It is fun to play cards, especially when the game involves both luck and skill like the trick-taking games in the Bridge/Whist family.
What do you do when there are only three people around? Inviting the cat to play is not always satisfying...
They get bored so easily, don't they?
We are big fans of the game 9-5-2, also known as Sergeant Major. And through the magic of the Internet, we have access to a couple of versions of the basic rules, along with some optional rules that come up as people experience the ups and downs of the game and want to introduce something to make the game even more enjoyable.
A quick overview: 9-5-2 is a game for 3 people, played with a normal deck of 52 cards. Each player starts with 16 cards, and there is a kitty of 4 cards set aside during the deal. The dealer has a target to take at least 9 tricks; the player to dealer's left must take at least 5, and the third player must take at least 2.
If you surpass your target, you are rewarded on the next hand with the privilege of passing low cards from your hand to the players who failed to make their targets, and they must return to you the highest card they have in that suit. This exchange means the rich tend to get richer as the game goes on, and the misery of losing is compounded by having to endure the humiliation caused by smirking opponents passing you their 2s and 3s so that you can bless them with your precious aces and kings.
We add two local rules to even things out. On the very first hand of the game, we play 9-4-3 instead of 9-5-2. In the first hand, having to get 5 is too hard, and having to get 2 is too easy. So it's 9-4-3 for the first hand then 9-5-2 after that.
The result? Better mental health, better relationships at the table. What a great game.