Trash Competitive Patience

Trash Competitive Patience


This page is based on information from Alicia Mahmot, Inge M, Rachel G and Ed Vasicek.


This American children's game for two or more players is also sometimes known as Garbage or Ten, but as both these names are also used for other card games, we call it here by its commonest name Trash.

The aim is to be the first to complete a layout, initially of ten cards Ace to Ten, and although there are occasional decisions to be made it is essentially a game of pure luck.

Players and Cards

2 players use a standard international 52 card deck. With more players, more decks can be added to avoid running out of cards. For example 3 or 4 players can use 2 decks shuffled together, 5 or 6 players use 3 decks and so on.

During the game Aces count as one, cards 2 to 10 have their face values, Jacks are wild, and Queens and Kings automatically end the player's turn.

The turn to play passes clockwise.

The Deal

The cards are shuffled and each player is dealt a layout of 10 face down cards in two rows of 5 in front of them. Players are not allowed to look at their cards.


The remaining deck is stacked face down in the middle to form a stock pile.

The aim of the game is to be the first to fill your layout with face up cards from Ace to Ten in the correct positions as indicated.

The Play

The first player draws from the stock. If it’s a pip card A-10, the player places that card in its correct location in the layout (the top left card is the 1=Ace position, etc.). To do this, the player must remove the face down card that is occupying that location and turn it face up. This card, in turn, is placed in its appropriate location, if available, displacing the face down card that was there. This continues until the player finds a card that cannot be placed - a Queen or a King or a number card whose location is already occupied by a face up card with that number. The player must then discard the unplayable card, placing it face up on the table next to the stock pile to begin a discard pile, and the turn to play passes to the next player.

Subsequent players begin their turns by drawing either the top card of the face down stock pile or the top card of the discard pile (the card discarded by the previous player). In practice a player will always choose the top card of the discard player if it corresponds to an available location in their layout. They then place their card face up in the correct location in their layout, if available, displacing the card that was there to its own location, and continue until they find an unplayable card, which they add to the top of the discard pile to end their turn.

Since Jacks are wild, a Jack can be placed face up in any location containing a face down card, displacing the card that was there. Also a pip card whose correct location currently contains a face up Jack can be placed in that location displacing the Jack, which can then be moved to any other location with a face down card, displacing the card that was there. A Jack might have been placed in the Two-slot, for example. If the player draws or turns up a Two, the Jack can be moved to another slot and become a Seven, for example, so that the Two card can now be played in the Two-slot.

It is very unlikely that the face down stock pile will run out before anyone completes their layout, but it is theoretically possible if there are more than two players and the draws are very unlucky. If this should happen, the cards of the discard pile, apart from its top card which is left in place, are shuffled to make a new stock pile.

Subsequent Hands and Winning

The winner of the hand is the first player to complete their layout by having an appropriate face-up card in each location.

The cards are then shuffled and redealt, but the winner of the hand has one fewer card in their layout. After winning one hand a player only has locations A-9 and Tens become unplayable for them. A player who has won twice only has locations A-8, and so on.

The winner of each hand plays first in the next hand.

The game continues until a player has only one location and wins the hand by filling it with an Ace or Jack. This player wins the whole game.


For a shorter game, it can be agreed that the winner is the first to reduce their layout to a particular number of locations, for example the first player to achieve a 6-card layout wins. Alternatively players may agree to play a fixed number of deals or for a fixed period of time, after which the player with the smallest layout wins.

Some play that the turn to play first in a hand rotates clockwise rather than passing to the winner of the previous hand.

Some play with a different wild card - for example Kings are wild and Jacks and Queens are unplayable. Some add Jokers as additional wild cards.

Some play with all picture cards wild. In that case the only unplayable cards are numbers that you already have on your layout or that are larger than the largest numbered spot remaining on your layout.

Inge M reports two variants that give the loser(s) of a hand an extra chance to reduce their layouts:

  1. At the end of a hand the player(s) other than the winner turn up the remaining face down cards in their layouts. If it turns out that a player happens to have all these cards already in their correct places then they also reduce their layout by one for the next deal.
  2. In addtion to the above, in a two-player game, at the end of a hand the loser, before turning up their cards, has three "free" draws in which to attempt to complete their layout. It seems to me that this will result in a large number of deals where both players complete their layouts, but maybe with some players this is the desired result.