How to Play Rich Man, Poor Man

By Kathy Mair
Rich Man, Poor Man assigns social status to the players.

Americans know it as President, Australians know it as Warlords, and you might know it by something else altogether. Rich Man, Poor Man players have one main goal: Be the first to get rid of all your cards. In this game with many names, the suits are irrelevant, an Ace outranks a King, but the 2 outranks everything in the deck.

Deal all of the cards clockwise. It is not necessary that all players end up with the same number of cards.

Begin the game with the player to the dealer's left placing face up either a single card or a set of cards with the same value, such as a pair of 4s. This is a "trick." Continuing to the left, each player can either pass or better the trick that the previous player played. Single cards of a higher value beat single cards, but equal sets of higher value cards are required to better another set.

Turn over and set aside the pile of cards when a trick is placed that no one else can beat. The player who placed the highest trick begins a new round with a single or set of cards. Play continues until everyone but one person has used all of their cards.

Name the first person who uses all of his cards the "Rich Man." Rank continues from there, with the next person out named "Boss," or something similar, and each successive player receiving an appropriate name. The last person left is named "Poor Man."

Move players into rank, with the Rich Man either staying where he is or moving to his preferred seat. The Poor Man should end up to the Rich Man's left.

Deal again, beginning to the Rich Man's left. This assures that the lowest ranking players will receive the most cards if there are more than four participants. The Poor Man gives his best card to the Rich Man in return for the Rich Man's worst card. Play then continues as it did to open the game.

Rearrange the seating for the next round based on who is named Rich Man. The Rich Man always deals to the left and trades cards with the Poor Man.

Vary the game by keeping score. The Rich Man receives 2 points, the Boss receives 1 and the rest receive no points. The winner is the first to get 11 points.

Tip

Use additional decks for more than seven players. Passing is allowed even when the player can beat the trick unless the participants decide you must play a better card if you have it.

About the Author

Kathy Mair has been writing professionally since 1994. As a member of the Kinston Indians front office, she was responsible for all team press releases and articles, a duty she subsequently held for two other minor league baseball teams. Mair also spent time as a copy editor for "TV Guide." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Elizabethtown College.