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Official 5 Alive Rules

5 Alive is a fun, face-paced, unpredictable card game that's easy to learn for all ages. Here's how to play:


Be the last player remaining with at least one "Alive" card face-up in front of you.


1. Shuffle the Deck: Shuffle the deck of numbered cards thoroughly.

2. Deal Alive Cards: Deal out one set of "Alive" cards (usually color-coded) face down to each player. Players keep their Alive cards face down in front of them.  Set aside any unused sets of Alive cards.

3. Deal Playing Cards: Deal 10 numbered cards face down to each player.  Players hold their deck of playing cards face down.


The game is played in turns, with players taking the following actions:

  • Play a Card: On your turn, discard one card face-up from your hand to a central discard pile in the center of the playing area.

  • Call Out the Total:  As you discard your card, announce the total value of all the numbered cards currently showing in the discard pile (including your played card).

    • Example: If the discard pile has a 3 and you play a 7, you would say "Ten" (3 + 7).

Important Rule:

  • Don't Go Over 21: The key rule is to avoid exceeding 21 with the running total in the discard pile.  If playing your card would cause the total to go over 21, you must:

    • Lose an Alive Card: Flip over one of your face-down Alive cards to reveal it. This signifies losing a life.

    • Reset the Total: The running total in the discard pile resets to zero.

    • Play Continues:  Despite losing an Alive card, your turn doesn't end. You can still discard another card from your hand and call out the new total.

Playing Strategies:

  • Pay Attention: Keep track of the running total in the discard pile and plan your discards accordingly to avoid going over 21.

  • Lower Numbers Early: Consider playing lower numbered cards from your hand earlier in the round, especially if the discard pile is already high.

  • Hold on to Higher Numbers: Strategically hold onto higher numbered cards for later in the round when they might be more advantageous.

Wild Cards (Optional):

Some versions of 5 Alive might include wild cards in the deck. These cards can have special actions depending on the specific game variation.

Ending the Round:

  • Empty Hand:  The round ends when a player successfully discards their last card without exceeding 21.  In this case, all other players lose one Alive card each (even if they still have cards in hand).

  • Discard Pile Total Exceeds 21: If, at any point during the round, the total value of the discard pile goes over 21 due to a card played, all players lose one Alive card each, and the discard pile is cleared to start a new round.

Winning the Game

  • The game continues with players losing Alive cards until only one player remains with at least one Alive card face-up. That player wins the game!


  • Team Play (Optional):  For 4-6 players, you can divide into teams of two. Players on the same team sit together and use only one set of Alive cards for their team. Teammates can discuss strategy during their turns.

  • Fast-Paced and Exciting:  5 Alive is a quick and engaging game that combines luck and strategy. It's a great choice for a fun and lively game night with family or friends.

So get ready for a super-fun, fast-paced, and unpredictable card game. Break out the game at parties, for fast fun on weeknights, and game night with the family

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