Designed by Bram Tebbutt


MadJack is a trick-taking game for two players that has two phases.  During the first phase, players juggle capturing tricks and building their hand for the second phase.  For the second phase of the game, players have the opportunity to capture Prize Cards that will be a huge help in winning the round.  

Be wary of the wily Jacks. They will change rank depending on the card that leads the trick or the Prize Card that is up for grabs during the second phase.  The player who wins the most cards during the round earns points, and the first person to earn 10 points wins the game. 


MadJack requires a 29 card deck that includes cards 8-Ace in all four suits as well as one Joker.  To keep score, each player will need a set of 5’s. If desired, chips, pen and paper, or a digital scoring app can be used to track the score.


To determine the dealer, each player cuts the deck.  Lowest card deals first.  Shuffle the deck and deal eleven cards to each player.  Players may look at their cards, but they should not allow their opponent to see them.  

Two cards are dealt face down to a kitty.  These cards are not used during the round.

The remaining five cards form the Prize Row.  Place these cards face up in a staggered row, so each card can be seen. 


All Jacks have two suits: their main suit and their MadJack suit.  During phase 1, the Jack that is the same color as the lead suit for the trick becomes the MadJack.  It is the third most powerful card for that trick.  

(Example) If Player 1 leads the Ace of Hearts, the Hearts suit card ranking for that trick becomes (low) 8 9 10 Q K A J J Joker (high).

In the above example, the Jack of Diamonds is the MadJack for the trick.  Even though its main suit is Diamonds, it is considered a Heart for the trick. 

During Phase 2, the Prize Card for the trick determines which suit must be followed.  It also determines the MadJack for that trick.

(Example) The Prize Card is a 5 of Spades.  The Spades suit card ranking for that trick is (low) 8♠ 9♠ 10♠ Q♠ K♠ A♠ J♣ J♠ Joker (high).


A round of MadJack has two phases.  Phase 1 contains the first six tricks, and Phase 2 contains the last five tricks.  During Phase 2, players will have the opportunity to capture a Prize Card with the trick. 


The non-dealer leads the first trick with any card from their hand.  Their opponent does not have to follow suit.  They can play any card they want from their hand.  The highest card in the lead suit or the Joker wins the trick.

The trick-winner collects the trick and places the cards face down in their capture pile.  They also lead the next trick.

Phase One continues for six tricks.  When each player has five cards remaining in their hand, Phase Two begins.


During Phase Two, players have an opportunity to win an extra Prize Card each trick.  

The winner of the final trick in Phase One leads the first trick of Phase Two.

The top-most card of the Prize Row (the Prize Card) determines the suit that must be followed by both players, if possible, for the trick.  The person who plays the highest ranking card in the Prize Card’s suit wins the trick.  Remember, the Joker can be played at any time, and it always wins the trick.

If the trick-winner plays a card that is in the same suit and also higher ranked than the Prize Card, they collect all three cards: theirs, their opponent’s, and the Prize Card.

If their card is lower ranked than the Prize Card, they only collect the two cards from the trick and discard the Prize Card.

If the person who leads the trick cannot follow the Prize Card’s suit, they may play any card.  If the player who follows is also unable to match the Prize Card’s suit, they must follow the suit of the card that is led.  In that case, the Jack and the MadJack are determined by the card that leads the trick, and the highest card in the suit that is led wins.  The Prize Card is discarded.

If the Joker is the Prize Card, the player who leads the trick may play any card.  The opposite player must follow the suit of the lead card if they can.  The highest card in the lead suit wins the trick, and the Joker is discarded.


Continue playing until all eleven tricks are complete.  This ends the round, and it is time to tally up the score.


For future rounds, the player who won the previous round leads the first trick.  The game continues until one player reaches 10 points or more.  This ends the game.



Whoever collects the most cards wins the round.  Only the round-winner earns points for the round.  The number of points earned is determined by how many more cards the round-winner collects.

Win by 5 or fewer cards = 1 point 

Win by 6-11 cards = 2 points

Win by 12 or more cards = 3 points

If a tie occurs, whoever wins the last trick earns 1 point for the round.


The first player to earn 10 points or more wins the game.

Free PDF of MadJack

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