Rules for the "Frustration" Card Game

By Bryant Harland
Rules, the
deck of cards image by timur1970 from

Frustration is a group card game. Although it can be played with quite a few people, it is best played with close to four. The number of people playing will determine the number of decks that should be used. Two decks are adequate for around four players, but three will be needed for six or more. There are no "official" rule sets for the game, but basic game play is the same across most settings.

Starting The Game

At the beginning of the first round, each player should be dealt 11 cards. The remainder of the cards are placed face down in the center of the playing area, becoming the stockpile. The top card is flipped up and placed next to the pile. This becomes the discard pile. The person to the left of the dealer starts by discarding a card and either drawing a card from the stockpile, or by picking up the top card in the discard pile. Play continues clockwise from there.

Playing The Game

The game has 10 levels, and each level of the game has a different goal associated with it. Each player must lay down a specific goal to advance to the next level. The goals for each level of the game are:

Level 1: a run of seven Level 2: two sets of three Level 3: a set of three and a run of four Level 4: a set of four and a run of four Level 5: a run of eight Level 6: a set of five and a set of two Level 7: a set of five and a set of two Level 8: two sets of four level 9: a set of five and set of six Level 10: a set of five and set of four

Runs can be made of any mixture of suits, and may also continue from the king to the ace, or vice versa. Twos are wild and there is not limit to the number you can use to complete a goal. Once a player completes a level (places the cards that fulfill that goal), that player can no longer pick up or discard, but she may put cards on other players' sets and runs. The round continues until one player runs out of cards. Only players that completed that level may move on to the next level. Cards left in players' hands at the end of each round have point values. Cards three to nine are worth five points, cards ten to king are worth ten points, and twos and aces are worth 20. Some groups require that players knock on the table to signal when they have one card remaining to give the rest of the players a chance to get rid of their high point cards.

Winning the Game

Play continues until each player has completed the ten levels. At the end of those levels, the player with the lowest score wins. Some variants subtract from the total amount of points the first player to complete Level 10 has, effectively giving him a bonus.