22 Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Play the highest cards and win the tricks – but not the last one, or you’ll be penalized. My step-by-step 22 card game rules will teach you how to play this original game.

22, also commonly spelled as Twenty-Two, is a dynamic trick-taking game where all the players, quite unusually, aim to avoid taking the last trick of the round. 

There are more unique rules, though. The game’s name, for example, refers to the number of penalty points that will get you eliminated from the game.

Therefore, do not confuse 22 with 99 (see our 99 card game rules), where you, on the contrary, aim to get as close to 99 points as possible. 

I would instead compare 22 to Nines (check out our Nines card game rules): In both games, you seek to score as little as possible, and you also get the chance to change your cards.

In any case, 22 is truly an enjoyable game that can keep both seasoned players and beginners entertained.

This 22 card game rules guide will cover the following: 

  • What is 22?
  • What you’ll need to play 22
  • 22 card game rules
  • How to play the 22 card game (video tutorial)
  • FAQs
  • Other similar games to 22 (our guides)

Read on for complete instructions on how to play the 22 card game.

What is 22?

22 Card Game Info Image

In 22, players compete in playing the highest ranking cards or combinations and win the tricks. However, not in the last trick of the round: Whoever wins it earns penalty points.

22 is a classic trick-taking game with an exciting twist that can motivate you to develop your strategies and tactics.

Number of Players: 2 – 6 players

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Moderate

Length of Play: 20 – 45 minutes

Category: Trick-taking card game

Similar to: 99, SpadesNines

Main Objective: Be the last player in the game. 

Why We Love It: This game looks very simple, but if you don’t want to leave it all on the fortune, you can create your tactics and master them round after round.

What You’ll Need to Play 22

Like many other trick-taking card games, 22 requires only a single standard 52-card deck.

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12/03/2023 10:07 pm GMT

22 Card Game Rules and Gameplay

If you’re already familiar with some other trick-taking card games, it won’t take you long to understand the rules of 22, either. 

The game consists of numerous rounds (the number differs from game to game) in which players can either win or lose individual tricks based on the ranking of the card they play. 

For this purpose, of course, it is important to know the ranking of the cards: In 22, Twos are considered the lowest cards, and Aces are the highest cards.

Starting the Game

First, each player draws one random card out of the deck. Then, whoever has the highest ranking card becomes a dealer for the first round and deals seven cards to each player.

In the following rounds, though, dealing will be very different: 

Whoever lost the previous round deals the next, and the number of cards dealt in the next round is determined by the card the loser played in the last trick.

After the players check their cards, they all have the opportunity to discard as many of them as they wish, replacing them with new cards from the remaining deck. 

However, they must do it in the correct order (the player on the dealer’s left goes first), and when the deck runs out, some players may not get their chance to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Still, discarding is optional – you don’t have to do it if you’re happy with your cards.

How to Play 22

Once everyone is settled with their cards, this is how the first turns proceed:

  • The player on the left of the dealer leads the first trick. 
  • He can play any individual card OR a set of equally ranked cards (e.g., he plays one Queen or a pair/trio of Queens).

Note that the leading player must always keep at least one card left in his hand (i.e., if they only have a set of three last cards, they can only play two of them and keep the last one).

The following players must replicate the number of cards played by the first player. They, however, have two different options for how to do it:

  • They can play an individual card or set that is equal to or greater than the highest value card or set already in the trick. 
  • Alternatively, they can play the lowest card or set it from their hand. 

Unlike the leading player, who could only create sets of equal cards, his opponents can play any cards given that they come in the same amount and meet the turn’s requirements.

Example tricks

Since the rules above can be a bit confusing (especially for beginners), I’m adding a few examples of how the tricks in 22 may look:

1st Example

  • Player 1 leads the trick with a 6. 
  • Player 2 also plays a 6.
  • Player 3 does not have a 6, so he plays a higher-ranking 9 to the trick.
  • Player 4 does not have a 9 or higher, so they play a 3 (their lowest card).
  • Player 3 wins the trick with his 10 (the highest ranking card) and leads a new trick.

2nd Example

  • Player 1 leads the trick with 5,5.
  • Player 2 plays 5,6 (a higher pair, which doesn’t have to consist of equal cards)
  • Player 3 cannot beat 5,6 with higher cards, so they play 3,4 – their lowest cards.
  • Player 4 plays 9,10 and wins the trick.

3rd Example

  • Player 1 leads the trick with Q, Q, Q.
  • Player 2 plays Q, K, K.
  • Player 3 follows with 3,3,4. 
  • Player 4 wins the trick with J, Q, K.

The Last Trick

All the players must keep one last card for the final trick of the round, which is played just like the previous ones: The highest-ranking card takes it all. 

However, the player who wins this final trick will eventually be penalized for this “success” and must keep his last card on the side for the final scoring.

The remaining cards are then re-shuffled, and the next round can begin.

22 Scoring 

Whenever a player wins the final trick of a certain round, he keeps his last card on the side in a so-called scoring pile. Each card stands for the following amount of points:

  • Aces = 11 points
  • Jacks, Queens, and Kings = 10 points
  • 2-10 = face value

When a player collects 22 points, he is eliminated from the game. Then, he deals one last round for the remaining players and leaves for good. 

The last player in the game wins.

How to Play 22 Card Game – Video Tutorial 

Coming Soon!! 

22 Card Game Frequently Asked Questions

What if there are not enough cards to deal to each player according to the loser’s last card in 22?

If you don’t have enough cards for all the players, deal the whole deck evenly.

How many rounds are there in 22?

It differs from game to game. The game continues until all, but one player earns 22 and more points. This can happen in 6, 10, or 20 rounds, depending on how many players you have.

Is 2 or 22 the same game as 22?

No, 2 or 22 is a poker-style casino game that involves betting, whereas 22 is a trick-taking card game based on point collection.

Other Similar Games to 22 (Our Guides) 

Do you like this game? Maybe you should check our guides to the following 22 alternatives next:

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Read all the articles (121) written by Lucia Fajnerova