OBJECT OF PEPPER: The object of Pepper is to be the first team or player to reach 30 points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 4 players

MATERIALS: A modified 52 card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game

AUDIENCE: Teens and Adults


Pepper is a trick-taking card game for 2 to 4 players. The object of the game is to score 30 points before your opponents.

The game varies slightly by how many players are playing.


To start the deck must be modified. A 24-card deck is made by removing all cards ranked 8 and lower.

The first dealer is chosen at random and passes clockwise for each new round. the dealer will shuffle the deck and deal hands based on the number of players.

For a 4-player game, 6 cards are dealt one at a time clockwise to each player. Players will play on teams of two, partners sitting across from each other.

In a 3-player game, each player is dealt 8 cards, clockwise. Each player plays for themselves.

For a 2-player game, the setup is the same as a 3-player game with a third hand being dealt out to neither player. these cards are left facedown for the entire game and are not used.

Card Ranking

This game has two possible rankings. If there is a trump suit in play the trumps are ranked Jack of trumps (high), Jack of the same color, Ace, King, Queen, 10, and 9 (low). All other suits (and if no trumps are in play, all suits) rank Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, and 9 (low).


After setup is complete players will bid for the opportunity to call trump.

For a 4-player game, the possible bids and their rank are 1 (low), 2, 3, 4, 5, Small Pepper, and Big Pepper (high). For each bid, the number is how many tricks you are contracted to win so you may score. Small and Big Pepper each require you to win all 6 tricks, but the payout for Big Pepper is doubled.

For a 2 and 3-player game, the possible bids and their rank are 1 (low), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Small Pepper, and Big Pepper. The requirements for contracts are the same except Small and Big Pepper require 8 won tricks.

The bidding is started by the player left of the dealer. On a player’s turn, they may pass or bid higher than the previous highest bid. (If playing with 4 players the teams share a bid, but may each raise the team’s bid on their turn.) The bidding continues until all but one player passes or when the highest possible bid has been made.

The winning bidder chooses a trump suit or may choose to have no trump suit for the round.


Starting with the highest bidder they will lead to the first trick. All other players must follow suit if able. If unable to follow the suit led, a player may play any card.

The trick is won by the highest trump played, if applicable. If no trumps were played, or if there is no trump suit for the round, the trick is won by the highest card played of the original suit led.

The winner of the trick takes it into their score pile and leads to the next trick.


After all tricks are played and won, players or teams will count their won tricks.

If the bidder won as many tricks as they were contracted to, they score one point for each trick won. If they did not, they lose 6 (8 for 2 and 3-player games) points regardless of the bid made. it is possible for a player or team to have a negative score.

The only exception to the above rule is if a bid of Big Pepper was made. if successful the winning player/team score 12 (16 for a 2 or 3-player game) points, but if they are not successful they lose 12 (16 for a 2 or 3-player game) points for not completing their contract.

The non-bidders always score 1 point for each trick they won.

The scores are kept cumulatively over several rounds. The game ends when 30 points are reached.


The game ends when 30 points are reached. If only one team/or player reaches 30 points they are the winner. If multiple people reach 30 points in the same round the team/player with the higher number of points wins. If there is a tie all tied players are winners.

Amber Crook
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