How to Play African Crazy Eights

Wherever there are 3 or more people and a few decks of cards, African Crazy Eights can start people laughing. Just follow the steps below to play the game that’s never the same twice.


  1. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 1
    Set aside the jokers and shuffle a deck of cards. Use one deck for every 3 people playing.
  2. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 2
    Deal seven cards to each player.
  3. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 3
    Place the remaining cards face down in the center of the play area where all players can reach. This is the Draw Pile.
  4. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 4
    Flip the top card from the Draw Pile face up next to the Draw Pile. This starts the Discard Pile. None of the specific card rules (see below) apply to the starter. They only provide a suit and number from which to begin play.
  5. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 5
    Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player in turn must play a card face up that shares a number or suit (or both) in common with the top card in the Discard Pile at the beginning of the turn. If unable to play from his/her hand, the player must draw the top card from the Draw Pile instead. This concludes the player’s turn.
  6. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 6
    Continue playing until one player is out of cards and becomes the winner.
  7. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 7
    The winner decides on a new rule to add to the game for the next round and explains it to the group. (see Tips for more info)
  8. Image titled Play African Crazy Eights Step 8
    Re-shuffle. Re-deal. Repeat.

Basic card Rules:

  • 2 – the next player must draw two cards instead of playing on the Discard Pile.
  • 4 – after playing a four, immediately pass two cards to the person next to you in the opposite direction of play.
  • 6 – skips the next player’s turn.
  • 8 – wild (hence, “crazy” eights). After playing this card, must immediately call out a suit for the next player to play.
  • JACK – reverses direction of play (“jack, go back”).

What to do if a Rule is broken:

If a player breaks any Rule, or is clearly unaware it is their turn to play, and another player notices before the next card is played, the player recognizing the error is duty-bound to help the other player better understand the game. Players should all be sure to "help" each other learn the game:

  • Stop play.
  • Pick penalty cards. Place the top two cards from the top of the Draw Pile face down on the table and slide them over to the Accused.
  • Explain which rule was broken and how. (example: “the person next to you played a 6. A six is a “skip,” so it was not your turn.”)
  • Correct & thank - The Accused must remove any misplayed cards back to their hand then pick up the two penalty cards and before the cards leave the table, say “Thank you for teaching me.”
  • Rebuttal - If, however, the Accused did NOT break the rule cited, he slides the penalty cards back to the Accuser and explains kindly and patiently how they were mistaken. (example: “The six was played by the player two seats over from me. It skipped the person next to me, and now it’s my turn.”)
  • The Accuser must pick up the penalty cards and before the cards leave the table, say “Thank you for teaching me.”

NOTE: If the penalty cards leave the table before “Thank you for teaching me” is said, that person should be penalized another two cards until they learn the rule. Once penalty cards are removed from the Draw Pile, they MUST go into a players hand – never back into the Draw Pile. Once a penalty is settled and cards distributed, play continues as if the penalty had not occurred. (Taking penalty cards does not count as taking a turn or change whose turn it is).


  • Be creative when making new Rules! Anything available – poker chips, dice, food, drink, other people, etc., can all be incorporated into your game.
  • New Rules may apply to a color, suit, number, sequence of cards played, or any combination thereof.
  • Be gentle (and a little forgiving) with newer players. If they feel picked on, they may not want to continue playing with you.
  • Too many rules where players draw cards can make rounds last too long – sometimes an hour or more. To keep the game moving, take care to balance drawing rules with discarding rules.
  • There are three rules governing new Rules.—They cannot directly contradict other rules (although they may provide for exceptions to existing rules). They must not target a specific person (example: “When anyone plays a 3, Sally has to draw 3 cards.”) and Unless each number has a rule applied to it, rules must not be un-made.
  • New Rules primarily govern the movement of cards (drawing/discarding) but may require players to change seats, make noises/sing/speak, exchange cards, slap the discard pile, draw cards from each others’ hands, move in a certain way, etc.


  • Keep in mind that this is a game and the point is to have fun. Remember to be kind when you are enforcing a penalty. Everyone makes mistakes, and the next one to receive a penalty could be you!

Sample New Rules

  • Skip-Reverse - when a King is played, skip one turn, as with a 6. After that person plays, direction of play reverses and (unless dictated otherwise by another card Rule) the skipped person gets to play, followed by the person who played the King.
  • Take two - after you play a Queen, the player across from you must pick two cards at random from your hand and add them to his hand.
  • Communism - when a player discards a Red 10, all other players must turn in their whole hands to him. He then shuffles the cards together and re deals so everyone has an even number of cards. If there are leftover cards that would make the hands uneven, they are buried at the bottom of the Discard Pile.
  • Democracy - when Communism is enacted, players holding a Black 10 may discard it to the bottom of the Discard Pile to avoid participation in Communism.
  • Immunity - when two cards of the same suit and number are played in succession, the player playing the 2nd card may declare "Immunity" and cannot be penalized until his Immunity is turned off by two identical cards being played in succession again.
  • Songs - A player playing a 5 must sing (any song) until the next card is played.
  • Colors - when playing a 3, that player must name a color. No repeat colors are permitted within a round.
  • Suicide Bomb - When a King of Hearts (the one with the sword through his head) is played, the top card from the Draw Pile is turned over. If any player has the identical card (suit and number) in his hand, he must double his hand by drawing additional cards from the Draw Pile.
  • Dice - When a player plays a 7, he must select another player to roll a die and then add that number of cards to his hand from the Draw Pile.
  • No Touching! - When Spades are in play, no player may touch the table.
  • Salute - when a 9 is played, everyone must salute. The last person to do this has to take two cards from the Draw Pile.
  • Silence - When a Club is the top card in the Discard Pile, no talking is permitted (unless play is stopped for a penalty).

* Make your own Rules and share your favorites here! *

Article Info

Categories: Card Games