How to Play Fan Tan

Fan Tan is a fast moving member of the Stops family of card games. This game is also played under various other names such as Card Dominoes, Parliament and Sevens. It is also very popular in India, played under the name Satti pe Satti (7 on 7).

Fan Tan uses the standard 52 deck in which the cards rank in the following order (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Fan Tan is designed to be played by 3 to 6 players.

The standard method of scoring in Fan Tan is done using tokens or chips. Thus, before beginning the game, each player should be distributed an equal number of chips, such as 50 or 100. These chips will be used to keep score through multiple hands.

Layout of Fan Tan game in progress
This illustration shows a layout for a game of Fan Tan in progress. The sevens are played in the middle, and cards of a higher denomination in piles to the left of these and cards of ascending denomination in piles to the right.
The first dealer can be determined in several different ways. The most common is to have everyone take any seat at the table and one player begins dealing the cards face up card to each player in a clockwise rotation one at a time. The first player to receive a Jack of any suit is determined to be the first dealer. Once the first dealer is determined, this dealer shuffles the pack and deals the cards one at a time in a clockwise rotation. face down to each player. The dealer should distribute the entire pack. Some players may get one more card than others if the deck cannot divide evenly amongst the current participants. After the deal the players then each add one chip to the center of the table. Any players who received less cards during the current deal would then contribute one additional chip to the center pile.

The object of each hand is to be the first player to eliminate all cards from his hand. The first player to do so will win all the chips in the center of the table and additional penalty chips from the remaining players as well. That same player will also become the dealer for the next hand.

Once all cards have been dealt the players then pick up their cards to begin play of the hand. The player to the dealer's left has the first play, with normal play rotating in a clockwise rotation.

On his turn, each player plays a card if able, to a center layout or tableau. The legal plays in this game are as follows: If a player on their turn has at least one valid play, they must make a play. A player may play only one card per turn. If a player is unable to make a valid play on his turn, he must add one chip to the center of the table and the turn passes to the next player in a clockwise rotation.

The tableau essentially becomes four rows of cards, with one row for each suit, with the sevens being placed first. Each separate row is called a fan. Once a seven has been played, it opens the layout for additional cards of the same suit. The six of the same suit would be played to one side of the seven and the eight on the other side. Players can then build on these cards in a descending order from Seven to Ace and ascending order up from Seven to King in the same suit.

When a player on his turn is able to play his last card, the hand ends. Each other player must then add one chip to the center of the table for each card remaining in their own hand. The player who ran out of cards then collects all the chips from the center and shuffles the deck and deals the next hand.

If a player on his turn fails to play a card when he had a legal play, he must add three chips from his hand to the center of the table at the end of the hand. If a player who has a seven passes, he must place three chips in the center and also, as an additional penalty, give the players who have the six and the eight of the same suit as that seven 5 chips each.

At the end of a set number of hands, the player who has the most total chips is declared the winner. Usually each player is given enough chips such that no player will run out, but if a player does run out of supplied chips, the game ends at the completion of the current hand, with the player having the most chips declared the winner.



Optional Rules and Game Variations

Optional Scoring Variants: There are a number of additional methods in which Fan Tan can be scored, with the following as commonly used options:
First Turn: In some games the first play is made by the holder of a certain card. Thus, whichever player has the designated card takes the first turn, with the play then rotating in a clockwise rotation from that player.

When this rule is used, usually the holder of the Seven of Diamonds takes the first turn (playing that card), but sometimes the Seven of Hearts is used for this purpose instead.

Double Deck Fan Tan: While the standard version is designed for up to six players, double deck Fan Tan can be played by up to 12 such participants.

As the name implies, the game is played using two standard 52 card decks shuffled together. The ranking of the cards is the same as in the standard version; King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.

The game is played the same as the standard version, with players on their turn, first playing the sevens and then building up and down from these sevens in the same suit. Since there will be two of each denomination in each suit, a complete tableau will consist of eight rows, each with a seven as the foundation. Other than the larger number of cards and tableau, the game is played identically to the standard game.

Five or Nine: Five or Nine is a Fan Tan variant that is played very similarly to the parent game. The only difference between this and the parent game is that fives or nines are used to start the foundations instead of sevens.

