Contributed by Micheal Clark who writes:

Ji'zara is an intense bidding based card game that is played between 2 players or 2 teams of players. In order to win, the right strategy with a lot of luck is required. The rules seem a little complex at first, but the game is surprisingly easy to learn and no two games are ever alike.

Simple game (Two players)


The first player to win 3 out of the 5 key cards wins the game. The key cards are the four aces and the four of clubs.

Set up:

Take a standard deck of cards. Remove the jokers so only 52 cards remain. Set aside all four aces and the four of clubs. Shuffle the remaining cards and divide them into two stacks. One stack of 15 cards, called the bidding draw, and one stack with the remaining 32 cards, called the pot. Shuffle the key cards into the bidding draw making that stack so that the bidding draw contains 20 cards. Each player then draws 5 cards from the pot to form his hand. During the game, used cards are discarded into a pile known as the burn.


The top card from the bidding draw in turned face up and set between the two players. If this card is not a key card, each player simultaneously decides and announces whether he will bid or pass.

  • If both players decide to bid, then both bids are placed face down simultaneously, and then turned face up. The player with the higher point total wins the card, and places it into his hand. [If the bids are equal, neither player wins the card and it is placed in the burn.] All cards bid are then placed in the burn, and both players draw from the pot until the number of cards in his hand is five. Play repeats with the next card dealt from the bidding draw.
  • If only one player decides to bid. he places his bid directly into the burn, pick up the card he won, and then draws from the pot until he has five cards in his hand.
  • If both players pass, then the card is placed into the burn and a new card is drawn from the bidding draw.

If a key card is drawn from the bidding draw, both players reveal their hands, and the highest point total wins the card. [If the totals are equal the player who most recently won a bid wins the card. If the the very first card turned from the bidding draw is a key card and the players' hands are equal, the winner of the card is decided at random - for example by flipping a coin, rolling a die or drawing cards.] The card is set aside in front of the player, similar to a book (trick) won in spades. The burn is shuffled into the pot. Each player then draws 5 cards and play continues. The first player to win 3 key cards wins the game.


Each card has the value printed on its face, i.e. a 2 is with 2 points, 7 is worth 7 points, and so on. Jacks are worth 15 points, Queens are worth 20, and Kings are 25. Each player may normally bid only one card, unless the card is a 2, 3, or 4. 2's, 3's and 4's are known as chain cards and can be added to any bid, The only limit to how many of these chain cards you can add is how many you have in your hand. For example, you can bid an 8 and a 4 for a value of 12; or an 8, a 4, and a 2 (value 14); but never an 8 and a 5. Bid point totals are allowed to surpass the point value of the card you are bidding for. Chain cards are important to win close bids, part of the strategy is knowing when to keep chain cards in your hand to win close bids, but to dump them and replace them with higher value cards before a key card comes up.

Long game (Two Players)

Played just as the simple game, except to win a player must win all 5 key cards, called a Ji'zara. If after all 5 key cards have appeared they are not all won by the same player, the game is resumed, with the four kings and the four of spades acting as the key cards. These cards are separated, the remaining 42 cards are shuffled, 15 of them form the new bidding draw, into which the five new key cards are shuffled, and the remaining 27 are the new pot. If the original key cards (the four Aces and 4 of clubs) are divided 4-1, each player wagers one key card on the outcome of the resumed game; if they were 2-3 the winner of the previous part of the game decides whether to wager one key card against one or two against two. As soon as a king the 4 of spades is turned up, the winning hand wins the key cards that were wagered. If one player now has all 5 original key cards, that player wins. If not, the game is resumed again and this is repeated. The secondary key cards - the kings and the 4 of spades - are never won but are reused until someone wins all 5 original key cards.

Team Game (Four players, Two Teams)

This is played with 2 decks with only one set of key cards. One ace of each suit and one 4 of clubs are removed. One player on a team is the bidder, the other is the builder. Each team may bid or pass: discussion between team members is permitted, after which the bidders simultaneously make their decision. When a team bids, each player of the team bids a card plus any number of chain cards. The bids for both players on a team are totaled into one bid with the builder the winning team taking the won card. and all players replenishing their hand to 5 cards from the pot. When a key card is turned up, both hands are totaled and highest total wins the key card.

Last updated: 8th March 2009