OBJECT OF SERGEANT MAJOR: The object of Sergeant Major is to win 12 or more tricks in a single round.


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

TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game



Sergeant Major is a trick-taking card game playable by 3 players. The goal of the game is to win 12 or more tricks in a single round.

The game has payouts in it. The payouts are done in stakes so each player should agree on what a single stake is worth.


The game has two dealing phases. The first phase consists of the first deal, and the second phase encompasses all deals after the first.

For the first phase, the dealer is chosen at random. They will shuffle, have the player to their right cut the deck, and then deal each player 16 cards. The four cards remaining form the kitty face down in the center of the play area. The dealer calls trumps then takes the kitty into their hand before discarding any four cards face down to the side.

The second phase starts with the player left of the last dealer and continues clockwise for future deals. The dealer shuffles, allows the player to their right to cut the deck, and then deals each player a hand of 16 cards.

After each player receives their hands then the card exchanging begins. each player who was up in the last round (described below) may give a player who was down one card per trick they were up. The down player must in response give the up player the highest card of the same suit they have in hand. If there was more than one up player the player who was up the most exchanges first, then the other up player may exchange.

After the exchange is over, the dealer calls trumps and picks up the kitty as described above. They then discard any four cards they wish from their hand. If the dealer was down, they must show any cards of a higher rank than the one given to the players who exchanged with them. For example, if the given card was a 3 of clubs and the dealer gave a 6 of clubs but then gets a 10 and ace of clubs from the kitty, they must show that player privately these two cards.

Card Ranking

The ranking is traditional with Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low).


The player to the dealer’s left starts. They may lead any card to the first trick. The following players must follow suit if capable, but if they cannot, may play any card they wish to the trick. The trick is won by the highest trump if applicable. If no trumps are present, then the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. The winner collects the trick and leads the next.

Each player has a number of tricks they must win each round. The dealer must win 8, the player to their left must win 5 and the player to the dealer’s right must win 3. If a player is winning more than they need to they are up that many tricks. If a player has not won as many as they need they are down however many tricks they need to reach their target.


After a round is completed payouts are made. each player down pays a number of stakes equal to how many tricks they are down. A player who is up collects that many tricks that they are up by.


The game is played until a player successfully wins 12 or more tricks in a single hand. This player is the winner.  

Amber Crook
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