On the first turn of the game, the player whose turn it is must play either a five or a nine to start the tableau foundation. If he has neither a five or a nine, he must pass and the turn rotates to the next player. The first player to actually possess a five or nine plays that card to start the center tableau. Once the tableau is started with a five or nine as the foundation, for the remainder of the hand, each foundation pile must start with a card of the same denomination. Thus, if the first card played is a five, the remaining foundation rows during the hand must start with fives. Similarly, if a nine was the first card played, all foundations for the remainder of the game must start with the nine of their respective suit. In all other respects this game is played identically to the standard game.

Play or Pay: Play or Pay is another game based loosely on Fan Tan. This game uses one standard 52 card deck and, similar to Fan Tan is usually played by 3 to 6 players.

Before the start of the game, each player should be provided with an equal number of chips, such as 50. The first dealer can be determined with a draw of cards, with the player drawing the highest card set as the first dealer. Thereafter, the deal rotates around the table from hand to hand in a clockwise direction.

Once the dealer is determined, that player should shuffle the cards and deal out the entire deck. The cards may not divide out evenly, thus some players may receive an extra card. After the deal each player should place one chip in the center of the table. Those players who received one less card also place one additional chip in the pile in the center of the table.

As in Fan Tan, the object of this game is to be the first player to play all cards from your hand. Although there is no card ranking per se in this game, cards are played in continuous sequences. Thus, each play should consist of a card next in sequence of the same suit. For purposes of these sequences, the ordering is as follows (in ascending sequence); Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. When a King is played, the next card which can legally be played on that card is the Ace, which allows the sequence to roll over, with the next card to be played a 2 and so on.

Completed Spade sequence in Play or Pay

The player to the immediate left of the dealer has the first play. This player may play any card of his choosing from his hand to the center of the table. Thereafter, the turn rotates in a clockwise rotation around the table. The next player, if able, will then play the next card of the same suit in sequence from the last card played. If unable to play, as he does not have the next card in sequence, he must contribute one chip to the center of the table and the turn passes to the next player. This continues from player to player until the 13th and last card in a sequence of a particular suit is played. Whomever played that last card then may play any remaining card in his hand to start a new sequence. When any player, on his turn, plays the last card of his hand, he is declared the winner of the hand. That player wins all the chips in the center of the table and deals the next hand. At the end of a set number of hands, the player with the most chips is declared the game winner.

Earl of Coventry: Earl of Coventry is another related game, played in the early 18th century. The game is designed for 3 to 6 players and uses a standard 52 card deck. Since the game is based on matching a cards denomination, there is no real concept of card ranking in the game.

Determination of the first dealer in this game is usually done by a draw from the deck, with the player drawing the highest card becoming the first dealer. Once determine, the dealer deals out the entire pack. Some players may receive one extra card during the deal when the deck will not divide evenly with the number of players participating in the game.

After the deal, the player to the dealer's immediate left may play any card of his choice from his hand. Each player in turn, must then play one card of the same denomination (irregardless of the suit). If a player does not have a card of the same denomination he must pass his turn, making no play. Whichever player is able to play the fourth and last card of the original denomination may then play any other card from his hand to the table to start a new round.

When playing the cards, a player is required to state a specific phrase or rhyme. The following table shows the phrase that is normally said upon playing the first, second, third and fourth card of each particular rank. The "x" in a phrase would be replaced with the actual name of the particular card rank played (i.e. "There's as good as nine can be").
Card of Rank PlayedPhrase
First Card"There's as good as x can be"
Second Card"There's a(n) x as good as he"
Third Card"There's the best of all the three"
Fourth Card"And there's the Earl of Coventry"
                One series of plays in Earl of Coventry

The first player to play his last card form his hand to the table is declared the winner of the game and also deals the next game.

Snip, Snap, Snorum: Snip, Snap, Snorum is played identically to Earl of Coventry with one major exception. In this game, chips or other tokens are used to keep a cumulative score during the course of the game. Before the start of the game each player should be provided an identical number of chips (such as 50).

