Card Game: Rich Man, Poor Man

Rules for the card game: Rich Man, Poor Man

This is a game we learned while visiting the Wall-Johnson’s over Thanksgiving. It is simple to learn and fun to play. Each game takes less than 5 minutes but you will want to play it for hours. It is easy enough to understand that children as young as 6 can play if they are good at cards (poker hands can be difficult to to understand).


The rules are laid out pretty well in the link above (and copied below) with a few modifications:

1) 2’s are wild and the highest card in the deck
2) The same number of cards must be played (if play starts with 1 card, only 1 card can b played. If play starts with 4 card [2-pair] only 4 cards can be played.)
3) This is poker so you score using poker hands (straight, straight flush, full house, etc)
4) If you use a 4-card hand (4-of-a-kind) you must use a 5th card (can be any card)
5) Suit rank is important. Diamonds are highest, then Hearts, Spades and finally Clubs

The lowest card is a 3 of Clubs. The person with a 3 of Clubs uses it to start the game. They can use it as a single card or as part of a hand.

The highest is the 2 of Diamonds.

We played only with four people.

Note: One variation (which we did not play) plays where the winner gets the two best cards from the loser (and returns two unwanted card) in the next round. The second person to get rid of all their cards takes the best card from the third player and gives an unwanted card back. Dealer of deck rotates clockwise.


The Basic Game


The aim is to get rid of all your cards as soon as possible. The last player left with cards is called the scum, asshole, or whatever term of derision is locally used.

Players and Cards

About 4 to 7 people using a standard 52 card pack. The suits are irrelevant and the cards rank, from high to low, 2 A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3.


The game is played clockwise. All the cards are dealt out. Some players may have one more than others.


The player to dealer’s left starts by leading (face up) any single card or any set of cards of equal rank (for example three fives). Each player in turn must then either pass (i.e. not play any cards), or play face up a card or set of cards which beats the previous play.

A single card is beaten by any higher single card. A set of cards can only be beaten by a higher set containing the same number of cards. So for example if the previous player played two sixes you can beat this with two kings, or two sevens, but not with a single king, and not with three sevens (though you could play two of them and hang onto the third).

It is not necessary to beat the previous play just because you can – passing is always allowed. Also passing does not prevent you from playing the next time your turn comes round.

The play continues as many times around the table as necessary until someone makes a play which everyone else passes. All the cards played are then turned face down and put to one side, and the player who played last (and highest) to the previous “trick” starts again by leading any card or set of equal cards.
For example the play might go:

44 Pass Pass 66 99
JJ Pass Pass Pass KK
Pass Pass AA Pass Pass
Pass Pass      

C then starts again by leading any card or set.

When a player whose turn it is to play has no more cards left, the turn passes to the next player in rotation. Therefore in the example, if the two aces were C’s last two cards, it would then be D’s turn to play anything.

Social Status

The first player who is out of cards is awarded the highest social rank – for Americans this is President – the next is Vice-President, then Citizen and so on down. The last player to be left with any cards is known as the Beggar, Scum, Asshole or by various terms of abuse. For Europeans the ranks can be King, Minister, … , Peasant or Boss, Foreman, Worker, Bum.

If keeping score, the players get points depending on their position – for example 2 for the President, 1 for the Vice President and nothing for the others. More importantly, the players of higher status are entitled to enjoy and generally abuse their power over the lower ranking players.

For the next hand the players move seats. The President selects the most comfortable chair, the Vice President sits to the President’s left, and so on around to the Asshole who sits to the President’s right, probably on a crate or packing case.

The Asshole is responsible for shuffling, dealing and clearing away the cards when necessary. As the players are now seated clockwise in order of rank, the first card is dealt to the President, the second to the Vice President, and so on down.

When the deal is complete, the Asshole must give his highest card to the President, and the President gives back in exchange any card which he does not want.

The President then leads any card or set of cards and the game continues as before.

End of Game

If scoring, set a target and the game ends when someone reaches (say) 11 points.

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  1. When i watched a movie they played this game and they mentioned something about revolution and reverse revolution. What are they talking about?

  2. Same here
    When I watched a Shows they play this game and they mentioned something about revolution and reverse revolution. What are they talking about?

  3. The game is the same as the American game @zzhole, edited for the internet, where as “president” (or rich man) you can add rules to the basic play. One of those is the “revolution” a four-of-a-kind when played causes some thing about the game to change, i.e. the players ranks reverse, or the suit rankings change, or card values reverse (making a 3 the highest ranking) a reverse revolution would then be a second four of a kind being played, thus returning things to normal.

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