Ranked: Easiest and Toughest Card Games to Program
Any would-be programmers will know that one key part of honing your skills is to try your hand at basic programming tasks. Anyone starting out in programming, whether learning Java, C++, or any other language, will know that trying to come up with solutions to problems is a great method of improving your skills. One way to do this is to attempt some simple code, then add layers of complication, choices, and actions which lift the difficulty level.
An excellent way to do this is to try coding simple card games, and when you succeed with one, moving on to something a little more complex. With that in mind, we have come up with four card games you could look to code, and the challenges each one may present.
When coding a card game, you must consider the variables and functions you require. For instance, a global variable would be the player, the opponent, and the deck. Blackjack is a relatively simple game and, if one were to code a Blackjack game, you could feasibly get away with just two global variables representing players, the dealer, and the player. The deck would also be a global variable, but that would essentially be it. You would then need to add functions, for dealer drawing cards, ending the game, etc. Landon Hatch put together a great guide to a basic Java Script Blackjack game which highlights the ease with which it can be produced.
Programming a Go Fish game would build on some of the principles within the Blackjack game, for instance using the same deck, but add some complexity. For instance, Howdoyouplayit.com explains how each player is dealt seven cards, rather than the two in Blackjack. Also, the number of players increases, anywhere from two to six, which would bring an additional challenge to your coding.
Uno would present a slightly more difficult challenge, as it uses a bespoke deck. In theory, it would not be any more or less challenging than coding for something that uses the standard 52-card deck, but it would require a rethink from the Go Fish model, even if some elements were the same. The Uno deck uses colors, not suites, but there are also special cards that add a layer of complexity to any code you produce. You may also need additional players, over and above the two required for Blackjack, more in line with Go Fish. It also uses seven hand cards, so could be adapted from the previous code.
Poker is one of the hardest basic card games to code, not least because of the different variants. The first choice would be which to work on – a simple three-card poker might even be as simple as Blackjack, but Texas Hold’em and Omaha would be significantly more challenging. The AI is also something to consider here because poker is built around unpredictable interactions with the AI. In Blackjack, you could simply code the dealer to have another card if their hand were, say, 15 or lower, but that predictable nature would spoil a poker game. Also, Poker.org discusses how there are lots of winning hands all of a different rank, which would present a challenge for a programmer – how would you go about not only implementing those rankings, but having the program make decisions on bets, or whether to fold or not?
Coding apparently ‘simple’ card games is a great way to improve your programming skills, and the thought process you need to work with to make yourself a better programmer. There are plenty of resources out there to help, but if you start with a simple game of Blackjack and work your way up, you will soon be programming the next big card game software or app!