2 Jul

How to Play Coup with Standard Cards

How to Play Coup with Standard CardsCoup is a fantastic game of power and deception. The commercial version can be purchased for $10 and up, depending on the edition of choice. Or, you can save some cash, and instead use a standard deck of cards to play Coup. All you have to do is apply specific card ranks to each character and influence in the traditional game.

Before I go any further, make sure you understand the rules of the game. The following links provide additional information about the card game Coup:

How to Play Coup
History of Coup Card Game
Coup Strategy
Coup Game for Android
Coup Game for iOS
Alternate Coup Rules (to Encourage Treachery!)
Coup Resistance to Betting Money

How to Play Coup with Standard Cards

Playing Coup with a standard deck is a simple matter of assigning rank to specific cards. The most appropriate way to do so is to utilize the Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces and Jokers from a normal deck. You’ll need three of each to mimic a traditional Coup deck.

Note that this format requires 3 Jokers to be used, necessitating an extra Joker from a second, identical deck. If you do not have a second, identical deck, you can use any other card in place of the Joker. I would suggest the 2, since the Joker supplants the Ambassador, which allows the player to draw 2 new character cards and then discard any 2 back to the court (unless replacing Ambassador with Inquisitor—see below).

Finally, you’ll need a way to keep track of coins. Pen and paper will work, but can interrupt game flow. You can grab a pile of pennies, or make it more interesting by using your favorite candy; preferably something small that comes in large quantities, and not perfectly round so they won’t roll off the table, such as Skittles. Non-chocolate is also encouraged, so they won’t melt (learned that the hard way!) Just try not to eat your wealth before the game is over!

Replacing Characters and Influences with Standard Playing Cards

Coup Captain Jack

Jack = Captain

Take 2 coins from another player, or block someone from stealing coins from you.

Coup Contessa Queen

Queen = Contessa

Block an assassination attempt against yourself.

Coup Duke King

King = Duke

Take 3 coins from the Treasury. Block someone from taking foreign aide.

Coup Assassin Ace

Ace = Assassin

Pay 3 coins and try to assassinate another player’s character.

Coup Ambassador Joker

Joker = Ambassador

Draw two character cards from the Court, choose which (if any) to exchange with your face-down characters, then return two to the Court.

Coup Inquisitor

In some newer editions of Coup, an additional character card is included in the set for optional use. If used, the Inquisitor will replace the Ambassador (Joker) character. Thus, should you choose, you can alter the Joker’s influence to follow these rules, instead.

Coup Inquisitor Joker

Joker = Inquisitor (instead of Ambassador)

Draw one character card from the Court and choose whether or not to exchange it with one of your face-down characters.


Force an opponent to show you one of their face-down character cards. If the player has 2 face down cards, they will choose which one to reveal to you. If you wish it, you may then force them to draw a new card from the Court. The old card is then shuffled into the Court.

If you have a good handle on the game and really want to spice it up, you can replace any of the above influences with on of the cards from the Coup promo and/or expansion decks. See our List of Coup Cards and Influences to learn more.


  • Adalene Lucas

    is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.

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