Draw, combine, drop – and get rid of all your cards as fast as possible. If you like strategic yet straightforward card games, you should definitely try Continental. Not sure how to play it? These Continental card game rules explain it in detail.
If you like games like Rummy or Joker, you will most likely enjoy Continental too. This game is often referred to as Continental Joker/Rummy, and people often consider it just an alternative version of these similar games (check out the Joker rules for comparison).
In any case, these games have many things in common. Continental is also about collecting cards and counting points, but you try to finish the game with as few points as possible instead of accumulating a high score.
A Continental card game is ideal for pairs or even larger groups of players (see more big group games ideas here). It’s primarily popular with adults, but older kids should enjoy it, too (check out our tips for other awesome group games for teenagers).
This Continental Card Game rules guide will cover the following:
- What is Continental Card Game?
- What you’ll need to play Continental Card Game
- Continental Card Game rules
- How to play Continental Card Game (video tutorial)
- Other similar games to Continental Card Game (our guides)
Read on for detailed instructions on how to play Continental card game.
What is Continental Card Game?
Continental is a simple strategic card game played in seven rounds, which are also called hands. During each round, players aim to create given card sets or combinations that allow them to end the round and continue to the next one.
Number of Players: 2 and more players
Difficulty: Easy to medium
Length of Play: 20+ minutes
Category: Strategic combining cards game
Main Objective: Build required combinations, drop your cards, and finish the game quickly – ideally with empty hands.
Why We Love It: Continental is an excellent rummy-style card game that allows you to master your strategic skills despite being straightforward and easy to learn.
What You’ll Need to Play Continental Card Game
To play Continental, you will need:
- Two decks of poker-style playing cards, including 2 Jokers (1 to 5 players)
Additionally, it would help if you also got a notepad and a pen to write down the scores.
Continental Card Game Rules and Gameplay
Continental is a pretty straightforward game, but it centers around several schemes, orders, and scoring systems that can easily confuse beginners. We’ll look at them first.
Order of the Cards & Contracts
Before you start playing, you should familiarize yourself with the card ranking. It starts with the ace, the lowest card in the game, and ends with the king, considered the highest card.
Note: Alternatively, an ace can also be considered the highest card. Agree on the preferred interpretation of this rule with your opponents before you start.
Card Deals & Combinations
In each round, the players receive a different number of cards, and their goal is to build the required card combinations to continue.
|Hand (Round)||Required combinations||Deal|
|First||Two Trios||7 Cards|
|Second||One Trio + One Run||8 Cards|
|Third||Two Runs||9 Cards|
|Fourth||Three Trios||10 Cards|
|Fifth||Two Trios + One Run||11 Cards|
|Sixth||One Trio + Two Runs||12 Cards|
|Seventh||Three Runs||13 Cards|
Trio: Three cards of equal rank (regardless of their suit)
Run: Four/more consecutive cards of the same suit (not around the corner; e.g., K, A, 2, 3)
- The Joker can replace any other card in the above sequences.
- You can even use two Jokers in the same trio, but not all three.
- You can have two Jokers in one run too, but they cannot be side by side.
Consider printing the table and the above rules if you’re a total beginner. It could speed up the gameplay considerably.
First, appoint the dealer:
- Shuffle the decks together thoroughly.
- Each player picks one card and compares it with the opponents.
- Whoever has the lowest card will deal in the first round.
As suggested in the table above, each hand requires a different number of dealt cards. Once everyone has their cards, place the remaining pile in the center. This will be your draw pile. Flip the top card and place it on the side – this will be your discard pile.
How to Play Continental Card Game
Once you’re all set, this is how the game continues:
- The player to the left of the dealer takes turns first. Then, Player 1 draws a card either from the draw pile or the discard pile (facing up).
- If Player 1 doesn’t pick the discarded card, others can claim it instead (having the right to decide first from left to right), but as a penalty, they must also draw one extra card from the draw pile.
- Player 1 continues with his turn, trying to build a required set of cards for the given round (see the table above).
- If he can build such a combination, he drops it by placing it on the table in front of him (facing up).
- Once a player has opened(dropped the required card combination(s)), he can play his remaining cards on top of the sets that were already laid out on the table while respecting their rules (e.g., continue with the runs or add equal cards to trios).
- Once you’ve met the hand’s requirements, you cannot drop any more trios or runs.
- At the end of the turn, the player discards one card to the discard pile.
The round continues until one of the players gets rid of all his cards.
Jokers can replace any cards in the required combinations, but they can also be replaced with the appropriate cards later in the game.
The Joker can then be moved to either of the run’s ends, replacing another card (e.g., in sequence 2, 3, 4, Joker, replace Joker with 5, and move Joker to the right where it will stand for 6 now).
Moreover, once the Joker is at the end of a run or trio that is fully functional without it, you can even move it to another set if it helps you to drop extra cards (e.g., move Joker from 4, 5, 6, 7, Joker run to 7, 8, 9, 10 run instead of J so that you could drop Q).
Continental Card Game Scoring
When the round ends, the players earn points for the cards they have left in their hands.
- If the player finished empty-handed, he earns 0 points.
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7: 5 points
- 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K: 10 points
- Ace: 20 points
- Wild card (Joker): 50 points
Additionally, if a player can drop their cards while discarding the final card from their hand in a single turn, they subtract 10 points from their total score.
Note: Continental scoring has numerous variations, so you should settle with your opponents on the rules upfront. Number cards are, for example, sometimes worth points equal to their value, etc.
Once you’ve finished the first round, shuffle the cards and continue with the second one, and so on.
Who Wins Continental Card Game
After finishing all seven rounds, players count their total score. Whoever has the least points wins the game.
How to Play Continental Card Game – Video Tutorial
Continental Card Game Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play Continental with two people?
Yes, this game is suitable for 2 to 8 (or possibly even more) players, so even two players can enjoy it. Nevertheless, it is more unpredictable and fun when played with at least three opponents.
Can you play Continental Rummy without Joker?
Some experienced players may try to play the game without Jokers to test their skills to build all required combinations even without them. Nevertheless, it takes many exciting features away from the game, so it is not recommended.
How many cards do you get in Continental?
Continental is played over seven independent rounds. The cards are shuffled between them, and the deal increases by one card in each of the rounds, starting at 7 and finishing at 13.
Other Similar Games to Continental (Our Guides)
If you like Continental, check out our guides to these similar games: