OBJECTIVE OF CUCKOO: Capture cards and score points for combinations.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 or 4 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: standard 52 card deck

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




Cuckoo, which is also sometimes referred to as Chase the Ace or Ranter Go Round in the UK. The direction of play within Cuckoo may differ from country to country, however, this article assumes clockwise. Cuckoo is a simple game and so it makes it a great game for families to play together, as it is fun for almost all ages.


The game starts with each player have an equal number of lives (for our purposes, let’s say three lives), and each player places a stake in the pot. The pot is taken by a single winner.

The dealer, who is chosen at random, passes each player a single card which they must look at. The goal is to not be left with the lowest ranking card. Suits are not relevant.

Taking Turns

Players all have one turn, starting with the player sitting directly to the left of the dealer and then moving clockwise (or to the left) around the playing table. During your turn you can either try to exchange your card or keep it. Your neighbor is required to accept the exchange unless they are holding a King in hand. If so, they must expose their King and one keeps their card. The dealer, who takes their turn last, may exchange a card from the stockpile of undealt cards if they wish. If they get a King from the stock they must keep their original card.

Once all players have taken their turns, each player proceeds to expose the card they are holding. Whoever holds the card of the lowest value loses a life. Players may tie for lowest and all lose a life as well. Once a player loses all their lives they are out of the game. The last person left in the game wins.

If there is a tie for lowest card between the players left alive, follow one of the rules below:

  • The pot is split equally between the tied players
  • The players retain their last life and are dealt new cards
  • The tied played cut the deck, the player who grabs the highest card wins the entire pot.
  • The game is declared undecided and the pot moves onto the next game, new stakes are added to it.
Nakoa Davis

Leave a Comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.