Home » Cards and Dice » 99 Card Game Rules and How to Play?

99 Card Game Rules and How to Play?

The 99 card game is one of those games that is deceptively simple. Learning the game will be easy, but mastering it? That will take some time and is part of the fun. So, let’s look at everything you need to know about this classic card game. 

What is The 99 Card Game?

In the 99 card game, every player will play a card during their turn. You’ll need to keep track of the total value of the cards played. The objective of the game is to avoid being the player who takes this value over 99. 

But the cards have variable values. Some even perform specific actions which can give you an advantage during play. We’ll talk more about how 99 is played in the gameplay and rules section below. 

99 is a great game to play with friends and family. Thanks to its simple rules, even younger children should be able to enjoy it. Traditionally 99 is played with three players; however, it can be played with 2 or 4 without issue. 

There are a lot of variations to how the game can be played. These rules mainly change the value and effects of certain cards. We’ll be following the traditional rules played by most people. 

However, we’ll also include information on some of the popular alternatives you can use as well. Before we talk about the rules and gameplay, let’s first discuss what you need to play. 

What You’ll Need To Play 

To play the 99 card game, all you need is a deck of cards! We recommend using a set of standard playing cards with their traditional designs. This way, every player will be able to tell the card’s suit and value quickly. 

While there’s no shortage of playing cards available, finding a nice, high-quality deck can be difficult. We particularly like these playing cards from Bicycle. Now let’s talk about how the cards are used. 


The Playing Cards 

Under traditional 99 rules, cards have specific values and effects. Some of them are pretty simple, while others are a little more complex. To help you understand the cards’ value, we’ve made a list below for you to refer to. 

Card Value/ Effect 
2,3,5,6,7 and 8All these cards simply carry their face value. 
4This card reverses the order of play. It doesn’t have any point value. 
9This card allows you to skip a turn. It doesn’t have any point value. 
10Rather than adding 10 to the score, this card takes 10 from it. 
Jack and Queen These cards add 10 points to the score. 
King Takes the score straight to 99. 
AceThese can add 1 point or 11 points. It’s your choice. 

Life Tokens 

While not strictly necessary, you can use life tokens in the 99 card game. Every player will have 3 lives, and these can be marked with tokens. When a player goes over 99, they lose a token. This way, you can quickly tell at a glance how many lives each player has left. 

Poker chips make a good choice for tokens. However, almost anything can be used, including coins, buttons, bottle caps, or even scraps of paper. 


The 99 Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The 99 Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

The aim of the 99 card game is simple! Avoid going over 99 points and outlive the other players. Remember, each player will have 3 life tokens, so all you need to do to win is ensure your opponents lose theirs first. 

This might sound easy at first, but remember, 99 is all about strategy. Sometimes it’s better to lose a round and start again with new cards. Or it might be better to hang on to certain cards till you get closer to 99 points. 

Setting Up 

To start, every player should be dealt three cards, a single card at a time. Any player can be the dealer in 99. Although if more than one player wants to be the dealer, they should randomly take a card from the deck. 

The player with the highest value card then becomes the dealer. Once the cards are dealt, make sure each player has their 3 life tokens in front of them. Then place the deck in the middle of the play area. 


The player to the left of the dealer will go first. You play simply by placing your card down in the center, next to the deck. Once you have played your card, you should announce the current point value. 

Then draw another card from the deck and add it to your hand. This gameplay loop continues till one player goes over 99 points and loses a life token. When a player loses a life token, the game is stopped, and all cards are returned to the deck. 

The deck is then reshuffled, and a new round begins. Once a player loses all 3 of their life tokens, they are out of the game. The last player with a token/s remaining wins the game. While 99 is generally relatively fast-paced, you can play with just one token each if you want a shorter game. 

Rule Variations 

There are a lot of different rule variations to the 99 card game. Some of these make only minor changes, while others are much more drastic. Like always, we suggest playing with the traditional rules first. 

This way, players can ease themselves into the game. However, these rule variations can add fun twists and challenges in future games. The 99 card game also lends itself well to house rules like Monopoly as well. 

So, you can always come up with your own! Below, we’ve outlined some of the more popular rule variations you can try. 

Iceland Variation

Card Value/ Effect 
2,3,6,7 and 8All these cards simply carry their face value. 
4This card reverses the order of play. It doesn’t have any point value. 
5Skips the next player and adds 5 points. 
Reverses the order of play. Still adds 7 points to the value. 
9Takes the score straight to 99 points.
Jack These have a value of 11 points. 
Queen These cards add 0 points. They also mean the next player can’t pick up a card. However, they can pick up a card if they also play a Queen. 
King They have a 0 point value. 
Ace These can add 1 point or 14. It’s your choice. 

Taiwan Variation

Card Value/ Effect 
2,3,4,6,8,and 9All these cards simply carry their face value. 
4This card reverses the order of play. It doesn’t have any point value. 
5Players can choose who goes next. 
Reverses the order of play. Still adds 7 points to the value. 
Jack Allows players to pass on their turn.  
Queen Plays can either add 20 points or minus 20 points. 
King Takes the value straight to 99 points. 
Ace Takes the value straight to 0 points. 

Another thing to note about this rule variation is that players must draw 5 cards at the game’s start. 

Joker Rule Variation

Finally, another fun variation to talk about is the Joker rule. With this rule, players will keep the Joker cards in the deck. The Jokers can be used for many different things, although they are commonly used like the Wild cards in Uno

Which means they can be used as any other card. With only 2 Joker cards in the deck, this makes them very valuable. 

The 99 Game- A Fun, Strategic Card Game 

The 99 card game is the perfect combination of simplicity and strategy. Learning the basics is easy, but that won’t always lead you to victory. If you want to win, you’ll have to play strategically and outwit the other players. If you’re looking for a fun card game you can play in minutes, give it a try! 

About Bar Games 101

Bar Games 101 is a website devoted to helping you learn about the best games to play with your friends. We review the games, research the rules, and uncover helpful tips and strategies.

Get our free guide to the 50 Best Bar Games.