Hollywood Garbage

This description is based mainly on information from William Priester Jr., Bruce Bowman and Robert and Candace Snyder.


This American game is also known simply as Garbage, or sometimes as Junk Poker. Each hand is a sequence of several phases, which are mostly games of luck, each played using the same cards. The game is often played for very small stakes (pennies).

Note that the name Garbage is also sometimes used for the children's game Trash, in which players aim to complete a layout by placing number cards in their correct locations.

Players, Cards and Chips

There can be from 3 to about 8 or even more players. The game is best for 5 or 6.

4 or 5 players use two standard 52-card decks shuffled together. 6 or more players use three or more decks.

Each player begins with an ample supply of small value coins (pennies) - about 100 each should be sufficient - or chips or other tokens can be used instead, giving everyone an equal supply at the start.

The first dealer is chosen in any way the players see fit. Thereafter the turn to deal passes to the left after all the phases have been played. To be fair, the game should continue until each player has dealt an equal number of times.

Phase 1 - Poker

Everyone antes an agreed number of coins - say 5 coins each - placing them in a central pot. The dealer shuffles all the cards and deals them out to the players, one at a time face up, until everyone has five cards. The player who has the best poker hand wins the pot. If there is a tie for best hand the pot is shared between the winners.

Phase 2 - Bingo

The players keep their 5-card hands from phase 1. The dealer then turns up cards from the undealt part of the deck, one by one, calling out their ranks ("four", "jack", "ace", etc.) Any player having a card of that rank showing places a coin on the card. If the player has more than one card of that rank, he places a coin on each of them. If the same rank is called again later, players holding cards of that rank will put another coin on each. The first player who manages to place a coin on all five of their cards calls "bingo" wins all the coins placed on everyone's cards. If there are multiple winners on the same card, they share the coins equally.

Phase 3 - Put and Take

Also known as Up-and-Down-The-River. The dealer sets his or her cards aside in a discard pile, along with the cards used for calling in the bingo. These cards will not be used again in this hand. The other players keep their five-card hands. Dealer then turns up a card from the undealt part of the pack, and any player having a card of that rank card puts 1 coin for each card of that rank he/she has into a central pot. On the second card turned up by the dealer, 2 coins must be put in the pot for each card of that rank; for the 3rd card, 3 coins, and so on, up to 10 coins for the 10th card. Then the dealer turns 10 more cards, one by one, and players take coins from the central pot: 1 coin for each card matching the first card, 2 for the second, and so on up to 10 each for the tenth card. Again, if a player has a more than one of the card turned up, he/she takes that many times the number of coins. Any coins remaining in the pot after the 20th card go to the dealer, and if the coins in the pot run out before the 20th card is turned up, the dealer dealer pays the players from his or her own coins.

Phase 4 - Count-Up

Dealer takes all the players' hands and adds them to the discards. The dealer then deals 13 cards face-up from the undealt portion of the deck, counting while doing so: "ace, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, jack, queen, king". If the rank of the turned card corresponds to the rank being counted, everyone pays the dealer a number of coins corresponding to the rank. For example, if the dealer turns a 2 as the second, card, everyone pays the dealer 2 coins; for a 7 as the seventh card, 7 coins. Jack=11, Queen=12, and King=13, so the dealer will collect 13 coins from each other player if a king is turned as the last of the 13 cards. This phase is sometimes known as Birthday, perhaps because 'hitting' the right card and being paid is like being given birthday presents.

After the count up phase, the hand is over. All the cards are reshuffled and the next player deals.


There are many variations of this game.

Phase 1 - Poker

Some play that a four-flush (four cards of one suit) beats a pair but loses to two pairs in the poker phase.

Some allow a player in the first phase to buy an extra card for a set amount of coins, and discard a card in exchange.

Some play this like five-card-stud, with betting rounds after the third and fourth cards are dealt. Normally when betting is included there is an ante of 2 chips for each player. Some play draw poker, each player having the opportunity to discard some cards and replenish their hand, with a betting round before and after this. Some allow the dealer to choose the poker variant to be played - it must be once in which the players end with 5 cards each. If poker-style betting is used, players who fold discard their cards face down in front of them but retain the cards for use in later rounds.

Some deal seven cards each, and each player makes the best possible five-card poker hand from these. The players then keep seven cards for the bingo and put and take phases.

Phase 2 - Bingo

Some play that if two or more players tie in the bingo phase, the player with the greatest number of coins on their five cards wins. If this is a tie, split the pot anyway.

Some play that if there is a tie in the bingo phase, no one wins. All the coins placed on cards are moved to a bingo kitty to be won in the next bingo game, which can be phase 2 of the next hand or can be played immediately, dealer continuing to deal and call cards.

Some play that the dealer's hand is discarded before phase 2, so that in the bingo phase the dealer's role is only to deal and call the cards while the other players play. Some play the bingo as phase 3, after the put and take, which is phase 2. In this case the dealer's cards are discarded before the bingo.

Phase 3 - Put and Take

Some turn only 5 cards in each part, so the maximum put or take is 5 per card rather than 10.

Some play that any card matching the rank AND suit of the card flipped up puts or takes double.

Some play that in the put and take phase, a player with a pair pays or receives double, and a player with a triplet triple. For example for three of a kind on the seventh card pay or receive 63 rather than 21.

Phase 4 - Count-Up

Some deal only 10 cards rather than 13 in the count-up phase.

Some play that in the count-up phase, a dealer who 'hits' no cards, he must pay a penalty of 5 coins to each player.

Some play that the second of consecutive 'hits' pays double, the third triple and so on.

Series of games

Some play that instead of the deal passing to the left after the final phase, it goes to whoever won the poker phase.

Some play for chips, and anyone who loses all their chips is out of the game. Further games are played until there is just one player left - the winner. Since this can take a long time, it may be wise to set a time limit or a limited number of games, and declare the player with most chips at the end to be the winner. When playing with young children, sometimes there is the tradition that a player who runs out of chips is given 25 chips by the player with most, so that they can carry on playing.

This page is maintained by John McLeod (john@pagat.com).   © John McLeod, 2007, 2008, 2019. Last updated: 21st January 2019