Japanese 51

OBJECT OF JAPANESE 51: The object of Japanese 51 is to achieve the highest score over other players. 

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 players

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

TYPE OF GAME: Commerce Group Card Game



Japanese 51 is a commerce group card game for 3 or 4 players. It is possible for 2 to 5 players to play, though not ideal. The goal of the game is to have the highest-scoring hand that the end of the game. Players achieve this by trying to gather the highest valued cards possible of the same suit. 

Unlike other games, there are not multiple rounds, nor is there a limit for how long or short a game could be. It is completely dependent on players.


A random dealer is chosen and shuffles the deck. They will deal each player a 5-card hand and deal 5 faceup cards into the discard layout. Cards are dealt clockwise to each player starting from the player to the dealer’s left. The remaining cards form a stockpile. 

Card Ranking and Values

The ranking does not matter in this game, but suits do. To score cards, they must be of the same suit. Cards have values associated with them. Numeric cards have their printed values associated with them. Face cards such as jacks, queens, and kings have a value of 10, and aces have a value of 11. 


The player to the dealer’s left starts the game. For the first round around the table, all players perform the same action on their turn. The player will pick up a card from the five faceup cards and discard a different card from their remaining hand. Play is clockwise around the table.

After all players complete this action and it’s the first player’s turn again, players will have a second option for their turn. players who wish not to pull from the 5 face-up cards may instead clear the faceup cards, setting them aside to be shuffled later when the stock runs out. Then 5 new cards are revealed face up to the table. This action can only be performed once a turn so the player now must take a card from the new 5 cards, as described above. 

At the end of their turn, a player may yell stop. Players only want to do this if they believe they have the best hand. Each other player gets one last turn before scoring begins.


To score a hand all cards of the same suit have their values summed. Any cards of other suits have their values subtracted from this sum. It is possible to have a negative score.


The scores are compared and the player with the highest score wins the game. in the case of a tie, if the player who yelled stop is involved the other player wins. If two none stop players are tied then both players win. 

Amber Crook
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