Canadian Salad (Rules and Instructions)

Are you looking for a simple trick-taking card game for all ages? My Canadian Salad rules guide will teach you how to play this family-friendly game.

The game originates, as its name suggests, in Canada. You may also know it simply as a Salad or Wisconsin Scramble.

Canadian Salad is a classic trick-taking card game with a twist. 

Unlike in Oh Hell! or Euchre (see Oh Hell card game rules and Euchre rules), you’re not trying to collect cards along with the tricks but rather avoid them.

Key highlights of this Canadian Salad rules guide:

  • What is Canadian Salad?
  • Canadian Salad rules
  • Canadian Salad scoring 
  • Canadian Salad Rules in pictures 
  • How to play Canadian Salad (Video tutorial)

Read on and learn how to play Canadian Salad step by step.

What is Canadian Salad?

Canadian Salad Card Game Info Image

In Canadian Salad, players pass through six deals following specified objectives and avoiding penalty points. It is a simple and fast-paced game for kids and adults alike.

Number of Players:

Ages: 6+

Difficulty: Easy 

Length of Play: 15 – 40 minutes

Type of Game: Trick-taking card game

Similar to: UNO Hearts, Spades, Nines 

Main Objective: Complete six rounds, avoiding penalty points for specific cards and tricks.

Our Take: Canadian Salad is an original variation on trick-taking card games, as it turns some of its basic principles upside down.

What You’ll Need to Play Canadian Salad

To play Canadian Salad, you’ll only need the following:

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

Canadian Salad Rules

Canadian Salad has simple rules, but some of them are quite unique. This game also has multiple variations, so you may find different interpretations of the rules elsewhere. 

Starting the Game

First, determine who will act as the dealer. One by one, the players cut the deck and compare the cards. The player who uncovers the highest-ranking card deals first.

Each player gets 13 cards, so you deal the entire deck among the players. The game can then begin.

How to Play Canadian Salad

The game is organized into six deals. Players must achieve different goals in each (see the scoring section for details).

In the first round, the player to the dealer’s left starts first, playing any card from their hand to the center of the table (later, whoever wins the trick, starts a new round). 

This game has no trumps, so whoever plays the highest-ranking card of the leading suit wins the trick (see card ranking below). 

Canadian Salad Scoring 

In each round, players try to accomplish the following requirements in order to avoid earning penalty points:

  • Deal 1: Take no tricks. Each trick = 10 points (a total of 130 points in this deal)
  • Deal 2: Take no Hearts. Each trick with a heart = 10 points (a total of 130 points in this deal)
  • Deal 3: Take no Queens. Each Queen = 25 penalty points (a total of 100 points)
  • Deal 4: Don’t take King of Spades (King of Spades = 100 penalty points)
  • Deal 5: Don’t take the last trick (Last trick = 100 penalty points)
  • Deal 6: All of the rules above apply simultaneously (a total of 560 points)

Example: In Deal 1, the players play their lowest cards to avoid taking any tricks. 

But each trick eventually has its winner. Player 1 ended up with 20 points (two tricks won), Player 2 received 50 points (5 tricks), and Player 3 earned 60 points (6 tricks). 

Only Player 4 avoided winning tricks altogether, earning 0 penalty points for this Deal.

The gameplay continues until the players complete all six deals. Then count your penalty points. The player with the lowest score wins the entire game. 

Rank of Cards

The card ranking in Canadian Salad goes as follows (from the highest to the lowest): 

A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2.

Rules in Pictures

Step 1

The dealer shuffles the cards and deals the entire deck among the four players so that they get 13 cards each. 

Canadian Salad rules 1 image

Step 2

The game is played over six deals with different rules. In Deal 1, each trick a player wins earns them 10 penalty points (in this case, whoever played Jack of clubs, gets 10 points).

Canadian Salad rules 2 image

Step 3

In Deal 2, winning a trick involving hearts means collecting 10 penalty points.

Canadian Salad rules 3 image

Step 4

In Deal 3, players avoid taking tricks that involve Queens. Each Queen means 25 penalty points.

Canadian Salad rules 4 image

Step 5

In Deal 4, the player who wins the trick involving King of Spades collects 100 penalty points.

Canadian Salad rules 5 image

Step 6

In Deal 5, the last trick (here won by the Nine of diamonds) is worth 100 penalty points. In the last Deal, ALL of the rules above apply. Then the players count their scores. 

Canadian Salad rules 6 image

Canadian Salad Rules – Video Tutorial 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you play Canadian Salad with two players?

No, Canadian Salad cannot be played with two players. Theoretically, you can deal all cards among two players and follow the rules, but the game’s dynamics would change completely. 

What is a trick in Canadian Salad?

A trick in Canadian Salad is a bundle of cards played by the players in a single round. Unlike in other trick-taking games, players aim to lose tricks to avoid earning penalty points.

How to play a 12-round Canadian Salad?

A 12-round Canadian Salad adds six deals to the game with the following rules: no reds, no even cards, no face cards, no sevens, no aces, and no one-eyed faces.

Other Similar Card Games to Canadian Salad (Our Guides)

If you enjoy playing Canadian Salad, check out our guides to some other great trick-taking card games below:

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Read all the articles (99) written by Lucia Fajnerova