Nines Card Game: Rules, Scoring and How to Play

The Nines card game is a popular trick-taking game with simple rules. It’s an ideal choice for those new to these types of card games.

Nines is a card game for three players. Although it’s of the same family as Sheepshead (see Sheepshead rules) or Pinochle (see Pinochle rules), it’s simpler and has some unique features. 

Make sure not to confuse it with Crazy Nines or Nine Card Golf – these games are very different. 

Key highlights of this Nines card game rules guide:

  • What is the Nines card game?
  • Nines card game rules
  • Nines card game scoring 
  • Nines card game rules in pictures 
  • How to play the Nines card game (Video tutorial)

Learn how to play the Nines card game by following my guide below.

Related: Best playing cards

What is the Nines Card Game?

Nines Card Game Info Image

Nines is a classic trick-taking card game with a few distinctive elements. The main difference is that the trump suit changes after every hand, following a given order.

The game’s name is such because every player starts with nine points. But rather than gaining more points, they aim to lose them. 

Number of Players:

Ages: 8+

Difficulty: Easy-Medium. 

Length of Play: 10 – 20 minutes. 

Type of Game: Trick-taking card game

Similar to: Pinochle, Sheepshead, Tarneeb

Main Objective: Become the first player to reduce their score from 9 to 0 by winning tricks. 

Our Take: Nines is one of the easier trick-taking card games, so it’s a good way to introduce beginners to these sorts of games.

What You’ll Need to Play the Nines Card Game

To play the Nines card game, you’ll only need the following:

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

Nines Card Game Rules

First, decide who becomes the dealer by drawing cards. Each player picks a random card from the deck; whoever has the highest card is the dealer (see the scoring section for card ranks).

The person with the next highest card sits on the left of the dealer, and the player with the lowest card occupies the last spot to decide the order of play. 

The Deal

The dealer will shuffle the cards and deal out four hands of 13 cards (one to each player and one additional hand you’ll need to place in the middle). 

Starting the Game

The game begins with players deciding whether they would like to keep their hands or not.

The dealer starts by either keeping their hand or replacing it with the dummy hand that is kept in the middle.

The next player can then make the same decision, and then the final player can also choose to switch if they please. 

Once everyone has decided, the gameplay can begin. 

How to Play Nines

In Nines, the trump suit changes throughout the game, always going in the following order:

  • Clubs;
  • Diamonds;
  • Hearts;
  • Spades;
  • No Trump.

From the starting player who dealt, everyone needs to pick a card from their hand to lead the trick for the round, followed by the other two players.

Each player must lay a card in their hand that matches the trump of the round.

Example: In round 1, each player has to lay a card of the suit of clubs.

If players do not have a card with a suit that matches that round’s trump, then they have to play their next highest-value card of another suit instead. 

This continues until players use all the cards in their hands. If nobody reaches 0 points, then the game moves over to the next trump, and the cards get reshuffled and redealt.

No Trump Round

On the No Trump hand, players don’t need to follow a specific trump suit but instead play their highest value card in an attempt to win the trick. 

End of the Round

The highest value card played that matches the trump (if necessary) wins the trick for that round, takes all the played cards, and sets them aside. 

Tip: Players should ensure that each trick won gets placed in a separate pile. This will be very helpful at the end of the game during the scoring phase. 

As soon as one of the players reaches a score of 0, the game stops, and players do a final check on the cards they won. 

Nines Card Game Scoring

Once a player reaches a score of 0, everyone counts the tricks they won to establish their score. All players start with 9 points each: 

  • 1 – 3 tricks won: +1 point per trick
  • 4 tricks won: no points addition or reduction
  • 5 or more tricks won: -1 point per trick

The first player who manages to get to 0 wins the game of Nines. 

If multiple players reach 0 simultaneously, the player with the lowest number of total tricks wins.

Rank of Cards 

Highest to lowest: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Game Rules in Pictures

Step 1

Players draw one card each to determine who shuffles and deals the cards in the first round. The player with the highest card becomes the dealer.

Nines card game rules 1 image

Step 2

Each player receives 13 cards. One additional hand is placed in the center of the table. Players can choose to swap their hands for this extra hand at the beginning of the game. 

Nines card game rules 2 image

Step 3

Trump suit changes after each hand in the following order: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, no trump. 

Nines card game rules 3 image

Step 4

Players aim to win tricks by playing the highest trump for the round. If they don’t have a trump card, they play the next highest-value card they have.

Nines card game rules 4 image

Step 5

Keep the tricks you won stored separately in front of you. If you win 5 or more tricks, you can deduct 1 point for each of them. Your goal is to reduce your score to zero. 

Nines card game rules 5 image

Nines Card Game Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people can play the Nines card game?

Normally, only 3 players can play the Nines card game. However, there is a version of the game you can play with 4 players instead. 

With 4 players, the same number of cards get dealt, but there aren’t any dummy hands; thus, the players don’t switch hands at the beginning. 

Can you play Nines with 2 players?

No, you cannot play Nines with 2 players. The game is specifically designed for either 3 or 4 players (see above). 

What is meant by tricks and trumps in Nines?

Trump in Nines is the card suit players need to follow throughout the round. It changes after each round. A trick is formed by the cards that players play in the middle aiming to win the hand. 

Other Similar Games to Nines (Our Guides) 

Do you enjoy playing Nines? Check out our guides to a few similar games below:

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