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In The Red


A card game for 2 or more players, Invented by the Elmer Family and contributed by Ken Elmer .

In The Red is played with an international 52-card deck without jokers. More than five players may need two decks.

Dealer selection

Each player takes a card, highest black deals for the first round. Then the person on the left of the last dealer deals for the next round etc.


5 cards face down for each player (players can look at their own cards, which are nominally secret). Then the remaining cards are placed face down as the centre pack, and around this an extra card is drawn for each player and placed face up near to the pack. This is the beginning of the player's own stack. The player at the left of the dealer starts the first round.

Object of each round

To *avoid* ending the round with the highest red card (or lowest black if all are black) on top of your own stack. Ace is high.

  best ... ... worst
Card A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
Value 10 10 10 10 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10 10 10 10


Each player has one turn, and can place any one of the cards from their hand on any one of the stacks on the table.

Card placing: As in Eights games, the card placed must either be of the same suit or the same value as the card it covers. If a player cannot satisfy this rule, they must discard one card face up on the table instead. These discards must be kept separate from the players' stacks. Play progresses to the left until each player has placed one card.

At the end of each round, the player(s) whose stack has the highest red card or failing that, the lowest black card showing on top has (have) ‘lost’ the round. The ‘loser(s)’ must pick up one card from the centre pack. If there are any cards left face up from players who could not go these are distributed to the ‘loser(s)’ in clockwise order beginning to the left of the dealer. The ‘loser’ (or if more than one, the last in clockwise order counting from the left of the dealer) then starts the next round.

The series of rounds ends when one or more players have no more cards left in their hand.


After each round the numeric value for each card remaining in any player's hand is added to the individual player’s total. Picture cards and aces have a value of 10.

Object of the game

The game ends when one or more players reach 100 points. The aim is to win by having the lowest score when one player reaches 100 or more.

Note on tactics

In The Red is a card game that is easy to play, with the chance of the deal being significant yet with subtle twists that are easily used by the skill of the players. If for instance one player is winning, it is quite possible for the others to ‘gang up’ on him or her and reverse the situation. Another example is that you would want to save another player from going over 100 if you were not the person who would then have the lowest score.

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Last updated: 18th April 2010