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High Card

Invented by Chris Gesell and Jason Christie and contributed by Guy Srinivasan.

Number of Players: 2-13

Equipment: Standard 52-card deck, jokers removed.

Object: Score 4 points to win.

Game play: Play consists of several rounds of 1 or more hands. At the beginning of each hand, all players still in the round are dealt 1 card. (In the first round players only hold one card each, but in later rounds some players will have other cards in their hands, gained as a result of winning previous rounds.) In the first hand of each round, the last player who scored a point plays first. In subsequent hands of the same round first play passes to the left. On your turn you pick 1 of your cards, play it facedown, and declare "Lowest", "Middle", or "Highest", then the turn passes to your left. Once everyone still in the round has declared, cards are turned face-up and whoever was wrong in their declaration is eliminated from the round. When the round is over, shuffle all face-up cards and remaining cards together.

Playing a card: Your hand should contain one more card than your current score. To play a card, choose one of these and put it in front of you, face down. You keep the other cards through hands and rounds, so it is often beneficial to save your very low or very high cards (2s, Aces).

Declaration: Examine all cards just turned face-up. Find the lowest (aces are high). Everyone who played a card of that rank played a "Lowest" card.If they declared "Lowest" then they are right, otherwise they are wrong. Continue similarly for "Highest". Any cards that were neither "Lowest" nor "Highest" are "Middle".

Scoring the round: Cards turned face-up stay on the table until the end of the round, so the round will end in one of three ways. The most common case is that one person is left in the round. That person has won the round and is awarded 1 point and 1 card, allowing him to keep more cards in hand. In later hands those with more points will have more cards to choose from. The second most common case is that everyone left in the round is eliminated at once. No one scores and the round starts over with everyone back in it. The last case is that there are no longer enough cards to deal the hand. In this case everyone still in the hand scores a point and a card, and the first player in the first hand of the next round will be a) someone who just scored, and b) the closest such in play order to the last person who went first.

Examples:

Chris is first with one card, a 10. He plays it face-down and declares "Middle".
Guy plays his King and declares "Highest".
Eric has a 4 and an Ace. He plays his Ace and declares "Highest" to hopefully knock Guy out.
Jason plays his Jack and declares "Middle", confident that with 2 high declarations a Jack is still middle value.
The cards are, lowest to highest, 10, Jack, King, Ace. Chris(10) declared "Middle" and is out of the round. Guy(King) declared "Highest" and is out of the round. The other two declarations are correct.

Eric (Ace, King, 9) plays a 9: "Middle".
Jason (3, 3, Jack) plays a 3: "Lowest".
Chris (3) plays a 3: "Lowest", though he might have chosen middle here if he thought Jason had played a 2.
Guy (9) plays a 9. "Highest", since Eric was unlikely to play a 10 or higher as middle.
Here there is no middle. Jason and Chris are both correct, as a 3 is the lowest. Guy is correct, as a 9 is the highest. Eric is out of the round. If all cards played had been the same, then they would all be highest, all be lowest, and none would be middle.

Jason (Ace, 9) plays a 9: "Middle".
Chris (9, 10, Jack) plays a 9: "Middle".
Guy (2, 7) plays a 7: "Middle".
Eric (7) plays a 7: "Middle".
Again, there is no middle with 7, 7, 9, 9 played, but everyone declared middle. Everyone is out and the round must restart.

Misc: Players keep unused cards between hands and rounds, so save the valuable 2s and Aces if you can. If 4 people before you have called Highest, your Queen is probably safe as middle (or even low!). More players can be added in the middle of the game; they start at 0 points and 1 total card.


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Last updated 11th May 2006