How to Play the Card Game Back Alley

By Dana Severson

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to play any sort of trick-taking game, you’ll most likely catch onto the game of Back Alley quite quickly. It’s a fairly straightforward card game where trump is set, tricks are bid and points are gained. The only real differences are that the number of cards in your hand varies from round to round and the highest trump is always the Two of Diamonds—yes, you read that right, the Two of Diamonds.

Determine the order of play by dealing out the cards one at a time until a Jack is turned up. The person with the Jack in front of him or her starts the deal for Back Alley.

Deal out the cards. After the first dealer is set, shuffle the deck and deal each player a hand of 13 cards, starting with the player to your left and moving around the table in a clockwise direction. Cards are dealt out one at a time. Each following round, your hand is reduced by one card until the final round where only one card is held in your hand.

Reveal trump. Any remaining cards are set to your side and the topmost card is turned over to reveal trump.

Bid your hand. After the trump is set, take a look at your hand and figure out how many tricks you are able to take. There are only as many tricks as there are cards in your hand so bid what you feel. Bidding continues around the table in a clockwise direction until everyone has bid.

Play your hand. The person with the highest bid, no matter the position at the table, leads the first trick. All other player must follow suit (if possible), throw off (if lacking this suit in the hand) or trump (if unable to follow suit). The highest card, or highest trump card, wins the trick. The person who won the trick will lead out the next card and play continues around the table. Cards are played and tricks are won until all players are without cards.

Tally your score. After the round of play is complete, you’ll tally your score by earning 3 points for each trick up to your bid and then 1 point for each additional trick. If you bid 4 tricks, but took 6, your score for this round would be 14 points (4 x 3 + 2). On the other hand, when you take fewer tricks than your bid, points are subtracted from your overall score. If you bid 4 tricks, but took 3, your score for this round would be -12 (4 x -3).

Win the game of Back Alley by being the first player to hit 100 points.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.