» How to Play 45s – Forty Fives

Are you looking for information on how to play 45s (Forty-Fives, Forty Fives). This page offers three sets of rules – 45’s the Irish version of the game as well as the 45s Canadian version (includes Auction 45s), commonly played in the Eastern provinces (Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). Use our quick links to find the game you want to learn – How to Play 45s (Irish), How to Play 45s (Canadian).

Basic Rules for Playing Card Game 45s

To start, each player receives three cards starting with the first player to the left of the dealer. The cards are dealt at once, meaning the first player will receive the first three cards off of the deck, followed by the player to his or her left.

Next, the dealer will give each player another two cards dealt in the same manner.

Once the initial deal is done, the players will turn the next card face up and place it at the top of the deck. This card will become the trump suit. Should an Ace turn up, the dealer will take the Ace and discard a card from their hand. The trump suit will be whatever suit the Ace was. If the dealer refuses to discard, he revokes his ability to rob the deck (explained below). If by chance a Joker is turned face up, the dealer takes the Joker but the trump suit will be determined by the next card.

If a player receives the trump Ace during the initial deal he must claim the card that was turned face up and discard one of his own prior to playing his first card. If he fails to do this, his Ace will become the lowest “Trump” card.

Other rules

  • Players must follow suit of the player that lead before them unless they lay down trump.
  • Trump beats non trump cards except for the Ace of Hearts
  • You must follow trump suit if you have trump in your hand unless you have a five or non trump cards.
  • Holding out on playing the five of trump is called reneging.

Rules for Playing the Game

Now that the deal is out of the way, each player will take their turn in a clockwise position and lay down one card. The winner of the trick is determined in the same manner as Euchre, whereby the player with the highest card takes the trick. The winner for each trick receives five points.

Bonus points can be awarded at the end of each round whereby the player that laid the best card wins an extra 10 points.
Depending on which version of the game is being played, the object of the game is to be the first person to earn 120 points (of in the Irish version 45 points). Once a round is complete, the dealer will pass the deck of cards to the person on his left, who will deal a new round using the same format as above.

45s Irish Version

  • In the Irish version of 45s (Forty-Fives, Forty Fives), the object of the game is to be the first person to reach 45 points.
  • The bonus points is only awarded if the highest trump in play is the 5, Jack, Joker or Ace of Hearts.
  • The trump five is the only card that can be reneged.
  • If a player scores five tricks, they automatically receive 45 points and win the game.
  • Players can opt to play with both jokers, whereby they have the same traits as the left and right bower in Euchre.

Canadian Version of 45s (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, New Brunswick)

45s is a popular card game in the Atlantic Provinces spreading across Cape Breton to Halifax. The 45s tournaments are played in a round robin fashion, similar to Euchre tournaments with three teams winning out of hundreds participating.

  • The Canadian version of 45s (Forty-Fives, Forty Fives) does not use Jokers.
  • The deal is usually mixed up a bit where the dealer gets to decide how many cards are dealt in consecutive order. This is sometimes called “Dealers Choice” or the “Newfoundland Deal”.
  • Before any deal begins, the player to the right of the dealer must cut the deck.
  • If no trump is played during a round, the final score will not exceed 25 points.
  • The winner is the first team (or person) to reach 45 points.
  • Scoring after the first round must not exceed 30 points (Full 30, 25-5, 2 x 15, or 20-10.
  • Scoring during the second round must be 60.
  • Nearly all games that make it to a 3rd round, finish on round 3. (A 4th round is possible although rare)
  • Similar to Euchre rules, players must throw their trump if a trump is played, including a five.

History of Forty-Fives

Forty-fives, also known as Forte fives, is an enjoyable, fun card game. Similar to the game One-hundred and ten, Forty-fives requires a medium amount of skill and concentration. The fascinating history of forty-fives began in the 17th century where King James VI of Scotland had popularized one of the early predecessors of Forty-fives, a game known as Maw. The game has since become popular all over the world, particularly in New Hampshire. Adjusted versions of the game can be found in Ireland and Nova Scotia, with a similar game found as far as New Zealand.

Nova Scotia Auction 45s Rules

Auction 45s is another variation of Forty Fives played by Canadians. The biggest difference between standard 45s and Auction 45s is when you’re able to renege your trump. Auction 45s can be played as partners, cut throat and heads up. Auction is generally played with a kitty which consists of a four card hand .

Players will also bid on the trump prior to trump being declared. Players will have the option to pass on bidding, bid 20, 25 or 30 points. Determining how much to bid is based on how many points you think you will win during the game. Each player receives a turn bidding in the same manner as the initial deal. Players must bid at least 5 points above the previous player in order to bid, or can choose to hold. Holding allows them to steal the highest bid. Bidding will continue around the table until the dealer holds all bids, or passes , leaving trump up to winning player. In order to declare a suit trump, you must hold at least one trump card in your hand. Once trump has been determined, the player who called trump will add the kitty to their hand and discard 4 of the 9 cards in their hand.

  • The game starts with the first person to the left of the player who won the bid.
  • Players will play for 120 points to win.
  • The player who won the bid has to obtain the same number of points or more. For example if John won the bid with 25 points, he needs to earn at least 25 points or more. If he is successful, his score will increase by the amount of points won. If he fails to meet his bid, his score will decrease by the amount of the bid.
  • Another noteworthy rule to Auction 45s is the 100 rule. Once a player or team reaches 100 points they have to win the initial bid in order to receive points. Basically, your hand is locked at 100 until you meet your bid.
  • Finally, a 30 bid is called 30 for 60. If a team is able to earn all 30 points, they will receive an extra 30 bonus points, giving them a total of 60.

Hand Rankings in Card Game 45s (Forty Fives)

Black is played low to high, while red is played high to low. General rankings are as follows;

Hand Rankings for Red Trump

5 of suit, Jack of Suit, Joker, Ace of Hearts (regardless of what suit is), Ace of Suit (not applicable if trump is hearts), K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2

Hand Rankings for Black Trump

5 of Suit, Jack or Suit, Ace of Hearts, Joker, Ace of Suit, K, Q, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Hand Rankings of Non Trump Red Cards

K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (Ace only in Diamonds

Hand Rankings of Non Trump Black Cards

K, Q, J, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

4 Comments on How to Play 45s – Forty Fives

  1. lornandglad says:

    It explains the rules the way we play 45s.

  2. madonna childs says:

    can you bed 60 for 120 in a game of 120,s and when you play call your partner do you call for the next lowest card to the 5 or the next lowest you have in your hand ?of what ever suit you are going to go on.
    thank you

  3. Tanya says:

    If ace of hearts is thrown first and suite is spades do u still have to throw trump??

  4. Mari Sousa says:

    Does players have to start over when they reach 45

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