9 Traditional Family Games You Can Gamble On

Traditional Board Games

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing games. Some of my earliest memories are playing games with my mother and two grandmothers. I continue to play games today, even as I approach the half century mark in my life. Both of my kids grew up playing games, and my wife and I still play games on a regular basis.

My grandmothers taught me how to play spades, euchre, pinochle, rummy, and gin rummy. My mom played many different types of games, with most of them secretly designed to teach me useful skills. We played match games, including one of my favorites about authors of famous books, math games, and Scrabble, which helped me learn more about spelling.

My dad has never played traditional games with me. I didn’t understand why he never played when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong; he would throw the baseball and football with me, and always supported my activities growing up, but he never wanted to play the games my mom and I played.

As I got older I learned why he never played games. You can’t tell it by being around him, but he’s one of the most competitive people I know. He simply hates losing so much that he simply avoids playing games. Though I don’t believe he tried to make me competitive, the truth is that I’m also quite competitive.

I hate losing any game. But instead of making me not want to play, it drives me to improve by learning about games and strategy. I’ve also learned how to hide as much of my frustration as possible when I lose, but it still comes out sometimes.

Before I was 10 years old I made my first bet on a football game. The possibility of winning money on a game fascinated me, and I’ve been gambling ever since that first bet. For many years it was just an occasional wager on a game, but when I started high school my gambling became more serious.

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I don’t recommend gambling on anything until you’re old enough to make educated and smart decisions. The age is different for everyone to reach this point, but as a boy younger than 10 I had no business gambling.

I can’t tell you what age you should be to safely start gambling. I know some people who are in their 60’s and older that shouldn’t be gambling. I definitely don’t recommend gambling before you’re in your 20’s.

I’ve been good at math for as long as I can remember, and I believe that my desire to gamble made me learn more about how the games worked at an early age. This forced me to learn more about math, and this still benefits me today.

In high school and college I learned how to make money gambling. I moved away from betting on things I didn’t have control of, like sporting events, and started concentrating on games that I could control. In high school I focused on euchre, and in college we played a high low game of some sort in the dorms.

As I got older I learned about more traditional gambling games and mostly play poker and bet on sports today. But I recently was reminded of all the different types of games I gambled on growing up.

Most people only think about casino games, poker, and sports betting when they think about gambling. But you can gamble on just about anything. Here’s a list of 9 traditional family games that you can gamble on.


Before you start reading about the more traditional games you can gamble on, I want to take a minute to talk about the stakes. Many casino gamblers think of betting $20 or $100 per more at a time, because the casinos want you to bet as much as possible.

But you can add another fun element to a game with stakes as low as pennies. You don’t have to risk so much that anyone is uncomfortable with the stakes. All of the games listed below are fun on their own, but when you add a wager it can make it more fun.

Not everyone likes to gamble. This is ok, and I play games all the time without anything but my pride at risk. I know a few people that can’t play a game of any kind without making a bet on it. I gamble a great deal, so I’m not judging anyone. But I do find it kind of sad that some people can’t just enjoy a game without making a bet.

The only reason I mention this is so you can be aware of it, and hopefully avoid the same fate. If you absolutely have to make a bet in order for a game to be fun, try betting a penny or quarter per game.

1 – Euchre

Euchre is a trick taking game, that’s usually played with four players. The four players play as two teams. A normal game is played to 10 points, with one point awarded for naming trump and taking three or four tricks, two points awarded for naming trump and taking all five tricks, two points for taking three or more tricks when the other team names trump, and four points if you name trump, go alone, which means taking on your two opponents without the help of your partner, and taking all five tricks.

The game involves a great deal of strategy, and your partner has as much influence on the outcome of the game as you do. It’s important to find a good partner if you want to gamble on euchre.

You can bet on the outcome of a single game, a series of games, or you can bet a certain amount per point. I usually bet a set amount per point in a match to 10, with an additional amount per euchre. A euchre is when your opponents name trump and aren’t able to take at least three tricks.

For ExampleYou agree to wager $10 per point plus $5 per euchre. You win 10 to 6, and euchre the other team one time. This means that you win $40 for the difference in points between 10 and 6, and you win another $5 for the euchre.

Sometimes I just bet on being the first team to 10, with no per point wager and nothing extra for a euchre. Like most games on this list, you can bet on them any way you want.

2 – Rummy

Rummy is a trick taking game, which many games on this list have in common. The most common form of rummy is played with two or more people and you start with a hand of seven cards and draw and discard trying to build sets of three or more and runs of four or more.

The goal is to lay down all of your cards before your opponent or opponents lay down all of their cards. When a player is able to lay down all of their cards, the other players add the value of their hand up and record the score.

Most rummy games are played to 500. The first player to 500 points loses. You can also score rummy by awarding the points left in the other player’s hands to the winner of the hand. If you score this way the first player to 500 wins.

When you want to play a shorter game you can play to 100, 200, or 250 points. If you don’t want to play to a set number of points, you can simply play one hand to see who wins.

You can bet a set amount per point if you’re playing a longer game, or you can just bet a set amount to win whether you play one hand or to a set point total. If you bet a set amount per point, make sure you don’t set it too high. Even a quarter a point can add up in a lopsided game.

Just like when you bet on euchre, usually when you bet a set amount per point you only win or pay on the difference in points on the final score.

