If you’ve ever been looking for a game steeped in Irish origins, you may just be in luck with the game of 25, a fast-paced card game from the rural pubs of Ireland. The ranking order of cards is a little different than most games, but after a few hands, you won’t even think about it. You and your opponents play with a hand of five cards each and are tasked with taking tricks. Each trick is worth five points, and the first person to 25 points wins the game.
Determine the order of play by dealing out the deck until one player is dealt a jack. He will act as the first dealer for the first hand of 25. The dealer then moves to the left around the table in a clockwise direction.
Shuffle the cards, a standard deck of 52, and cut back—meaning the deck is passed to the player to your immediate right to cut before the deal.
Deal five cards to each player, starting with the person to your left and dealing out the first a set of two, then a set of three cards. Set the remaining deck to the side and flip over the top card. Whatever suit is revealed will act as the trump for this hand.
Rob the trump revealed if you have the ace of that suit in your hand. To rob trump, simply take the trump card and swap it with any other card in your hand, discarding the unwanted card face down next to the deck. If the ace is turned over, the dealer may rob trump by trading the ace for any other card in his hand.
Lead a card from your hand. Starting with the person to the dealer’s left, you will lead any card from you hand, either trump or non-trump, for the first trick. All other players may either follow suit or ruff—playing a trump card even when they can follow suit. The highest suited card or highest trump card takes the trick.
Score five points for each trick you take. Each time you take a trick, you’ll earn five points to your overall score and lead the first card for the next trick.
Win the game of 25 by being the first player to hit 25 points, hence the name of the game.
Ace of hearts is always trump (the third highest trump, no matter what suit is trump).
Ranking order of trump cards—5, J, A of hearts, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2.
Ranking order of non-trump cards—K, Q, J, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (black suits), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (hearts) and K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (diamonds).
The game of 25 may also be played with teams of two players. Same rules apply, except you and your partner will earn points as a team.
When trump is led, you must follow suit. The only cards you needn’t play when trump is led are the five and jack of trump or the ace of hearts (which is always trump).