Card games in Australia

The national card game is Five Hundred, which is normally played by four players with a 43 card pack - made from the standard 52 card pack by taking out the twos, threes and black fours and adding a joker. There is also a five player version played with 52 cards plus joker, and a version for six players requiring a special 63 card pack, which includes 11s, 12s and red 13s.

Euchre is quite popular in Australia, and Solo Whist is also played.

Crazy Eights is sometimes known in Australia as "Swedish Rummy". Ups and Downs is a version of Crazy Eights in which when following suit each card played must be higher than the last (in "up" mode) or lower than the last (in "down" mode). Mode can be changed by an eight and when an equal card is played.

Oh Hell! is also popular. It is usually played with simultaneous bidding and is sometimes known in Australia as Bust, Up and Down the River or Bugger Your Neighbour.

Donkey is a version of Spoons played with five card hands.

Jo is a version of Contract Rummy.

President is often known as Warlords and Scumbags, perhaps because the politician Paul Keating once famously used the word "scumbag" to describe his opponents.

Hearts is sometimes known in Australia as Rickety Kate.

Fish is the local version of Go Fish, usually played to collect pairs rather than sets of four. There is a double deck variation Backstab Fish in which sets of four are collected.

Australian Patience can be played either as a solitaire game, or competitively as either a turn-based or a race game.

Aborigines in the Northern Territory use a 40-card pack obtained by removing the picture cards from a standard 52-card pack to play Kuns or Bayb Kad. In this game players are dealt five cards and the best hand wins the pool. Five-card hands are valued as follows. In order to score at all, there must be three cards whose values add up to a multiple of 10, that is10, 20 or 30. If this condition is satisfied, the hand value is based on the last digit of the sum of the other two cards. The perfect hand is one in which the last two cards also add up to a multiple of ten - for example 8, 7, 5; 6, 4. Otherwise the last digit should be as large as possible - for example 5, 4, A; 6, 2 (worth 8) beats 10, 10, 10; 9, 8 (worth 7).

This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2000, 2006, 2010. Last updated: 5th May 2020