Seven Up

Seven Up: A Guide to the Rules, Instructions & Winning Strategy


Seven Up is a classic card game, also known as All Fours, Pitch, or High-Low-Jack, has been around for centuries and is still enjoyed by many (including me!) today. It’s a trick-taking game that requires a standard deck of 52 cards and can be played by two to seven players. The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach a predetermined score, usually seven points, hence the name Seven Up.

The game is believed to have been created by American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It quickly gained popularity among card players and spread to the civilian population, becoming a common pastime in saloons and homes. My grandparents in MA were particular fans of it, playing it at least once a week, it seemed. The name “Seven Up” is derived from the fact that the first team to score seven points wins the game. The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, but with the 8s, 9s, and 10s removed, resulting in a 32-card deck.

The rules of the game have evolved over the years, with different regional variations emerging. However, the basic premise remains the same. It is a game for two to four players (most commonly four, who play in partnerships), with the aim of the game being to win tricks and score points. The first team to reach seven points wins.

In the early 20th century, Seven Up was one of the most popular card games in America, often played in social gatherings and family events. However, its popularity waned with the rise of other card games like Bridge and Poker.

The game is still played today, particularly in the American South and Midwest, and in some parts of Canada. There are also online versions of the game available, allowing people from all over the world to play Seven Up.

Quick Tip for Seven Up

Always keep an eye on your opponent’s cards and try to remember which cards have been played. This will help you make better decisions during the game.

Rules for playing Seven Up

  1. The game begins with each player being dealt six cards.
  2. The player to the dealer’s left leads the first trick by playing a card face up on the table.
  3. Each player, in turn, must follow suit if possible. If they cannot, they may play any card.
  4. The player who played the highest card of the lead suit wins the trick and leads the next one.
  5. Points are scored for winning tricks containing certain cards.

The Deal for Seven Up

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals six cards to each player, three at a time. The next card is turned face up to determine the trump suit for that round. The remaining deck is set aside and not used for the rest of the round.

How to Play Seven Up

  1. Setup: Determine the first dealer and deal the cards.
  2. Gameplay: Players take turns playing cards, trying to win tricks and score points.
  3. End of the Game: The game ends when a player reaches the predetermined score.
  4. Scoring: Points are scored for winning tricks containing certain cards.

How to Win at Seven Up

Winning at Seven Up, similar to many other card games, isn’t purely a matter of chance. It requires a blend of skill, strategy, and a sprinkle of luck. Even though luck can play a significant role, a player’s ability to use smart strategies can definitely tilt the balance in their favor.

One of the most important skills in Seven Up is the ability to remember which cards have been played. This is essential because it allows you to predict what cards your opponents may have, thereby giving you an advantage in the game. By keeping track of the cards that have been played, you can make educated guesses about the remaining cards and plan your moves strategically.

Making the most out of your high cards and trumps is another vital strategy in Seven Up. High cards and trumps are your most powerful tools in the game. Therefore, it’s essential to use them wisely and at the right time. Avoid using them prematurely, as this can leave you defenseless later in the game. For example, if you use all your trumps early, you may find yourself without any trumps in later rounds when you need them the most.

Additionally, it’s crucial to monitor your opponent’s points. This will give you a clear idea about your standing in the game and help you to adjust your strategy accordingly. If your opponent is ahead, you might want to play more aggressively, taking more risks to catch up. Conversely, if you’re leading, you might want to adopt a more defensive strategy to maintain your lead.

The key to winning Seven Up is being adaptable and flexible. You need to constantly assess the situation, evaluate your hand, and adjust your strategy based on what cards you and your opponents have played. Although there’s no foolproof strategy for winning, keeping these tips in mind can significantly improve your chances of winning at Seven Up.

Best Strategies for playing Seven Up

One of the best strategies for playing Seven Up is to try to control the game by winning tricks early on. This allows you to dictate the pace of the game and put pressure on your opponents. Also, don’t be afraid to use your trump cards to win important tricks.

Winning early tricks sets the tone of the game, giving you the upper hand. It allows you to dictate the pace and flow of the game, forcing your opponents to adjust to your game plan rather than developing their own. When you’re in control, you can more effectively manage your resources and make strategic decisions that put you in a position of advantage.

Another part of this strategy is the use of your trump cards. In Seven Up, a trump card is a card from the trump suit which outranks all other cards. Hence, they are extremely valuable and can turn the tide of a game when used correctly. Don’t hesitate to use your trump cards to win important tricks, even if it means revealing them early in the game. Winning these tricks not only adds to your score but also puts psychological pressure on your opponents. They might start second-guessing their strategies or make mistakes under pressure.

However, it’s worth noting that using your trump cards should be done strategically. You don’t want to use them all in the beginning only to find yourself without any high-ranking cards later in the game. It’s about finding the right balance and timing to ensure you maximize their potential.

This strategy is not foolproof, as the game also relies on the luck of the draw. However, by taking control early and making smart use of your trump cards, you can significantly increase your chances of winning in Seven Up. Remember, the goal here isn’t just to win, but to make strategic decisions that complicate the game for your opponents, potentially causing them to make errors that you can capitalise on.


There are several variations of Seven Up, including Auction Pitch, Cinch, and Pedro. These variations introduce additional rules and scoring methods, adding an extra layer of complexity to the game.

Scenarios for Seven Up

There are many different scenarios that can arise during a game of Seven Up. For example, you might find yourself with a hand full of low cards, or you might be in a position where you need to win every trick to win the game. In these situations, it’s important to stay calm and make the best possible decisions based on the cards you have and the cards that have been played.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Seven Up game

Q: How many players can play Seven Up? A: Seven Up can be played by two to seven players.

Q: What is the objective of the game? A: The objective is to be the first player to reach a predetermined score, usually seven points.

Q: How are points scored? A: Points are scored for winning tricks containing certain cards.

Q: What is a trick? A: A trick is a round of play in which each player plays one card.

Q: What is the trump suit? A: The trump suit is the suit of the card that is turned face up after the deal. Cards of the trump suit are more powerful than cards of other suits.

There are a few good apps to play Seven Up online/on your phone. This one works well, but does contain ads.