When a player is able to completely deplete his hand of cards, he collects one chip from each other player for each card still remaining in their hand. At the conclusion of a set number of hands, the player with the most chips is declared the game winner.

In addition, a player who plays the second card of the same rank shouts "Snip", the player who plays the third says "Snap" and the player of the last shouts "Snorum".

The winner of each hand is the dealer for the next hand.

Jig: Jig is a game which has elements of Snip, Snap, Snorum, Earl of Coventry and Play or Pay. In this game, the cards are played in five card sequences of the same suit rather than cards of the same denomination. The specific ranking of the cards for purposes of these sequences is as follows (from low to high); Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King.

As in the other variants of these games, the first player may play any card of his choice from his hand. The next player in turn then attempts to play the next highest card in sequence of the same suit. If that player does not have that card, he must pass, with the turn rotating to the next player. Each card played in the sequence also has a corresponding word the player should say. The first card is accompanied by the word Snip, the second by Snap, the third by Snorum, the fourth by Hickockalorum and the fifth by Jig. When a player is able to play the fifth card to the sequence, they then have the privilege of starting a new sequence with any card remaining in their hand. Before starting the new sequence, however, they should turn face down the previous sequence to avoid any confusion as to the current series of plays. If the next required card for a sequence cannot be played as the required card has already been played, or the sequence has reached the King, the last player to have played to the sequence should say Jig, and is given the privilege of playing any card to start the next round.

When a player is able to play the last card in his hand, he wins the hand and collects one chip for each card remaining in his opponents hands. This same player should also deal the next hand. After a set number of hands, the player with the most chips is declared the game winner.

A player's score pile
In this example, this players scoring pile would total 10 points for the hand.
Chinese Seven: This is a unique variant of Fan Tan that appears to have originated in China and is rarely found to be played outside certain areas there.

The game is played identically to standard Fan Tan with one major difference that significantly alters the strategical approach a player will take when playing.

Rather than using chips or tokens in this game, score over the course of the game is kept on pencil and paper, and is determined by a player by designation of specific cards during the hand.

Each time a player, on his turn, is unable to make a valid play, he selects any one card from his hand and places it face down to his left and passes his turn. Each subsequent turn he is unable to make a valid play he adds any additional card face down to this scoring pile and the turn also passes to the next player. The game continues turn by turn, until one of the following conditions occur:
  1. One player plays the last card in his hand to the center layout.
  2. Four players in succession can make no play to the center (adding the obligatory card to their face down scoring pile as during).
  3. One player, unable to make a valid play during his turn, places the last card from his hand to his face down scoring pile).
As soon as any of these conditions occur, the hand immediately ends. At this point the players then turn over their face down scoring piles and sum up the total of the cards in this pile and add it to any total already recorded for the player on the score sheet. For this purpose, the cards have the following scoring values:

Card DenominationCard Point Value
Ace1
2 to 10Value marked on the card
Jack11
Queen12
King13

If the game ends because a player managed to play the last card in his hand to the center layout, that player scores nothing for the hand, while the remaining players score for all the point scoring cards they have in their face down piles. In all other circumstances, all players score for the cards in their face down piles.

If, after all scores are totaled at the end of a hand, one or more players has exceeded 100 points, the game ends. The player with the lowest accumulated total is declared the winner of the game.

Up the Line: Up the line is a variant of Fan Tan that is played identically to Chinese Seven save for the scoring. In Up the Line, the players score one point per face down card in their face-down pile. In this version, the game usually ends when one player scores 15 or more points after the scores are totaled at the end of a hand. The player with the lowest total score at that point is declared the game winner.

Ristiseiska: Ristiseiska, sometimes called Finnish Fan Tan, is a version of Fan Tan that is very popular in Finland. It is played the same as the standard variant with several differences described as follows:

Finnish Fan Tan hand in progress The player holding the seven of Clubs has the first turn and must play this card as his first turn. Subsequently the turn rotates in a clockwise rotation from that player around the table.

As in the standard game a seven of a particular suit must be played before any other cards of that suit may be played. However, in this variant there are additional restrictions on the first few cards which can be played in a new suit. Before any additional cards of that same suit can be played the six must be played. After the six is then played, other cards can be played in ascending and descending sequence as in the standard version of Fan Tan.

