Designed by Mark S. Ball


Up the ante in Pop!, a trick-taking card game for two.  Players will have cards in hand as well as display cards that are visible to their opponent.  Manage wild jokers, jacks that jump rank, and a slew of unknown cards.  Bluff and bully your way to victory much faster with strategic use of the pop cube.


Play with a standard 52 card deck by stripping the pack down to 7’s up through Aces.  Also, include two jokers to complete the 34 card deck.  The jokers need to look different in some way.  Designate one as the big-joker and the other as the little-joker.

The pop cube is a six sided die used to determine how many points can be won during the round.  Players can pop to increase the points at stake.

A piece of paper and pencil are needed for keeping score.


Place the pop cube on the table so that the 1 is showing.  

Cut for low card to determine the dealer.  Low card deals first. For future rounds, the player with the most points is the dealer.  If tied, whoever wins the round deals next.

The deal consists of each player receiving fourteen cards divided into two areas: a display and a hand of cards.


Deal each player seven cards to form their hand.  These cards are held so your opponent cannot see them.


Deal each player seven cards to form their display pile.  Each person turns the top two cards of their display face up on the table.  There are never more than two display cards showing at once.


Place the rest of the cards face down near the center of the table to form the stock.  Turn the top card of the stock over.  This card determines the trump suit for the round.  


The trump suit is the most powerful suit for the round, and its ranking structure changes.  From low to high, the trump suit becomes: (low) 7 8 9 10 Queen King Ace Little-Jack Big-Jack Little-Joker Big-Joker (high)

Both jokers join the trump suit and must be played as if they are part of that suit.  If both jokers are played to the same trick, the big-joker wins.  

The trump suited jack jumps up in rank and becomes the big-jack.  The jack that is the same color as the trump suit becomes part of the trump suit.  This card is called the little-jack.  For example, if hearts are trump, the jack of diamonds becomes a heart for the round, and it must be played as one.

If a joker is turned up on the stock, there is no trump suit for the round.  Jacks remain their normal rank, and the other joker becomes the lowest ranking card.


The non-dealer leads the first trick.  They may play one card from their hand or their display.  That card is placed face up in the center of the playing space.

The opposite player must play a card from the same area.  They must also match the lead suit if they can.  If they are unable to match it, they may play any card. 

To continue the trick, the player who led now plays a card from the opposite area.  If they led the trick with a card from their display, they must add a card to the trick from their hand.  This card must also match the lead suit if possible.  If they cannot follow suit, the player may play any card from that area.

For example, the non-dealer leads a 10♠ from their display.  The opposite player follows suit with the Q♠ from their display.  The non-dealer continues the trick with a K♠ from their hand.  The opposite player does not have a spade in their hand, so they play the 9.  


The highest ranking card in the suit that is led or the highest ranking trump card wins the trick.  The trick-winner collects the trick and keeps it face down in front of them.  Players are not allowed to look at the cards they have collected until the end of the round.

In the example above, the non-dealer wins the trick with the K♠.  If ’s were trump, the 9would have won the trick.  


After the trick is collected, both players turn the next card from their display pile over.  Remember, a player can never have more than two display cards showing.


The trick-winner now leads with a card from their hand or their display and play continues as described above.


Players can pop at any time during the game, but they cannot pop twice in a row.  Popping increases the top prize point value for the round.

After a player announces that they wish to pop, the other player may accept it or fold.  If they fold, the round ends immediately.  If they accept, the pop cube’s value is increased by one, and the round continues.

Once the pop cube reaches 6, no more pops may occur.



The player who captures four or more tricks or causes their opponent to fold earns the number of points displayed on the pop cube.   


If a player captures three tricks only, they earn 1 point.  A player who folds earns nothing for the round.


The player with the most points deals the next round.  If the score is tied, whoever won the last round deals.

The first player to reach 7 points wins the game.  For a longer game, play to 11.


Try this scoring system for a more high-risk game.  The pop cube begins one point higher each round.  Round one begins with the 1 showing, round two begins with the 2 showing and so on.  

Free PDF of Pop!

Enjoy the game?  Consider buying the designer a cup of coffee.