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Official Fan Tan (Sevens) Rules

Fan Tan Shedding Card Game, also known as Sevens or Play-or-Pay, is a fun and fast-paced game for a group of friends or family. Here's how to play


The objective in Fan Tan Shedding (Sevens or Play-or-Pay) is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand.


  • Decide on a dealer, usually by dealing a card face-up to each player until someone gets a Jack (they become the dealer). Deal passes left after the first round.

  • Players can agree on an ante (a set number of chips or tokens) to put into a pot before each hand (optional). This adds a bit of a gambling element.

Players and Deck:

  • You can play with 3 to 8 players.

  • A standard deck of 52 cards is typically used.

  • Optional: Include 4 additional cards - another Ace, King, Queen, and Jack (sometimes called "boodle cards").



  • Deal all the cards face-down, one at a time, aiming to give each player as close to an equal number of cards as possible. There might be one player who ends up with slightly more cards than the others (this is called the "widow").

Playing the Cards:

  • The player to the left of the dealer starts the game.

  • On your turn, you must play a card if you can. Here are your options:

    • Play a 7: Sevens are the only cards you can play to initiate a new sequence in any suit.

    • Build on existing sequences: You can add a card that is one rank higher or lower than the card on the end of the sequence, in the same suit. Remember, sequences wrap around! So, a King can be played after an Ace, and a 2 can be played after a 3. (e.g., you can play an 8 on a 7 of Spades, or a 5 on a 6 of Hearts).

  • If you can't play a card:

    • With Antes: You must discard one card face-up to a discard pile (often called the "kitty") and lose one chip to the pot.

    • Without Antes: If you're not playing with antes, you simply cannot play and your turn ends. The next player then gets their turn.

Winning the Game

  • The first player to discard all their cards wins the round and collects the pot (all the chips or tokens accumulated during the hand).

  • All remaining players add one chip to the pot for each card remaining in their hand.


  • The game can be quite strategic, requiring careful planning and discarding decisions.

  • Some variations allow players to draw a card from the deck or the widow pile if they can't play a card from their hand (instead of discarding). This can add another layer of strategy.

    Optional Boodle Cards:

    • If you're using the extra "boodle cards," they are placed face-up in the center of the table at the beginning of the round.

    • Players put one chip on each boodle card (except the dealer who puts two chips on each).

    • These cards don't participate in building sequences but serve as a "safety net." If you can't play a card from your hand, you can discard a boodle card instead of losing a chip. However, once you use a boodle card, you can't win that round.

Fan Tan Shedding is a great game for people of all ages and can be played with a simple deck of cards and some chips (or even buttons or coins). So grab your friends and family, and give it a try!

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