OBJECTIVE OF SHOOTER:  Win the game by scoring 32 points or more

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 or 4 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: A 24 card deck

RANK OF CARDS: 2 (low) – A (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking

AUDIENCE: Kids to Adult

If you are interested in teaching the trick taking game mechanism, but games like Hearts, Spades, and Euchre are proving to be difficult to teach, Shooter is the perfect game for you.  The limited deck, simple ranking, and use of a trump suit make this an ideal choice for trick taking beginners.

In Shooter, each player is trying to earn points by taking tricks.  This is a free for all game, and the first player to score 32 points or more wins.


Shooter utilizes a twenty four card deck.  You will need the 9’s up through the Aces.  In this game, 9’s are low, and Aces are high.  In Shooter, there is also a trump suit.  The trump suit always outranks nontrump cards.

Determine who will begin as dealer.  In a four player game, each player is dealt six cards.  In a three player game, each player is dealt eight cards.  Deal cards one at a time.

It is helpful for players to organize their hands in order by suit.  


Once all of the cards have been dealt, it is time to begin bidding.  When a player bids, they are stating how many tricks they believe they can take.  A player must bid at least three.  The maximum amount a player can bid is six.  If a player cannot bid at least three, they simply say pass.

Bidding begins with the player to the left of the dealer.  They may make a bid or say pass.  If the player bids three, the next player must bid four or more.  If they cannot bid four or more, they say pass.  If they they bid four, the next player must bid five or more and so on.

Players bid six (or eight in a three player game) a little differently.  If a player thinks they can take all of the tricks, they say, “I am shooting the moon.”   Successfully doing this will earn extra points.

The player with the highest bid determines trump.  For example, if a player bids four, and they make trump diamonds, that means they think they can take at least four tricks with diamonds being the highest suit.

Remember, if you are the highest bidder, you must take at least that many tricks.  There is a penalty for failing to do so. 


Play begins with whoever made the highest bid and determined trump.  They choose one card from their hand and play it to the center.  Every other player must follow suit if they are able.  If they cannot follow suit, they can play any card they want.  Whoever lays the highest card in the suit that was led or the highest trump card takes the trick.

For example, if a player lays an Ace of spades, all other players must lay a spade from their hand unless they do not have one.  If they do have a spade, they may lay anything that they want – even a trump card.

Whoever takes the trick leads next.  Play like this continues until all of the tricks have been taken.

Sometimes a player will play a card incorrectly.  For example, a player might be able to follow suit but accidentally plays an off suit card.  This is an illegal play, and it is called reneging.  If a player is caught reneging, they immediately lose two points from their score.  They should also be severely scolded and possibly shunned.  Watch out!  Some players do this on purpose and count on others not catching them. 


Once all the cards have been played, the hand is over.  It is time to tally up the score.

Each player earns one point for every trick they took.  If the highest bidder failed to take the correct amount of tricks, they lose points equal to the amount they bid.  For example, if a player bids four and fails to take at least four, they subtract four points from their score.

If a player shoots the moon and successfully takes all six tricks (or eight in a three player game), they earn twelve points.  If they shoot and fail to take all of the tricks, they subtract twelve points from their score.

It is possible for a player’s score to go into the negatives.

The first player to reach thirty two points or more wins the game.  It is a rare occurrence, but if two players tie, continue playing until the tie is broken.  It is possible for the player that was not involved in the tie to win.  This is just part of the game, and it makes for an awesome comeback story to tell.

Mark Ball
Latest posts by Mark Ball (see all)