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How We Played Crazy Eights

Updated on July 27, 2014

When I look for Crazy Eights in books of card game rules, it is not often listed under 'kid's games' or 'family games'. But I started playing Crazy Eights when I was a kid in grade school. My friends and I used a commercial deck of Crazy Eights cards specifically designed for kids. It was similar to standard playing cards.

Store-Bought Playing Cards

There were four suits, but not always the four playing card suits. I seem to remember that there were 'star' and 'anchor' suits. Each suit had the same number of cards, but there were usually less than 13 cards in a suit. The rank was always a number.

The suit and rank symbols were printed in the upper-left and lower-right corner of each card just like on standard playing cards. The rank was also boldly displayed at the center of each card along with a distinct picture and background color for that rank. It was easy for us kids to look at the cards we held and know which cards we could play.

How We Played

We would choose someone to deal. The dealer would shuffle the cards, and then deal them one at a time clockwise around the circle beginning to his or her left until each player had five cards. The dealer would lay the undealt cards face-down at the center of the table as a draw-pile, and lay the top card of the draw-pile face-up on the table as the start of a discard-pile. We would then take turns playing beginning with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the circle.

On your turn, you would look at the top card on the discard-pile. Then you would do one of the following:

- If you held a card with the same suit or rank, you could lay it face-up on top of the discard-pile.

- Or if you had an Eight, you could lay it face-up on top of the discard-pile and declare what the new suit was (not necessarily the suit of the Eight that you played.) Eights were wild cards that could be played at any time.

- But if you didn't have a card with the same suit or rank and you didn't have an Eight, you would draw cards one at a time from the draw-pile until you picked up a card with the same suit or rank or you picked up an Eight, and you would place that card face-up on top of the discard-pile.

When the draw-pile ran out of cards, the dealer would lay the top card of the discard-pile face-up on the table, and then shuffle the rest of the cards and place them face-down beside the discard-pile as the new draw-pile.

We continued playing until someone ran out of cards. That player won the game.

Standard Playing Cards

That describes how I play Crazy Eights as a kid. With standard cards, seven cards are dealt to each player when two people play, and two decks of cards are used when six or more people play. But I usually play according to the rules I learned as a child.


There are a number of variations that many people use.

- If you don't have a card in your hand that you can play, take just one card from the draw-pile.

- You can draw cards from the draw-pile even if you have a card in your hand that you can play. (Actually, it would be hard for other players to know whether or not you have a card in your hand that you could play unless you played it. So maybe this is the better variation to use.)

- When the draw-pile runs out of cards, a player who cannot play a card passes and the next player plays.

- When you play an Eight, you use the suit of the Eight.

And there are variations that assign special actions to specific cards. Play a Jack and the next player loses a turn. Play an Ace and change the direction of play to counter-clockwise or back to clockwise. Play a Two and the next player takes two cards from the draw-pile. Variations such as these are used in the commercial card game 'Uno' by Mattel. And 'Uno' is fun to play.

And there are more elaborate ways of scoring. The winner of a game scores the point total of all of the cards held by the other players. Score 50 for each Eight, 10 for each face-card, and the number on each other card (Ace = 1). Play until someone scores over 200 points.

I would prefer to score 1 point for winning a game, and the first player to score 3 points is the ultimate winner.

Two Possible New Variations

But there don't seem to be many variations that make it easier to win the game.

For instance, you could use Eights and Nines as wild cards so that you could play an Eight or a Nine at any time.

Or you could play a card with the same rank as the top card on the discard pile or a card with a rank 16 minus the rank of that card. If a Six was on top of the discard-pile, you could play a Six or a Ten (16 - 6 = 10). If a Three was on top of the discard-pile, you could play a Three or a King (16 - 3 = 13 = King).

I believe that each of these variations would make an interesting game. How about you?


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