How to play 99

99 is a fun and easy-to-learn game that requires concentration, counting and 3 or more players. Play for stakes as you and your opponents place cards in the middle, counting as you add. Go over 99 and lose a token and the round is over. The game ends when only one player has a token remaining.


A standard deck of cards (no Jokers)
3 tokens for each player (can be pennies, buttons, spoons, poker chips)
3 or more players

Rules to 99

Players place their three tokens in front of them on the table, and receive three cards from the dealer.

As the play goes around the table, each player puts down one card. The point total starts at zero and each card adds its face value in points (e.g., a 5 is worth five points, a face card is worth 10 points) except for certain cards that have special values or meanings:

  • A 4 reverses play (and does not change the total number of points)
  • A 9 is a pass (and does not change the total number of points
  • A 10 subtracts 10 points from the total
  • A King takes the point total to 99 (or keeps it 99 if the total is already 99)
  • An Ace adds either 1 or 11 points, announced by the player who plays it

After each card is played, the player announces the new total to the table and draws a replacement card. Each player must play a card without sending the total number of points higher than 99. This is very easy in the beginning but play becomes more complex as the total climbs. If a player cannot play a card that keeps the total at or less than 99, that player loses a token and the round ends. The cards are then shuffled and dealt, and the process begins again.


The last player with a token remaining is the winner. Players are eliminated when they lose the third token.

Sweeten the pot

Your grandchildren will pay some serious attention to this game if everyone has three pieces of candy in front of them, instead of just tokens. And for the winning kid, the windfall of those, say, 15 pieces of candy will be truly amazing.

Card games are timeless fun for the whole family. The Ultimate Book of Card Games, by Scott McNeely, is sure to offer fun to all ages, households and people who have a pack of cards and time to kill. Get this perfect gift for the game lover in your life here.

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