Negotiator game

From Teflpedia

Two or more people can play this card game, which is designed to practice speaking skills in the language functions involved in negotiations, such as offering, suggesting, turing down politely, imposing conditions, proposing, accepting, refusing etc. It can also be used as a detailed reading task with higher level groups, by giving them the printed rules and letting them teach themselves the game. Aside from these, another language benefit is the constant repetition of the common lexical pattern of article + noun + preposition + noun such as "the queen of spades", "the king of hearts", "a cup of tea", "the capital of Egypt", "a piece of cake" etc.


  • Groups of 3-5 students are formed (to maximize communicative practice, the group numbers should be kept low with a minumum number of players being three)
  • Each group will need a deck of playing cards and a pen(cil) and paper to keep score.


  • Games are either one, three or five rounds long.
  • The aim of of the game is to gain points, the winner being the player with the highest score at the end of the final round
  • Players gain points by collecting flushes or families (see below)
  • To gain flushes and families, and hence points, players have to negotiate card swaps with each other.


  • A flush is four cards in a row e.g. the 4, 5, 6 & 7 of spades. All flushes are worth 15 points. Note: flushes have to be in the same suit: hearts, diamonds etc.
  • A family is four of a kind e.g. four queens, four threes etc. All families except ace families are worth their nominal value:
4X2s=2, 4X3s=3, 4X4s= 4, 4X5s= 5, 4X6s=6, 4X7s=7, 4X8s=8, 4X9s= 9, 4X10s=10, 4Xjacks=11, 4Xqueens=12, 4Xkings=13
BUT: 4Xaces=20

How to play[edit]

  1. Players sit in a circle and the FSA (see glossary) deals out the whole deck.
  2. The player with the least points in the last round begins the new round. If the round is the first of a new game, the `FSA´ chooses who begins; this player is called ‘the Instigator’ (see glossary).
  3. The Instigator begins by asking if any players have the card(s) that he/she wishes to get in ordert to collect a family or a flush. All of the other players must then make their position clear: they must say whether they have the card(s) the Instigator wants, and if they do, whether they want to trade or not. If a player does want to trade, they then enter a negotiation with the Instigator. If no-one wants to trade, the Instigator’s turn is over and the player to their left then becomes the Instigator and takes their turn.
  4. Any amount of cards can be traded during a negotiation and the process doesn’t have a time limit. The Instigator’s turn is considered finished when a deal has been made or when the Instigator fails to negotiate a deal with a player.
  5. Once the Instigator’s turn is over, the player to their left becomes the Instigator, who then takes their turn.
  6. The round continues in this routine until nobody wishes to trade cards any more, which signals the end of the round.
  7. At the end of each round the FSA records each player’s score from the cards they have in their hand. After this either a new round begins or the FSA adds up the game scores and declares the winner.


  1. The FSA decides how many rounds the game will contain before it begins.
  2. A round finishes when all players consecutively pass their turn.
  3. Although negotiations don’t have a time limit, the FSA can end a negotiation if it takes too long. In this case, the Instigator loses their their turn and the round continues as normal.
  4. During the Instigator’s turn, s/he can choose to trade cards or choose to pass their turn without trading. There is no obligation to trade; either player can quit a negotiation or deal at any time. If either player chooses to do this, the turn is over and it is the next player’s turn to be the Instigator.
  5. Players can negotiate and swap as many cards as they like; for example: a player may want more than one card in exchange for an ace.
  6. ‘Merging’ (two or more players cooperating for strategic gain) is not allowed. If this should happen, the FSA halves both offending players´ scores at the end of the round.
  7. In flushes, aces are either high or low i.e. a flush of a queen, a king, an ace and a two is not permitted.


“FSA” – The Financial Services Authority. This person can play the game too, and has authority over all players; their job is to deal the cards, keep a record of the scores, to enforce game rules and to fine players who break the rules.

“The Instigator” – This is the player whose turn it is; they have the ability to put forward proposals and seek deals.

Variation: time limit[edit]

Time limits can be used to add pressure to the game, with one player setting a stopclock at between 60 - 120 seconds at the start of each Instigator´s turn.

See also[edit]

Happy families