How to Play the Card Game Garbage

By Dana Severson

Garbage is like three games in one as players are dealt a hand of cards that are used through three chapters of play—and not just any play, but extremely diverse play. Each chapter forces you and your opponents, based on your cards, to throw coins in a pot. Some players will throw more in than others, but no one will escape the call. As the hand continues, the pot will grow bigger and bigger until one person has a chance to win it all. This game is for three or more players.

Divvy out the poker chips so that each player has an equal amount.

Ante in a set number of chips. There isn’t a required stake for the game of Garbage, so use your discretion. If you’re actually playing for money, set a comfortable wager for all players involved in the game.

Deal out the deck until each player has a total of seven cards. The remaining cards are set aside and used later in the game.

Arrange your cards in the best possible poker hand (see the Tips section for rank of poker combinations). Since you’ve been dealt seven cards, two of your cards will be discarded, so to speak. But keep them close, since you’ll be using them later in the game.

Lay down your hand. The best hand adds nothing to the pot. The next highest hand adds 2 coins to the pot, the one after that add 4 coins and so on down the line.

Keep your cards face up in front of you as the dealer draws the top card from the unused deck. He reads off the rank of the card drawn. If he reads off a rank that is in front of you, place a chip on that card. He continues to draw cards from the deck and read them off until one player has a coin on each of his cards. This player receives all his coins back; the rest of the players add their coins on the cards to the pot.

Pick up your cards, including the two discarded at the start of the game, bringing your hand up to a total of seven. The dealer then flips over the top card of the unused deck (if no cards remain, the dealer shuffles those cards not in a player’s hand). The suit of this card acts as trump.

Bid how many tricks you believe you can take. You need to take exactly the amount bid—no more, no less—so be careful. Bids are noted on a piece of scratch paper.

Lay a card, starting with the person to the left of the dealer. Follow suit when possible. Highest suited card takes the trick. If you are unable to follow suit, either throw off or play trump. Highest trump card takes the trick. In both scenarios, winner of the trick leads the next card.

Continue to play your cards until none remain in any player’s hand.

Win the pot if you’ve bid correctly and have the highest bid. In the case of a tie, the pot remains in the center for the next round of play.

Continue to play until all players have had a chance to deal at least one time. The player with the most chips at the end of the game is considered the overall winner.

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.