99 Card Game Rules and Instructions

If you’re after a simple card game for all ages, 99 should suit you well. Not sure how to play it? These 99 card game rules explain the gameplay in detail.

99, also known as Ninety-Nine or Bust, is a popular card-adding game ideal for a small group of players, including kids or beginners. 

If you know the rules of the Blitz card game (or Dutch Blitz, its popular alternative), you may find 99 familiar: The players aim to get as close as possible to a given score.

In 99, though, you don’t count the point in your hands but in the central pile. Moreover, what makes 99 unique, is using poker chips or tokens to bail out in specific situations.

Key highlights of this 99 card game rules guide:

  • What is 99?
  • 99 Card Game Rules
  • 99 Scoring 
  • 99 Rules in Pictures 
  • How to play 99 (Video tutorial)

Continue reading for detailed instructions on how to play 99.

What is 99?

99 Card Game Info Image

In 99, the players count the cards to get as close to the desired score as possible without exceeding it. It is a fast-paced game that will test your concentration and strategic skills.

Number of Players: 2+ 

Ages: 10+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 15+ minutes 

Type of Game: Card-counting game

Similar to: Blitz, Twenty-One, Twenty-Eight

Main Objective: Count the cards and be the last player with a remaining token.

Our Take: 99 is an addictive game that becomes more and more fun as you practice.

Related: How to play 22 card game | How to play 66 card game

What You’ll Need to Play 99

To play 99, you need the following:

  • Decks: 1
  • Number of Cards: 52
  • Cards Omitted: Jokers

You will also need a set of poker chips or some other tokens.

99 Card Game Rules

The 99 rules are simple, but beware, there are several alternative versions to the game with some differences (e.g., Oxford Whist).

The following instructions are considered classic and most widely spread.

Starting the Game

First, the players decide on a dealer. In each new round, the role of the dealer moves to another (non-eliminated) player in the clockwise direction. 

The dealer provides each player with an equal amount of tokens (typically, 2-3 players get 5 tokens each, whereas 4+ players get 3 tokens each). 

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals 3 cards to each player. Players can check their cards immediately but must keep them hidden from their opponents. 

Place the remaining card deck in the center of the table. This will be your draw pile.

How to Play 99

Once you’ve dealt cards and tokens, you can start playing. 

  • The player to the dealer’s left starts first. The game proceeds in a clockwise direction. 
  • Player number one picks one of their cards and places it next to the draw pile. 
  • All cards have their value (see below) and add to the total value of the pile.
  • Players continue adding their cards one by one to the newly forming pile, counting the total value aloud. 
  • You must draw another card from the draw pile whenever you play one of yours. If you forget about this, you lose the chance to draw a card.

When you run out of the draw pile, keep the upper card from the central pile and shuffle the rest as a new draw pile. The total value of the pile remains the same.

99 Scoring

Each card has its value which adds to the total value of the central pile:

  • 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 = face value (Example: 8 = 8 points)
  • Ace = 1 or 11 points (players decide upfront)
  • Queen, Jack = 10 points

Some cards don’t have any value or have special effects instead:

  • 9 = 0 points
  • 4 = 0 points; this card reverses the gameplay direction
  • 10 = increases or reduces the total value by 10 points (players decide)
  • King = sets the total value of the pile straight to 99

99 Winner

If you cannot make another move without pushing the total value of the pile over 99, you must add one token to the center. Once you run out of tokens, you are eliminated. 

The game continues until all players but one run out of tokens

The last player with a remaining token (tokens) becomes the winner and wins all the tokens from the center.

99 Card Game Rules In Pictures

Step 1

99 Card Game rules 1 image

The dealer provides each player with 3 cards and an equal number of tokens (e.g., 5). Place the remaining playing cards in the center of the table. This will be your draw pile.

Step 2

99 Card Game rules 2 image

Each card has its value. Players continue adding their cards one by one to the newly forming pile, counting the pile’s total value aloud. 

Step 3

99 Card Game rules 3 image

A player must draw another card from the draw pile whenever they play one of theirs to the central pile.

Step 4

99 Card Game rules 4 image

If a player cannot make another move without pushing the total value of the pile over 99, they must add one token to the center. 

Step 5

99 Card Game rules 5 image

Players who run out of tokens are eliminated from the game. The last player with a token (tokens) becomes the winner.

How to Play 99 – Video Tutorial 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cards are in the 99 card game?

Typically, there are 52 classic playing cards in the 99 card game. Alternatively, you can also use multiple decks to accommodate more players. Each player initially receives three cards.

How many tokens do you get in 99?

Players usually get 3 to 5 tokens depending on the total number of players and the desired length of the game. 

Can 2 people play 99?

Theoretically, 2 people can play 99. However, it is more enjoyable in groups of 3 or more players.

Other Similar Games to 99 (Our Guides) 

If you enjoy playing 99, check out our guides to a few similar games:

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Read all the articles (116) written by Lucia Fajnerova