OBJECT OF HUMBUG: The object of Humbug is to win the most tricks.


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

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game



Humbug is a trick-taking card game for 2 players. While it is usually played for stakes it can also be played as a scored game with a winner. The goal of the game is to win more tricks than your opponent. 


If playing for money the players should discuss and decide on what a stake is worth. This will determine payments made after each instance of the game. 

The dealer is chosen at random, and if multiple games are played, the turn to deal should switch evenly between the two players. 

The dealer will shuffle the deck and allow the other player to cut. Then the dealer will deal out the whole deck evenly. The last card which should be the dealer’s last card is revealed. This card’s suit is the trump suit for the game. 

Card Ranking

The cards are ranked traditionally. Ace (high), King, Queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low). 


The non-dealer starts the first card. They may lead any card they wish. The following player must play a card of the same suit if possible. If not, they may play any card including trumps. The player who played the highest trump wins. If no trumps are present the player to play the highest-ranking card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of a trick collects the cards and places them in a facedown score pile. They will also lead the next trick.

Players may not look back through their score piles nor may they look through their opponents. If a misplay occurs and is caught the offending player must pay their opponent 3 tricks. 

While players may decide if they wish to start the game playing with their hands revealed, players must pick up their hands after a few tricks. 


After all, tricks have been played and won, each player tallies their number of tricks. The player who wins the most tricks is the winner of the game. This can be a standalone victory, or it can be scored so that multiple games can be played to determine a final winner.

If playing for stakes the winner is awarded a number of stakes determined by the difference between the winner and the losers score. For example, if the winner won 16 tricks and the loser won 10 the loser pays the winner 6 stakes. 


The game can be played stand-alone where each game results in a winner or a payment or it can be played over several games to determine one final winner. This is up to the discretion of the players and should be discussed and decided on before the game begins. 

Amber Crook
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