Oh, snap! Learn to play a Victorian card game

Hi friends!
We hope everyone is staying safe indoors and feeling the best they can while the world continues on! To stay entertained, the Golden History Museum and Park’s education team has been drawing inspiration from many of our predecessors and the Victorians really seemed to have indoor fun figured out. Today’s activity is a classic card game that began in the Victorian era.


The history of card games is still relatively unknown to historians, but in Europe, cards are believed to have been an entertainment source for over 600 years! This social pastime reached its peak in the nineteenth century due to the invention and widespread use of gaslights, causing evenings to be much longer, especially in the cold, winter months. To fill this time, indoor recreations became the norm, cards being one of the more popular choices.
Today’s activity is a card game for fun (as opposed to card games for money). “Snap” is a relatively simple but oddly competitive game that is perfect for a range of ages and abilities. It can be played with 2-12 people. You may need to combine multiple packs of cards depending on the number of players.

Required Materials

  • 1-2 packs of playing cards
  • Other people


  1. Shuffle all the cards and deal the entire deck face down between players.
  2. The hands are taken up by the players but kept face down.
  3. Starting from the dealer’s left and moving clockwise, each player takes the top card from their hand and lays it face up in front of themselves.
  4. Continue this play until two of the exposed cards match (e.g. two kings, two tens, etc…).
  5. The players whose cards match (if they notice) call “snap!”
  6. The first of the two to yell wins both piles and adds them to the bottom of their hand.
  7. If two players yell “snap” at the same time, both piles are put into the center of the circle in a “snap pot.” Place one of the two matching cards on top.
  8. When someone plays a card that matches the snap pot, all players race to be the first to yell, “snap pot!” The winner then takes the matching pile and the snap pot.
  9. Play continues until one player holds all of the cards.
We hope you have fun with this parlor game! If you play, send us a snap (haha) and let us know how it went!

–Annika Firn
Student and Family Programs Coordinator