Contributed by Richard Smith who invented the game in 1980 whilst at Totton College near Southampton, England, where it became quite popular.


In this game, the players (2-6) are maturing tadpoles in a pond, and they need to obtain ten red and ten black spots on their backs in order to become accepted as an adult toad.

The game is usually played with three "lives" which can be coins or tokens. In each round, the last player to achieve the required spots loses a life to the pot, and is eliminated from the game when all lives are lost. The last surviving player collects the pot.


The deal rotates clockwise and the player left of the dealer goes first. Each player is dealt two cards face down, and four cards are dealt face up in the middle to form a stock. The remaining cards are placed in a face down draw pile.

Each Turn

A player may

  • take one of the four face up stock cards (which is then replaced from the draw pile) or
  • take a face down card from the draw pile or
  • take the top card (if any) from the discard pile or
  • choose not to take a card


  • discard one card face up to the discard pile or
  • choose not to discard a card


  • declare "toad" if appropriate

Play passes clockwise.

Declaring Toad

When a player declares "toad" he says "ribit", shows his cards, and takes no further part in the hand as he is safe from losing a life. Should his toad claim be false (e.g. the cards have been incorrectly totalled) he must continue the hand with the disadvantage that everyone knows which cards he holds.

To achieve "toad" a player must have exactly 10 red spots and exactly 10 black spots. No more, no less. Each Ace counts as 1 spot and each picture card 2 spots. All other cards count their spot value in spots. A toad can be made from any number of cards, e.g. RED: 8, 2; BLACK 9, A or RED: 4, K, Q, J; BLACK: 5, 2, Q, A.

The ultimate toad hand is a single red 10 and a single black 10. On the rare occasion that this hand is achieved, a player has made "Toadus Maximus" and can claim the prize of a life restored from the pot (provided at least one has been lost, if on maximum lives, only kudos is gained).


It is important to remember that discarding is optional (so a big hand can be accumulated) but that only one card can be discarded at a time. Taking a card is also optional so if you do end up with too many cards your turn can consist of discarding only. Finally you can choose to pass altogether (take no card, discard no card) but if all players pass, the hand ends and all players yet to achieve toad in the round lose a life.

Last updated: 30th June 2008