Pickup Sticks

The goal of pickup sticks is to remove as many sticks from a pile as possible without disturbing it. In a standard game set, there are a total of twenty-five sticks in five colors, including one black poker stick. Players can use their fingers or the black poker stick to push, pull, or roll away a single stick from the pile. Each color of stick is worth a different number of points.

How to Play

1. Pickup sticks can be played with two or more players. To decide which player goes first, remove all the sticks from the pouch. Place one of each color stick back in the pouch. Each player draws a stick without looking inside. The player to choose the darkest stick begins the game by holding all of the sticks except the black poker stick upright over the playing surface and releasing them. This same player takes the first turn. The player to pull the second-darkest stick from the pouch takes the second turn, and so on.

2. To take a turn, remove as many sticks as possible from the pile, one at a time, without disturbing the pile. If any other stick besides the target stick is moved during a turn, the turn is over.

3. The game continues in this manner until all the sticks are removed. Once all of the sticks have been picked up, the players add up their score based on the point system (below). The player with the most points wins the game.

How to Score

Each color stick is worth a different number of points. Use this point guide to add up each player's score at the end of a game:

Brown = 8 points
Orange = 6 points
Yellow = 4 points
White = 2 points

To make the game more challenging, players can earn bonus points by picking up two of the same color sticks in succession. Picking up two of the same color sticks doubles their value, three triples the value, and so forth.


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