Review the rules below then watch this video demonstrating a sample ZLAM! game.  You will understand the game in minutes!


The object of ZLAM! is to reach a count of nine in each of three stacks of cards. When a stack reaches nine it is turned over and counted for points at the end of a Game. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of play.


The ZLAM! deck has 60 cards. There are 15 ZLAM! Cards. There are 15 colored suits of red, blue and yellow. In each 15 card suit there are: Two #1 & #5 cards, Three #2 & #4 cards and Five #3 cards.


ZLAM! can be played with any number of players. Players can play individually or in any combination of pairs or teams. A dealer is selected and the deck is shuffled several times. One face up card is dealt to each player, then a second and then a third. The remaining deck is set face down in the center of the table.


The three cards in front of each player form the base on which stacks will be built. The goal is to reach a count of 9 with each stack. Play starts with the player to the dealer’s right drawing a card from the face down deck. The player chooses to play the card on one of their stacks or pass it to another player forcing them to play it on one of their stacks. The numbers on the cards are the count numbers and ZLAM! cards count as 0. When a stack reaches a count of 9 it is turned over (Closed) and scored at the end of the game. A card cannot be played on a stack that will cause that stack to add up to more than 9. Cards cannot be moved from stack to stack. If any player has a card they cannot play on any stack or give away they are out of the game. Once the last player has finished it’s time to score the stacks that were closed.


Once the last player finishes, points are totaled. Only stacks that were turned over are scored. Players get ONE point for each numbered card in the stack, and TWO points for each ZLAM! card. If the cards are all the same color (regardless if there are ZLAM! cards or not) the points are doubled. For example, a stack with a Red 2 (1 point), Blue 5 (1 point), 2 ZLAM! cards (2 points each, 4 total) and a Yellow 2 (1 point) would score 7 points. If the 2, 5, and 2 cards were all one color it would score 14.

Note: Don’t get confused between the count during play and the point total when scoring The numbers on the cards are used to add up to a count of 9 during play but do not mean anything when scoring, you just get a point for that card. ZLAM! cards count as zero when playing but count as two points when scoring.


GRAND ZLAM! – when all three stacks are turned over (or “closed”), a player gets 4 bonus points. If each stack has cards of the same color the bonus is doubled. (All stacks do not need to be the same color, just the cards in each stack). The bonus points are in addition to regular scoring.

SHUT OUT – If a player passes off a card to another player, and that player can’t play the card on any of their THREE (must be all three) unclosed stacks, the player giving the card gets four bonus points. In team play shut out points cannot be earned by shutting out a team member.


The structure of gameplay is as follows. Each person at the table gets a chance to deal a hand and each time someone deals and points are counted a game is complete. Each player must be given the deal once. After each player has dealt a game, a set is complete. Any number of sets makes a match. In competition, matches can be played in a tournament.


The beauty of ZLAM! is its simplicity. Experiment with the configuration of the deck. Try playing with four stacks instead of three. Select a wild card that, when drawn, allows that player to add a stack during the game or a penalty card that removes a stack. Remove some ZLAM! cards, take the 5’s out, add extra 3’s from another deck. The options are limitless. We have tailored the game to play a certain way that we felt was most enjoyable, but the simplicity of the game allows countless ways to alter the play to satisfy your own interests.