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About Pesten

Pesten is arguably the most popular game in the Netherlands. It’s a card game based on the German game Mau-Mau, and related to the American game Crazy Eights. Because the rules differ so much between regions, it should be discussed before playing.

The pack

Pesten is played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards, including the two jokers.

The ranking

With Pesten, some cards have a certain ability or significance. These cards are seen as more valuable than others. Significant cards are A – 2 – 7 – 8 – J and the joker. Cards without abilities are 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 9 – Q – K. 

The objective

The objective of the game is to get rid of all your cards as soon as possible. The first person to do so wins the game. Some people keep playing until there is one player left (the loser), but because the game can last quite a while a new game can also be started.

The deal

Players are each dealt seven cards. The rest of the pack is used as the stock pile. The first card of the stock pile is placed face up, this determines the first suit.

The play

Pesten is played clockwise starting at the left of the dealer. Players should use the abilities of each card to their advantage to get rid of their hand as soon as possible.

Players have to follow suit or value. Hearts can only be played on hearts. A eight of hearts can be played on an eight of spades. 

When a player is down to their last card, they have to make this known one way or another. For example by saying ‘last card’ or knocking on the table. The game cannot be won ending with a significant card.

The abilities are as followed:

  • Ace: Changes the direction of play from either clockwise to counterclockwise or vice versa. If there are two players left, this card practically does nothing, as it’s the other players turn both ways around.
  • 2: The next player has to take two cards from the stock pile. This is additive, so it can be played on another 2, so the next player has to pick four cards from the stock pile.
  • 7: Allows the player two play another card.
  • 8: The next player skips a turn. If there are two players left, this means the player can play another card.
  • Jack: Allows the player to change the suit. This card can be played on any other suit.
  • Joker: The next player has to take five cards from the stock pile. It follows the same rules as the 2. It can be played on a two card and is also additive.