Archive pairs kickstarter card pub game

Published on February 24th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich


Pairs: Reviving the Pub Game

A New Kickstarter from Cheapass Games!

Last week, Across The Board Games’ authors sat down with James Ernest of Cheapass Games to play Pairs: a push-your-luck pub card game, which is available on Kickstarter now through March 14th. Pairs follows on the heels of Cheapass Games’ very successful Get Lucky Kickstarter which expanded the Doctor Lucky universe and Pairs is well on its way to becoming another standout success! For those looking to add a fun, quick card game to their collection perfect for pubs, families and friends, check out the Pairs Kickstarter and continue reading to learn more about the game.

pairs kickstarter card pub game


The pictures featured in this article are from the Pairs: Fruit Deck which is the second art variation deck available through on the Kickstarter. The first deck available is an artistic fantasy spread of characters from Patrick Rothfuss’ “Name of the Wind” series. As the campaign progresses there will could be artistic and design changes like new card backs, cut cards and different package design. Pairs’ base funding goal is $12,000 and last we checked, the campaign has already drawn in $53,000. The additional funding will unlock even more decks featuring new art by a variety of artists and many of these decks are exclusive to the Kickstarter campaign.

For $16 a backer can get one deck of cards with 55 cards. A deck is a triangular deck which means it includes the numbers 1 through 10 and appear in proportion to their rank. For example their are 1 x 1, 2 x 2, 3 x3, etc all the way up until 10 x 10 with each suit paired with an image. The cards are high quality casino cards. They are built for rough treatment and can withstand repeated shuffling, flipping and dealing. The glossy coat can withstand most chips and knicks and can be wiped cleaned if a spilled drink occurs.


In Pairs there is no winner, only one loser. The object in Pairs is to NOT get points. Players gain points by getting pairs. The game starts with everyone being dealt a card. The player with the lowest card will be dealt the first card in the second round. That player can choose a card be dealt to them or can choose to end the round by taking the lowest card in play and scoring those points. If a player decides on a dealt card that player hopes to avoid a getting a pair. If the card is a pair, that player scores that tier of points i.e. if the player receives a pair of threes, that round is over and that player scores three points. Play continues in this fashion until someone loses by receiving too many points. The game is simple, fun and can be played in as little as five minutes. 

pairs kickstarter card pub game

James says that the perfect pub game should contain all of these elements: quick to play, easy to play, can be played when drunk, is portable, can be played in a pub, perfect for betting and does not give a house advantage. Designers James and Paul Peterson wanted to extend their casino-reminiscent library of games to offer a fun, push-your-luck card game to be played with 2-8 friends in a social setting. The idea for Pairs can from developing a similar game which also involved a 55 card deck and is also a quick pub game. James had us test a couple pub game variations and plans on including some of those rules as the Kickstarter progresses.


We first played Pairs during Geek Girl Con 2013 where James was demoing games from Cheapass’ casual and inexpensive library. Pairs is very much a pub game rather than tabletop card game. It has a lower barrier of entry for rules, uses a common suit system and works best as a quick betting game. There is no theme, no meeples and earns its place among other endearing, luck-driven card games like Egyptian Rat Screw and Texas Hold ‘Em. With a little luck and card counting, a person could have a lot of fun and win a lot of money from their friends. I grew up with 52-card deck games like Old Maid, Slap Jack, Poker and Speed. As a young girl I was introduced to poker as a way to play interact with my grandparents. Like any great pub game, Pairs is just as exciting now as playing Egyptian Ratscrew in Physics class was back in the day. Pairs also transcends age restriction and can be enjoyed by everyone young and old which is why it makes a great addition to anyone’s game shelf.

Pairs is currently on Kickstarter and funding will end on March 14th. One deck of the game is $16 and backers are unlocking more deck art varieties each day as the funds grow. To find out more about Pairs, visit the Kickstarter page and to learn more about James Ernest and the rest of Cheapass Games’ game portfolio, visit their official site here.

james ernest cheapass games


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About the Author

Nicole Jekich

came from humble beginnings as a Boise suburbanite with a love of Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She attended an open board game day three years ago and is now an avid gamer and fantasy artist. Her interests are primarily in Dungeons & Dragons, dice placement and Roman-themed tabletop games. Nicole is also a fan of playing games that let her release her inner barbarian. Her favorite game currently is Far Space Foundry.

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