For ExampleYou agree to play rummy to 500 points at a quarter a point. The final score is 500 to 300, so the loser pays 200 times a quarter, or $50. If you were betting a penny a point, the loser pays $2.

I recommend starting with a penny a point or a reasonable amount based on winning instead of by point.

3 – Gin Rummy

Gin rummy, also just called gin, is a form of rummy that is scored the same way as rummy. The main difference between rummy and gin rummy is that in gin you have to wait until you can lay all of your cards down at the same time. In regular rummy you can pick up more than one card at a time and you can put sets and runs down as soon as you get them.

Just like rummy, you can play gin to 500 points, or any other point total you agree on before you start. You can also simply play it one hand at a time. The betting options are the same as the ones listed in the rummy section. You can bet a set amount per point, or a set amount for winning.

4 – Monopoly

Monopoly is a popular board game where you buy property as you move around the board. You charge rent on your properties when other players land on them and you can improve your properties by building houses and hotels when you own all of the properties in the set of the same color.

Each player starts with the same amount of money, $1,500 in most games, and tries to win all of their opponent’s money during the game. Two or more players can play, and as each player runs out of money they exit the game.

Though Monopoly isn’t usually associated with gambling, it’s the perfect board game to gamble on. The entire game mechanic is based on play money, so you can set the stakes based on the value of the play money.

Not many people want to risk $1,500 on a board game, especially because the way the game is designed it’s basically a winner take all scenario, so I don’t recommend betting the actual value of the play money. Even if you play with stakes of a penny on the dollar, you’re still playing for $15 a game.

The simpler way to play Monopoly for money is to wager a set amount per game. You can bet $1 or $5 per game to keep the stakes low.

One of the best things about betting on Monopoly is that a game can take a long time to play. It’s not uncommon for a game to last an hour or longer, so you can play for a long time with low stakes.

5 – Checkers

Checkers is a game that people of any age can enjoy. The game uses a board divided into squares and each player has a set of discs. One player uses black and the other uses red with most boards. I’ve also seen white used instead of red, but the color doesn’t really matter.

Only two people can play in a game, and the goal is to eliminate all of your opponent’s checkers by jumping over them, which captures them. The game involves quite a bit of strategy, but it’s simple enough that anyone can learn how to play.

The way the game is designed, the only way to bet on checkers is by the game or series of games. You can play a best of three, five, or seven match, but betting on each individual game is most common.

Don’t get suckered into play checkers for large stakes unless you’re sure you’re as good as your opponent. A good player beats a poor player a high percentage of the time, and just like in chess, a master checkers player will always win against a poor player.

6 – Chess

Chess is fairly easy to learn how to play, but it’s one of the hardest games in the world to master. It also is the game on this list that uses strategy the most. A chess master always dominates a poor chess player. This means that if you want to gamble on chess you need to find players who have a similar skill set, or learn how to play well and look for suckers like a pool hustler operates.

While you can dream up a few different ways to gamble on chess, the simplest way is to bet a set amount per match or series of matches.

7 – Spades

Spades is another game that’s based on taking tricks and usually is played to 500. This is similar to rummy and gin rummy, listed above. Like euchre, spades is based on trumps of a particular suit. In euchre, trump can be any suit, but in spades the only trump suit is spades.

You can bet on spades just like rummy and gin rummy. You can bet a set amount per difference in points or a set amount for winning. You can play to 500, play to a lower number, or simply play one game at a time.

8 – Pinochle

Most of the games on this list are easy to learn and easy to play. While most of them have some strategy, there’s still a great deal of luck in any individual game. This makes it easier for inexperienced players to have a chance to win any individual game. Pinochle isn’t this way.

You need to make sure you know how to play and that you’re a decent player before you start betting on pinochle. It’s more complicated to learn than many games, but it’s fun once you know how to play. Pinochle is a trick taking game that includes bidding and melds.

The game is usually played by two or four people. Two players play against each other when only two people play, and when four players are available they form two teams of two, like euchre.

Points are awarded at the end of every hand to determine the winner and loser of the hand. You can play pinochle to a total point number like rummy, or simply play to see who wins a hand. This gives you the same betting options as you have in rummy; per point difference or by hand or game.

9 – Yahtzee

Yahtzee is a popular game that uses five dice and a score sheet. Two or more players can play, and the goal is to complete each poker hand on your score sheet with a higher total score than your opponents. It involves some strategy, but the luck of the dice play a heavy roll in every game.

The most common ways to bet on Yahtzee are a set amount per point or a set amount to win. You can also agree to play a best of three, best of five, or best of seven series. If you bet a set amount per point you can win or lose quite a bit in one game, or a short series of games. But over a longer series of games that total points for all players tends to end up close to the same.

In our family games the average points tends to be somewhere in the low 200’s. A great game usually has a winning score in the 300’s, and a bad game score is below 200.


Playing traditional games is a fun way to enjoy your time with friends and family. Some people also enjoy gambling. Combining traditional games with gambling can be a great way for everyone to have more fun.

You can add small stakes to just about any game to add to the excitement. You don’t have to risk much money to add gambling to any game. Start with pennies or quarters and only play for higher stakes if everyone involved is comfortable doing so. The goal is still to have fun, so don’t ruin the game session by trying to play for too much.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.