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Garbage Card Game Rules and How to Play?

The Garbage card game doesn’t live up to its name! In this case, that is good news. This fun family card game is simple to learn but more strategic than you might first think. Plus, all you need to play is a deck of cards. 

If you want to give the Garbage card game a try, check out the rest of our guide below. We’ll look at everything you need to know to set-up and play. 

What is The Garbage Card Game?

What is The Garbage Card Game

Garbage, or Trash as it’s also known, is a popular card game, especially with younger children and families. However, we don’t know much about its creation or where it originated. But what we do is how to play! 

Garbage is a sequence card game, and the aim is quite simple. A player needs to be the first to build a sequence of Ace to 10. But that doesn’t finish the game; it just moves it to the next stage. The sequence you need to build gets shorter each round. 

Eventually, when a player needs a single card, they’ll win by being the first to complete this final sequence. We’ll talk more about the rules and gameplay below. But first, let’s take a look at what you need to play the Garbage card game. 

What You’ll Need?

To play the Garbage card game, all you need is a deck of cards! However, if you are playing with more than 2 players, you’ll need more than a single deck. While there are some variations, we find it’s best to use the rules below. 

  • 2 players – 1 deck of playing cards 
  • 3 – 4 players – 2 decks of playing cards 
  • 5 – 6 players – 3 decks of playing cards 

Any playing cards will do. We particularly like these Bicycle playing cards. Just make sure you get enough decks for the number of players.


The Playing Cards 

One of the joys of playing cards is how versatile they are. In the Garbage card game, the Joker cards aren’t usually used. So, you’ll be using the standard 52 card deck. Before we get into the gameplay, let’s first talk about how the cards are used. 

Ace cards count as 1, while the numbered cards hold their face value. Jack cards are wild, which means you can use them in place of any other card; this makes them the most valuable cards in the game.  

Queen and King cards, however, will immediately end your turn, so you’ll want to avoid these whenever you can. Some versions of the Garbage card game also use the Joker cards in the same way. However, this is usually a house rule designed to make the game a little more difficult. 

The Garbage Card Game Rules and Gameplay 

The Garbage Card Game Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game 

The Garbage card game aims first to make a sequence of 10 cards. This is numbered Ace to 10; when you make this sequence, you’ll then need to complete a sequence of Ace to 9. Every time you complete a sequence, it gets shorter, eventually with you just needing a single card to win. 

Setting Up The Game 

To set up the Garbage card game, one player should be the dealer. Any player can be the dealer; if players can’t agree on who to choose, everyone should draw a card. The player with the highest card will then become the dealer. 

Once a dealer is decided, they should reshuffle the deck/s of cards. Then they should draw each player 10 cards. Each player should position their cards in two rows of 5. Players can’t look at any of these cards. Once this is done, the Garbage card game is ready to be played. 

Playing Garbage 

The dealer should go first and draw a card from the deck. If the card is an Ace or a numbered card, they should place it down in the corresponding space. This is where the 10 cards each player was dealt earlier comes into play. 

The first row is for the Ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5 cards. The second row is for the 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 cards. Whichever card you draw should replace the card that is currently facing down. Take the card and then turn it up. 

If this card can be placed down, you should repeat the process with the next face-down card. This process repeats till you find a card that can’t be placed down. This could be a numbered card that is already in place or a Queen or King card. 

This will end your turn, and the play will move to the next player. You should send any unplayable cards to a discard pile in the center. The next player can take their first card from either the discard pile or the deck. 

When a player completes their first sequence, the current round immediately ends for all players. The dealer will then reshuffle the deck, but the player who won the first round will have a shorter sequence of Ace to 9. 

The remaining players will still have their Ace to 10 sequences to complete. This gameplay loop continues with the sequences getting shorter each time they are completed. When a player only needs a single card, which will be an Ace (or Jack since they are wild), they’ll win once the sequence is complete. 

The first few rounds in Garbage will likely go by quite quickly. But once the sequences get shorter, it will probably take longer for players to find the cards they need. If the deck runs out of cards at any time, the cards from the discard pile should be shuffled well and used to make a new one. 

Garbage – A Card Game That Certainly Isn’t Trash! 

Garbage is a great card game to play with young children. The simple gameplay loop is easy to learn and could even help children learn their numbers! But adults looking for a fun card game will likely enjoy it as well, so if you’re looking for a fun 2 player card game, give it a try. 

Plus, Garbage is a fun family or group card game as well. And remember adding more decks allows even more players to enjoy the fun.  

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