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Snap is a very simple children's game for two or more players played in Britain, North America and perhaps other countries. It is a rare example of a card game of almost pure skill, the skills required being accurate observation and quick reactions.

Snap seems to have first appeared towards the end of the 19th century, perhaps originating as a simplified but in some ways more exciting version of Snip Snap Snorum.

Players and Cards

Snap is suitable for from two to about six players: with more than six it becomes unwieldy. A standard 52-card pack is used. Suits do not matter, only the ranks A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K. Some people prefer to play with special cards: any pack consiting of a reasonable number of sets of identical or matching cards is suitable. Various designs of Snap cards are available from

Deal and Play

Anyone may deal. The cards are shuffled and dealt out to the players as equally as possible. Players do not look at their cards but keep them in a face down stack in front of them.

The player to dealer's left begins and the turn to play passes clockwise. At your turn you simply turn the top card of your face-down pile and place it face-up alongside. In this way each player forms a pile of face-up cards beside their face-down pile. If at any moment two of the face-up piles have matching cards at the top (for example two sixes or two kings), anyone who notices this shouts "snap!". The first person who shouted "snap!" takes both matching face-up piles and adds them face-down to the bottom of their face-down pile. The game then continues as before, beginning with the player to the left of the last one who turned a card.

If you have no face-down cards left when it comes to your turn, you simply turn over your face-up pile to make a new face-down pile and turn over the top card as before. If you have no cards left at all, you are out of the game. The last player in is the winner.

When turning up cards, you are not allowed to peek at your card before the other players can see it. To ensure this, cards should be turned over facing away from the player, so that if it is turned too slowly the turning player will see it last.

If a player shouts "snap" in error, when there is no match, that player's face-up pile is taken away and put in the centre of the table, where it becoms a snap pool. If this happens several times there can be several snap pools. If the top card of any player's pile matches the top card of one of the snap pools, the first player who calls "snap pool" takes both piles.


Single Pile
Very young children may play a version where players turn over their cards onto a single pile in the centre of the table. In this version, when two consecutive cards match, any player who notices this may call "snap" and the first player who calls wins the centre pile and adds it to their own cards face down. A player who calls "snap" incorrectly must give the top card of their pile, face down, to the player of the card for which they wrongly called "snap". As usual, players who tun out of cards drop out of the game and the last player holding cards is the winner.
If two or more players call "snap" simultaneously, the central pile is moved aside to become a "snap pool". Subsequently, if the top card of the centre pile matches a snap pool, the first player who calls "snap pool" wins the snap pool pile.
Simultaneous calls
Some play that if two or more players shout snap at exactly the same time, the matching piles are combined into a single pile, which forms an additional snap pool, placed in the centre of the table. If two or more people call "snap pool" at the same time, the player pile that matches the snap pool in question is added to it.
Alternatively, problems with simultaneous calls can be solved by having an object in the middle of the table, which is to be grabbed by anyone calling snap. If several people try to put their hands on the object. the one whose hand is underneath, inm contact with the object, is clearly the first.
In single pile snap, the players may be required to slap the centre pile when calling snap. When several do this, the player whose hand is underneath gets the pile. The game then becomes rather similar to Slap Jack.
Only owners of equal cards may snap
In the game in which each player has their own pile, some play that only the owners of the matching cards are allowed to call snap, and the first to do so wins both piles.


In this variant of Snap, which is suitable for about four to eight players, each player chooses a different animal at the start of the game. The dealer deals the cards to the players face up, one card to each player in turn, forming a face up pile in front of each player. When the top cards of two piles match, the owners of those two piles must call the name of the other player's animal. The first to do so correctly wins the other player's pile and places it under their own. The winner is the player who has most cards when the deck runs out.

Some play this with animal noises rather than animals. Some play that when claiming a match you have to say the name of the noise made by the other player's animal, rather than making the noise. For example if your pile matches the cat's pile, you have to say the word "meow", not making a meowing sound

Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy