Hearthstone showing trading cards being played in a game.

Best Card-Based Mini-Games in Video Games

Open-world games have been providing us with incredible immersive experiences, taking us to fantasy lands or renditions of actual cities, with intricate plots and sophisticated gameplays. And features like gambling mini-games play a big role in these games, being credited with keeping players engaged in the games even after finishing the main stories.

Card-based mini-games have been a part of video games for a while now, with old-time classics like Leisure Suit Larry featuring such games way back in the 90s. Since then, we’ve seen a surge in these mini-games in several open-world adventures. From Red Dead Redemption’s poker to Gwent, the strategy game present on The Witcher series, this article lists some of the best card-based mini-games in video games.

Caravan – Fallout: New Vegas

Casino in Fallout New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas is a 2010 action role-playing game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game is a spin-off of the original Fallout series, and is set in the year 2281 in a post-apocalyptic open world environment that depicts a region consisting of Arizona, California and Nevada. Players take control of a character known as the Courier, and must navigate these wastelands after being robbed and left for dead in the desert.

Caravan is the game played by caravan guards and other travelers out in the Mojave Wasteland region of the map. Created by the guards using the cards they could find lying around and in corpses, the game is played with a deck of loose playing cards. Caravan is a low-stakes game and any sort of currency can be used to wager; bottle camps, which are the most common currency in the wasteland, NCR dollars and Legion coins.

The game is played by two players, who must build three opposing caravans of numbered cards. The objective is to outbid the opponent in all three caravans by keeping the number of points on each above 20 but below 27, while preventing the opponent from also doing so.

Three Card Poker – Grand Theft Auto V

There’s not much to say about Grand Theft Auto V. One of the most successful games in history, it was released in 2013 and it’s still played by millions of gamers around the world, thanks to its online mode: Grand Theft Auto Online. Apart from several bank heists, co-op and competitive missions and many different side quests, GTA Online introduced The Diamond Casino & Resort, where players can indulge in classic games like roulette and slot machines, with the same rules and betting styles as if they were playing these games online or in a real-life venue.

One of the best features in the casino is the three card poker tables inside it. With an elegant design that perfectly emulates the best Las Vegas casinos and the same rules as the real-life game, visitors can play against the house or other players at tables with different bet limitations. These tables are a great way to earn some quick money in GTA Online.

Gwent – The Witcher Series

The Witcher is a series of fantasy action role-playing games developed and published by CD Projekt and it’s based on the book series of the same name written by Andrzej Sapkowski. The first title was released in 2007 and 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was the last installment of the series, which has sold more than 50 million copies in the world. Players take control of Geralt of Rivia, one of the few remaining witchers in the continent and a travelling monster slayer.

But it’s not just the immersive stories and complex gameplay that amazed players all over the world. The card-based mini-game Gwent was a huge success and led publishers to develop a spin-off game based on it.

Gwent is a turn-based strategy card game between two players and each game takes three rounds. Each player must play one card each turn from a deck of at least 25 cards. The goal is to win two of three rounds by playing cards and spell to gain points. A player wins a round by having more points on board than the opponent. Rounds end when either players pass to the next round or when both players run out of cards.

Texas Hold’em – Red Dead Redemption

Playing poker in Red Dead Redemption

The western inspired open-world adventure by Rockstar Games was a success since the release of the first title in 2010, and is appointed by many as one of the most influential modern video games. And poker plays a big role in these games, being featured in many missions in both Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2.

The rules used in the game are from no-limit Texas Hold’em, and players can find tables in different locations in both games, especially saloons, and their respective online modes as well. Poker is a great way to earn quick cash earlier in the game, but players can lose a lot of money if they don’t have a basic understanding of poker rules and strategies.