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How To Play The Card Game Twenty-Nine

Updated on October 4, 2014

When I was young, I used to play Cribbage with my parents and siblings. Part of that game involved the players each playing a card in turn and keeping track of the total value of all cards played. (Face cards each had a value of 10. All other cards each had their card number value.) If someone laid down a card that brought the total to 31, that player scored 2 points. If nobody could play a card that brought the total to 31, the player playing the last card scored 1 point. Then the next player in turn would start anew with the first card in the next series.

There were other ways of scoring during this part of the game, playing cards of the same rank or playing cards in sequence, but the 31 scoring stands out in my mind.

The Card Game Twenty-Nine

I recently found a simple card game called Twenty-Nine that uses a similar game system. The players take turns adding one card per turn to a pile of cards. The total value of the cards in the pile gradually increases to 29. The object of the game is to add the last card that brings the total value of a pile to 29, and to do so more often than your opponents.

The instructions are as follows.


Twenty-Nine is a simple card game using a standard deck of playing cards. It can be played by three to five players. Four players can play as individuals or as two sets of partners. If the game is played as a partnership game, partners sit opposite each other at the table.

The cards have the following values. Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces each have a value of 1. The rest of the cards each have the value of the card number. The Seven has a value of 7.

Shuffle the cards. Then each player takes a card, and the player with the highest card (Ace is low and King is high) is the dealer.

If there are three players, the dealer lays the top card face-down on the table. If there are five players, the dealer lays the top two cards face-down on the table. Then the dealer deals the remaining cards one at a time clockwise around the table, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, until all of the cards have been dealt and each player has the same amount of cards.

If a card was laid face-down on the table, the dealer turns that card face-up as the beginning of the first pile and announces its value. If two cards were laid face-down on the table, the dealer turns one card face-up as the beginning of the first pile and announces its value. The dealer then lays the second card face-up on top of the first card and announces the total value of the two cards.

Then the players take turns playing starting with the player to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise around the table.

On Your Turn

On your turn, you try to play a card.

If there are no cards on the table, lay a card face-up and announce its value. This is the start of a pile.

If there is a pile on the table and you have a card that, when added to the present total of the cards in the pile, makes the total 29, lay that card face-up on the pile, announce the total of 29, and take the pile. Keep it separate from any other piles you have taken.

If there is a pile on the table and you have a card that you can add to the pile to increase its total to a number less than 29, lay that card face-up on the pile and announce the new total.

If there is a pile on the table and each of your cards would make the total greater than 29, say "Pass". Your turn ends.

End of the Game

The game continues until 8 piles have been taken. The winner of the game is the player or the partnership with the most piles.


Twenty-Nine is a game that requires some simple addition and the ability to choose the best card to play. To me, it's a simple, interesting, little-known game. Try it.


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