How Do You Play the Card Game Newmarket?

Newmarket is a gambling card game that is simple to play for players of all ages.  Bet your beans or poker chips on the horses in the centre.  You’ve got to be quick and sharp. 

You will need:

  • 2 decks of playing cards (one to play with and one which you will use for the ‘horses’
  • 400 Poker Chips (we use a cheap packet of butter beans from the supermarket)
  • 3-8 Players
Newmarket Card Game

What to do:

  • Each player is given 40 poker chips before the game starts.
  • The winner will be the player with the most number of chips at the end of the game.
  • There are 6 ‘horses’ which are placed face up in the middle of the table (they are the coloured cards taken from the second deck of cards) and they stay in the middle of the table permanently.  They are the King and Queen of Hearts (in the centre), surrounded by the Jack of Clubs, the Queen of Diamonds, the King of Spades and the Ace of Spades.
  • Before each round commences, players eachtake five poker chips and place one on the centre cards, the ‘horse’ (King and Queen of hearts overlapping) and then they may choose on which other horses they would like to place their bets.
  • The dealer shuffles the cards and deals all cards one hand for each player plus one spare (eg. if there are four players he deals five hands – two hands are in front of the dealer).
  • The dealer picks up his first hand and decides whether he wants to keep it or swop it for the spare (he is taking a gamble as he cannot look at the spare hand before deciding – but he he doesn’t have any of the horses in his hand he may decide to swop).  If he does not swop it then the spare hand is up for grabs.  Other players may then bid for the hand.
  • The player who bids the highest pays the dealer the required number of poker chips and swops his hand for the spare hand.
  • The dealer puts down a card in front of him  (the lowest of a particular suit)and calls it out (eg. five of spades).  It must be the lowest in whichever suit he has chosen to play.
  • Other players must call out and play cards in the sequence (so, 6 of spades etc, until no-one can play another card or they have played a King which is the end of a sequence.
  • Whoever played the last card in the sequence then gets to change the suit and play the next card in a new run. They must change suit.
  • During play, should anyone play a card that matches one of the horses in the centre he must shout “take” and then remember to claim all the poker chips on that card at the end of the round.
  • If anyone plays a Joker, this is the stop card. It can be played at any time and should be used strategically. Yell out “Stop!”. That player then gets to restart the game  immediately with a new suit. This move is often used to stop another player from winning.
  • When a player plays the last card in his hand, the game stops immediately.
  • All other players now pay one chip for each remaining card in their hand to the player who stops play.
  • Any chips remaining on the horses cannot be claimed and stay there for the next round.
  • To start shutting down the game, turn a horse card over with each round (before the betting, distributing any chips between the remaining cards).
  • Finally, split the king and queen and divide the poker chips evenly between them.
  • This is the last round of the game.
  • The player with the most number of chips wins.

There are many variations in the rules for Newmarket.  This is just one of them.  We loan poker chips to each other to keep the game going and the players pay each other back as they can.  One could also set up a bank for this purpose.

There is lots of fun and learning to be had in the game of Newmarket. It shows the perils of gambling in a safe environment and that sometimes taking a risk can get you places. Kids will learn to win and lose. The older they are the faster you must play. Players must be wide awake!

This is a family favourite. We never go on holiday without this game.  The kids have played it since the age of 10.