OBJECTIVE OF RACEHORSE: The objective of Racehorse is to score points.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 5 or More Players

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

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game



Racehorse is a trick-taking card game for 5 or more players. The goal is for you to score as many points as you can.

Racehorse is played for stakes. Only the pitcher will pay or be paid after each round.


The first dealer is chosen at random and passes to the left for each new deal.

This deck is shuffled and dealt out each player receiving 6 cards.

Card Rankings and Point Values

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

For bidding, there are points awarded to players who win certain cards or meet certain criteria during the game

There is scoring for high, low, game, and jack. High means the team that holds the highest trump in play scores 1 point. Low means the team that wins in a trick the lowest trump in play scores 1 point. The game point is awarded to whichever team scores the most points (discussed more below). Finally, the jack point is awarded to the team that wins the jack of trumps in a trick. There is a total of 4 possible points to be won in a round.

For the game, point players tally their score based on the cards they won in tricks. Each ace is worth 4 points, each king is worth 3, each queen is worth 2, each jack is worth 1, and each 10 is worth 10 points.


Once all players have received their hands the round of bidding can begin. The player on the dealer’s left will start and in turn, each player will bid higher than the previous or pass. Players bid on how many of the above points they must win in a round.

The minimum bid is 2 and the maximum bid is a bid of Smudge (or 5). Smudge requires that all four points above are won along with all 6 tricks as well.

If all other players pass the dealer must bid 2. The dealer may also steal the high bid by bidding the same as the highest current bid.

The bidding ends once all but one player passes, or a bid of Smudge is made. The winner becomes the pitcher.

It’s typical for the remaining players to temporarily team up to prevent the pitcher from making their bid.


The pitcher will lead to the first trick, and the suit of the card led will determine trump for the round. The following players may follow suit or play a trump. If they cannot follow suit, they may play a trump or any other card from their hand. 

The trick is won by the highest-ranked trump, or if no trumps were played, the highest card of the suit led. The winner collects the cards from the trick and leads to the next trick a card of their choosing.

The round ends once all 6 tricks are played.


Payouts happen after each round.

The pitcher will determine if they were successful in completing their bid. If they were successful, they are paid 1 dollar for each point bid from each of the other players. If the pitcher was unsuccessful, they must pay 1 dollar for each point bid to each opponent.

The opponents do not receive any additional payment for points they scored.

A pitcher who was unsuccessful in their bid is considered upped for the next round. a successful pitcher will deal for the next round. An upped pitcher will have the player to their right deal the next round.

Amber Crook
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