How to Play Spoons

The complete rules for the card game spoons, also known as Pig or Tongue

Family at Card Table Playing Spoons
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Spoons is a clever card game that can be played by children and adults. This card game also goes by the names Pig and Tongue. Despite the name, spoons are not necessary to play those versions of the game. This fun family game can accommodate a large number of players. 

Players

3 to 13 players. Best with 6 to 13 players.

Deck

A standard 52-card deck.

To play the Spoons version, you also need one spoon for each player except one.

Example: With 8 players, you need 7 spoons. For Pig and Tongue, no extra equipment is needed.

Goal

The goal of the game is to be the first to collect four cards of the same rank. If an opponent beats you to that goal, to not be the last to realize it.

Setup

For each player in the game, you need four cards of the same rank from the deck. For example, with 5 players you could use the Aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s.

Shuffle the cards and deal them to the players. Each player will have four cards. If you're playing Spoons, put the spoons in the middle of the table so that every player can reach them.

Gameplay

Players simultaneously choose one card from their hands, pass that card to the opponent on their left, and pick up the card they've received from the opponent on their right. No player can have more than four cards in his hand, so it's illegal for a player to pick up a new card before passing one to the left.

When a player collects four of a kind, he does one of the following actions, depending on which version of the game is being played:

  • Spoons: As subtly as possible, take a spoon and place it in front of yourself.
  • Pig: Quietly place a finger on the tip of your nose.
  • Tongue: Quietly, but visibly, stick out your tongue.

    When one player does this, every other player must do likewise as quickly as possible. The last player to grab a spoon, touch his nose, or stick out his tongue is the loser.

    Optional: While playing Spoons or Tongue, players who either take a spoon or stick out their tongue can continue to pick up and pass cards, making it more difficult for other players to realize what has happened. The player who collects four cards of the same rank must always pass the card they just picked up because passing any other card would break up their four-of-a-kind. This option is not available when playing Pig​ since one of your hands will be occupied with touching your nose.

    Scoring

    The last player to grab a spoon, touch their nose, or stick out their tongue loses and is eliminated from the game. Remove a set of four cards from the deck and play another round.

    Optional: Each player has three lives. The last player to grab a spoon, touch his nose, or stick out his tongue loses a life. When a player loses all three of his lives (which can be represented by the letters P-I-G), he's eliminated from the game. Remove a set of four cards from the deck and play another round.

    Winning

    The final two players in the game are co-winners.