill a contract.

Deuce: A card of the rank of two; also called a two-spot.

Draw trumps: To lead high trumps in order to deplete opponent's hand of trumps.

Draw: To take a new card or cards.

Face card: A king, queen, or jack.

Face value: The numerical value of a card.

Flush: A set of cards all of the same suit.

Follow suit: To play a card of the suit led.

Foundation: In solitaire, a starting card on which other specific cards are played.

Game: A total number of points to achieve; also, what constitutes winning or ending a game.

Going out: Playing, melding, or discarding your final card.

Hand: The cards dealt to a player; also, the period of play in the game between one deal and the next.

Kitty: A common chip pool; also (in a few games) cards available for exchange.

Lay off: To play one or more cards according to allowable plays.

Lead: To play the first card to a trick.

Maker: A player who takes on a specific obligation, such as to take a certain number of points or tricks, often along with the right to choose the trump suit.

Marriage: A meld consisting of the king and queen.

Match: To equate by being of the same rank (or by another criterion).

Meld: A combination of cards with scoring value, generally three or more cards in sequence in one suit or all of the same rank; also, to show or play such a combination.

No-trump: The condition when no suit is trumps in a trick-taking game.

Pass: A spoken declaration not to make a bid; in Hearts, three hidden cards exchanged among the players.

Plain card: Any 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or ace.

Pot: A pile of chips or counters to be collected by the winner.

Reserve: In solitaire, a group of cards available to be played.

Sequence: Two or more cards in consecutive order.

Singleton: A holding of only one card in a suit.

Stock: The undealt cards available for future use.

Table: The playing area; also, to lay down a meld on the playing area.

Tableau: In solitaire, the layout of cards on the playing surface, not including the foundations.

Talon: A portion of the pack reserved for later use during the deal.

Trey: A card of the rank of three, also called a three-spot.

Trick: A round of cards played, one from each player's hand.

Trump: A suit designated to be higher ranking than any other suit; any card in that suit. Also, to play a trump card on a trick.

Upcard: The first card turned up after a deal, often to begin play or initiate a discard pile.

Void: A lack of a suit in a player's hand.

Wild card: A card or cards, established before the game begins, that can be designated by the holder to stand for any other card.