OBJECTIVE OF BAO HUANG: The objective of Bao Huang is to score a predetermined number of points to win the game.


MATERIALS:  Four modified 52-card decks and 8 Jokers (4 red and 4 black), a way to keep score, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Climbing Card Game



Bao Huang is a game played by 5 people. In a game, there will be an emperor, a possible partner to the emperor, and 3 to 4 common people who oppose the emperor. The goal for all players is to score a preset number of points to win the game and they do this by being one of the first players to play out all cards from their hands and helping others on their teams do this as well.


To set up the decks will need to be modified. First, one red and one black joker must be marked to signify their difference from the rest. The 3s, 4s, and 5s will be taken out of each deck, and then the remaining cards including all jokers are shuffled together. 

The player to the right of the shuffling player will cut the deck. The cards are then placed in the center of the table and players take turns in a counterclockwise action drawing a single card into their hand until all cards have been drawn. The first to draw a card is the player on the right of the cutting player. All players will not have even hands, meaning some players will have one more card than others. 

Each following round the shuffler moves to the player counterclockwise of the last. 

The player with the marked red Joker is the emperor of the round and the marked black Joker signifies their partner. The emperor’s partner is kept secret to all other players until the card is played. 

The emperor can decide to forgo being the emperor and pass to the left the red Joker. This player may either keep it and become the new emperor or pass it as well. If the joker is taken by no one then the original emperor must be the emperor for the game. 

The emperor may also find themselves holding both marked Jokers. This means they will have no partner and be playing against all other players. They may keep this hidden until the cards are played or announce it and double the scores for the game.

The partner of the emperor is kept secret till revealed by playing the marked card, but players may speculate. Players, not the emperor may also pledge their allegiance either against or for the emperor and double the score for the game, only the first pledge will alter the score though. 

After the first deal, there is also a tax that must be paid for losing the previous round. All players of the losing team must give up their highest-ranked card that is not a Joker. If the emperor lost, they will give up two cards and if they played alone 4 cards. These will be placed face down on the table and taken by the winning team, the emperor if won will take two in this case. In the case of a draw, there will be no cards exchanged for that round. 

Card Rankings 

The suits for the game do not matter but there is a ranking system for cards. The ranking for Bao Huang is Red Jokers (high), Black Jokers, 2s, Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, 10s, 9s, 8s, 7s, and 6s (low). 


The game begins always with the emperor playing first. Play will continue in a counterclockwise motion. Players get a chance to either pass or play a card(s) to beat a previously play combination. Players that pass previously can choose to play if their turn order comes up again. A player wins a hand if all other players pass. The previous winner of a hand will lead the next.

A player currently winning a hand may ask others not to beat them so that potential teammates may pass but players do not have to abide. 

Players will start to run out of cards, which is the objective, and in doing so will no longer be able to participate in the round. If a player wins a hand by playing out their last card the player to their right will start the next round. Play continues till all members of a team have emptied their hands. 

Playable Cards

There are a few options for playing cards on your turn. A player may play a single card or a valid combination of cards. A single card is beaten by a higher-ranking single card. To beat a combination a player will need to play a valid combination with an equal number of cards and each card must be of a higher rank than its corresponding card in the original combination. 

A valid combination can be any number of equally ranked cards, any amount of either joker amongst equally ranked cards, any combination of any colored jokers. 

An example of a single card being beat is a player playing an Ace over another player’s king. An example of a valid combination is a player playing three Aces over another player’s three kings. 


Scoring happens after the end of each round of play. The amount and way players score depends on a couple of factors.

If the emperor had a partner, then the order of which each player finished the round will matter. The first player to empty their hand gains 2 points, the next 1 point, then 0 points, then negative 1 point, and finally negative 2 points. Each team adds their scores collectively and scores that amount, except the emperor who scores double. For example, if the emperor and their partner came in first and second then their collective score would be 3 points. The partner would score three while the emperor would score 6 points. The other team would score each negative 3 points. These scores would be doubled if any player other than the emperor called allegiance. 

If the emperor was alone in the round it only matters when the emperor finished the round. If the emperor finished 1st then they get 12 points and all other players score negative 3 points. If the emperor comes 2nd then zero points are scored by either side. If the emperor comes 3rd of later, then all other players score 3 points and the emperor scores negative 12 points. If the emperor declared they were playing alone, or any other players declared alliance then these scores are doubled. 


The game ends when a player successfully reaches the predetermined score. If multiple players reach it during the same round the player with the higher total wins. 

Nakoa Davis