OBJECTIVE OF FARMER HENRY:  Be the first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand


NUMBER OF CARDS: 32 playing cards

RANK OF SUITS: (low) Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, Clubs (high)

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 7 – Ace, J of Diamonds, J of Hearts, J of Spades, J of Clubs (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Hand shedding



Farmer Henry is a hand shedding game that is typically played in Germany with a Skat deck.  However, it is easily played with a 32 card French deck.  In Farmer Henry, suits are ranked and each player has a different trump suit assigned to them.  All four Jacks are bowers and follow the same ranking structure as the four suits. 

During play, each player tries to play as many cards from their hand as possible and be the first to get rid of all their cards.


From a 52 card deck, remove the 2’s – 6’s of each suit. They are not used for this game. All four Jacks are Bowers in this game and rank (low) J of Diamonds, J of Hearts, J of Spades, J of Clubs (high).  The rest of the cards rank from (low) 7 – Ace (high) with Clubs has the highest ranking suit, then Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds as the lowest.

Shuffle the remaining 32 cards and deal 8 cards to each player.



The player who has the Ace of Clubs announces it and possesses Clubs as their trump suit for the game.  The remaining trump suits are assigned in counter-clockwise order around the table.  The next player to the right has Spades, then Hearts, and finally Diamonds.


The player holding the Ace of Clubs also leads the first trick.  They play any card.  The next player must try to win the trick with a card that follows suit.  If it is not possible for them to accomplish this,  they must play a trump card or a Jack.  Remember, each player has a trump suit assigned to them, and they play from that suit to trump a trick.  If a player is unable to beat the card that was just played by the player before them, the player must pick up the trick from the table and add the cards to their hand.  The next player leads the new trick.

If four cards are played to the trick, the trick-winner collects the trick and places it aside.  They lead the next trick.

As players run out of the cards and fall out of the game, play continues until only one player remains with cards in their hand.



The player with the Ace of Clubs in their hand (Player 1) leads the trick with a 9 of Diamonds.  The player on their left (Player 2) must play a higher Diamond if they can. They have a 10 of Diamonds, and they choose to play that.  Player 3 must beat it with a higher Diamond if they can.  They do not have one, so they must play a card in their trump suit or a Jack.  For player three, the trump suit is Hearts.  They play the 9 of Hearts.  Player 4 must play a higher Heart if they can.  If they cannot, they must play a card from their trump suit (Spades) or a Jack.  They play a Queen of Hearts.  Player 4 wins the trick and removes it from play. They lead the Jack of Hearts to begin the second trick.


Player 4 leads the second trick with a Jack of Hearts.  Player 1 must play a higher Jack if they can.  They have the Jack of Spades and play it.  Player 2 does not have the Jack of Clubs, so they collect the cards from the trick and add them to their hand.  Player 1 leads the third trick.


The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner. 

Mark Ball
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