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How to Play Tripoley

Tripoley is played with cards and chips. Face card hearts are winning cards.
royal flush image by studio vision1 from Fotolia.com

If you enjoy playing Hearts, Spades and Texas Hold'em, you will enjoy playing Tripoley as well. Also known as Michigan Rummy, this family betting game is easy enough that children as young as six can play, while variations of the game can challenge everyone short of a professional card sharp. Tripoley is a product of Cadaco Toys of Chicago, Illinois. Original and modern game boards exist in many formats, from playing mats to plastic molded boards to pdf files. Cadaco has been marketing Tripoley since they secured the rights in the late 1930's from Stanley Hopkins.

Purchase a copy of the Tripoley game. Classic boards are available on eBay, or you can get the 75th anniversary edition of the game directly from Cadaco. Gather enough poker chips, bingo chips, buttons, dried beans or pennies so that each player has at least fifty markers.

Shuffle a deck of 52 cards, being sure you have removed the jokers. Deal all the cards, beginning to the left of the dealer, plus one extra or "dead" hand, with the dealer getting his cards last on each round. Do not look at your hand. Each player "antes up" by placing one chip in the "Pot" and one chip on each section of the playing mat.

Once all players have "anted up, " players look at their hands. The player who has the card combinations listed on the mat takes the chips for that section. If two or more players have an "eight, nine, ten" combination all in one suit, they split the chips between them evenly. If there are an uneven number of chips for an even number of players, the "leftover" chips stay in that section.

Next, players choose the five cards in their hand which make the best poker hand. Dealer bets first, then each player going left around the table can either fold, raise the bet, or call the bet. All players must meet the raised bet or fold. When the last player calls the bet, the player with the best poker hand wins all the chips in the "Pot" section.

In the Michigan Rummy round, everyone returns all their cards to their hand. The dealer plays the lowest card in his hand. For example, he plays the two of hearts. The player who has the three plays it next, followed by the four, and so on until no one has the next card because it is in the "dead hand," or until someone plays the ace of that suit. When that happens, the player who played the last card of that suit must switch to his lowest card of the opposite color. If the last suit played was red, his next suit must be black. The player who manages to play all his cards wins all the chips in the "Kitty" section of the game. All other players pay the winner one chip for each of their remaining cards. The player to the dealer's left then becomes the new dealer and everyone antes again to continue the game. Game continues until someone has won all of the chips or until everyone agrees to end the game.

Things You'll Need:

  • Poker chips
  • Bingo chips
  • Dried beans
  • Buttons or pennies for placing bets
  • Tripoley Mat or game board
  • Deck of poker playing cards, minus the Jokers


Michigan Rummy can be played with as few as two or as many as nine players. Because most of the game involves matching or sequencing cards, it is a very effective way to teach number recognition, matching skills, and number order. Drop the poker round if you are playing with very young children, but do not underestimate 'tweens, as they are usually more than capable of learning the game if they are given a little patient encouragement.

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