Game objective

Backhand the card game is the first in a series of three playing card counting games derived from the classic game of blackjack, but is wholly unique in game objective, inventive concept, rules set, mechanics and therefore player experience than the classic game of blackjack.  


In the beginning of the game, the player is dealt two cards face up. There is no dealer hand and therefore no “hole card.”  Unlike blackjack, the object of the game is not based on how close a player can get to 21 without busting or even beating the dealer (as there is no dealer to beat). 


The fundamental game concept is based on the player’s ability to predict if/when the next card in the deck will cause their hand to exceed a total hand value of 21 and therefore creates the opportunity for a completely new game objective and player experience. The option to request a backhand card is made available to the player under certain circumstances that will be clearly defined throughout the body of this document. 


The game objective is for the player to successfully resolve their hand in one of three ways:

  1. A successful backhand request (where the backhand card results in a total hand value greater than 21), player wins the hand
  2. Successfully “Play the Push” (where the player’s initial hand value is between 17 and 20, and the hit card results in a total hand value of 21 or less), player wins the hand
  3. Successfully hit to a 5-card hand (where the player consecutively hits to five cards and a total hand value of 21 or less), player wins the hand.

Game Rules

RULES - General

  1. This game is played with a single deck of standard playing cards with the jokers removed.
  2. Player is dealt two cards face up.
  3. Depending on the initial value of the hand, player can ‘hit’, call ‘backhand’ or ‘push’ the hand away in return for another hand.
  4. There is no ‘stay’ or ‘hold’ or 'stand pat' option in "Backhand, the card game."
  5. Player aces are always valued at 1.
  6. If either of the first two cards dealt to the player are an ace, one or both must be discarded and replaced immediately after the initial player hand is dealt.  Player will keep replacement cards whatever the value (the Ace Rule).
  7. Suits don’t matter.

The "Ace Rule"

  1. If a player’s initial player hand contains and ace, that ace must be discarded and replaced with the next card in the deck.  If the player’s initial player hand contains two aces, both of them must be discarded and replaced.  The player must keep the next cards in the deck no matter the value or suit.

RULES - Requesting a Backhand Card or "Calling Backhand"

  1. When a player requests a backhand card, they are predicting that the next card in the deck is going to cause their total hand value to exceed 21.  Once the player requests a backhand card, the player is dealt the next card in the deck.  If said card causes their hand to bust, the player wins the hand.  If it doesn’t, the player loses the hand.
  2. The backhand option is not available prior to the Ace Rule being satisfied. 
  3. After the Ace Rule is satisfied, if a hit card causes the player’s total hand value to equal 21, but the player’s hand contains fewer than 5 cards, the player must still choose to either request a hit card or a backhand card in order to completely resolve the hand. 
  4. After the Ace Rule is satisfied, the backhand option immediately becomes available to the player as long as their initial hand value is less than 17 (although calling backhand should be avoided when the player’s total hand value is less than 12).  The backhand option shall remain available to the player throughout the remainder of the hand. The backhand option is not available on hands with an initial hand value greater than 16.
  5. A backhand card can only be requested by the player and can only be requested once per hand.
  6. The player shall never be dealt more than five cards in a hand (including hit cards and the backhand card) under any circumstances.

RULES - "Pushing"

  1. To “push” a hand simply means that the player can choose to push their initial player hand away in exchange for a new hand from the deck.  After the first hand is replaced, a new initial hand value and hand type is determined and play will continue.   The option to push is only available to the player when their initial hand value is between 17 and 20. Furthermore, a player cannot request to push with an initial hand value of less than 17 or greater than 20. Nor can a player request to push their hand after being dealt their third card.
  2. After a player pushes their hand, if the new hand contains an ace, the Ace Rule must be satisfied. After the Ace Rule is satisfied and the resulting hand is another push hand, the player can again elect to push that hand or “Play the Push” by requesting a hit card. 
  3. As long as the player’s initial hand value is between 17 and 20, the options to push the hand or “play the push” will always remain available to the player, no matter how many push hands are dealt to them consecutively.  
  4. “Playing the Push” – When a player’s initial hand value is between 17 and 20, the player’s hand type is called a Push Hand.  The player has the option to push the hand away in exchange for a new hand or accept one hit card.  If the player chooses to take the hit card, this is called “playing the push.”  The player is only required to take one hit card.  If that hit card doesn’t bust the player’s hand, the player wins the push hand.  If the hit card does bust the player’s hand, they have lost the push hand.  After “playing the push” a player cannot then request to push their hand, nor is the backhand option available.

RULES - Taking a hit card

  1. Hitting in Backhand is the same as it is in the traditional game of blackjack. 
  2. After the Ace Rule is satisfied, the player can request up to three hit cards in a hand. A hit card cannot be requested after a backhand card has been dealt.
  3. If a player consecutively hits to a 5-card hand without exceeding a total hand value of 21, the player wins the hand. A 5-card hand cannot include a backhand card.

How to Play

  1. DEAL two cards to the player face up. This is called the “initial player hand.”
  2. SATISFY THE ACE RULE – Remove any aces from the initial player hand and replace them with the next card(s) in the deck.  Next card(s) must be kept (regardless of number/suit). This will be your new initial player hand. If there is no initial player ace, the player can skip this step.
  3. CALCULATE initial hand value and determine hand type 
    1. Low hand (initial hand value between 2 and 11)
    2. Play hand (initial hand value between 12 and 16) 
    3. Push hand (initial hand value between 17 and 20)
  4. PLAYER HAND OPTIONS: Player chooses options based on hand type.
    1. Low hand          Take a hit card or request a backhand card (although calling backhand discouraged)
    2. Play hand          Take a hit card, request a backhand card
    3. Push hand         Take a hit card, push hand away in exchange for a new hand
  5. PLAYER completely resolves the hand using the rules and options as decribed above.

best new card games
best card games for adults
list of card games
popular card games
FREE card games

Backhand Example

Hand Result: Player loses via failed backhand play

A "play hand" is shown in Figure 4 where the hand presents with an initial hand value of 14 and the option to hit or Backhand.  The player quickly calls for a hit card and receives a 2.  New hand value is 16 and the option to hit or Backhand is presented again.  Remember that as long as the ace rule is satisfied, the player’s hand contains less than five cards, and the player’s hand value is less than 21, the player will always be presented the options to take a hit card or call backhand, until after the fifth card is dealt; with the following exceptions: a player shall never be dealt more than five cards in a hand; the best option on low hands is to take a hit card; players should not call backhand on a hand value less than 12. Remember that push hands are also an exception to this rule because the player only has to take a hit once, and on push hands, backhand is not an option. Applying this to Figure 4, the player takes a second hit, and receives a 4.  New hand value is 20 and the player is at the doorstep of a sure win.  The player must again choose to hit or Backhand.  Figure 4 then shows the player's decision to call Backhand...


***Note: The act of calling backhand is when the player is predicting that the next card drawn from the deck (when added to the value of their hand) will cause the hand value to exceed 21.  The player is then dealt the next card in the deck and the numerical value of said card is added to their current hand value.  If the new hand value exceeds 21, the player wins the handy.  But if the new hand value does not exceed 21, the player loses the hand.***


...now back to the hand... Figure 4 now shows the player's decision to call backhand with a current hand value of 20.  Figure 4 then shows that the Backhand card is an Ace.  The new hand value is 21 which does not bust the hand, and therefore results in the player losing the hand.

Represent the game here!

Click below to visit our new online store ;)

"If people don't love or hate your work, then you haven't really done much at all."  

Tinker Hatfield, Nike Vice President for Design and Special Projects