formerly known as Slave Auction

Contributed by Kate Thompson (

For 2-4 players use 1 pack (52 cards and 2 jokers). For 4+ players two identical packs with four jokers should be used.

The aim of this game is to get the most points.

To play

  1. Remove all the coloured cards (jacks, queens, kings and jokers) shuffle, and place in a separate pile. These cards are now referred to as slaves or "prisoners".
  2. Shuffle all the remaining cards and deal an equal amount of cards to each player. Any cards left over are put in a refuse pile. Players should now sort out the cards according to suit hearts, clubs, etc.
  3. The dealer overturns the first slave/prisoner.
  4. The dealer is the first to bid on the face card. Bidding is explained below. The player seated next to the dealer - choose a clockwise / anticlockwise direction - is next to make a bid.
  5. Players who cannot or do not wish to make a bid say pass.
  6. If no bid is made on a slave/prisoner it is discarded to the refuse pile.
  7. Bidding continues until all players run out of cards or the end of the slave/prisoner pile is reached.


The slaves/prisoners are worth points as follows:

  • Jack = 50
  • Queen = 100
  • King = 150
  • Joker = 200

There are only two possible ways to make a bid on a slave/prisoner. You can only use one or the other but not both.

  1. You may bid any amount of cards you have, that match the suit of the slave/prisoner. That is, you can only bid hearts on hearts, clubs on clubs etc. The total of the bid is the total of the face value of the cards. Aces are worth 11. So a five and an ace is 5 + 11 = 16.
  2. You may only bid cards that do not match the suit of the slave/prisoner if you have a pair, three, or four of a type of card. The total of the bid depends on whether one of the cards is the same suit as the slave/prisoner.
    A pair with no card the same suit as the slave/prisoner = face value + 2
    (E.g. 2 fives = 5 + 2 = 7)
    A pair with one of the cards the same suit as the slave/prisoner = face value × 2
    (E.g. 2 twos = 2 × 2 = 4)
    A three with no card the same suit as the slave/prisoner = face value + 3
    (E.g. 3 sixes = 6 + 3 = 9)
    A three with one of the cards the same suit as the slave/prisoner = face value × 3
    (E.g. 3 aces = 11 × 3 = 33)
    A four = face value × 4


  1. You cannot combine a bid of 1. and 2. above. You may only make a bid of one or the other.
  2. A player must make a bid greater than the one made before him/her. If the player is unable to do so a player says pass. The winner is the player who has laid the highest bid. This winner keeps the slave/prisoner, and is first to bid on the next slave/prisoner.
  3. Cards that have been bid are discarded to the refuse pile and cannot be used again.
  4. Jokers do not have a suit and so take the suit of the slave/prisoner before them. If a joker is the first slave/prisoner overturned then the dealer decides the suit of the joker.
  5. IMPORTANT A player who has 3 aces can choose to play them together or separately. If this player still has the 3 aces when the first joker is overturned the aces must be played immediately if the ace matches the suit of the joker. No other player makes a bid as this player wins the joker. If the three aces are played on another slave/prisoner when one ace matches the suit, this player will take the first joker when it appears. No bids are made on the joker. If a player has 4 aces these must be played immediately when the first joker appears if he/she has not already. This player wins the two jokers. These are given to the player when they are overturned. The aces are discarded to the refuse pile as with other cards.
  6. If two decks are being used, you play as usual but you cannot use two identical cards in the same bid. That is, if you have two five of diamonds, you can only use one in each bid. You cannot bid these together. The aces rule above also applies.
Home Page > Invented Games > Prisoners
Last updated: 1st January 2002