As in the original game, a player must play a card on his turn when able (as per the rules). If a player is found to not have played a card when able, each other player is entitled to give that player one card of their choice from their hand. A player who has no play on his turn must "beg" a card from the player to his immediate right. The player to his right must then give the player any card from his hand. The card should be passed face down such that no other players can identify the card. After the card has been passed, the player who receives the card then passes his turn.

However, a player does not have to "beg" for a card if unable to play on his first turn of the hand. In addition, if the player being requested for a card has only one card remaining in their hand, the player must ask the player to the right of that player for a card. If the player also has only one card, then no card is passed and the player simply skips his turn.

Any time a player legally plays an Ace or King, they are allowed (but not required) to take another turn.

The tableau used for this game usually has the foundation cards in the middle, with the ascending and descending cards above and below this card. The ascending cards from eight to King are usually placed in the same pile above the foundation, and the descending cards from six to Ace are usually in one pile below the foundation.

When any player plays the last card in his hand the hand ends and points are calculated. Each player scores one minus point for each card remaining in their hand. At the end of a set number of hands, the player with the lowest score is declared the winner.

Crazy Tan - Classic: Crazy Tan is a variant of Fan Tan for 2 to 4 players, this time with a requirement in which players must draw from the stock when unable to play. These rules are the original rules, with many players modifying the rules somewhat in a similar variation called by the same name. Here we call it Crazy Crazy Tan (with the rules described next) to distinguish it from the classic version.

In classic Crazy Tan, each player is dealt seven cards with the remaining cards placed face down in the center of the table as a stock pile. As in the standard variant a player must play if they can. A player may play a maximum of one card on his turn. On his turn a player may play any seven or if they have a card that can build up or down from cards already on the table can play that instead. However, if a player is unable to legally play a card on his turn, he must draw one card from the stock. If this is a playable card he must play it and end his turn. If unable to play this card his turn also ends. If the stock pile has been depleted and a player is unable to make a play, he simply skips his turn.

All other aspects of Crazy Tan are identical to the standard version of Fan Tan as described above.

Crazy Crazy Tan: Crazy, Crazy Tan is a version of Crazy Tan with various changes have been made to the rules. The first player to draw a card from the draw pile when unable to play must draw one card. If that card is not playable and the next player in turn also cannot play a card, he must draw two cards. Each subsequent player who must draw must draw adds one to the total of cards they must draw equal to the number of players who draw directly in sequence before their own turn. Once a card is played, the next draw starts again with just one card required.

In this variant, there are also certain opportunities on a players turn to play multiple cards:

- On his turn, if a player has multiple cards that form a run in which they can legally play to continue a sequence of cards on the table, they may play the entire run.
- If a player can legally play more than one card of the exact same rank to the center layout they may play all these cards. - A player may combine both of these types of plays. If a player has multiple runs containing the same cards in sequence that can be legally played to the table, he may play all these sequences as applicable.

All other rules for Crazy, Crazy Tan are the same as that for Classic Crazy Tan.

Domino Sevens: Domino Sevens is played very similarly to Crazy Tan - Classic. However, in this variant, as in the basic Fan Tan rules, each player is provided with a specific and equal number of chips before the game starts. At the start of each hand, each player adds one of his chips to the center to start a pile of chips. Each player is dealt seven cards and the remaining cards are placed near the center of the table face down as a stock pile.

As in most variations of the game, if a player has a legal play on his turn, he must make it. He may play only one card on his turn. However, if a player is unable to make a player, he must add one chip to the center pile and draw a card. If able to play the card he must do so and his turn ends. However, if unable to play the card drawn, he must then add another chip to the table and draw another card, continuing in this manner until drawing a card he is able to play. If the stock runs out of cards and a player is unable to play, they simply add one chip to the center pile and pass their turn.

When a player plays the last card in his hand, he wins the hand. Each other player must place one chip into the center pile for each card remaining in their hand. The winner of the hand then takes the entire center pile of chips, shuffles the deck and deals the next hand. At the end of a set number of deals, the player with the most chips is declared the game winner.

