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FAN TAN is also known as Card Dominoes, Parliament and Sevens.  and must be not be  confused with the gambling game that is played in china under the same that is played in China under the same name.  In fact, the well known Chinese game is not a card game.


Any reasonable number may play, with perhaps four to six being the best.


The standard 52-card pack is used, with cards ranking from King (high) to Ace (low).The players cut for deal, the drawer of the highest card being first dealer.  Thereafter the deal passes to the left.  Before each deal an agreed amount is placed by each player into a pool.  The cards are dealt one by one, face downwards, until the pack is exhausted.


Play begins by the player on the left of the dealer placing a 7 face upwards in the centre of the table.  If he has no 7 he contributes one unit to the pool, and the poker players on his left now has to playa 7 to the centre of the table or contribute one unit to the pool, and so on.

As soon as a 7 has been played to the centre of the table, the next player must play either the 6 of the same suit on its left, or the 8 of the same suit on its right, or the 7 of another suit below it.  The game continues clockwise round the table, the players building up to the Kings on the right of the 7s and down to the Aces on the left of them.

Any player who is unable to play in his turn contributes one unit to the pool, and if he revokes, by failing to play when he could do so, he forfeits three units to the pool, and five units each to the holders of the 6 and 8 if he fails to play a 7 when he could and should have played it.

The game is won by the player who is first to get rid of all his cards.  He receives all that is in the pool and from each of the other players one unit for every card that the player holds.

Skill comes into the game by holding up the opponents.  As a general rule a 7, unless it is accompanied by several cards of the same suit, should be kept in hand for as long as possible; and; if a player has a choice of plays, he should prefer card that will allow him later to play a lower or higher one of the same suit, rather than one that can only help the opponents.

With the situations of the game as in the illustration, the player plays the ♣ 10 because when the ♣ J is played he can follow with the ♣ Q.  It would be an error of judgment to play the ♥ 6, because it doesn’t help him, but might help the opponents. 

The game can, of course, be enjoyed by children (or adults) without the need for a pool


Play for fun

Play for fun


The original version of Fan Tan was called Play or Pay and may still be enjoyed.  The eldest poker hand may lead any card (not necessarily a 7).  The next player must play the next higher card in the same suit, or, if unable to, pay a chip to a pool. 

The sequence is built upwards only, and is regarded as continuous, i.e. Ace follows King. Only one suit is played at a time, and only when the first suit is finished is a second begun. 

The player who lays the last card in the first suit also plays the first card to the next the suit and the rank are of his choice. The first person to get rid of his cards wins the pool.

The first player to play might choose a suit in which he has two consecutive cards, and lay the higher.  By this means he is certain to lay the last card in the suit and thus begin the next. 

It is clearly an advantage to play first to the final suit, when opposite rules apply, and the player will decide which of his cards provide the biggest gap and lead so that his own cards are played before this gap is filled.

If the hand in the illustration is held by the player to play first, its holder has an excellent chance of winning.  He should begin with ♥ K, and will play the last card in the heart suit with ♥ Q.  He then begins spades with ♠ 8 and plays the last card with ♠ 7. 


He then lays ♣ 4 and ends the suit with ♣ 3.  Then he plays ♦ 10 and wins provided each of his opponents holds one of the cards ♦ 9,8,7,6,5,4,3.  An alternative plan would be to play the diamond suit second, and hope that the last suit, whether it be spades or clubs, will begin at such a level that he can play his two consecutive cards before any other player has gone out.

It should be pointed out that if players put in chips for each pass, each player might easily pass 40 times in one deal, so stakes should be geared accordingly.  An alternative method of settling would be for each loser to pay the winner at the end of the deal one chip for each card remaining in his hand.  Like Fan Tan, the game can, of course, be played for enjoyment only.

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