How To Play Twenty-Four

OBJECTIVE OF TWENTY-FOUR: To be the first player to discard all their cards from hand.


MATERIALS: A standard deck of 52 cards, paper and pencil, and a large flat surface

TYPE OF GAME: Mathematical Competition 



Twenty-Four is a game where two players use the four main math operators (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) to reach the sum of 24 using the four faceup cards values. The winner is the first person to have no remaining cards.


A standard deck of 52 cards is modified by taking all the face cards (King, Queen, and Jack) out of the deck. You should have 40 cards remaining Ace (1) through 10. The modified deck is then shuffled and dealt out with each player receiving 20 cards. Players may not look at their cards. Cards are instead made into neat piles to sit in front of players to pull from. 


To play Twenty-four each player takes their pile and reveals 2 cards from the top. Players then try separately to figure out a solution of 24 using the math operators and the numbers revealed. The solution must be exactly 24 and must use all four revealed numbers. Players may use parentheses in any part of their equation.

For example, the four cards revealed may be a 10, an ace (1), an 8 and a 7. An equation for this set of numbers may look something like this. (8 + 7) + (10 – 1) = 24.

Example Hand

Once a player has determined an equation, they may slap the table to signal they have one. They then write it out on a sheet of paper and work it out. If the other player agrees the solution and equation are correct the player wins the round. If the solution is incorrect the other player wins the round. Whoever lost the round takes the four cards and adds them to the bottom of their pile. 

If neither player can come up with a solution, they both may take back one card and flip a new one from the top of their respective piles. Using these new values, they continue to search for a solution. Eighty percent of card combinations have a solution. 


The game is won by the player who empties their pile of cards first. 

Nakoa Davis