How to Play Spoons

Table layout for the card game Spoons Spoons is a very fast paced, hilarious card game for 3 to 13 players. Equipment necessary to play this game are a separate set of four equal ranked cards (such as four Jacks) for each active player as well as a collection of spoons. The spoons should all be placed in the center of the playing surface with one fewer spoon than the number of players in the hand. The spoons should be placed on the table in such that they are in equal reach of all players. Thus for a game with 8 players there should be 32 total cards (8 sets of four matching cards of the same rank) and 7 spoons placed in the center of the table.

Therefore, the deck used for the hand would be composed of a full set of one individual rank for each currently active player in the game. The remaining cards should be removed from the deck before dealing and set aside, not to be used.

The specific ranking of cards is immaterial in this game (thus, no card rank has any precedence over any other) as the object is to be the first player to gather a hand of 4 cards of equal rank, or not be the player left without a spoon when another such player does so.
Equipment needed to play Spoons
For a round of spoons, with five players, you would use five different groups of equal ranked cards such as those pictured, as well as four spoons.
The game beings with the dealer shuffling the cards used for the game and then dealing out the entire pack such that each player ends up with four cards. The dealer should deal each player one face down card, starting with the player to his left and deal clockwise around the table until each player has four cards. After distribution of the cards, the dealer then gives a signal to begin the hand. The each player, after examining his hand, will select one card from it and pass it, face down to the player to his left as simultaneously the player to his right passes a card to him. The player will then pick up the card passed by the player to his right and add it to his own hand. A player may not add the card passed to them to their hand until they have passed a card as well such that each player always is in possession of four cards. At any point in the game, when a player obtains four equally ranked cards in his hand (called four of a kind or a book), he will immediately pick up a spoon from the collection in the center of the table. When he does this, and the other players notice, they will then attempt to grab a spoon from the pile, as the last player to do so will find there are no spoons left on the table and will be left without.

The player who gathers the four of a kind can make this obvious with a mad grab for a spoon, which will immediately be followed by all the players doing the same, or he can surreptitiously pick up a spoon, and continue to pass and pick up cards (but he must retain the four of a kind in his hand), which can sometimes lead the game to continue for some minutes before other players realize the player has grabbed a spoon. In this case, the player is not required to pass a card before receiving a card from the player to his right, as to do so would require the player to no longer maintain a valid four of a kind in their hand. In this case, the player would receive the card from the player to his right, briefly pick it up and immediately pass the same card on to the player to his left.

It is not strictly required that spoons be used as a set of some other similar objects could be used instead. However, it is recommended that whatever is used not be sharp, fragile or very large, as this can lead to breakage and other possible problems. Spoons tend to work best for this game due to their ideal size and shape. When plastic tokens or chips are used instead of spoons this game is often known as Donkey.

The player who ends the hand without a spoon must drop out of the game. After each hand, one spoon is removed (so as to retain the number of spoons to be one less than the number of currently active players) and one group of four matched rank cards is removed from the deck used for play of the next hand. When the number of players is reduced to the last two, both are declared co-winners of the game.

Variations and Optional Rules

Pig Pig? Pig: This is one of the earlier forms of this type of passing card game that was developed. Pig is identical to Spoons (or one of the other variations) with the exception that instead of players grabbing for spoons or another object (which are not used here), they instead take their hand and touch the end of their nose with their index finger. The last player to do so is the Pig, and must drop from the game. In this variation the player who first obtains the four of a kind cannot continue to pass cards to prolong the game as is possible in the other variations of the game (because the player will have one of their hands touching their nose).

Tongue: Like Pig, this game is very similar to the standard game of Spoons, described above. However, in this version when a player gathers four cards of the same rank they stick out their tongue. The last person to do this in each hand must drop out of the game.

Spoons with Stock Pile: This version of spoons is somewhat different from that described above. In this version, the entire 52 card deck is usually used, with the maximum number of players being 12.

To begin, each player is dealt four cards face down. The remainder of the deck is placed in a face down stack near the dealer to form the stock. The dealer then draws the top card of the stock pile. He examines the card and decides whether to keep it or not. If he opts to keep the card he must pass another card from his hand to the player to his left. If he does not keep the card he passes the drawn card instead to the player to his left. The player at his left, who receives this card then determines if they will keep the passed card. In the same way, they can pass this received card or another from their hand to the player to their left. The card should be passed such that no players get a glimpse of the card passed. This continues as in the other variants, with players passing and receiving cards with the exception that the dealer draws his card from the stock pile each round and the player to the dealers immediate right places his cards face down in a discard pile. If the dealers stock pile runs out, he would then use the previous discard pile as a new stock pile and the player to his right would begin a new discard pile. Just like in the standard game described above, once a player has four equally ranked cards, they grab a spoon from the center of the table. As soon as the other players notice, they should also immediately grab a spoon from the pile. The remaining player who is not able to get a spoon must drop from the game. The deal passes around the table in a clockwise rotation amongst the still active players. This version can be played in combination with any of the other variations of Spoons described here.

S-P-O-O-N-S: This version, which can also be combined with any of the other variations of the game described on this page, usually makes for a longer game. When a player is not able to obtain a spoon, instead of dropping out of the game, they receive a consecutive letter in the word SPOONS. Thus, the first time they are unable to obtain a spoon they would get an S, the next time a P and so on. Once a player has spelled the whole word SPOONS, they must then drop out of the game.

Players attempt to collect seven cards of the same suit
In My Ship Sails, players attempt to collect any seven cards of the same suit.
My Ship Sails: This is another game in which play consists of very rapid passing of cards in an effort to complete a specific collection of cards in the hand. My Ship Sails is best when played by from four to seven players. This games name is sometimes shortened to just "My Ship".

To begin, a standard 52 card deck is shuffled and cut. After the cut, the dealer deals the card one at time in a clockwise rotation until each player has seven face down cards. The remainder of the deck is set aside and will not be used for the rest of the hand.

The dealer then gives a signal and everyone picks up their seven card hand. The object in My Ship Sails is to collect a hand containing all cards of the same suit (called a flush or ship). In order to obtain this, players pass any one card from their hand face down to the player at their immediate left. Meanwhile, the player to their right is passing them a card from their own hand. The player may not pick up the card passed by his neighbor until he has passed his own card. A player should never hold more than seven card in their hand at any one time.

Once any player collects a hand containing seven cards all of the same suit, they declare "My Ship Sails" and is the winner of the game. These cards do not need to be in contiguous numerical order, the only requirement being that all seven cards must be of the same suit to win.
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