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Follow the Leader

Contributed by Chris Goodman

This game is for 2 to 5 players.

The Deal

From one deck of cards (or two shuffled together if you wish), deal the following amount of cards to each player:

  • for 2 players: 10 cards each;
  • for 3 players: 8 cards each;
  • for 4 players: 7 cards each;
  • for 5 players: 6 cards each.

The jokers may be shuffled into the deck as wild cards as well if you like, which also makes the game a bit more interesting.

The Object

To get rid of all the cards in your hand by discarding them into the discard pile. You can discard one card at a time on your turn.


The dealer is chosen randomly before the game starts. The player to the left of the dealer makes the first play and the play then passes clockwise. The first person to play may discard any card from his or her hand. The next player in line must then do one of three things:

  1. The next player must discard a card that matches the rank of the previously discarded card.
  2. The next player must discard a card which is one rank higher than the previously discarded card.
  3. If the next player cannot do either of the first two options, then he or she must pick up a card from the draw pile. If the player cannot play the drawn card, then he or she gets an extra card added to his or her hand without discarding and the turn passes on to the next player, who must match or beat by one rank the previously discarded card.

If the turn goes completely around and nobody can discard (including the person who last discarded) then the next person (after drawing and still not being able to play) can discard any card of his or her choice from his or her hand and start the round again. (See example below). When the draw pile becomes empty, shuffle the discard pile (leaving the top card so that you remember what you are trying to match or beat) and use those cards as the draw pile.

Order of Cards

Ace low; King high. When the king has been played, the cards continue back to the ace.

Example of a three player game

Player 1 discards a 3

Player 2 can discard either another 3 or a 4 (for the example, we'll say that he or she has discarded a 3)

Player 3 then discards another 3

Player 1 has no 3s or 4s so draws from the pile. The drawn card is not a 3 or a 4 and so the play gets passed onto player 2

Player 2 does the same

Player 3 does the same

Player 1 draws from the pile and still cannot discard so then plays any card from his or her hand. We'll say that he or she now discards a 7.

Player 2 discards another 7

Player 3 discards another 7

Player 1 discards an 8

Player 2 has no 8s or 9s, draws, and still cannot discard

Player 3 discards a 9

Player 1 discards another 9

Player 2 discards a 10

Player 3 discards a jack

Player 1 has no jack or queen, draws, gets a queen, and discards it

And so on and so on and so on until one person gets rid of all the cards in his or her hand.

Variation to the Game

Instead of playing a card which matches or beats a previously played card (by one rank), you can also have the option to play a card which is one rank below the previously played card. (Example: if a 5 is played, the next player can play another 5, a 6, or a 4).

Playing with Jokers

Here is a very interesting twist when playing with the jokers, which are counted as wild cards. The person who plays a wild card has absolutely no say in what rank that card is being played as. The next person with a playable card does. So, let's say that a joker has been played on top of an 8. The next player can then discard another 8 (calling that the joker counted as an 8), a 9 (calling that the joker counted as either another 8 or a 9) or a 10 (calling that the joker counted as a 9). Likewise, if you are playing with the variation rules, a 7 or a 6 could also be discarded by the next player. Although this works out for the person discarding the joker (by getting rid of a card from his or her hand) this is also helping out the next person in line by giving him or her an extra rank in range of the next discard.

House Rules

As with any game, your own house rules can be added to your liking to make the game more interesting for you.

Have fun!

Home Page > Invented Games > Follow the Leader
Last updated: 1st January 2004