There’s nothing that can bring a group of people together with a good card game. A good game of cards plus food and drinks is never a bad way to spend a weekend with friends and loved ones. 

When it comes to card games, it’s hard to go wrong with poker.

However, if you feel that poker night is “all played out,” you should consider to change things up. 

In this case, why not try playing Tonk the card game with your poker buddies?

In this article, we’ll teach you how to play Tonk and some useful tips to help you win.

What is Tonk the Card Game?

Tonk is a very well-known game of cards which is essentially the African-American variant of poker.

Its popularity is attributed to the fact that it’s a fun card game to play in groups and the rules are very easy to follow. Like poker, a Tonk card game is usually played with stakes (usually money) and must be agreed upon before starting the game.

It’s a fairly fast-paced card game so you need to be on your toes when playing with other people. It is usually played between two to six players.

Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the card game called Tonk.

Getting Started

To play a Tonk card game, you need a regular deck of 52 cards.

Each of the cards has a certain point in them. All the face cards are valued at 10 points, Aces are only worth 1 point, while the remaining cards are worth their face value. This means a 3 is worth 3 points, a 4 is worth 4 points, and so on.

Set aside the Jokers if your deck has them.

As mentioned, the stakes of the game must be pre-determined before starting. Each player should agree to wager a certain amount of money with each hand. The winner for that hand will take all the agreed amount from all participants.

It is important to note that players can play many hands in a single game.

Players will then cut the cards to determine the first dealer. Whoever draws the highest card gets to deal first, and then dealing duty passes clockwise.

For the starting hand, all participants are dealt with either 3, 5, 7 or 12 cards, facing down. The card numbers that are dealt will depend according to the number of participants.

The Tonk

Each player must aim to achieve a Tonk which is pretty much an instant win. This is when the dealt cards give the player a total of 50 points, and should be instantly declared. 

When you get a Tonk, you will double your winnings from each player.

How to Play

When there’s no Tonk, the game proceeds as normal.

The dealer will turn over the first undealt card facing up – this becomes the start of the discard pile. The remaining undealt cards should be faced down and this becomes the stock pile.

The game then proceeds from the left of the dealer and will move on in a clockwise fashion.

On a player’s turn, he or she must take one card from either the discard or stock pile. The player will then have to get rid of one card by playing it face up atop the discard pile.

The main objective is to utilize the cards to create a spread.

A spread consists of three or more cards with similar rank or a set of cards with the same suit in a sequence. Once you form a spread and your turn comes up, you can place it in front of you facing up.

During your turn, you also have the option to improve your spread by adding cards to your own spread or any spread that your opponents have placed.

Winning Conditions

As mentioned, one of the main ways to win is by a Tonk, but that doesn’t always happen. 

There are other ways that you can win as well. The basic winning condition of a Tonk hand is by discarding all of your cards by creating new spreads or by cards to other existing spreads. The first one to accomplish this wins the agreed wager.

A hand can also be won with a drop. A drop is when players must all put all their cards face up. To win a drop, your cards should have the lowest point value. The winner receives the agreed amount from other participants.

Another Fun Alternative to Poker

Tonk the card game is definitely a fun alternative to poker and can be made more exciting with some stakes. Just remember to be always quick on your feet because this game does reward quick reactions. Have fun!

For more card games and tips, be sure to visit CardGameInfo.com for a wealth of card game rules and techniques.

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