Bankrupt: A Card Game

This game was invented by me, Aidan-B. Howard, (C) 2011. It is freely available to everyone, but I hope that in reprinting it, I am credited as the inventor. It is a gambling game. If each player bets, say, $5, each of the 50 chips or matches or jelly-beans or whatever you are using is worth 10 cents. For a $10 bet, each is worth 20 cents, etc. In any case, some 200 chips, etc. are necessary for the minimum of four players. I hope that you enjoy it.

Rules (20).

1. Bankrupt is a card-game ideally for four players, each playing for themselves.

2. The game is played with a deck of fifty-two cards (no jokers). Suits have no relevance.

3. The cards are ranked from the two (low) to the ace (high). Their values are based on their face amount. The jacks, queens and kings are all worth ten points and the aces are worth eleven.

4. Each player starts with an equal amount of money, chips or points with which to bet. With money or chips each must be of the same value, e.g. 50 twenty-cent pieces each.

5. An initial dealer is determined by finding the highest card by dealing or by cutting the deck: either is fine. If two or more players tie, only those players get dealt a second card to find the highest, and so on. The dealer then rotates clockwise with each turn. (No, they do not actually rotate!)

6. At the start of every round each player places down an ante of nine pieces in front of them.

7. The dealer, after shuffling the deck, counts six cards off the top and six off the bottom and turns up the top card of the MAIN deck for all to see and places it face-up on top of the discarded twelve. These thirteen cards, keeping the face-up card face up, are then returned to the bottom of the deck. After these have been returned, no one has the right to re-examine the face-up card until it is exposed in play. During play, when the upturned card is exposed, it is momentarily set to one side, the cards continue to be dealt as needed, and the deck must be reshuffled (including that set-aside card) before the next round. All used cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.

8. The dealer deals one card from the top, face-down, to each player clockwise, starting with the player on their left. They then deal a second card to each in the same fashion.

9. The player with the highest card wins the round. In the event of a tie, the highest second card wins. If that is still tied, the round is considered ‘dead’, which will be dealt with below. In any ‘dead’ round, no one wins and no one loses.

10. Irrespective of who has the highest card, any pair beats any such card: e.g. a pair of twos will beat an ace and a king. If two or more players have pairs, the highest pair wins. If the two highest pairs are the same, again it is a ‘dead’ round.

11. After the players have examined their cards, each player, starting on the dealer’s left, has the option of holding, throwing in or discarding one of their cards and having it replaced. In the event that they ‘throw in’, they play no part in that round and forfeit one ante piece to the centre for play. No player may ‘throw in’ more than two rounds in a row.

12. The player on the dealer’s left may ‘OFFER to up the ante’ or PASS. Each consecutive player around to the dealer, but no further, may ACCEPT the offer by laying down the same amount, or DECLINE it. If all other players decline, this carries no further and the initial player takes back their offering, but for the purpose of winning it is deemed to have been a legitimate offer. If any player has accepted the upping, the second player on the dealer’s left then has the same option to up further or to pass. If a player had previously declined, they need only accept the new upping or decline. All other procedures apply. If any player entitled to offer instead passes, this right moves to the next player. Logically, the dealer never gets ‘to offer’. No player may collect the upping as a winning unless they have made at least some offer or acceptance; otherwise this amount accumulates. (To clarify: they are still able to win from the antes of nine, but not from the centre!) The amounts offered may be up to the amount held (not including the antes) by the least successful player but no higher, i.e. no player should be unable to play, until the losing player has no more auxiliary pieces with which to up the ante, at which point the upping is normal, but the losing player or players can not involve themselves in the upping phase. In any case no individual offer shall be more than six pieces.

13. Each player lays both of their cards on the table, even if only one is needed to resolve the round.

14. If anyone wins a round, they collect all that was offered and accepted in the upping phase, as long as they had made some offer or acceptance. If the round was ‘dead’, that amount accumulates.

15. In an ordinary win, the winner then goes around each ante from their left and removes for themselves a certain amount of money or chips. From their winning card is deducted the highest card of each respective player. E.g. if an ace and queen beats an eight and a two, the ace (11) minus the eight (8) is three, so the winning player takes three units of money or chips from that ante. If an ace and a queen beats an ace and a three, the second cards determine the value of the win. They then do the same with each respective loser. In the event that the winning card is a jack to king and the losing card is a ten to queen, i.e. that they are both worth ten points, the winner takes one piece so that they always get at least something.

16. If the winner wins with a pair of equal or greater value to the loser’s highest card, the usual rule of payment applies, because they would have won anyway without its being a pair. If they are lower, the winner receives one piece for every number below the loser’s highest card. E.g. if two fours beat a queen and a nine, the difference between the queen (10) and the four (4) is six. Again, if the win and lose cards are both worth ten, one chip is taken.

17. After a round is ‘dead’, the next round commences with another ante of nine placed next to it. The game proceeds as normal, however the winner gets to claim twice the amount of their winning from each respective loser. If by some chance there were two consecutive ‘dead’ rounds, there are three antes each and the winner takes three times the winning, etc. For the next round, each player takes back or replaces sufficient of their ante to leave the required nine. There can not be more than three ‘dead’ rounds. If it occurs, the upping pile is divided evenly among all players still active, with only any residue being returned to the centre. All players take back excess ante amounts to leave only nine (or less if that is all that they have) for the fourth round.

18. If at any stage a player has insufficient for the full ante, they must declare ‘last legs’ and place down whatever they have. If they win, they can not claim from any player any winning greater than what they have as this ante. (Example: if a first round with nine antes is ‘dead’ and a second with six [‘last legs’] is also ‘dead’, a third round has zero as an ante. If they lose, they lose three times the difference; if they win, they claim nothing, as they can not get more than they offered [zero]. However, they are still alive, they still get to win the upping, and in the next round they get to take the extra six back.)

19. At any stage prior to a hand being dealt a player may resign. If they have ten or more pieces, these are divided evenly among the remaining players, with any residue going into the central pile. If they have nine or fewer, all of these go into the central pile.

20. When a player has lost all of their money, chips or points, they are ‘bankrupt’ and out of the game. The winner is the final person with all of the money, etc.


1. By agreement before the game, players might only need to show one of their cards if that is sufficient to establish a win.

2. By agreement before the game, there might be another amount of ‘dead’ rounds or throw ins allowed.

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