OBJECTIVE OF GURKA: The objective of Gurka is to not be eliminated.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  3 to 8 Players

MATERIALS: A standard 52 card deck, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game 



Gurka is a trick-taking game playable by 3 to 8 players. It is related to the game Cucumber.


Players will all pay an equal stake to the pot before the game begins.

To set up a player will be the dealer for the round. They will shuffle the deck and deal each player 6 cards facedown. The remaining cards are placed in a facedown pile near all players. The cards are ranked with Ace being the highest and 2 being the lowest rank of card. The full ranking is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The suit of the cards doesn’t matter in this game.

Penalty Points

Cards have penalty points attached to them. Aces are worth 14 penalty points. Kings are worth 13, Queens are worth 12, and Jacks are worth 11. 10 through 2s are worth their numeric value in penalty points.


Gurka is played over a series of rounds and in these rounds, you will play 6 tricks. To start the game the player to the dealer’s left will play the first card of the trick. From then on, the winner of the trick will start the next one. 

When playing a trick in Gurka the player who starts the trick may play any card they would like. The remaining players must then play a card that is the same or higher-rank or they must play their lowest ranking card. The player with the highest-ranked card or the highest-ranked card played last takes the trick. The player(s) with the highest-ranked card of the trick scores penalty points based on the card.

When a player reaches a penalty score of 30 points they are eliminated from the game. If there are at least 3 remaining players, however, a player may buy back into the round at any time by paying another stake to the pot. They will be redealt in and take a penalty score equal to the player with the highest penalty score at the table.


The game ends once there is only one player who is not eliminated.


There are a few variations that can be played with.

The most common being that a player must only match or beat the rank of the previously played card. If using this variation, a player only needs to match or beat the last card played to the trick, and not necessarily the highest one of the current trick.

Another variation states a player must always beat first beat or equal the previous player’s card, and only if they cannot they then play their lowest ranked card.

Some play that aces cannot be outranked or matched even by another ace, and a player is forced to play their lowest ranked card.

Another variation states that the leading player must lead with their lowest ranked card.

This variation states the score to be eliminated is 20 instead of 30.

Another claims that each player has a free rebuy.

Amber Crook
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