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Simple Black Jack. 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:41 pm
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Location: Japan
Post Simple Black Jack.
Black Jack / 21.. With a set of playing cards and some fake money or tokens have a game of 21 while teaching english. This game is for older kids who will be able to understand the rules of 21. Lay flash cards on the floor facing up spread playing cards over the flash cards facing down. Every student has a set amount of money at the start of the game. Befor starting each round students have to put a set amount of money to play. Then they can add more if they want. E.g. Lisa puts 1 token to play and another 2 as a bet. After everyone has done that its time to start. Teacher is banker and starts first. E.g. useing places flash cards teacher will say "I went to the hospital." then picks up one playing card from the hospital flash card. Every student takes there turn. Teacher goes again. Because the teacher is the banker he must sit on 16 or higher. Students can keep picking up untill they want to sit or they have busted. Like the real game if students bust they lose there money. if they win they get there money back plus same. E.g Lisa bets 1 to play plus 2 more as a bet. lisa beats the teachers hand Teacher 17 Lisa 20 . Lisa keeps her 3 tokens plus gets 3 tokens. Teacher 17 Lisa 17 . Lisa keeps her tokens. Teacher 17 Lias 21 . Lisa keeps her 3 plus another 3 plus another 2 for getting 21/Black Jack. It's easy and fun. I had students mothers come early to play with us.


Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:30 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
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Location: Nagano, Japan
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That sounds like fun!

How many flashcards do you usually put out to draw from? Just one per round or do you have 2-3 options?

I'm imagining 2 to 3 flashcards with playing card decks infront of them to draw cards from. Students choose one of the flashcards "police station" for example and makes a sentence using "police station." Then they would draw a card from the "police station" stack of playing cards. Not the stack of cards in front of "library."

Does that sound right?

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Tue Dec 12, 2006 2:21 pm
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:41 pm
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I play with as many flash cards that i have. Just say you have 7 places flash cards on the floor then you would have 7 or 8 playing cards spread over each of them. They take a playing card from the flash card they pick. Lisa says airport then takes a playing card of top of the airport flash card. Jim say park and takes a playing card of the top of the park flash card. After each round keep the used playing cards. When all playing cards are finished the games finished. Who ever has the most money/tokens at the end wins.


Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:23 pm
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Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:21 pm
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Any idea on how to adapt this to larger classes?


Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:17 pm
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Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 5:27 pm
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I like this
As for a larger class, there's nothing saying that you couldn't make the dealer a student, or even have a revolving dealer.

With betting, the dealer also has to take a chance - any house earned money they can keep, but they also have to pay out (of pocket) if needed.

If you split your class into smaller groups (different pits) of maybe 5 or 6 students, and teach them both sides to the game, they can run it themselves, and the teacher is free to roam and monitor, or check.

I would also have a small token penalty for cheaters - like the roaming teacher can take a dollar for every transgression. Transgressions may include speaking in their first language, or not saying complete sentences. If the rules are well known, the other students usually self govern, telling on the transgressors.


Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:48 pm
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:33 pm
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i played this game for the first time in my english class the other day, the kids really got into it. my students are aged around ten to twelve years, they really enjoyed this game, i used coloured chips for gambling with. However i DID catch some of the students peeking under the cards so,,,perhaps just putting the pile of playing cards in the centre, and have students practice their english then taking a card from the pile might be better. But still this was a great game to play and i would recommend it.
Thanks for the idea, will be playing this more often, cos it took up the whole period. I was practicing daily activities and times "i wake up at 9.30"


Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:14 am
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I did this game today with kids ages 9 - 11. We did it in classes of 36, 28, 27, and 1 (special ed).

It went really well, and I'd totally recommend it. The kids loved it more than I ever thought they would. I think they like the gambling/risk aspects of this game more than anything.

I used it to teach them phrases about handling money and customers.

Dealer: How much?
Player: 20 yen. Cards please.
Dealer: Ok. Here you are.
Player: Thankyou.

(This is where the dealer deals out the cards)

Dealer: One more?
Player: Yes, one more please / No, I'm fine thank you.
Dealer: Here you are.

*Player: Woot! Money!
*Player: Ahhhh! 22!


* I threw these in towards the end, after everything else was off the ground.


Because 21 is complicated (at least to 9 year-old Japanese kids), I would make sure you know how to explain it in the native language OR have simple rules written in the native language. I had another Japanese teacher in the classroom. I gave her the rules in Japanese before class, and I explained in English in class. The game seems simple enough to explain but th ekids get confused about "if it is a tie? If I went over and the dealer went over? Can I raise my bet? Do I have to shuffle my cards that way? Does the dealer get the money or the bank get the money? Can I take my turn back? Can the banker break change?" And they will ask every question under the moon and then some. For huge classes, it helps to defer these to someone else, or at least make sure you can get the message across very clearly the first time. I had the Japanese teacher knowing the rules so she could chime in for the barage of little left field questions.


Having a clear and easy explanation ready gives you more class time to work on the phrases, counting, and practice (playing). With a class of 10+ you'll want at least 30 minutes to play and my classes are only 45 minutes long.


I had the kids sit in groups of 6 and take turns being dealers. The dealer couldn't bet. I also skipped the whole "does the dealer hit on 17?" question by just allowing the dealer to hit whenever he/she wants. Again, this was to keep it simple, and allow the dealer some decision making power.

I started with a basic explanation of the goals of the game:

1. Try to get close to 21 without going over.
2. You want to beat the dealer, not the other players.
3. The value of each card.

Then we did some counting practice (I had the students count off from 1 - 36).

Then I took them through the game as a class, step by step, stopping to practice the English phrases as we encountered them.

We do one round step-by-step with all groups following, 6 groups total, each with a student-dealer. Then we start the second round. The second round is where they get to ask questions and clarify rules, and after that the groups will just start playing.

I tell them to pay a certain amount (5 yen) if the dealer or the player forgets to use the dialouge. It keeps everyone listening and speaking.


Hasboro has a website where you can print off monopoly money. 10 bills a page and nice looking colors. It also allows you a lot of freedom in how big you want the numbers to get (the bills are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500). I played with 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s. I had each player start with 36 (one of each). No one ever lost all of their money, but had they, I would have made a loan or something.

I made banks by gluing cardboard slots into 3 shoe boxes cut in half (6 total). It really helped keep everything organized moving between classrooms. The kids also really enjoyed being the dealer/banker, and working with the money, so I suggest that over having the teacher be the dealer full-time. Having students be dealers also puts them on both sides of the dialouge.

It works best with groups of 4-6, once you hit 7 their desks start to be too spread apart to talk back and forth without yelling.

I was completely amazed at how quickly the kids picked up the odds/strategies. The first few rounds they would do things like hit on 18 or stop on 11, but by 3 rounds they were all playing like pros. I think they are just card playing machines because of all the Japanese card-games circling round elementary school now-a-days.


Fri Jan 09, 2009 4:38 pm
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