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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

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Play Irish Snap

Play a fast-paced card game that’s a fun twist on the traditional version of this game.

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You’ll need

  • Playing cards

Before you begin 

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely. 
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Setting up this activity 

  • Make sure you’ve enough cards, so each group of can have a pack. People should be in groups of four or six. You may want to pre-shuffle the cards for each group, especially if they’re new packs. 
  • Make sure people take off jewellery rings to prevent damage to the ring and people’s hands.

Running this activity

  1. Gather everyone together in a circle and tell them you’re going to play a card game called Irish Snap. 
  2. Everyone should get into groups of four or six. Each group should sit in a circle, either around a table or on the floor.
  3. First, remove the jokers from the pack and deal out all the cards to the players. It’s okay if everyone doesn’t end up with a fully equal number of cards. Players should leave their cards in a pile in front of them and not look at them.

Playing the game

  1. To start, the player on the left of the dealer flips over their top card and says ‘Ace’ no matter what the card shows. This card is placed in the middle to form one central pile.
  2. Next, the player on their left flips over their card and says ‘two’ and places the card on the pile.
  3. This continues, with players announcing each number, then Jack, Queen and King. When King is reached, the next player starts over with ‘Ace’.

How to snap

  1. Now for the Snap part of the game. When a snap happens, players now race to slap their hands on top of the pile.
  2. The last player to put their hand on the pile now must take all the cards and place them on the bottom of their pile.
  3. There are two ways that a snap happens:
  • First, when the card that is flipped over matches the number or rank that was said, it’s a snap. For example, if a player says ‘eight’ and an 8 is flipped over, it’s a snap.
  • Second, when a card matches the card already on top of the pile it’s a snap. For example, if a three is on the top of the pile and the next card put on the pile is a three, then it’s a snap. It doesn’t matter what the spoken number was, just as long as the two cards on the pile match.
  • If a player snaps or flinches when there’s no snap, they must pick up the pile and add it to the bottom of his stack.
  1. When a snap (or a non-snap pick up) has happened, the player who picked up the cards starts. They take the top card, flip it over and place the card down in a new central pile, starting with ‘Ace’ again.

Winning the game

  1. There are two ways to win, which are:
  • either the first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner,
  • or, if that takes too long, you can set a certain amount of time and play until that time. When the timer goes off the player with the least number of cards is the winner - just make sure to agree on a time before starting.


This card game was a variation of snap. What was it like playing the card game? How did it compare to the usual game of snap you may of player? Did you enjoy it, or did you find it difficult?  

This activity was all about concentration and focus. How did you concentrate on the pile of cards in the number and the numbers being called out? How did you remain alert and focused? Did you have a method or strategy? What was it like having to snap quickly? 

This game could have variations. What would you do to make this game harder, sillier or more fun? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.

To make this game easier, you could ask everyone to play in pairs.

To make it harder, you could add some variations to the game, such as: 

  • Special Cards: You can introduce some special cards to the game, no matter when they are played. Some might mean to add extra snaps or change direction of play. For example all Queens are a snap or all Jacks change direction of play
  • No Speaking: In this variation, no numbers are spoken out loud. Players must keep track in their heads.
  • One Last Snap: In this variation, when a player has got rid of all their cards, they must successfully win one more snap before being declared the winner. 
  • This game can be played sitting or standing, either on the floor or on chairs. Make sure to adapt to whichever way works best for everyone and make sure any actions are things everyone can do.
  • Some people may find indoor or active games noisy, especially if the space echoes. You could have a noise level warning system to help everyone be reminded of the noise levels. The person could wear ear defenders, or you could run the game over a larger space to reduce the noise. Shutting doors and windows can help to reduce external sounds if you're indoors. You may wish to play this game outside.
  • This game can be played in small groups around a small table, so everyone can see each other. If you’re playing in a circle, you could ask people to put the right number of fingers up when they say a number.
  • If anyone has problems with mobility, they could partner up with someone who can do the movement or action while they give instructions. 
  • If people struggle to do the action or feel uncomfortable touching other people’s hands, instead of putting their hand on the pile, people could have to put their hand on the side of the table or do another action.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.