SlapJack – A camping Card Game for Kids

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Slapjack – A Camping Activities for Kids Card Game

Slapjack is a simple card game that has been a favorite camping activity of Scouts for a long time. It’s easy to play, (kids of all ages can understand it), it’s active, (not just a passive strategy game), and it’s competitive!

All the ingredients needed to keep kids happily occupied, and a top choice in the camping activities for kids and camping games for kids categories.

The concept of SlapJack
Slapjack is played with a deck of regular playing cards, and is best played with 4 to 8 players. (but can be played with a minimum of 3 players)

The object of the game is to either get all the cards, or to get rid of all your cards. (there are two versions)

This is a rambunctious game that is best played in an open area, like the camp picnic table.
How to Play Slapjack – The Card Game

Version 1
Objective: Get all the cards into your own pile.

Materials: one deck of regular playing cards

To Start:

Find a dealer:
Shuffle the cards and begin dealing them to players, face-up, one at a time, in a clockwise rotation. The player that receives the first Jack is the dealer.


  1. Collect all the cards and reshuffle them. Then deal out the entire deck, FACE-DOWN, to the players, one at a time, in a clockwise rotation. Players DO NOT look at their cards!
  2. The first player on the dealer’s left starts the game by taking the top face-down card from their pile, and placing it face-up in the middle of the table. (or circle of players)
  3. Then each player takes their turn, (again in clockwise rotation), placing the top face-down card from their pile, face-up onto the pile of cards in the center.
  4. This continues around the circle of players until a Jack is placed on the center pile. As soon as a Jack appears, all players must immediately attempt to be the first person to slap the center pile of cards, palm down.
  5. The first hand to slap the Jack on top of the pile gets all the cards in the pile. The last hand to slap the pile must give three of their face-down cards to the winner of the pile. The players between the first and last slapper do not gain or lose any cards.
  6. The winner of the pile of cards, then turns the pile of cards face-down and places them on the bottom of their own stack of cards.
  7. The winner then starts a fresh round by taking their top face-down card and placing it in the center of the table, face-up.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 are repeated until one player has all the cards in their stack. The player with all the cards wins.

Slapjack – Notes, Strategy, and Penalties
  • When a player runs out of cards on a turn, they continue in the game until the next Jack appears. If they can be the first to slap the Jack, they get the center pile of cards and are back in the game. If they are not the first to slap the Jack, they are out of the game.
  • False Slaps – If a player slaps the center pile of cards when a Jack is not on top of the pile, it is a False slap, (even if they just touch the pile and don’t completely “slap” it), and that player, (and any others that followed them and touched the deck), must forfeit five cards from their own pile of cards to the center pile of cards.

    **If forfeiting cards uses all the remaining cards in a player’s pile of cards, they are still in the game until the next Jack appears. Then they are either in or out of the game depending on winning the “slap.”

Caveat: Faking a slap can also be a strategy used to get other players to commit a False-slap, but, if the person faking the slap touches the center pile of cards, then they must forfeit the same five cards to the center pile!

Penalty Rules:

  1. Any player that touches the cards in the center pile, except for placing a card in their turn, or “slapping a Jack”, must forfeit five cards to the center pile.
  2. Any player that peeks at their top card before their turn to place it on the pile, must forfeit three cards from their stack of cards to the center pile.

SlapJack – Version 2
The second version of Slapjack plays pretty much the same as version 1, but there are a couple of differences:

  • You try to get rid of all your cards first, instead of trying to capture all the cards to win.
  • Instead of slapping Jacks, you slap card matches. You’ll see below.

Object of this game: Be the first to get rid of all your cards

Just as Version 1; you play with a regular deck of cards, all cards are dealt to the players, in rotation, one at a time, face down.

But, in this version when it’s a player’s turn they announce a card. In sequence, one player at a time. The slapping occurs when the card a player turns up on the center pile matches the card announced – then it’s time to slap the pile.

For Instance:

  1. To start the game, the player on the dealer’s left, announces – “Ace”, then takes the top card from his stack and turns it face up to begin the center pile of cards. If it happens to be an Ace, then it’s time to slap the pile. If not it’s the next players turn.
  2. Player 2 announces – “Two”, then places a card face-up in the center pile. Again, if the card turned-up matches the card announced, (in this case Two), then it is slap time.
  3. Next player announces – “Three”, and so on, round and round, with the sequence advancing one card with each new turn.
  4. When a turned card matches the announced card, all players must immediately try to slap the pile. THE LAST PLAYER to slap the pile, (the hand on top of all others), must take all the cards from the pile and add them to their own stack of cards. Face-down on the bottom.
  5. The FIRST player to slap the pile, palm down, (the hand at the bottom of all others), gets to take three cards from their stack and add them to the center, to start a new center pile (Reward for being the fastest slapper, remember, the object is to get rid of cards)
  6. Play continues this way with each player announcing the next card in the sequence. ie. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, then the sequence starts over at Ace.
  7. Play and slapping continues this way until someone gets rid of their cards first and wins.

Note: This version isn’t hard once the young players understand that they announce the next card in the sequence before they turn over their own card.

The object is to slap the pile when a turned card matches the card announced. If the player calls – “King” as the next card in the sequence, then the card he turns over from his pile is a King – it’s a match, and it’s slap time!

**The same notes and caveats from version 1 apply to version 2 also.

But the false slap penalties are different!
Instead of forfeiting cards, false slappers must take three cards from the center pile. (if the pile does not have enough cards, then the number of short cards are pulled from the next few turns)

This version is usually more fun to play because there are more opportunities for “slaps,” and once someone wins, the other players can continue the game to win 2nd, 3rd, and so on.

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