How to Play 3-5-8 (Sergeant Major): Rules with Interactive Tutorial
3-5-8 is a 3-player "trick-taking" card game in the Whist group. It is also known as "Sergeant Major" or "8-5-3".
If you enjoy the strategy of "shooting the moon" in the card game Hearts, you may find 3-5-8 similarly entertaining. In 3-5-8, you will be trying to take as many tricks as you can.
Below you'll find a brief description of the game, along with a comprehensive set of rules. If you're looking for a more interactive way to learn the game, check out our interactive tutorial above. It will walk you through the game in more detail and give you tips on how to win.
Once you know the rules, it's time to Play 3-5-8 Online. At World of Card Games, you can play against the computer or against people from all over the world.
So grab your deck, and get ready to march into battle as we unveil the secrets of this underrated classic. Sergeant Major, your mission begins now!
Rank of cards
Cards are ranked from Ace (highest) down to 2 (lowest).
The objective is to be the first player to take 12 tricks in a round.
A random player is chosen to be the dealer.
Each player is dealt a hand of 16 cards from a standard deck of 52 cards. The remaining 4 cards form a "kitty" and are placed to one side.
Players are assigned a target number of tricks that they must take. The dealer's target is 8, the player to the left of the dealer has a target of 5, and the player to the right of the dealer has a target of 3.
The dealer picks a "trump" suit: clubs, spades, hearts, or diamonds. Cards with the trump suit outrank cards of all other suits.
Next, the dealer chooses 4 cards to discard and then takes the cards from the kitty.
The player who is left of the dealer leads the trick by playing a card first. Turns are taken in clockwise order, each player "following suit" by playing a card of the same suit as the first card, if possible.
Once everyone has played a card, the pile of 3 cards is taken by the person who played the highest card with the same suit as the lead card. This is known as "winning a trick".
If a player does not have a card with the same suit as the lead card, they may play any card. Cards with the trump suit are special - they override the rank of other cards. If a card in the trump suit is played on the trick, then the highest trump suit card will win the trick.
The trick winner starts the next trick.
When all cards have been played, the deal moves clockwise, and a new set of cards are dealt to each player.
If a player did not take their target number of tricks in the previous round, then they are said to have "under-tricked." Players who have met more than their target number of tricks are called "over-trickers," and are given an advantage.
- If there is only one over-tricker, this player chooses cards from their hand to exchange with the under-trickers (or under-trickers, if the two other players took fewer tricks than their target). The number of cards to give to each under-tricker is computed by the under-trickers' target minus the number of tricks that they took. For example, if the under-trickers' target was 8, but they only took 5, then the over-tricker gets to trade 3 cards with them.
- If there are two over-trickers, then each of the over-trickers exchanges cards with the under-tricker. The player who has the largest target for the current hand is given an advantage; they are the first to trade cards. In this case, the number of cards exchanged is the difference between the number of tricks taken by that over-tricker, and their target for the previous hand. For example, if they had a target of 3 tricks, but took 5, then they choose 2 cards to exchange with the under-tricker.
- After cards are handed from the over-tricker to the under-tricker, the under-tricker is forced to return the highest card (or cards) in their hand that are of the same suit as those cards that were given to them. For example, if the under-tricker is given the 2 of clubs, and they have the Ace of clubs, then they must pass the Ace of clubs back to the over-tricker!
Discard and PlayAfter the exchange, the dealer calls trump, discards four cards, and takes the four cards from the kitty.
If the dealer under-tricked, they would have exchanged one or more high cards with an over-tricker. If they find higher cards in the kitty that are of the same suit as those exchanged with an over-tricker, they must show the over-tricker those cards that are higher in rank than those that were traded.
After showing any such cards, play begins. The first card is played by the person who is left of the dealer, as before.
The first player to take 12 tricks (or more) during a round wins!
3-5-8 was reportedly popular among members of Britain's Royal Air Force, where it was commonly called "Sergeant Major."