What game combines cards, bluffing, and household objects, is fast-paced but easy to learn, and fun to boot? Spoons, of course! The spoons card game is known by many other names, and it’s popular for many different reasons, not the least of which of how easy it is to accommodate multiple players.
Unlike games like euchre, that require an exact number of players and are played according to very complicated directions, spoons just requires a pack of cards and (almost) as many spoons as there are players!
Today, we’re talking all things spoons. Not only will you be able to dazzle friends and family with your new knowledge, but you’ll move from beginning status to expert level in less time than it takes to grab a spoon!
Who Invented This Game?
Despite loads of internet deep dives, we haven’t been able to trace the beginning of this particular game. Also known as pig or tongue, this part card game, part bluffing game is similar to liar or bull but closer, perhaps, to musical chairs. It’s worth noting, however, that the game of spoons has almost nothing in common with the dice game that also goes by the name of pig.
Card games themselves have a long and storied history. Believed to have been developed in China, playing cards made their way to the Middle East. In fact, European card games are believed to have been an Islamic derivation of the originals from the far east! No matter how they got to us, card games have long been popular, especially as decks have become inexpensive to make.
There are almost as many types of card games as there are countries and cultures, and these range from new to almost ancient. Games like Rummikub and Tarot card games have been around since ancient times, while games like bridge, whist, euchre, and spades might have been played by your grandparents! Many involve accumulating cards, some involve shedding cards, and often the game involves gambling (like poker). No matter the variation, card games are fun–and spoons is no exception.
Rules of the Game
We might not know who invented the spoons card game rules, but we do know how it’s traditionally played. We’ll cover the basic rules and then share a myriad of alternative rules and fun tips for taking your play up a notch. Without further ado, here’s how to play spoons card game:
The object of spoons is incredibly simple: don’t be the last one to grab a spoon! Much like musical chairs, there’s one less spoon than there are players, so one person will be the loser!
The game begins with a dealer being selected and a deck of fifty-two playing cards. You’ll also need spoons, butter knives, quarters, cups, shoes, or really any other set of items–you should need to make sure you have one less than the number of players. These items should be placed in the center of the table or floor, within easy access to everyone. The dealer deals four cards to each player, and the game begins!
The game begins when the dealer grabs a card from the remaining cards and either keeps it or places it down to his left. If he keeps it, he must discard another card from his hand. The goal is to get to a set of four of a kind (four queens, four nines, etc.). Once a set is reached, a player can grab a spoon, ensuring a win.
Each player will draw from the stack of cards on his right and discard to his left. This game speeds up very quickly as every player races to be the first to be able to grab the spoon. A player might slowly grab so that nobody sees him or her till it’s too late, or a player might even make a fake grab that results in a mad free for all. Either way, it’s important to keep your eyes on the spoons at all times, even as you draw and discard from your hand.
How to Win
Before spoon begins, players should decide how many rounds to go or they should agree to a sudden death round. In a sudden death round, the loser sits out and a spoon is removed from the center, and the cards are gathered, shuffled, and re-dealt. The next person to miss grabbing a spoon also sits out and so forth until there are only two people left. The first person to win a set and grab the last spoon is the ultimate winner.
Play can accommodate upwards of three people, so even if you don’t want to play a sudden death round, you can also just play until everyone’s tired. With all the adrenaline this game gets pumping, that might take a while!
When people first search, “how do you play the card game spoons?” they’re bound to get a variety of answers. In part, this is due to spoons not being an officially recognized card game, but it’s also because almost every region and even family has its special twists on the game. That even adds to the fun of things–getting to develop your own special game for your family!
One of our favorite variations has to do with the spoons, themselves. Not only can you switch up the spoons and use different items, as previously mentioned, but there’s also no reason why you can’t spread the spoons all over the house! Players making mad dashes for a spoon on a bookshelf or another spoon under the table can increase the hilarity tenfold. Some families also require players to perform some silly action when they lose, and sometimes people don’t use spoons or objects at all–instead, you stick out your tongue or put your finger on your nose or some other type of action.
Another way to change things up is with the scoring method. You can actually keep score by giving a letter (P, then I, then G) to anybody who fails to grab a spoon. The first person to PIG loses, but you don’t have to stick to PIG; you can choose any word you want. Make the whole game festive by playing SANTA or using candy canes, for example.
Another popular variation of spoons is donkey. You’ll use five times the number of players plus one card to determine the number of cards to use. For example, if you have four players, you’ll need twenty-one cards. The deck should consist of sets of four of a kind.
After the cards have been correctly counted and determined, the dealer should shuffle and deal five cards to each player. The dealer then calls out “pass.” At this point, each player passes one card to the player at his right and then picks up the card from the player to his left. Play continues like a normal spoons game from here on out.
Strategies for Winning at Spoons
Spoons is a simple game, but there are certainly strategies you can employ to win. Bluffing is one such strategy. Some families interpret the “rules” super strictly and don’t allow any bluffing, but honestly that’s just part of the fun of the game! As long as it’s allowed, you can reach for a spoon at any time, as long as you don’t actually touch the spoon.
This is incredibly distracting to your opponents and can cause other players to make jumps toward spoons and forget about their own cards. Depending on the rules you choose, if somebody grabs a spoon prematurely, that might be cause for elimination.
Another strategy you can try is being ultra-sneaky about grabbing a spoon. If you’ve got your four of a kind, use surreptitious hand motions to quietly tuck away a spoon. If you’re lucky, nobody will notice and you’ll have the delight of knowing you’ve won way before everybody else!
You can also completely keep your eyes off your cards and simply pass cards from the draw to the discard piles without even paying attention. Doing so means you’ll never get a four of a kind, yourself, but as long as your reflexes are quick, you’ll be second to the draw when somebody reaches for a first spoon.
Finally, you can form strategic alliances with some of your opponents, secretly. You can signal to each with a predetermined signal if either of you reaches four of a kind. This allows both of you to grab a spoon before the rest of the crowd. Be careful, though. If your opponents catch wind of your alliance, they might form their own!
Spoons is a hilarious card game you and your family will love. Now that you know the rules and the strategy, let’s start a game!