Card Game Instruction: Learn To Play Fan-Tan

Cards games step-by-step instructions on how to play Fan-Tan, a fun and exciting card game for ages 8 to adult, three to six players.

Fan-Tan is an easy-to-learn card game for ages eight to adult, three to six players. It uses a deck of regular poker cards, minus Jokers. Since it is so simple, the basic game can be learned in just a few minutes, or even as a game progresses. Once a player becomes more comfortable with the basics, however, he will begin to realize Fan-Tan's potential as an exercise in the formation of strategies and the advantage of thinking and planning ahead, as well as the importance of tracking the activities of other players during the game.

The object of Fan-Tan is to play all the cards in one's hand, one at a time, against cards laid onto the table by other players. The first player with no remaining cards wins.

Begin by choosing the dealer for hand one, and by dividing chips or pennies evenly among all players. The dealer should deal out the entire deck in the normal clockwise fashion, beginning with the player to his left. Players should form hands of their cards, and keep them concealed from other players.

In a 4-player game, each player must contribute two chips to the "pot" before play begins on the hand. If there are 3, 5, or 6 players, not all of them will have the same number of cards at the end of the deal, and so will make different opening contributions to the pot. In this case, all players should count their cards at the end of the deal. Those players who have fewer cards should contribute two chips, while those who have more cards will contribute one chip. This helps to minimizing the risk of players with more cards to play who are thus at a disadvantage in the hand.

Play begins with the player to the dealer's left. The first card to be played must be a Seven. Suit does not matter. If player #1 holds one or multiple Sevens, he should choose one and place it face up in the center of the table. If player #1 holds no Sevens, he should contribute one chip to the pot. The penalty in Fan-Tan for having no card to play during one's turn is always one chip.

Player #2, to player #1's left, must now play either a Seven or a card that relates to the card of player #1. If player #1 played a Seven of Spades, player #2 must play either a Six or Eight of Spades, or a Seven of a different suit. If he is playing the Six of Spades, he should place it directly above the Seven of its own suit, the Eight below the Seven of its own suit, or any Seven of a different suits beside the other Seven to form a central row.



Each player takes a turn playing a card from his hand against the cards previously played, and as the game progresses, the cards will form a matrix like this:

Six Six Six Six

Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

Seven Seven Seven Seven

Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

Eight Eight Eight Eight

Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

The matrix will not necessarily be complete; for example, if the Six of Clubs has been played but the Eight of Diamonds has not, there will be no card under the Seven of Diamonds. In that case, the next player may play the Five of Spades by placing it on top of the Six of Spades, or he may play a Seven of a different suit, if all Sevens have not already been played. No Diamonds higher in value than the Eight may be played until the Eight of Diamonds has been played.

The cards on the top and bottom row of this matrix will change as play progresses. The center row contains only Sevens. Again, as the game progresses, the matrix may look like this:

Four Ace Six Six

Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

Seven Seven Seven Seven

Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds

Nine Jack King

Spades Clubs Diamonds

You can see by this example that play in any particular spot on the table cannot progress until the beginning card of that spot is played. The empty spot in the Hearts column is caused by one player holding the Eight of Hearts. Other players may hold higher Hearts cards, but they cannot play them until the Eight of Hearts appears. This is where strategies are important in Fan-Tan; an experienced player can judge the order of play of his own cards, which enables him to keep other players from emptying their hands.

The stacks above the row of Sevens are played in descending order and the stacks below the row of Sevens are played in ascending order. In the above example, if a player wanted to play the Five of Clubs, he would place it on top of the Six of Clubs. The Ten of Spades would be placed on top of the Nine of Spades. The Queen of Clubs would be placed on top of the Jack of Clubs, and the Five of Diamonds would be placed on top of the Six of Diamonds. Aces are always placed on top of Twos of the same suit since the numeric value of Aces in Fan-Tan is always one. Each of these cards would be placed one at a time by the player holding it, and only during his turn.

A player may not forfeit his turn. If a player has no card that will play against the current condition of the table, he must contribute one chip to the pot. If that player has any one card that will play against the current condition of the table, he must play it, but if he has several cards that will play, he may choose between them. If a player is found to have held cards that would have played against the table in a previous turn, and he contributed a chip instead of playing the card, he will be penalized three chips.

Players take turns around the table until one player has no cards left. That player wins the hand, and receives all the chips contributed during that hand. For the next hand, the deal moves to the player to the former dealer's left. Of course, as hands progress, a clear winner of the game will emerge as a majority of the available chips accumulate to a single player.

Fan-Tan may be played on several levels, from simple to advanced, and is a fun game for nearly any age. As experience with the game is gained, so does the complexity of the strategies within it. In the beginning, it is simple to learn, yet will provide hours of entertainment as the competition grows. Gather your friends and family together around the table to learn Fan-Tan, and in just a hand or two you'll be winning the chips, playing a fantastic new game like an old pro!

© High Speed Ventures 2011