13 Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

If you’re looking for an entertaining shedding-type game for all ages, I have a great one to recommend. These 13 card game rules will teach you how to play it.

In a shedding-type card game, players aim to get rid of all their cards faster than their opponents. It’s one of the most popular categories of card games – and one of my favorite ones, too.

This category of games includes the likes of Big 2 or Crazy Eights (check out our Big 2 rules and Crazy Eights rules if you’re not familiar with them) and also a game called 13. 

This old Asian game became popular in Western countries due to its originality and simple yet creatively adjustable rules. 

I enjoy playing it mainly with younger teens or older folks who can genuinely appreciate its straightforwardness. The only minus is that you must have exactly four players for this game.

This 13 card game rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is 13?
  • What you’ll need to play 13
  • 13 card game rules
  • How to play the 13 card game (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to 13 (our guides)

Continue reading and learn how to play the 13 card game from my detailed instructions. 

What is 13?

13 Card Game Info Image

If you have a single deck of cards at hand, three friends willing to play with you, and about half an hour to spare, 13 is a great game to play. In this game, all the players have the same chance of winning, but sometimes you have to be smart and creative to pull it off.

Number of Players: 4 players

Ages: 7+

Difficulty: Easy 

Length of Play: 20 – 45 minutes

Category: Shedding card game

Similar to: Big 2, Crazy Eights, Spit 

Main Objective: Be the first to get rid of all the cards in your hand.

Why We Love It: 13 is an original and dynamic shedding-type card game that can be creatively upgraded with alternative rules.

What You’ll Need to Play 13

The 13 card game requires only a standard deck of 52 playing cards

Our Pick
Bee MetalLuxe™ Playing Cards – Red Foil Diamond Back, Standard Index
$12.99 $9.48
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/24/2023 05:37 am GMT

13 Card Game Rules and Gameplay

If you’re an experienced player of card games, you may find many rules applied in 13 familiar. 

Nevertheless, there are also some unique rules that need explanation before you start playing it for the first time. For example, this card game uses a somewhat unusual cards order:

  • Two is the highest card, followed by Ace, King, Queen, and so on, all the way to Three, the lowest ranking card in this game.

Besides that, the suits also have their ranking in 13:

  • Hearts is the highest suit, followed by Diamonds, Clubs, and the lowest Spades.

Starting the Game

First, pick a player who will take on the game’s dealer role. His job is to shuffle the cards deck and deal all the cards (face down) among the players, one at a time.

To determine which player leads the first round, the players look at their cards and search for spades three (the lowest card in the entire game). The game then proceeds clockwise.

How to Play 13

This is how the gameplay proceeds:

  • The first player leads the initial round by playing the spades three
  • The card can be played separately or in a valid combination (see below). 
  • On your turn, you follow the card combination that led the round, trying to beat it by playing a higher-ranking card or combination.
  • You can also play the same ranking card of the higher suit(e.g., play three of hearts to beat the three of spades)
  • You can pass if you cannot or don’t want to play on your turn. However, you may not get involved in the game again until the cards are cleared.
  • Once everyone passes the round (meaning they cannot or don’t want to beat the current top card/combination), whoever played last clears the whole pile.
  • The last player who clears the cards from the table now leads the new round.

Valid card combinations

In this game, you can play your cards as singles or:

  • Sets of the same ranking cards (e.g., two fives, three Kings, etc.)
  • Runs of three or more cards in sequential order regardless of their suits (e.g., seven-eight-nine, three-four-five-six, etc.)

Some combinations have a special value. These include:

  • Sets of four cards(e.g., four sevens or four Queens)
  • Double runs(e.g., two sets of threes, fours, and fives of different suits)

These special combinations are called bombs, and you can play them on any card or combination. Subsequently, you immediately clear all the cards and lead a new round.

Alternative combinations

Some players like to involve more special card combinations in the gameplay:

  • Three or more consecutive pairs with no twos involved are called chops.
  • Three or more consecutive cards of the same suit cards (no twos) are suited runs
  • Three cards of the same rank are known as a trip.

If you choose to involve these optional combinations in your gameplay, you should also follow the special rules they trigger:

  • You can promote standard runs to suited runs. 
  • If you follow an un-suited run with a suited run of the same length, you can “call a suit.” Then the following runs must also be suited and of the same length. 
  • Chops can beat twos, the highest ranking cards in the game, and any combination of twos except for the bomb of twos.

Winning the game

The first player who gets rid of all the cards in their hand wins the game. He leads the new round if you choose to continue.

13 Scoring 

There is no official scoring for this game. Whoever plays all their cards first wins the game. 

However, I like to play this game as a tournament of five (or more) rounds. After each round, note who won the game on a score card or on a piece of paper (you can award the winner one point if you like).

After five rounds, check the most successful player. He becomes the total winner of the tournament. In the case of a tie, continue playing for as many rounds as needed.

How to Play 13 Card Game – Video Tutorial 

13 Card Game Frequently Asked Questions

How many cards does a player get in 13?

This game is designed for four players. It is played with 52 cards; all dealt at the beginning. Hence, each player receives 13 cards – just like the game’s name suggests.

Where did the card game 13 originate from?

This game was invented in Vietnam. Some even consider it a Vietnamese national card game. Although there are many alternatives and variations of this game in Vietnam, its basic rules remain the same as in the modern Western version described above.

Is Three thirteen the same game as 13?

No. Three thirteen is a separate game belonging to the Rummy family of card games. 

Related: Three-Thirteen card game rules

Other Similar Games to 13 (Our Guides) 

Do you enjoy playing 13? Check out our guides for the following alternatives to this card game:

Article by:
Read all the articles (121) written by Lucia Fajnerova