Play or Pay

Play or Pay is a simple game from the Stops family for three or more players. One player starts a sequence, and each player in turn must play the next higher card that continues it—or pay up!

Object of Play or Pay

The object of Play or Pay is to be the first player to run out of cards.

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Play or Pay uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We accompany that statement with the familiar exhortation to give Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards a try. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips or some other convenient value-bearing token.

Discuss with your players whether or not actual money will be changing hands in the game. If so, sell the players the amount of chips they wish to purchase. Otherwise, distribute an equal number of chips to each player.

Shuffle and deal out the deck as far as it will go. Some players may receive more cards than others; this is perfectly fine.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left begins the first sequence, playing any card that they desire, face up in front of them. The next player to the left must then play the next-highest card of the same suit if they hold it. If they don’t, they pay one chip to the pot and play passes to the left. Eventually, one player will be able to play the card (since every card in the deck was dealt) and the next player after them will be required to play the next card in sequence. This continues on up to the king of that suit, which is followed by the ace, and then the 2.

The sequence ends when the card immediately below the card that started the sequence—that is, the thirteenth card of the suit—is played. Whichever player holds this card immediately plays a card of one of the other three suits to start a new sequence.

Game play continues until one player runs out of cards. That player wins the hand. Each of their opponents pays one chip to the pot for each card they hold in their hand. The winner then collects the entire pot, and the deal passes to the left for the next hand.


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