How to Play the Card Game Karma

By Dana Severson

Karma is more of a ranking game where players are tasked with laying cards, one on top of the next, in a somewhat sequential order. Each player must play a card of the same rank or higher on her turn to avoid being penalized. If you’re found in the position with no possible play, all the cards currently on the discard pile are added to your hand. With a goal of ridding yourself of all cards to win the game, this isn’t a bonus.

Deal out the deck until each player has a row of three cards face down in front of them. The dealer will then deal an additional card atop those cards already dealt (a total of three more per player), this time face up, making three stacks of two cards each. The deal will continue with another three cards dealt to each player which will make up their hands. The unused cards are placed towards the center of the table and will act as the draw pile for the rest of the round.

Exchange any card or cards from your hand with those cards face up in front of you. Your hand count should be at three at the start of play.

Lay a card, starting with the player who has a three in his or her hand, next to the draw pile. This will now act as the discard pile for the round. If you are able to play more than one card (i.e. two cards of the same rank), you may do so. Draw cards from the draw pile until you bring your hand up to three. The next player must play a card of the same rank or higher and so on, around the circle until a two is played which means any card may be played. If a previous play consists of two cards of the same rank, you must play two or more cards of the same rank or higher.

Pick up the discard pile and add it to your hand if you are unable to play a card or set of cards on your turn. Play moves to the next player immediately. You are not allowed to play any cards.

Play cards from face-up row in front of you when you have no cards in your hand and the draw pile is exhausted, same rules apply as before. If you are unable to play a card from this row, you must pick up the discard pile and “add” it to your hand.

Play cards from the face-down row when you have no cards in your hand, the draw pile is exhausted and your face-up row has been played, but you cannot look at the card before you play it. If it is greater than the previous played card, no worries, but if it is lower, you’ll pick up the discard pile and “add” it to your hand.

Be the last player holding cards, you’re deemed the loser and must deal the next round.

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.