Family card games are so much fun, especially when you find one that works well for players of all ages. Play or Pay is definitely one of those games! And all you need to play is a deck of cards and an object to “pay” with. Poker chips work well, or you can use pieces of candy, buttons, small stones, mini erasers, etc.

Playing games together is a great way to relax and unwind. Be sure to check out our collection of family card games that are perfect for holidays, vacations, camping trips, and winter evenings by the fire!

How to Play “Play or Pay”

Play or Pay is a sequence game. The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards by playing them in sequence on the four stacks of cards in the center of the table.

Sequence: A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K

In this game, you’ll be starting on any number. So the sequence could be 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, and so on.

Supplies Needed: 1 deck of cards and poker chips or items to “pay”

Number of Players: 2 – 4, Add a second deck of cards if you have more than 4 players

Recommended Age: Great for ages 5 (or as soon as kids understand the sequence of the cards) through grandparents!

Deal out all the cards. Give each player an equal number of poker chips. Each player starts the game by tossing a chip in the pot.

We found that 15 chips is a good amount for about 3 rounds of play.

Each player should then sort their cards by suit. (Don’t show the other players your cards!)

The player to the left of the dealer starts the game by playing a card in the center of the table.

The second player can either play a card on top of player #1’s card (if they have the next card in the sequence), or they can start another pile. Players can start piles until there are four, one of each suit.

If it’s your turn and you don’t have any cards that can be played, then put a chip in the pot!

The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the pot!

If a player runs out of chips during game play, then they are out for the next round.

Have fun playing! And be sure to check out the rest of our Card Games for Families. There are more than 15 fun card games to play with a deck of cards!


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  1. Lynda Jul 21, 2021

    Sounds fun, just wondering Are there 4 piles for each player or 4 communal piles that all players play on? I really love this site and have recommened it many times. I cant believe ive been follieing for thst many years. Happy birthday to your son and tell him thanks for being a tester for all these years.

    1. Sarah Jul 26, 2021

      There are 4 communal piles that all players play on. I will clarify that in the instructions!

      Thanks for following all these years! :-)

  2. Racquel Jul 27, 2021

    Thanks for this game - even my 16yr old liked playing. All 4 kids played 1 whole game then 1 opted to play more but the 3 others kept playing. It was quite fun!!!

    Happy Belated Birthday to your son.
    Time sure does fly - whether we want it to or not.

    Thanks again :)

  3. Racquel Jul 27, 2021

    Actually meant to say - that 1 opted out but the 3 others continued playing several more rounds :)


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