A New Classic Pub Game by James Ernest and

A New Classic Pub Game by James Ernest and
A New Classic Pub Game
by James Ernest
and Paul Peterson
Pairs is a simple press-your-luck card game, using an unusual
“triangular” deck. The deck contains the numbers 1 through 10,
with 1x1, 2x2, 3x3, and so on. You can play many different games
with your Pairs deck, but let’s start off with the basic rules.
The Basics: Pairs has no winner, just one loser. In each round,
players will take turns drawing cards, until one person either
folds or gets a pair. Either of these scores points, and points
are bad. The first player with too many points loses:
Target Scores
Losing Score:31 211613 11
(The formula: Take 60, divide by players, then add 1.)
Penalties: If you like, you can choose a penalty for the loser.
The loser could tell a joke, buy a round of drinks, make a funny
noise, or whatever is appropriate for your group.
Who Should Deal? One player can deal for the whole game,
or the role of dealer can pass around the table. The dealer’s
position doesn’t matter, since the starting player is always
determined by the low card.
Playing the Game
Getting Started: Shuffle the deck and burn (discard) five
cards, facedown, into the middle of the table. This is the start
of the discard pile. Each time you reshuffle, you will burn five
cards again. (This makes it harder to count the cards.)
To start each round, deal one card faceup to each player. The
player with the lowest card will go first.
Ties for Low Card: If there is a tie for lowest card at the start
of the round, deal an extra card to the tied players, and use those
cards to break the tie. (You might have to repeat this.) If any player
catches a pair in this step, you discard the paired card and deal a
replacement. You can’t lose by catching a pair on the deal.
On Each Turn: On your turn, you have two choices: You may
hit (take a card), or fold. If you catch a pair, or fold, the round
is over and you score points. If not, play passes to the left.
Pairing Up: When you hit, you’re hoping not to get a pair (any
two cards of the same rank). If you pair up, you score that many
points. For example, if you catch a pair of 8’s, you score 8 points.
Keep one of those cards, faceup, to track your score.
Folding: You can surrender (fold) instead of taking a card.
When you do this, you take the lowest card in play and keep it
for points. You may choose this card from all players’ stacks,
not just your own.
Folding can be better than hitting, depending on the odds of
catching a pair, but it’s up to you to decide when to do it.
Ending the Round: As soon as one person pairs up or folds,
the round is over. Discard all the cards in play, facedown into
the middle, and start another round.
Players keep their scoring cards aside, faceup. These cards will
not return to the deck until the game is over.
Reshuffling: When the deck runs out, reshuffle the discards.
Pause the game, shuffle, and resume where you left off.
(Remember to burn five cards off every new deck.)
Using a Cut Card: This deck includes one blank card, or “cut
card.” Keep this card on the bottom of the deck, where it
prevents players from seeing the bottom card. When you reach
the end of the deck, you can use the cut card to mark where play
was interrupted. Place it back on the bottom after you shuffle.
Losing the Game: There is no winner, just one loser. The
game ends when one player reaches the target score (see the
Target Scores chart on the left). For example, in a 4-player
game, the loser is the first player to score 16 points.
Keep Playing! We hope you’ll enjoy playing Pairs. Please visit
playpairs.com for more games.
Variation: Continuous
Continuous Pairs is nearly the same as basic Pairs, except
that when a player pairs up or folds, only that player’s cards
are discarded. Everyone else keeps their cards, and that
player is still in, currently with an empty stack. This game
is basically one long round, instead of several short ones.
Here are a couple of rules clarifications for Continuous:
1: When you fold, you may take any card in play.
2: When you have no cards, you must always hit.
Continuous Pairs can be a great change of pace. Try it out!
An Example of Play
Here is an example showing how to play a round of Pairs stepby-step. If you’re new to the game, this walkthrough should
give you a sense of how it flows.
