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General Rules

Game Type

General Rules That Apply to All Card Games.

Certain customs of card play are so well established that it is unnecessary to repeat them as part of the rules for every game, unless otherwise stated. The following rules can be assumed to apply to any game, in the absence of any rule stating otherwise.

The Pack

The standard 52-card pack is used. It contains four suits, each identified by its symbol, or "pip": spades (♠), hearts (♥), diamonds (♦), and clubs (♣). There are thirteen cards of each suit: ace (A), king (K), queen (Q), jack (J), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Wherever a game is said to require 52 cards, reference is to this standard pack. A majority of card games use the standard pack, including some of the most popular games in the world, namely, Bridge, Gin Rummy, Hearts, Cribbage, Faro, Cassino, Fan Tan, and most versions of Poker.

The Joker

A fifty-third card the jokerand a fifty-fourth card, which may be used as an extra joker, are usually furnished with the standard 52-card pack and may become part of the pack if the rules of the game require it. For example, a number of versions of Poker, including Pai-Gow, utilize the joker, and Canasta requires four jokers.

Other Packs

In addition to the standard pack and the pack that includes one or more jokers, other packs are used for a number of popular games. Below is a short list of some games and the kinds of decks that are required.


Uses a double pack plus four jokers, making 108 cards. In assembling any of these double packs, it is usually desirable to use cards of identical back design and color.


Uses a triple pack plus six jokers, making 162 cards in all.


Uses two 24-card packs mixed together, with two each of the ace down to the nine in each suit. Thus there are 48 cards in all. There is also a 64-card Pinochle pack formed by mixing together two 32-card packs.

Spite and Malice

Two packs are used, but with a twist: The first pack is the standard 52-card pack, but the second pack has a different back design and comprises the standard 52 cards plus four jokers.

Black Jack

As played in many casinos, it is a six-pack game as six standard 52-card packs are shuffled together, making 312 cards in all. Some establishments use only one or two packs for Black Jack, and a few use four or eight packs.


This is an eight-pack game (416 cards), and Chemin de Fer, a close cousin of Baccarat, also uses eight packs. Games that use six or more packs invariably call for a "shoe," which is a container that houses several decks from which the cards are dealt one at a time.


A pack of 55 cards is used for this popular two-hand bridge game.Three extra cards, called colons, are added to the standard 52 cards. (Bridgette can be played with a standard 52-card pack to which modified jokers and another card have been added.


This is one of many games that uses a "stripped deck," which is the standard pack systematically reduced, usually by removing the deuces, threes, and so forth. Euchre is commonly played with a 32-card pack–all of the cards from deuce through six are removed. Three other popular card games–Piquet, Skat, and Klaberjass–are also played with a 32-card deck.


Uses two 32-card stripped decks, making 64 cards in all. The most popular version, Six-Pack Bezique uses half a dozen of these 32-card packs.

Five Hundred

Uses the 32-card pack just described, to which one joker is added, making 33 cards. In the six-player version, a special 62-card pack is used: the standard 52 cards plus an 11 and 12 in each suit, and a 13 in just the two red suits.


Uses an extremely stripped pack only 24 cards. All of the cards below the nine are removed, so that each of the four suits contains only the A, K, Q, J, 10, and 9.

Panguingue or Pan

This game uses eight stripped packs. Each standard pack is stripped down to 40 cards by removing the eights, nines, and tens. Thus, the number of cards called for is 320.

The Draw

There are several methods for determining partnerships, seats at the table, right to deal first, and so on. The most common method is as follows: the pack is shuffled and then spread face down on the table, with the cards overlapping. Each player draws one card, but none of the four cards at each end of the pack may be drawn. The rank of the cards so drawn determines partnerships, and so forth. If two or more players draw cards of the same rank, in some games, the rank of suits usually breaks the tie. Spades are ranked first, followed by hearts, diamonds, and clubs. For example, a six of spades outranks a six of diamonds. In some card games, however, if two or more players draw cards of the same rank, suits do not apply, and the players must draw again.


The right to deal, the turn to bid, and the turn to play all rotate clockwise that is, from each player to his left-hand neighbor.

The Shuffle

Any player at the table has the right to shuffle the pack (and as a matter of common practice, this right remains even where special rules of a game designate one player responsible for shuffling). In most games, the dealer has the right to shuffle last, and this is the rule when no different provision is stated.

The Cut

Cutting is the act of dividing the deck into two packets and transposing the bottom packet to the top. The custom is for the dealer to present the pack, after shuffling, to his right-hand neighbor, who lifts a packet from the top and sets it down beside the bottom packet. The dealer completes the cut by placing the bottom packet on top of the other.

Each packet of the cut must contain a minimum of cards, which varies in different games, but is usually four or five.

First Player

This term refers to the left-hand neighbor of the dealer. Although this term is not used in all games, and other equivalent terms are encountered (such as "First Hand"), the player in this position bids first in some games and plays first in most games.

The Deal

In most games, the first card dealt goes to the "first player," and the cards are distributed in clockwise rotation. The number of cards dealt at one time varies and is expressly stated for every game. The rule may be "one at a time," or "two at a time," or more at a time, but the same number of cards is dealt to every player in any one round. Sometimes the quota varies from round to round. For example, the rule to "deal 3-2" means, to deal a round of three cards at a time, then a round of two cards at a time.

Unless otherwise noted, all cards must be dealt face down so that no player can see the face of a card dealt to another. If a card is found face up in the deck, it is usually a cause for declaring a misdeal.


It is a universal rule that when a player requests it, there must be a new deal by the same dealer if the customary or prescribed rules of shuffling, cutting, and dealing are breached in any way. Usually the request may no longer be made by a player who has looked at any of the cards dealt to him, or by any player after the prescribed deal has been completed.

Incorrect Pack

A pack is incorrect if it does not comprise exactly the number, rank, and suits of cards prescribed by the rules of a specific game. A deck will be incorrect if some cards have been dropped on the floor or have been gathered up in another pack, or if the pack contains some cards belonging to another pack. If the pack is found to be incorrect, the current deal is abandoned at once, even though it may have progressed through various stages of bidding or play. All scores made before that deal, however, stand without change.

Imperfect Pack

The term "imperfect" is used in a narrower sense, to mean an incorrect pack that cannot be rectified by the simple act of removing foreign cards or restoring cards that were originally included in it. The most common imperfection is when cards have become so worn and defaced that some are identifiable from the back. If a pack is found to be imperfect, but only through having an identifiable card, the current deal usually stands as if dealing has been completed, but the pack is then replaced prior to the next deal.