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"Threes" is a specific "houserules" version of Shithead -

This page documents a proposal to ratify the rules played amongst friends in 2022, for ongoing tournament into 2023.

What is Threes?

Threes is a card game with the the aim being to dispose of all your cards.


As many decks of cards (including jokers) as needed for the number of players are shuffled. Two decks suits gameplay of 3-6 (but theoretically up to 11) people, but the only upper limit is how many people you can convince to play.

Each player is dealt 9 cards, organised into three sets of 3:

  • 3 cards face down to the table. These are not seen till they're played blind at the end of the game
  • 3 cards face up to the table. All players see these throughout the game, but they're not used till there are no cards in the players hand
  • 3 cards to the hand. This is the hand for the majority of the game.

After dealing, and before play, players may swap cards between their hand and their face-up table cards.


Each players turn involves adding one or more cards to the central stack (if possible), and then drawing cards to bring their hand up to 3. If they have more than three cards in their hand, they do not need to draw. If a player cannot play a card, then they must pick up the entire stack to their hand, after which they immediately play again.

If the stack is "closed", then it is removed from gameplay.

All cards a player plays must be the same numeric value, and by default, must equal or exceed the current top card value on the pile. Some cards are wild and/or have a "power".

For each card each there is a simple "when it can be played" and "what effect it has on the game". The details of this, per card, is as follows:

Card When playable? (default/wildcard) What it does notes
2 wildcard
7 inverts order: next card must be equal or LOWER
8 wildcard Invisible (does not change stack value)
10 closes the stack
Joker wildcard closes the stack

Additionally, if four or more cards of the same value are played in a row (ignoring any 8s that are interleaved, as per its power), then the stack is closed and the player to close it plays again. tip: a player with a large hand via pickup may be in a position to play four, and thus immediately close it and play again - perhaps multiple times.

Start Play

Counting from the first player clockwise after the dealer, whoever has a 3 in their hand begins the round. If nobody has a three, then first player with a four. And so on.

Play then continues clockwise. On any turn a player will either

  • add cards to the stack (normal play)
  • add cards to the stack to close it (4-kind/10/joker), then play another turn
  • unable to add cards so pick up the stack, and then play a turn to the empty table

A players turn ends only once they have made a "normal play"

End game

When the hand is empty, then the 3 face-up cards are played from. The last cards in a players hand cannot be added to faceup cards (eg: if the last in-hand card is a Queen, and there is a Queen in their faceup table cards, they may not merge them into one play).

If a player picks up the stack whilst playing from the table, they return to playing from their hand till it is again empty.

Once the hand and face-up table cards are played, the final three cards are played blind. Due to playing blind, the chances of picking up the stack and playing again from the hand is increased. This final stage is pure luck and can be game-changing.

Differences from 2022 common play

  • Sometimes in 2022, the last in-hand cards were permitted to merge with the players faceup table cards. This fell out of fashion in 2022, and is denied here
  • 2022 rules sometimes treated the 8 as a normal card when played to an empty table. The simpler logic of a cards "power" remaining unchanged regardless of context is preferred here.
    • note: If an 8 were to be considered powerless to an empty table, then for consistency, this author thinks ALL cards should be powerless when played to an empty table - however this would restrict the ability to chain multiple 10/joker cards in a row to empty a large powerful hand near endgame.
  • 2022 rules treated the 10 as having the same wildcard+power as the joker. It was then proposed that it should adhere to the limit from the 7 card. This author considers it a good idea that the 10 and Joker be different, and thinks if the 10 adheres to the 7 card power, it should simply adhere to normal when-it-can-play rules (meaning it could not player after a 7, but also not after royalty)
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