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Tilters is a trick-taking game played with a custom 50-card deck of cards called Yankee’s Notion cards.A[p. 142–3]


The deck comprises cards numbered 0–9 in five suits: faces, flags, eagles, stars, and shields. The 0 cards rank highest, above the 9s, and the rest in order. The cards marked with faces are called tilters and act as permanent trumps.

The aim of the game is to score points by winning the most tricks and tilters.


The target score, the number of tricks required to make a “book”, and the number of cards dealt varies according to the number of players. When four play they play as partners.

PlayersCards dealtTricks required (book)Target score

Cards are dealt one-by-one and the dealer flips up their first card to determine the trump suit for the round. If the flipped-up card is a tilter, then the dealer flips up their second card, and so on, until a trump suit is determined. In three- and four-player games, the two last cards are dealt to eldest and then the dealer, so that they have one more card than the other players.

For winning each trick, the trump suit ranks above the permanent tilter suit, which ranks above all other suits.

Eldest leads to the first trick. Suit must be followed, or otherwise players may trump or renounce at will. If a tilter is led then a tilter must be played, or failing that a trump, then any other card. Similarly, if a trump is led then a trump must be played, or failing that a tilter, then any other card.

The winner of each trick leads the next.

When three or four play, there will be two cards left after 12 tricks, one held by the dealer and one by eldest. These are played to a final two-card trick, being led by whoever won (or whose partner won) the last trick; in a three-player game if it was the third player’s win then the dealer leads.


Each player or partnership scores one point for each trick they won above the ‘book’ value, and one point for each tilter they won in tricks. The first side to reach the target score wins.


  1. (). ⁨⁩. T. W. Strong⁩: New York.


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