Any number of players, 52 cards. The object is to not have the lowest card at the table. The ranking of cards from highest to lowest is: K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 A, or alternately A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2. Suit is irrelevant.
Each player has an equal number of counters placed in front of them—usually from 2 to 4—to mark his or her "lives". (Alternatively, a dollar bill or other note may be used, and players use the corners to mark their lives, folding a corner in when a life is lost.) Cards are dealt, one card to each, face down. Starting to the left of the dealer - each in turn examines their card. If they are satisfied with their card they may keep it, usually simply by announcing, "I'm good." or similar. However, if they are unsatisfied they may pass it to the player on their left while announcing that they are "not good", receiving that player's card back in return. The player to the left is obliged to exchange for the unwanted card unless they currently hold a King at which time they can refuse the card by showing their King. That transaction completed, privilege now passes to the player to the left who may or may not have a new card to decide on. (Players who have shown a King in defense are considered to have completed their play.) Play continues to the left as such. Once we reach the dealer the dealer has the same decision as any other player except that they exchange with the top card on the remaining deck instead of another player.
All exchanges completed, the players' cards are then all turned face up, and the lowest at the table loses a counter/life - which they place into the central pot. Ties lose a life each (except in variants where this is considered to be "pairing up"—see below). Once a player loses all their lives they are out of the game and only remaining players are dealt in for the next hand. Each hand the dealer rotates to the next player to the left.
Play continues as such until the only player with live(s) remaining takes the entire central pot.
Of special note, if it gets down to just two players and they each have one counter and they tie, they both lose and place their existing counter into the pot and all players re-ante and start the round over again.
- Players holding cards of the same value are considered to have "paired up," and their combined value is higher than any single card being played. For example, if while three players are playing, one player gets a queen while two others get 3s: then the queen is the low hand and has to pay because of the other two players pairing up. As in poker, any pair beat single cards, higher pairs beat lower pairs, and triples beats pairs, etc.
- Players stuck with an ace have to pay double.
- On their exchange the dealer may cut the deck and then turn up the top card.
- The dealer is not allowed to exchange with the deck if the top card is a king.
- If the player who is forced to exchange gives an ace or deuce (2), they announce it aloud, but the player who initiated the exchange says nothing, as their card may be passed on.
- Counters are not used and the player with the lowest card at the end of each round is immediately eliminated from the game.
- An 8 is considered, in some circles, to be the hardest card in the deck to make a correct pass or no-pass decision about. When a player is dealt a 7, 8, or 9 and it becomes their turn, it is considered good etiquette to announce to the other players that "This is the hardest (or one of the hardest) decision(s) a Chase the Ace player can make."
- Players are given 2 counters in the beginning of the game. These represent two lives. After these two lives have been spent, the player is considered to be "on their honor" or "on their elbows". If they lose once more they are eliminated from the game.
- Sometimes the object is to avoid having the highest card in the deck. The order, from high to low, would be A Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 K. The king is the lowest as it is the best card in the deck, regardless of value.
- When turn comes to the dealer, if he swaps his card for the top of the deck and uncovers an identical card - i.e. he had a 5, and uncovers another 5 then he automatically wins and all other players lose a counter (or the dealer is immune for that round, and the player with the lowest remaining card, even if it is higher than the dealer's, loses a counter).
- Kings Jerk - Any player dealt a king can pull a counter from the pot (as long as a counter is available when the card is dealt) and add that counter to his/her remaining counters.
- King Stops All Play - If a player possesses a king, they wait until they are requested to trade or it be their turn. Upon this all play is stopped and the card the player has is stuck with.