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How to Play Jacks


metal jacks with red ball and pouch

The game of Jacks is a fun old fashioned game played with ten jacks and a rubber ball.  A player can play by themselves or against other players.  The jacks are thrown onto a smooth surface in front of the player and then picked up in a certain order after bouncing the ball.  We've listed the favorite variations, rules, directions and how to play jacks.  Learn how to play the simple game of jacks and then graduate to more challenging variations such as:

Black Widow
No Bouncies
Double Bouncies
Cherries in a Basket (or Eggs in a Basket)
Pigs in a Pen
Over the Fence
Around the World
Switch Hands






What you need to play Jacks

Set of 10 jacks

Bouncy ball

Smooth surface to play on




The Object of the Game of Jacks


Be the first to go from “onsies” to “tensies”



Set up the game

Begin by throwing your jacks onto the ground in front of you.  Try and make the jacks land not too far apart or too close together. 



Playing Jacks 

Throw the ball into the air with your right hand … pick up one jack with your right hand… then catch the ball after it bounces one time in your right hand. (Switch hands for left handed players)  Continue picking up the jacks one at a time.


When you have collected all the jacks, throw them again and start picking the jacks up two at a time (twosies). When you get to threesies you have to pick up the three sets of three first, then pick up the left over jack. Continue on until you are at tensies. You can then declare the winner as the first one to tens, or go back down again to onesies.


Your turn continues until you either: miss the ball, fail to pick up the jacks, move a jack, or drop a jack that you have picked up. Your turn is then over and the next player goes.


Extra Jacks Game Help



 If the jacks are thrown and two (or more) jacks are touching the player can choose to leave them, or pick up the jacks and drop them to spread them out.


Who goes first

Throw the jacks up in the air and trying to catch as many as possible with both hands together ( your palms have to be face down - thumb to thumb). Whoever catches the most jacks goes first.


Jacks and Ball games from Amazon



Variations for the game of Jacks: 

Black Widow
You have to play from ones to tens without missing. If you miss then you have to start again at ones.



No bouncies
Go from one to tens without letting the ball bounce before you pick up the jacks.



Double bouncies
Pick up the jacks and then catch the ball after it bounces twice.



Cherries in a basket
Cup your hand and throw the ball with the opposite hand. You have to then place the jacks in your cupped hand - one through tens.



Pigs in a Pen
Place your hand slightly cupped on the ground with the side of your hand resting on the ground. Then throw the ball with the opposite hand and slide the jacks into the “pig pen” ones through tens.



Over the fence
Place you hand on the ground straight and you have to place the jacks on the other side of the “fence” - ones through tens.



Around the world
After you throw the ball you have to make a circle in the air around the ball before it bounces - one to tens.


Left handed
Switch the hand you normally throw the ball with.




More fun Classic Kids Party Games






Truth or Dare

Sidewalk Chalk

Water Balloons


Backyard Games

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