Pairs Banner featuring the Pairs logo, some poker chips, and a fan of cards.

Pairs is now available in a wide variety of decks! Buy a copy from us, your friendly local game store, or Drive Thru Cards.

Pairs is a new card game by James Ernest and Paul Peterson. It’s simple, fast, and fun. And there are many different styles of art to choose from, thanks to many amazing artists and a very successful Kickstarter campaign!


The Pairs deck contains only the numbers 1 through 10, in a triangular distribution (1×1, 2×2, 3×3, and so on up to 10×10).  The basic goal of Pairs is to avoid getting a pair. Your odds will depend on what cards you hold, and which cards you have seen! Scoring pairs earns you points, and the first player to reach a target score is the loser. Download the rules and a print-and-play Pairs deck (or just use three poker decks) to play:

We’re also pleased to present The Pairs Companion, a collection of nearly 20 new games and variants for the Pairs deck, collected from all the decks in the first print run. This is a quarter-page sized booklet in PDF.


Pairs can be found all around the world in many, many languages. We are grateful to our linguistically gifted fans who offer the following translations for your enjoyment:

French Translations
Special thanks to Franck Lefebvre!

Dutch Translations
Special thanks to Linda Tonen!

Slovak Translations
Special thanks to Jozef Horvath!


One thing that distinguishes truly great gambling games is that basic strategy is easy, but perfect strategy is hard. Okay, that describes Blackjack and Poker, and for most other casino games, basic strategy and perfect strategy are basically the same thing. But whatever.

Game analyst and Cheapass fan Greg Whitehead has come up with a basic strategy for Pairs that plays nearly perfectly, so we thought we’d share it. The strategy is below; take the following steps in order:

  1. If folding would kill you, hit.
  2. If catching the average of your card values would kill you, fold.
  3. If your total points are greater than 18x the fold value, fold.
  4. Otherwise, hit.

Is there a better strategy? Of course; this basic heuristic doesn’t consider scores, nor does it use any knowledge of the cards that have been seen. If you can track cards, know your opponent’s tendencies, and pay attention to the scores around the table, you can improve on this basic strategy.

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