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How to play Forty-Five Card Game

Forty-Five or Auction forty-fives is a trick-taking card game popular throughout Europe and America, including a large part of Canada. The team which wins the most tricks is declared the winner. Inspired heavily by the Irish game Spoil Five, it is a particular fan favourite of Irish Canadians in Nova Scotia.

The Forty fives game has a lot of names, including Forty-Fives, Forty-Five, Auction Forty-Five(s), Strong Fives, One Hundred Twenty, Auction One Hundred Twenty, and Growl. Although, the game was earlier known as Spoil Fives and Maw.

This game has its origins either in Ireland or Scotland and is extremely popular among the Celtic communities in the northeastern part of North America. The Eastern Canadian provinces of Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and parts of Quebec also play the game. People in parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the US also play this game.

What Do You Need:

Objective:  To earn the most points in a game by winning tricks.

Number of Players:  4 or 6 Players

Number of Cards: A standard 52-card deck, a notepad to record scores

Type of Game: Trick-Taking Card Game 

Age Group: 13 and above


Forty fives card game or Auction forty-five is a type of trick-taking game to score points. The goal is to become a player with the maximum points. You either need four to six players in a partnership of 2 or 6 players in a team of 3.

Set up

Select a dealer before starting the game. The players must choose a random card from an already shuffled deck. The player who has the lowest card becomes the dealer. In the situation of a tie, draw other cards repeatedly. The dealer shuffles the deck and then distributes a set of three cards face down and then a set of two cards to every player. Later on, the players flip the next card from the deck to denote the trump suit in the game.

For instance, when a player has the Ace of the trump suit, they can trade any of their cards for the card that has established a trump. When you flip the card, and it turns out to be an Ace, then the dealer can decide to trade in any of their cards for that particular card.

Ranking of Cards

The rankings of the trump suit, from the highest to the lowest, are as follows:

For Spades and Clubs: 5, Jack, Ace of Hearts, Ace, King, Queen, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

For Hearts: 5, Jack, Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, and 2.

For Diamonds: 5, Jack, Ace of Hearts, Ace, King, Queen, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, and 2.

The rankings for the non-trump suits from the highest to the lowest are:

 For Spades and Clubs: King, Queen, Jack, Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

For Diamonds: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and A.

For Hearts: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.


The game starts with the player sitting on the dealer’s left. They are allowed to deal with any card from their hand, and all the other players must follow suit unless they can play trump cards. If not able to follow suit, they can choose any card to play.

When a player leads a trick with a lower trump than the ace of hearts, the player can settle on not following suit and playing the following cards: 5 of trump, jack of trump, or ace of hearts.

A trick is won by the highest-ranking trump played or, if not applicable, by the suit led’s highest-ranking card. The trick winner will lead the next one until all tricks have been played.


The are multiple ways to can calculate the score depending on the rules.

The first way to calculate the score is by counting how many tricks each team has won. A team that has three to four winning tricks gets five points, while winning five tricks earns you ten points.

The other way is that every trick has five points, and the team with fewer tricks subtracts their score from the winners. The target score for the winners of such games is 45 points. So the score distribution will be like this:

  • 25 points for five tricks
  • 15 points for four tricks
  • 5 points for three tricks


A misdeal occurs when you are dealing with too many or too few cards. It can also happen when the deal begins with an uncut pack or if the dealer counts the cards on the table or in the pack. In that case, the deal passes to the player on the left of the dealer.

Irregular Hands

A hand that has an incorrect number of cards is dead, and the other players continue with the game. Although if a player is the winner of three tricks with an irregular hand before they’re caught, they win the entire pot.

Also Read: Trick Taking for Card Games

Variation of Forty Fives Card game

Dealer Robs the Pack

A variation to the rules of Auction forty-fives is to let the dealer “rob the pack” while drawing the cards. Instead of discarding and drawing new cards, the dealer can also choose to search through the remainder of the deck and take whichever cards they wish to have. Best played with six players when the remaining deck is not so full.


What is the Rank of Cards in Forty-Five?

When the trump is hearts, there are 13 trumps. In the case of any other suit being trump, it is 14. The rank of spot cards is different in red and black suits.

What happens when a trick has a trump?
A trick that contains a trump is won by the highest trump played. The highest card of the suit wins any other trick. The winner of each trick leads next.

Also Read: Top 6 Trick Taking Card Games Similar to Spades

Madhuboni Banerjee
A graduate in engineering who later completed her post-graduate degree in Mass Media. Writing has always fascinated her, and she wishes to pursue her interest in the same. She wants to discover and write about new themes and topics. She always likes to venture in various writing forms and continues exploring her interest there.


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