Golf (card game)

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Golf (also known as Polish Polka, Polish Poker, Turtle, Hara Kiri, Poison, Crazy Nines, Hot Cabbage, Scrimmy Bingus or Bean[1]) is a card game where players try to earn the lowest number of points (as in golf, the sport) over the course of nine deals (or "holes" to further use golfing terminology). It is a game for four or more players using a double-deck of 108 cards, and has little in common with its solitaire cousin.


Four or more players use two standard 52-card decks plus 2 or 4 Jokers . Each player is dealt 6 cards face down from the deck, the remainder is placed face down and the top card is turned up to start the discard pile beside it. Players arrange their 6 cards in rows in front of them and turn 2 of these cards face up. This arrangement is maintained throughout the game and players always have 6 cards in front of them.


The object is for players to reduce the value of the cards in front of them by either swapping them for lesser value cards or by pairing them up with cards of equal rank and trying to get the lowest score. The highest score loses the game and the lowest score wins the game. A total of 9 games are played.

Beginning at dealer's left, players take turns drawing single cards from either the stock or discard piles. The drawn card may either be swapped for one of that player's 6 cards, or discarded. If the card is swapped for one of the face down cards, the card swapped in remains face up. If the card drawn is discarded, the player must flip a card they have not yet revealed. The round ends when all of a player's cards are face-up. Remaining players then have one turn to draw a card to improve their hands and then scores are totaled and recorded on a running score sheet.

During play it is not legal for a player to pick up a card from the discard pile and return it to the discard pile without playing it, to allow another player to retrieve the card. A card picked up from the discard pile must be swapped with one of the current player's cards.

Game is nine or eighteen "holes" (deals), and the player with the lowest total score is designated winner.

If a player's points reach exactly fifty then the points go back to zero.


If you have a trio of the same number in a row it adds up to zero.

  • Joker is -2
  • Ace is -1
  • King is 0
  • Queen and Jack are 10
  • all other cards are face value


The variants in multiplayer golf are endless. Some common ones include:

Single-pack golf[edit]

For two to four players. Rules are the same as in double-pack golf. Sometimes jokers are not used.

Four-card golf[edit]

It can be played single or double pack. Each player receives four cards face down in a 2×2 grid and looks at two before play begins. Thereafter, players do not look at their face-down cards; however, there is a house rule that players may take a stroke (gain one point) to look at one of these cards again. Play proceeds as in six-card golf, but a player may knock (instead of drawing) at any time – even before all of the players cards have been swapped for face-up cards – and then all other players have one chance to improve their hands before scores are tallied. Pairs are counted vertically, with diagonal pairs being an optional rule. Each card from 2 to 10 represents its own points (i.e. any 3 card is worth three points, any 10 card is worth ten points, and so on). Aces are one point, jacks are eleven, queens are twelve and kings thirteen points. The goal is to get the fewest points.

Nine-card golf[edit]

Two packs, with each player laying out a 3x3 grid and facing 3 cards at the outset. Pairs do not count, but 3-of-a-kind in a row, column or diagonal scores zero, and a 2x2 block of 4 equal cards scores -25. Player turns over 1 card

Alternative scoring[edit]

There are many variants for point values of cards, including:

  • Queens score 12, 13 or 20 points each.
  • Queen of spades scores 40 points, other Queens 10 each, and Eights are zero points.
  • One-eyed jacks are wild and automatically form a pair with an adjacent card (or complete a triplet in 9-card golf).
  • Jacks score zero, Queens 12, Kings 13.
  • Jacks are worth 20 points each and when a Jack is discarded, the following player loses a turn.
  • Twos are minus 2 instead of plus 2 (usually played in games without Jokers)
  • Jokers are minus 1, minus 2, minus 3 or minus 5 points each.
  • Jokers are +15 individually, or minus 5 or 15 as a pair
  • Four of a kind wins all nine game automatically (usually played in 4-card golf).
  • A player who has a 9 card straight scores -12. This hand is considered a "hole in 1". If player does not obtain correct number of cards for a straight, then all points are added as usual.
  • A player may "shoot the moon" by getting the maximum 60 points. He or she gets 0 points for the round, and all other players get 60 points.
  • When playing 8-card, 4x2, four kings on one side = -16 points.
  • In "Cutthroat Golf" the kings are worth 15 points and if drawn from the deck can be traded for any other players up card. The card they receive must then be placed in their hand.
  • In 6-card golf played with two decks, a pair matched vertically is worth 0 except Aces which is scored -2. Two adjacent pairs of the same card is scored -10, or -20 if Aces. Six of the same card is scored -30, or -40 if Aces. If incorporating all four Jokers, worth +15 individually, a pair is instead scored -15. Four adjacent Jokers is worth -60.


A version of Golf from Vancouver, Canada known as 'Cactus'. It is played with a 52-card pack without jokers and is said to be best for two players, though three or more can play. [2]

  • No card is turned face up at the end of the deal: the first player must draw from the stock and their discard starts the discard pile.
  • Card values: Ace: 1 King: 0 Queen: 10 Jack: 10, other cards face value.
  • Power cards are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen.
  • 6, 7, or 8: the player looks privately at one of their own cards.
  • 9, 10 or Jack: the player looks privately at an opponent's card.
  • Queen: the player exchanges any one of their own cards with one of their opponent’s cards, without looking at either.
  • Ace, King, 2, 3, 4, and 5 have no power and no unique ability is granted when they are discarded.
  • A player can use their turn to employ the power of the card face up in the discard pile if the previous player hasn’t used its power already. Effectively their turn consists of picking up the card using its power and discarding the same card again. For example if player A draws a 2 from the deck and exchanges it for a Jack in his layout, then player B can use her turn to apply the power of the discarded Jack to look at one of player A's cards.
  • At any point in the game, regardless of whose turn it is, a player can discard a card that matches the top card in the discard pile. The quickest player to discard their card can do so without it counting as a turn. If a player is mistaken and attempts to discard a card that doesn't match the discard pile, they take back their card and draw an additional two cards.
  • A round concludes when one player calls 'Cactus' at the end of their turn. Their opponents then have one more turn each.
  • If you call 'Cactus' and after everyone has taken their last turn your layout has the lowest point value, you score nothing. If any opponent has a point value equal to or lower than yours you add the value of your layout plus an extra 10 penalty points to your score.
  • If your opponent calls 'Cactus' and after your last turn your layout has a higher point value than the caller's, you add the value of your layout to your score. If your point value is equal to or lower than the caller's, you score nothing.
  • The 'winner' of each round plays first in the next round. The winner is the player with the lowest value layout. The caller loses ties. In case of a tie for lowest between two opponents of the caller, they draw cards to decide who will start the next round.
  • Multiple rounds are played until a player reaches 100 points. At this point the player with the lowest score wins the game. In a game with more than two players there could be a tie for lowest: in that case further rounds can be played until there is a single winner.

Knocker's penalties and bonuses[edit]

Some play that a player who knocks (turns over all cards first) but doesn't end with the lowest score is penalized:

  • Knocker adds a penalty of 10 or 20 points, or...
  • Knocker's score for the hand is doubled with 5 points added, or...
  • The knocker takes a score equal to the highest scoring player for that hand, or...
  • Knocker adds twice the number of people playing.

If the knocker's score is lowest, some play with a bonus:

  • Knocker scores zero instead of a positive score, or...
  • Knocker's score is reduced by the number of people playing.


  1. ^ "Rules of Card Games: Golf". 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  2. ^ "Rules of Card Games: Golf". 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2013-08-21.

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