Have the highest score when play ends.

Game Setup

Designed for 3 players. (Note: Variation for 2-player and 4-player included.)

Designed with a standard 52-card plus one Joker.

Distribute cards face up until first Middle (see Card Score Value) determines first dealer.

First dealer deals face up in piles of Low, Middle, High until a Low & Middle are revealed. Players decide score goal from multiple of Low-Middle digit combo.

(ex. Top card of Low pile is 2. Middle pile is 7. Game could then be played to 27, 54, 81, etc.)

Hand Setup

Deal 10 cards per player. Top card of remaining deck is flipped face-up.

Card Values

Card Rank Value

Hierarchy of cards is as follows:

Lowest Rank Highest Rank
Joker 2♣…K♣, A♣* 2♠…A♠* 2♦…A♦* 2♥…A♥* Joker

*All cards of general rank one higher than that of the face-up card are assigned highest rank in their respective suit for the ensuing hand. (Note:  If an Ace is face-up, then all Twos are given the prominent rank of their suit.)

(ex: The 4♠ is face-up. Thus, for the ensuing hand, the 5♣ is given a rank between the A♣ and the 2♠, the 5♠ is given a rank between the A♠ and the 2♦, etc.)

Card Score Value

Cards are categorized as either Low, Middle, or High. Each category carries a point value when scoring:

  Card Point Value
4-player 3-players 2-player
High A 5 4
Middle 10 0
Low 5 -5 -4
Joker -7 -6

Hand Play

Player to dealer’s left leads first trick by playing one card face-up. Play continues to left. Players must, if able, follow suit set by leader of each trick. After all players have placed one card face-up, play continues to left with each player adding a second card (face-up) to the trick. Players must still follow suit set by first card of the trick.

The trick winner, having played the highest ranked card, collects all cards in the trick and leads the ensuing trick.

The trick loser, having played the lowest ranked card,

  1. must, for remainder of hand play, play one card less than previously allowed them. Card must be played at first opportunity. Thus, losing twice eliminates a player from the remainder of hand play.
  2. may trade one card with the winner. Loser selects card, then passes face-down to the winner, declaring it as Low, Middle, or High. Winner may look at this card, and then, if able, must return a card of higher point value. If unable, they return the card offered by the loser. Winner should not declare Low, Middle, or High upon return of the card. Loser may opt out of trade by declaring “No trade.”

    (Note: If a High card is passed, winner, if able, must return a higher High card – regardless of suit.)

Each ensuing trick is played in a similar fashion, except that all trick losers must abide by the card play restrictions noted above.

(ex. Player A loses the 1st trick. During all following tricks, Player A is restricted to playing one card. Player A then loses the 5th trick. They are now eliminated from hand play.)

Hand play continues until all (but one) players have been eliminated. Scores are then tallied. (See Scoring)

The Joker

The Joker may only be played when a player is unable to follow suit. When playing the Joker, the player immediately declares whether they would like to win or lose the trick. The Joker then takes place of either highest or lowest rank for the trick.

If the Joker is turned face-up, then the player with the lowest score selects a single trump suit for the ensuing hand. Trick winner is determined by highest ranked trump card, else, highest rank or suit led. Loser is determined by lowest rank of suit led.

If trick loser passes the Joker, they declare it as a Low card and the winner may return a Low card in exchange.


At the end of hand play, each player scores

  1. one point for every card collected from a trick.
  2. points for High and Low cards remaining in their hand. (See Card Score Value)

Game Play

After each hand, deal continues left. Game ends when a player reaches the set score goal.



Deal 13 cards per player. Each player begins by placing three cards on the trick.


Deal 13 cards per player.

(Note: Possibility exists that final winner in hand play will have no card remaining to trade with loser.)


Game Concept: Joshua Vandercar
Development & Testing: Dave Peet, Carly Peet, Jenny Gebhart, Luke Kuenzli
Creative Commons License
The Elusive 34 by Joshua Vandercar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.