Beggar My Neighbor

OBJECTIVE OF BEGGAR MY NEIGHBOR: Don’t run out of cards first.


NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck 

RANK OF CARDS: A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2




Beggar My Neighbor is a children’s card game with many names such as Strip Jack Naked or Taxes. It is a simpler version of the game Egyptian Rat Screw. This game appears in Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, which was written in 1861. The game is thus believed to have been born in Britain no later than in the 1840s.


The deck is split evenly between the two players. The stacks of cards are placed face-down in front of each player. Whichever player is to the left of the dealer starts the game. They flip over the top card from their stack so that it is face-up and in the middle. Players take turns flipping their cards onto this pile. There are two kinds of cards in Beggar My Neighbor, ordinary cards (2-10) and penalty/court/pay cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack).

Gameplay continues until a penalty card turns up. If this happens, the player’s opponent must ‘pay’ by playing a certain number of cards in succession. Rates are as follows:

Ace: 4 ordinary cards

King3 ordinary cards

Queen: 2 ordinary cards

Jack: 1 ordinary card

Once the penalty has been fulfilled, the player who played the penalty card gets the entire middle face-up pile and adds it to the bottom of their personal stack.

However, if a penalty card is played while paying a penalty, the initial penalty is nullified and the other player must pay.

Once a player has the whole deck they have won. Conversely, the player who runs out of cards first loses.

if you enjoyed Beggar my Neighbor, try out Slapjack and other kid-friendly card games!


Playing Beggar My Neighbor

Nakoa Davis

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