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How to Play The Card Game 41

Card games can be used to teach basic math principles.
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The card game 41 is a fun social game for a group of friends to play together. It does not entail a huge amount of strategy and is very easily taught to other players. That makes 41 a game you can easily play on vacation, at cookouts or anywhere else card games are played for entertainment. Typically, 41 is played merely to determine a winner of each hand; a running score is not maintained. But if you and your friends would prefer to keep a running score, you can make that adjustment to the game.

Find a group of friends to play with. The card game 41 can be played at parties, cookouts, bars, meeting halls or anywhere else people gather. The minimum number of players is two and the maximum 13. The ideal number of players is between five and nine.

Deal four cards face down to each player. Allow each player to pick up his own cards and look at them.

Explain to the players that the goal of 41 is to score as many points as possible. Points are accumulated by adding up all the cards of the same suit and calculating their combined face value. Aces count as 11 points, face cards as 10 points, and the rest of the cards count as their face value. A player scores positive points for the suit in her hand with the highest combined face value, but then must subtract the face value of any cards in her hand that are of a different suit than the one with the highest total. The negative points are subtracted from the positive points to compute the player's score.

Place the draw deck on the table and flip over the top card, face up, next to it. The face-up card forms the discard pile.

Select a player to start the first round. On a player's turn, he may take the top card from the draw deck or from the discard deck. That player then discards one card from his hand. He can discard the card he drew from the draw deck, but if he chooses the top card from the discard deck, he cannot discard that card on that turn.

Continue taking turns in a clockwise pattern until one player "knocks." "Knocking" occurs when a player decides to declare she has the highest hand at the table instead of drawing a card from either pile. After this occurs, all of the other players get one more turn and the hand is scored. The player with the highest score wins the game.


Forty-one is the highest total any one player can have, which is where the game gets its name.

If playing multiple rounds, the players should agree on a penalty for a player "knocking" and finding out he doesn't have the highest score. The recommended penalty is either 20 or 30 points deducted from the score of the player who knocked.


  • There is a moderate amount of strategy in this game. The strategy usually won't scare off players who prefer simple games, but the limited scope of it could make the game unattractive to players who enjoy games with a lot of strategy involved.
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