18 Feb

How to Play Yukon Card Game

Rules of the Scandinavian-Canadian Card Game Yukon.

Yukon isn’t what you would call an enormously popular card game. It’s only known to be played in certain regions of Canada; namely those that were predominantly occupied by families of Danish, Norwegian and/or Swedish descent during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-1899.

How to Play Yukon Canada Card Game

By Canadian rules, the game requires a single deck of 52 cards, and is most often played by four players in partnerships of two, although the rules can be easily adjusted to accommodate 3 or 5 players.

How to Play Yukon in Canada

Yukon is not your ordinary, run of the mill trick-catching card game. It does have trumps, but they don’t go by suits, and there’s no bidding or declarations involved. The trumps are the Jacks of each suit, known as the Yukons (i.e. Yukon Jack). The Jack of Spades is the Grand Yukon, being most valuable of card in the deck. All other Jacks are simply called Yukons, and are of equal rank among their kind.

Explanation of Card Ranks

Other than the these wild cards of sorts, all other suits rank in standard fashion, from highest to lowest, A, K, Q, 10…4, 3, 2. The suit led is the suit that must be followed by all other players to the trick, unless they lack that suit, in which case they must play a Yukon. If they do not have the led suit or a Yukon, they may play any other card.

A Yukon cannot be played just because it matches the suit led. For instance, if the Ace of clubs is led, everyone must follow with a club. The Jack of clubs is not considered an eligible card to play, just because it bears a club. If no other clubs are held, then the Jack of clubs may be played, just as any other Yukon could be played, but its being a club has no significance.

In the rare case that a player chooses to lead with Yukon—optional, but not necessarily recommended—all other players must follow by playing a card of the same suit. If a player does not have the matching suit, he or she must play a Yukon. Otherwise, any card may be played. Being the highest card of that suit, and the first Yukon led to the trick, only the Grand Yukon (J♠) would beat the Yukon that was led.

The Grand Yukon is the highest ranking card of all, and wins any trick it is led or played to, including all other Yukons. If more than one standard Yukon is played on the same trick, the first Yukon played wins. If no Yukon is played, the highest ranking card of the suit led wins.

Dealing & Game Play

If playing with four players, partners should be seated across from one another. If only 3 players are playing, remove any one 2 from the deck, or for a 5 player game, remove any two 2s. Choose a player to shuffle first. This player will deal 5 cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed face down to form a stock pile (draw pile).

On the first hand, the eldest player traditionally leads to the first trick. Otherwise, the player left of the dealer may go first. Whoever wins this trick will draw one card from the stock pile. Each other player in clockwise order will then do the same. The player who won the trick then leads to the next trick.

Play continues in this fashion until the draw pile is empty. From here on out, the game continues in the same manner, without drawing new cards, until no cards remain.

Scoring and Winning

Here’s where things get interesting. Of course the Yukons are worth the most points, but from there, only the Tens, Queens, Kings and Aces have value, and it’s the lowest ranking of the bunch that are worth the most. Tens award 10 points, whereas Queens, Kings and Aces are worth 2, 3 and 5 respectively. The total score for a single hand is 125.

Card Rank

Point Value

Grand Yukon (J♠)

15

Yukon (J♣, J♦, J♥)

10

Ace

5

King

3

Queen

2

10

10

2-9

0

The first player to reach 150 points (if no partnerships) is the winner.The first partners to reach 250 collective points are the winners.There are three ways to go about winning the game.

  1. The first partners to reach 250 collective points are the winners.

  2. The first single player to reach 150 points (no partnerships) is the winner.

  3. The highest point earner or team in a single hand is/are declared the winner(s).

Want to learn more about the Canadian card game Yukon? Check out the following pages:

History of Yukon Card Game
Yukon Strategy
Yukon Rule Variations

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