How to Play the Card Game Bonanza

By Barbara Aufiero
Standard Bonanza board

Bonanza is a card game that can be played by 2 to 9 players. However, the optimal number of players is 6 or 7. The board is divided into 10 sections. The sections are labeled as follows: Joker, Jack of Diamonds-Queen of Spades, Sequence, 10 of Diamonds-2 of Spades, Poker, Ace of Spades, King of Hearts, Queen of Diamond, Jack of Clubs and of course, Bonanza.

Players begin by placing a coin on each of the 10 sections on the Bonanza board. Pennies are most commonly used. Nickels or quarters can be used instead but this would cost a player more per game.

The dealer shuffles the playing cards, including one Joker and passes the deck to the player on the dealer's right. That player cuts the deck and returns it to the dealer. Then the dealer gives one card to each player face down, starting with the player to the dealer's left. The dealer is dealt two decks and continues to deal until all cards have been distributed.

The dealer picks a deck and reviews the cards. If the dealer is dissatisfied, the dealer can choose to play the other deck. If the dealer is satisfied with that deck, the other one can be sold to another player. The player to the dealer's left can choose to make a bid or pass. Betting starts at one coin and increases by one coin until it is auctioned to the highest bidder.

The dealer begins the game by calling out the first five sections of the board. When the dealer calls Joker, the player who has it discards it and collects all the coins in that section. The same follows for Jack of Diamonds-Queen of Spades and 10 of Diamonds-2 of Spades. When Sequence is called, every player with a set of 3 cards, of the same suit and in increasing order, shows these cards and the highest sequence wins. Players with a poker hand may compete by bidding a set amount of coins to play, usually two. The player with the best poker hand wins all the coins in this section including the bids.

The dealer starts by putting down the lowest card of a particular suit face up and announcing it to the other players. The player with the next card in the same suit then puts that card on the table face up while calling it out. For example, the dealer puts down the 2 of Spades and another player puts down the 3 of Spades. This continues until no other player can continue the sequence. Players can win coins in the process if they have the Ace of Spades, King of Hearts, Queen of Diamond, or Jack of Clubs. These are called money cards.

The player who put down the last card in the sequence, starts a new sequence by putting down a card of another color. This card must be the lowest card in that suit in that player's hand. The first player to get rid of all cards wins all the coins in the Bonanza circle and one coin for each card that remained in the hands of other players.

Tip

The Joker can be used as a wild card and played in any of the first 5 sections.

Warning

If you buy a hand from the dealer, you must play that hand.

About the Author

Barbara Aufiero has been writing health-related articles since 2008, specializing in mental health and health insurance. Aufiero resides in New York and holds a Master of Arts in psychology.