A blog for odd things and odd thoughts.

Cockroach Poker

I learnt how to play Cockroach Poker on Friday. I am just jotting down the rules to cement them in my mind, and for reference later.

3+ players – Works well in the difficult 6-7 player range, but I imagine more than about eight would start to be boring.

Two decks of playing cards (108). Joker, or some token, can be used to track whose turn it is. All the cards are dealt out. (It doesn’t matter if some players have an extra card to others.)

The goal of the game is to NOT capture four cards of the same rank in front of you. The game has nothing to do with poker, despite the name.

On each player’s turn, they take one of their cards, and make an offer to another player. The offer is made by sliding a card face-down towards them, and making a claim about the rank of the card – e.g. “This is a king.”

The recipient of the offer can accept, reject or pass on the claim.

If they accept the claim (“Yes, that is a king.”) or they reject the claim (“No, that is not a king.”) they then turn over the card to reveal it to everyone. If the recipient is right, the card goes face up in front of the player making the offer. The recipient is wrong, the card goes face up in front of the recipient.

Note: There are some double negatives here that seem to confuse players, even though the rules are simple. It doesn’t matter whether the person making the offer is telling the truth or not. What matters is whether the recipient is right about accepting or rejecting the claim.

The alternative is to neither accept nor reject the claim, but to pick up the card, examine it, and make an offer to another player who has not yet seen the card. The claim need not be the same rank.

The offer continues to be passed around until someone accepts or rejects the claim. If you are the last player left who hasn’t seen the card, you are effectively forced to accept or reject it. When a recipient picks up a card, the offerer is now safe and cannot capture the card themselves.

The turn then rotates clockwise from the person who initially made the offer – which is why a token to mark the current turn taker may help.

When someone gets four of the same rank in front of them, they lose and the game ends. (There is no winner of the game, just one loser who first fails.)

2 CommentsCategories: Puzzle Solving
Tags: cards, cockroach, games, poker


  1. I couldn’t fathom a way to make an interesting card game which wasn’t based on tricks. This does it (and a few others you’ve described, but they are generally much shorter and less deep). Amazing idea.

  2. If you are looking for interesting non-trick-based games, there are all the poker variants (Texas Hold’em is popular.), all the Rummy variants (Gin is popular.), all the BlackJack variants (Pontoon is better for home play.), all the matching game variants (Spoons in popular, but I like Kames.), all the spit game variants (Racing Demon is so much better than Spit.), all the Uno variants (Bartog!), and don’t forget Spite and Malice. Poker Squares has limited replay value, but is worth a try too.

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