Home ยป Frustration


We talk a lot about flashy video games and freshly released board games on EFG, but today I want to take a moment to share the instructions for one of my family’s absolute favorite card games.

We spend a lot of time playing Frustration as a family, especially on family vacations. We laugh. We yell. We talk a lot of trash. (Of course, we do. I’m there.)

The best part? You and your family can share in a little bit of our fun without needing more than a couple of decks of dollar-store playing cards.

Cards Required

  • 4 players – 2 standard playing card decks with 4 jokers
  • 5-6 players – 3 standard playing card decks with 6 jokers
  • Wild Cards – Jokers and Deuces

The Rules For Frustration

  • Deal 11 cards to each person for each hand.
  • A player’s turn begins by drawing the top card from the deck or the discard pile.
  • The player may then “meld” if they have the appropriate cards for the step they are on
  • Then they discard a card from their hand. Note: A player MUST have a discard at the end of their turn. There are no exceptions.
  • If a player “melds” and completes a step they will then be playing to “Go Out.” This ends the hand.
  • Each Step must be made by a player during a hand to advance to the next step. For example, if a player completes a step and then goes out and you did not, then you will remain on the same step and they will move forward.
  • All 11 steps must be completed to win – if more than one player completes the 11 steps during the hand, the lowest-scoring hand wins.


Book – Groups of cards of the same number. The suit does not matter.

Run – Groups of cards where the numbers are in descending or ascending order. They must be in the same suit.

Note – You must have more natural cards in a book or run than Wild cards. You cannot even have the same number.

  • Step 1 – 2 Books of 3 cards
  • Step 2 – 2 Runs of 3 cards
  • Step 3 – 1 Run of 4 cards and 1 Book of 3 cards
  • Step 4 – 2 Books of 4 cards
  • Step 5 – 1 Run of 5 cards and 1 Book of 3
  • Step 6 – 3 Books of 3 cards
  • Step 7 – 1 Run of 7 cards
  • Step 8 – 1 Run of 6 cards and 1 Book of 3 cards
  • Step 9 – 2 Runs of 4 cards
  • Step 10 – 2 Books of 5 cards
  • Step 11 – 1 Run of 9 Cards


  • A wild card may be replaced in any run (but not books) with the card it represents, but only if the wild card can be used to meld in that turn.
  • Additional melds of 3 cards can be played and more cards can be played on other melds after a player has completed their step meld.

Need Some Cards?

What do you think? Are you going to play our family favorite? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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