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Joker Card Game: Rules And How to Play?

The Joker card game is one that a lot of people may not have heard about, which is why I am hoping to introduce you to it. Also, I will tell you all the ins and out’s of the rules and general gameplay.

If I were to compare the Joker card game to something you might be more familiar with, think of Rummy or Oh Hell. It’s similar in that it is all about tricks and how many you can win.

This game gets its name because hidden within the 36-card deck; there are two jokers in place of two red sixes.

The aim of this game isn’t really about how many hands you can win but more about how many points you win throughout all of the 24 hands.

So let’s take a more in-depth look at the Joker card game, how it works, and how to win.

What the Joker Card Game is All About?

What the Joker Card Game is All About

This is a trick-taking game often compared to Oh Hell. It requires four players and is suitable for most ages. Some say the difficulty level is medium. I would say it’s slightly more complex, but the most challenging part is understanding the rules. This can mean that young ones may struggle to grasp the concept.

A usual game of Joker should last around 30 to 40 minutes, and the game aims to win points depending on the number of tricks you can win and how close you can get to the predicted trick target. The game isn’t about how many hands you can win but how many points you get.

The reason Joker is such a fun game, in my opinion, is because it’s a whole new way of playing cards. While it may have some similarities to other games such as Rummy and Romanian Whist, it brings a different tactic and set of rules which will make you use your head.

What Will You Need to Play?

Joker Card Game

Quite simply, all you will need to play Joker is a standard deck of cards, not even a full deck of cards at that. This game only requires 36 cards, so a normal deck, minus the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, and the two red 6’s, which are replaced with two jokers. 

You can buy a deck of cards from anywhere. Here is one from Amazon that will work well for this game.

This game will need to be played on a flat surface; the best bet is a table everyone can sit around.

It will also help to have something to keep notes on your points throughout the game so that you don’t lose track.

Setting Up

First, decide which player will go first. Once you’ve established this, the rest of the players take turns going left around the table.

Next, you will remove the cards I mentioned earlier, which are all of the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s, and the red 6’s will you replace with two jokers. Once you have finished sorting out your deck of cards, you should find yourself left with 36 to play with.

And that’s that; you’re ready to play Joker.

Rules And Gameplay

Rules And Gameplay

To Begin Playing Joker Card Game

So, select a person to shuffle the cards, and then the person to their right will split the deck.

A total game consists of four sets, and the number of cards dealt out varies for each stage, which goes as follows:

  • First Set – In the first round, there are eight hands. One card is given to each player. Then in the second round, two cards for each player and four for each player in the third round. This goes up for each hand.
  • Second Set – There will be nine hands, and each player will be dealt nine cards. 
  • Third Set – In this set, we go back to 8 hands, but this time there are eight cards given to each player to start with, seven cards in the next hand, 6 in the next, and so on until in the last hand there is only 1 card each.
  • Fourth Set – The last set is four hands again, and nine cards get dealt to each player. (The same as the second set.)

Before dealing a new hand, the deck should be shuffled each time, with the player to the right cutting the deck. The dealer (the person who shuffled the deck) then deals out the cards to the players. So altogether, 24 hands will be played overall.

Next, the first card is turned face-up; this is the “trump suit.” The rest of the deck can be put to one side for the time being.

Handy Tip: During the initial deal, if the first card placed face up is a joker, the hand plays without a trump suit. You don’t need to put another card down.


Going clockwise, each player must predict how many tricks they think they will win. You can say “no tricks,” which means passing your turn.

Be sure that the total number of tricks estimated by all players is not the same amount as the cards that have been dealt. Otherwise, nobody can lose. This means that the dealer, who takes their turn last, can not bid a number that will make it an equal amount.

For example, If each player has been dealt four cards, one person has passed, and two people have bid 1 card each, the dealer can not play two bids as this would bring the total bids to 4; they must play 0, 1, or 3.

General Gameplay

The player sitting to the dealer’s left goes first. After the first round, whoever won the previous game will go first.

Any card can be played to start, but the players following must play a card of the same suit, or a Joker can be used.

If a player can not meet the suit or does not have a joker, they should play a trump card, and if they’re unable to do this, they may play any card they like. The main aim is to follow suit or trump at all times.

You win the trick by playing the highest card, ace being the highest, which matches the trump suit. If nobody has matched the suit, the player with the highest card wins the trick.

You can play this during the trick if you have a joker in your hand. You can decide whether the value of the Joker is high or low.

In many cases, a high-valued joker will win the hand, and a low one will lose, but if someone else plays a joker during the same trick, the original Joker can’t lose.

How to Take Score?

So this goes back to the beginning when each player predicted how many tricks would be won.

As I mentioned earlier, the main point of this game is to have the most points at the end. So how do you score the points? The scoring system goes as follows:

  • A player who wins the precise amount of tricks that they bid will score 50 points per correct set and a bonus of 50 points on top.
  • For each trick that each player wins during play, they win 10 points.
  • If a player successfully guessed all the tricks, they would win 100 points per set that was correct.

Other Variations of The Game

There are many variations of the game, but many of them make things more complicated. For instance, some people use 38 cards, which include black sixes and two jokers.

During this version, the 6’s function as they would in any game, and the trump suit in hands two and four are selected by turning two of the cards from the deck instead of one of the dealer’s cards.

Another version is where players are given a penalty called a “hist” for anyone who bids and doesn’t win. The penalty is to lose 200 – 500 points.

There are some variations in the rules surrounding who wins the trick if a joker has been played as high, followed by someone playing a trump card.

In the Russian card game Painting Poker, some say that the Joker still wins the trick, despite another player following with a trump. It is common to find that some Georgians use this rule in the Joker card game.

Another rule that some people play is that if nobody bids are successful, the player with the highest scores gets double, and the rest of the players’ high scores get wiped.

Also, if you’re finding Joker’s scoring system and general rules slightly daunting, there are similar games that aren’t quite as complex, such as the Wizard Card Game or Tarneeb.

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