Layout of Fan Tan game in progress
A potential hand in progress of Fan Tan with Trumps, with Diamonds having been dealt as the Trump suit for the hand.
Fan Tan with Trumps: Another version of Fan Tan which is sometimes encountered is Fan Tan featuring a sort of Trump Suit for each hand. The game uses the standard deck and can be played by 3 to 6 players. The ranking of the cards in the deck is the same as in standard Fan Tan.

The first difference between this version and the standard is in the deal. In Fan Tan with Trumps, the cards are dealt out as evenly as possible amongst the active participants. Any additional cards that could not be dealt out evenly are dealt face up on the table. The last card to be dealt, whether to the table or to a players hand determines the "Trump" suit for the hand. If this card was intended to go to a players hand, it must be dealt to the player face up so all can see its suit to determine this Trump suit for the hand. After his first turn, that player may pick up his exposed card.

The next difference is in the play of the hand. As in the standard game, the sevens can always be played, and additional cards of the same suit as the seven, can be built in ascending and descending sequence from these cards. However, the difference in this version is that the cards of the Trump suit can be played on any other suit. Thus, if Diamonds were the Trump suit, the Five of Diamonds could be played after the Six of Spades. Because of this, the cards that have been replaced by the Trump cards must go on their own "Trump" sequence pile. This trump pile, however, must first be started by play of the Seven of the Trump suit as it's foundation.

In this version, the center layout should be arranged such that all played cards can be seen, and thus players know which cards have been replaced by Trump cards and must be played to the Trump foundation. Trump cards themselves can also be played to the Trump pile as normal. The original card exposed to determine the trump suit, must also be played to the Trump foundation pile, and may never be used to replace another suits card.

As may be remembered, if there were any extra cards which could not be evenly divided, they were dealt face up on the table. These are community cards. If a player, on his turn, is unable to make a valid play from his own hand, but there is a valid play using one of the community cards, he may pick up the community card and play it as appropriate.

All other rules are the same as in the standard game, with a player required to make a move if able, and only card allowed to be played per turn. If unable to play on his turn, the player must pass and the turn moves to the next player. The first player to deplete his hand of cards is declared the winner and collects a number of points based on the cards remaining in his opponents hands.

Shichi Narabe: Shichi Narabe is a Japanese version of Fan Tan. It is played very similarly to the base game with a few key differences. The players, goal and card ranking in the deck are all exactly the same as in the base game. The deck is also identical, except in Shichi Narabe one Joker is shuffled into the deck, making a 53 card deck.

After all cards have been dealt as evenly as possible, the players remove all sevens from their hand and play them to the center layout. Thus, the game will begin with all four sevens already on the table. After this occurs, the player to the dealer's immediate left takes the first turn. Any player who is unable to play on his turn must pass. A player may also choose to pass even if able to play at his option. However, a player is only permitted to pass a total of three times during a hand. If a player has already passed three times during the hand and finds himself unable to play, the hand ends with that player being assessed with the number of points still remaining in his hand. The remaining players earn a score of 0 for the hand. Otherwise, the game continues until one player runs out, with all other players being assessed the total points corresponding to the cards remaining in their own hand. Point values for card remaining in the hand are as follows:

Card DenominationScoring Value
Ace1
2 to 10Face Value Marked on Card
Jack, Queen, King10
Joker25
          


The Joker is a special card. A player on his turn may play it during his turn as a replacement for any other card, with one condition. That player must have (and play on the same turn) the card which would next follow the Joker in the sequence (either higher or lower). In addition, the player who has the card for which the Joker is the replacement card may, after the Joker is played, instantly and out of turn, place the card to replace it directly on top of the Joker. If the Joker is the last card in a players hand, he will not be able to play it, as the Joker always requires the user to have the next card in sequence when playing the Joker.

One last difference between this game and standard Fan Tan is that when playing Shichi Narabe, the Ace is considered the highest card rather than the lowest. Thus, the ranking of the cards in every suit in this game is as follows (from high to low): Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. At the end of a set number of hands, the player with the lowest score is declared the winner of the game.
Copyright 2015 CatsAtCards.com. All rights reserved.
[Main][Site Map][Glossary][Copyright Page]