Beggar My Neighbor

Beggar My Neighbor is a simple game for two players. Much like War, there is no skill involved; the entire game consists of turning up cards and taking action based on what comes up, meaning it is a good game for the young or anyone who isn’t up for focusing too hard on a game.

Beggar My Neighbor was the game played by Pip in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.

Object of Beggar My Neighbor

The object of Beggar My Neighbor is to collect all of the cards. All of them.


Beggar My Neighbor is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you don’t have a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, go beg your neighbor to let you borrow theirs.

Shuffle and deal 26 cards to each player (the entire pack). Each player squares up their cards into a pile. Players may not look at their cards.

Game play

The non-dealer plays first, turning one card face-up from their pile. The dealer responds by turning over one of their cards on top of their opponent’s card, and so on, players turning cards alternately, leaving the cards in the center of the table, forming a face-up pile.

When a player turns up a face card or an ace, their opponent must immediately pay a penalty of four cards for an ace, three for a king, two for a queen, and one for a jack. These cards are turned face up one by one and placed on the pile, as usual. If they are all number cards, then the person who played the penalty card collects the entire central pile, turns it face-down, and adds it to the bottom of their pile. However, if one of the cards paid is a penalty card, the payment stops, and the other player is then liable for a penalty payment. This continues until there are no more penalty cards played; whoever played the most recent penalty card takes the pile.

Game play continues until one player has amassed all 52 cards in their pile, or until one player is out of cards (in which case the other player takes the pile and thus the entire deck). The player with all the cards is the winner.

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