Salary Cap
Russell Degnan

Salary Cap is a card game for two or more players that mixes luck, resource management and strategy.


Number of Players

Two or more; more is better.


A Whole deck is used. For more than three players a second deck is preferable.

The highest card is always the Joker, which is part of the trump suit. After that, the highest card is the Jack or right bower, followed by the Jack of the same colour as the trump or left bower, then the remaining cards, from Ace, King and down. When playing with two packs, if two identical cards a played, the first played is considered higher. Thus, when hearts is trumps, the order is Joker, JH, JD, AH, KH, QH, 10H, 9H ... 2H. The non-trump suits are played Ace-high with the Jack ranked between Queen and 10.

The Deal

Eight cards are dealt, face-up, to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down in a pile - the draft pile. A payment chip is placed on every dealt card. Each player receives 22 additional payment chips (making 30 in total), for them to draw on.

The Hand

The hand is split into four parts: the play, the contract, the discard and the draft.

The Play

The top card of the draft pile is turned up. Its suit is the trump suit - a Joker makes the trump suit no-trumps.

There are five tricks in each hand. The first three tricks are worth one point each; the fourth - the penultimate trick - is worth two points; the fifth - championship trick - is worth four points.

The opening lead is held by the winner of the previous hand's championship trick. Play then proceeds to the left, each player contributing one card to each trick. The highest card played to a trick wins it, unless any trumps have been played, in which case the highest trump wins. The winner of the trick leads in the next.

When all five tricks have been played the score is tallied.

The Contract

Unlike most card games, a card can be retained from one hand to the next, provided the player has sufficient payment chips to pay their salary. The salary of a card increases at the conclusion of each hand as follows

  • Every card played increases its salary by one (1)
  • Cards that won a trick increase their salary by the played value plus the points won (by 1, 2 or 4)

The Discard

At the conclusion of each hand, each player can discard any card they no longer wish to keep. These are placed, with a token representing their listed salary in the middle of the table - free agent cards.

Players can place and withdraw their own cards from the centre of the table at any time prior to the draft being called. Every player must have enough payment chips to maintain a roster of eight at the beginning of the next hand.

The Draft

When players are satisfied with their discards, cards are placed, face-up from the draft pile for each available spot on the player's roster. Each draft card has a salary requirement of one payment chip.

Players take turns to select any card for their roster until they have retained eight cards; choosing in the same order each round. Players select from weakest to strongest, ordered as follows: last pick goes to the winner of the championship trick in the hand just played; next to last the winner of the penultimate trick. If first pick is still to be determined it goes to the lowest scoring player in the round; by lowest total points scored, and finally by lowest card(s) in hand.

Players can choose any card on the table, either free agent cards, by matchign their listed salary amount with payment chips, or draft cards with a single payment chip. A player must be able to meet the listed salaries of their roster for the next hand and must have eight cards on their roster. There is a five (5) point penalty for failing to list cards for free agency prior to the draft being called, or for exceeding the salary cap when selecting cards.

The Game

Players scores are totalled at the end of each hand. The first player to fifty (50) points wins the game. If two players exceed 50 points the highest total wins.

If players are even, the winner is decided by: the winner of the last championship trick; the winner of the most championship tricks; the winner of the last penultimate trick; the winner of the most penultimate tricks; the winner of the most recent championship trick.

Frivolous Pastimes 8th April, 2012 19:19:18   [#]