Colorado Nines (A Game)

This time of year holds a special place in my heart for many reasons, but for one in particular that I’d like to share with you. It was April 1st about four years ago my family and I had driven an hour and a half or so to see a friend of ours – living with Cystic Fibrosis he was often in and out of the hospital. While the circumstances of our visit weren’t pleasant, I remember that day fondly (especially around this time of year). Someone had suggested a game of cards so he pulled out a deck and taught us how to play what his family called Colorado Nines. He told us the story of how the people who had taught the game to him were from Colorado and didn’t know what to call it, thus the creation of the name.

In years since then, I’ve heard it referred to as 9 Cards of Golf, 9-Hole Golf, and 9-Square. While the name of the game is left to your own personal preference, the rules of the variant I was taught are this:

– Shuffle your deck of cards and deal out nine face-down to each player (Jokers can be included). Players will arrange them in a 3X3 grid in front of them.

– Each player then turns over two cards from separate columns.

– Place the deck in the center of the table as the draw pile, and flip one card over. This is where the discard pile will be.

– Choose a player to go first.

On your turn you will decide to either A) draw from the deck, B) draw from the discard pile, or C) turn over one of your remaining seven cards that are face-down in front of you.

A) If you choose to draw from the deck, you can decide to either exchange it with any one of your nine cards, or to discard it and flip one of your face-down cards over to reveal what’s underneath.

B) If you choose to draw from the discard pile, you must use this card by exchanging it with one of your face-down or face up cards.

C) If you choose to turn over one of your face-down cards, you simply reveal what’s underneath, then your turn is over.

The round ends once someone has all 9 of their cards face up. Each of the remaining players has one more hand around the table before scoring takes place. Once everyone has gone, players will flip over their remaining face-down cards to count up all of their points.


Cards two to ten are worth 1 point, Jack and Queen are each worth 10 points, King is worth 0 points, Joker is worth 50 points.

**The goal of the game is to have the least amount of points.

Three of the same card in a column cancel each of their points out (example: three Jacks in a column = 0 points.) Jokers serve as wilds, but be warned: unless you get two of the same card in the column with them, they have the nasty consequence of 50 points (example: two Jacks and one Joker in a column = 0 points. But, one Jack, one Queen, and one Joker = 70 points)

I’ve heard of variations of the game lasting nine rounds. When we play we typically play from round to round without writing down scores. Sometimes it’s fun to keep track of points though! A couple years ago at camp my friends, brother and I had an ongoing game throughout the week, fitting in as many games as we could when we weren’t working.

If you’ve never played the game before, I encourage you to give it a try! If you have, awesome! Either way, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Until next time,

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