The Players: This is a 5-player table, featuring Angie, Bob,
Carlos, Delia, and Echo. In the diagrams, they are Players A,
B, C, D, and E.
The Target Score: Because we have five players, the target
score is 13 points. (See the chart on the previous page.) That
means the first player to score 13 points will lose.
Setup: Angie is dealing (see the diagram below). She shuffles
the deck, puts the cut card on the bottom, and burns five
cards into the middle, to start the discard pile. She then deals
one card to each player, faceup, so the table looks like this:
Reshuffling: When it’s time to reshuffle, Angie shuffles only
the discards (not the cards in play, and not the cards that have
been kept for score). After shuffling, she burns five cards,
then resumes dealing wherever she left off.
Ending the Game: The game continues until one player
scores 13 points. That player loses the game.
Breaking a Tie for Low
In this example round, there is a tie for low card. Angie deals
more cards to break the tie, one to each low card:
First Cards:
Tie Breaker:
Dealing the Next Rounds: Angie won’t reshuffle until the
deck is empty. She keeps dealing until she reaches the bottom,
or until someone loses the game.
Some Hints for Dealing
Echo’s Turn: After Delia, the turn goes left. Echo
can hit her 9, or fold for 6 points. Folding for 6
seems costly, and hitting the 9 isn’t all that risky.
(There are only eight 9’s left in the deck.) So Echo
takes a hit, and catches a 3.
Thanks to the tiebreaker, Bob will go first. He has 4-8, which
is lower than 4-9. (If Angie deals a pair when breaking a tie, she
discards the paired card and deals another card.)
Delia is First: Because she has the lowest card, a
6, Delia will take the first turn. Her choices are to
fold for 6 points, or to take a hit, and risk getting 6
points. Obviously, she takes a hit. (This is usually
the right choice on the first turn.) Delia’s new card
is an 8, so she avoided pairing up. Hooray!
Angie’s Turn: Angie is next. She could now fold
for 3 points, since Echo has a 3, but she decides to
take a hit. She catches a 9.
Bob’s Turn: Bob has a 10. He could fold for 3
points, but he decides to take a hit. He gets a 5.
Carlos’ Turn: Carlos is a cautious player. Rather than risk
pairing his 10, Carlos folds, and takes the 3. Everyone’s cards
are then discarded, facedown in the center, but Carlos keeps
Echo’s 3 for three points. (If Carlos had taken a hit, rather
than folding, and if he had paired his 10, he’d get 10 points
instead of 3. )
You can keep the game moving along by calling out the cards
and making sure that every player acts in order.
As mentioned above, it doesn’t matter if one player deals all
the time, or if the deal passes around the table. The first player
is always determined by the low card, and that’s fair no matter
where the dealer sits.
Be sure to deal cards in a consistent order. Start with the player
on your left each time, and deal tiebreaking cards in the same
order, starting on your left.
To use the cut card, place it on the table after you shuffle. Cut
the deck onto the card, and then pick up the deck. The bottom
card should be hidden by this process.
Pairs was designed by James Ernest and Paul Peterson, with help from
Joshua Howard and Joe Kisenwether. Playtesters include Adam Sheridan, Ahna Blake, Bob De Dea, Boyan Radakovich, Carol Monahan, Cathy
Saxton, Daniel Solis, Debbie Mischo, Don Flinspach, Hal Mangold, Jeremy
Holcomb, John Mischo, Jonathan Fingold, Kenneth Hite, Mike Selinker, Nathan Clarenburg, Nora Miller, Owen Jungemann, Rick Fish, Shawn Carnes,
Tom Saxton, and many others. Edited by Carol Monahan, Cathy Saxton,
Christopher Dare, and Mike Selinker. Made possible through Kickstarter!
Pairs and the Pairs logo are © and ™ 2014 James Ernest and Hip
Pocket Games, Seattle WA: www.hippocketgames.com.
For more rules, variants, alternate decks, and more, please visit us at:
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