OBJECTIVE OF BLACK MARIA:  The objective of this game is to have the lowest score. When a player hits the pre-determined score, the player with the lowest score at that time wins the game.  

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 Players 

MATERIALS: A standard 52-card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface. 

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-taking Card game 



Black Maria is a trick-taking card game for 3 or 4 players. The goal of the game is to have the lowest score when a player reaches a score of 100.  


Cards are dealt clockwise and face down. The first dealer is determined randomly then it passes to the left for each new round.  

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals each player their hand of cards.   

If playing with 3 players, then the 2 of clubs is removed and each player is dealt 17 cards. If playing with 4 players, all cards are dealt out evenly. 

After hands are dealt each round, players will pass cards. Players will pass any three cards from their hand to the right. 


Once all cards are dealt and players have arranged their hand accordingly, the player to the dealer’s left starts the game.  

All players are required to follow suit if capable. In Black Maria, there is no trump suit. The highest card played of the leading suit wins, and the winner gets to begin the next trick. If a player is unable to follow suit, they can play any other card in their hand. This is a great opportunity to get rid of any high cards, to prevent winning unwanted suits.  

Players will continue playing until a player reaches a score of 100 or more points. 


This is a trick-taking game but the goal is to win a minimal number of tricks, or better yet, the goal is to NOT win tricks that contain hearts or the queen of spades. At the end of each round players add up the number of hearts they’ve won that round, as well as the queen of spades, and add that to their score. Remember, the objective is to have the lowest score. 

There are different scoring variations to choose from. Players should decide before playing which will be used for the entirety of the game.  

The first is the standard scoring in the USA. Each heart is worth 1 point and the Queen of Spades is worth 13 points.  

The next variation is 1 point for each heart, 13 points for the queen of spades, 10 points for the king of spades, and 7 points for the ace of spades.  

The final variation is very similar to Spot Hearts. All hearts from 2 to 10 are worth their numeric value in points. The jack, queen, and king of hearts are all worth 10 points each. The ace of hearts is worth 15 points, and the queen of spades is worth 25 points. This version of the game is also played to 500 points instead of 100 as the other variations are.  


Once a player reaches 100 or more points the game ends. The player who has the lowest score wins the game.  

Amber Crook
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