How to Use Playing Cards for Horse Racing

Written by keith allen
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How to Use Playing Cards for Horse Racing
A deck of cards can become a horse race. (spreaded deck of cards image by timur1970 from

A simple card game called horse racing can be played for entertainment, for money or as a drinking game. Four people customarily play the game, although only one moves the cards while the others bet on the race and cheer on their "horses."

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Deck of cards
  • Drinks (optional)

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  1. 1

    Remove the four aces from the deck to serve as the horses in the race, and set aside the four, three and two from each suit to create the racecourse. Shuffle the rest of the deck.

  2. 2

    Place the four aces face up on a table. Line up the fours, threes and twos face down and end to end in two parallel lines on each side of the aces, creating a track six cards long.

  3. 3

    Place your bets. (This step is optional.) If you're playing for money, each player bets on the ace of a particular suit of cards. In the drinking game, each player bets a number of drinks on his chosen ace. Usually only one player bets on each "horse."

  4. 4

    Turn over the cards in the shuffled deck one at a time. The ace of the same suit as the newly exposed card advances one length, the distance of one of the cards lining the racecourse. For example, if you flip over the six of the clubs, the ace of clubs moves. The winner is the first ace to move six lengths and thus pass the end of the track.

  5. 5

    Distribute the winnings to the backer of the successful ace. If you play for money, the winner collects the wagers of the other three players, getting a 3-to-1 payoff. In the drinking game, the winner forces the losers to drink, distributing his winning wager at his discretion. If he bet three drinks, he could have each loser drink one, give two drinks to one player and one to another, or make one loser consume all three drinks. The backers of the losing aces must drink whatever they bet as well as the drinks the winner sends their way.

Tips and warnings

  • The excitement comes from cheering on the cards as if they are horses at a racetrack. The more animated the announcer (the player moving the aces), the more fun for everyone in the game.
  • Large wagers during the drinking version of the game lead to a short racing season. A player betting three drinks, for example, has three to distribute to other players if he wins but will have at least three drinks to consume if he loses.
  • Binge drinking, consuming several drinks in a short period of time, is a health hazard and can lead to life-threatening conditions such as alcohol poisoning.

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