You don’t have to be musically inclined if you want to learn how to play Spoons. Spoons — also known in some circles as “Pig” or “Tongue” — is a high-speed card game involving fast action that is fun to play for both adults and children. As many players can play it as you can comfortably fit at the table. Normally, most people play with three to six players ranging in age from 6 to adult. Playing time for a typical game is about 15 minutes in total.

You play Spoons with one or more standard decks of 52 cards and ordinary spoons from the kitchen. You can use other objects instead of spoons if necessary, but, after all, the game is called "Spoons."

The objective of Spoons is to grab the spoons. You may not grab a spoon until you have amassed four of a kind. However, once a player has collected four of a kind and grabbed a spoon, all the other players in the game try to grab a spoon for themselves. You may not grab more than one spoon at a time. But just like the game Musical Chairs, there is one less spoon than there are players in the game. This means, of course, that one player will always be without a spoon and loses the round.

Once the game has whittled the players down to the last two, there is no need to grab a spoon once someone has gathered four of a kind. Merely getting to four of a kind wins you the game. At that point, you can declare the winner,

how to play spoons card game


How To Play Spoons: The Setup

Place a number of spoons (equaling one less than the total numbers of players in the game) in the center of the table or playing space. Situate the spoons with the handles pointing away from the center, so that the players can more easily grab them. One person, designated as the dealer, will deal four cards to each player in the game. At this point, the cards get placed next to the dealer in the playing area.

Gameplay

Everyone looks at and arranges their cards. Then, starting at the dealers right, each player will draw one card in turn from the deck and discard one from their hand so that they always have only four cards. The object is to keep cards that bring you closer to your goal of four of a kind and discard those that do not. For example, if your hand is four-five-ace-two, and you draw another five, you would drop either the four, the two, or the ace. This gives you the best chance at four that match. In this case, you would have two fives and only need two more to have four of a kind and grab a spoon.

The dealer player places their discarded cards in front of the person to their left. That player must then pick up that card and decide if it is useful in their hand. They can choose to keep it or not. Either way, they will discard any of their cards to the next player. The dealer draws another card from the deck and discards another card face down to the player on their left.

At some point in this process, virtually all the players are picking up and discarding cards simultaneously. A player is not allowed to draw a new discarded card until they have discarded one of their own. The dealer continues to pick cards from the deck, so if you are too slow, your pile of the previous players' discards will build up.

If the dealer draws the entire deck, and no one has achieved four of a kind, the dealer will begin picking cards from the last players discard pile.

Grabbing The Spoons

four of a kind aces

Immediately upon collecting four of a kind, that player will grab one of the spoons. At that point, the other players should grab a spoon for themselves as quickly as possible. This will usually result in a frenzy of spoon-grabbing and cards flying until all players have a spoon…except one. That person is either out of the game or loses a point.

At the point of achieving four of a kind, that player may either choose to make a mad grab for the spoon or casually try to take one when no one is looking. This creates a ripple effect, as one player after another realizes that the time to grab a spoon has come.

In some variations, grabbing a spoon without someone having four of a kind will eliminate a player form the game. This is an optional variant of the game similar to collecting money on the "Free Parking" space in Monopoly. If this rule is in play, make it clear and understood by all involved before play starts.

Scoring

The most often used scoring system involves elimination upon losing a round. You play each round with one fewer player than the previous round. Once two players remain, it becomes a race to be the first player to get four of a kind. This version eliminates players the fastest, but it also determines a champion faster, so that everyone can start in with another game sooner.

Next is the “S-P-O-O-N” method where each player has a pencil and a piece of paper. In this variation, each player who loses must write the next letter of the word “spoon" on their paper. The first one to lose five times and complete the word is out of the game. This version is scored similarly to the basketball elimination game “Horse.”

The last version is similar to “S-P-O-O-N-S,” but rather than spelling out the word, a player gets eliminated from the game upon losing a predetermined number of points. For example, if the starting number of points is 10, a player must lose all 10 of their points to get eliminated. Any number of points will do, but the larger the number of participating players, the smaller the target number to keep the sessions manageably brief.

How To Play Spoons: Strategies

Despite the straight-forward nature of the game, there are a few strategies you can employ to either increase your odds of winning or to make the game more fun.

Bluffing

Bluffing is not only allowed, but it is also considered by some to be a central part of the game. It is legal to reach for a spoon at any time as long no one actually touches the spoons. However, as mentioned previously, if a player grabs a spoon and no player has four of a kind, they lose that round. If played properly, a player can appear to grab a spoon, thereby causing other players to overreact and pick them up prematurely and eliminate themselves.

Stealth

Because of the frenzied pace of the game, sometimes players get lost in the process of trying to collect a winning hand and pay less attention to the number of spoons on the table. Under the right conditions, a player may have a winning hand and slip a spoon off the table without other players noticing. Sometimes, card passing will continue for quite some time before anyone realizes that you are no longer drawing or discarding. When attempting this maneuver, sometimes the most challenging part is keeping a straight face, as player after player gradually realize that they can take a spoon. Sometimes they will join in on the fun and quietly sneak one out themselves.

Eyes On The Prize

Another strategy, usually employed more often in early rounds with several players, involves not looking at their hand at all. Instead, they keep both eyes laser-focused on the spoons. They still draw cards and randomly discard, but they remain coiled and ready to strike as they look intently at the spoons. The second some other player gets a winning hand and grabs a spoon, they quickly grab one for themselves. While this strategy may keep you from being eliminated in early rounds, it also seems to make a player more vulnerable to bluffing.

Game Variations

There are a few variations on the game that can add to the frenzy. Because of the nature of the game, it is easy to invent new variations on the spot to make it more interesting and exciting.

joker card in hand

Extreme

Instead of merely placing the spoons at the center of a table, put them in some other, more inconvenient location. Just be careful you don't put them where someone may get hurt scrambling for them.

Joker Spoons

The rules for Joker Spoons are mostly the same, except for adding wildcards or Jokers incorporated into the deck. This tends to make the rounds go a bit faster than usual.

Tongue

The tongue variation, and in some parts the actual object of the game, revolves around each player sticking out their tongue rather than grabbing spoons after a winning hand. The last player to do so loses the round. Because sometimes you may not have access to enough spoons, and because sometimes it’s just funnier, especially when playing with small children and older adults.

Spoons: Resources

If you'd like to learn more about Spoons, check out this printable rules sheet for the primary game of Spoons.

You can also watch this demonstration of how to play spoons, below:


You can even purchase a manufactured Spoons, so you'll have all the cards and spoons you need to play in one convenient package.

Try This Fun Game With Your Family Today

family playing cards

Spoons is a fun and easy game. Once you learn how to play Spoons, it takes very little to set it up and does not take much time to play. You can play at home, when camping, or at a rest stop when traveling. Best of all, you can play with the entire family, young and old, and they will all enjoy themselves. How many games can say that? Have fun and don’t get bluffed! 

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