Phase 10 Basics, Strategy, & More

Updated on October 13, 2019
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Tracy is a "professional scavenger" as well as a writer. She's sold on eBay, in antique malls, and on other platforms for over 20 years.

The Basics

The game Phase 10 is based on a rummy-style game called Liverpool Rummy. This is a type of "contract rummy." Contract rummy means it is a game that requires meeting certain goals to progress. In Phase 10, the contracts or goals are called phases. The game has 10 phases.

Phase 10 is played using a special deck of cards which includes 108 cards total. It is possible to adapt two standard decks of cards to accomplish the same goal, though it is easier to play using special Phase 10 cards.

A History of the Game

In 1982, Kenneth Johnson created a new card game. Phase 10 was born as a variation of rummy that Mr. Johnson played with his brothers when grew up. Mr. Johnson actually solidified the rules of the game and created it as a commercial product while he was laid off from his job in the automotive industry.

The first copies of the game were sold to K-Mart stores and the rest—as they say—is history.

In 1987, Kenneth sold the rights to the game to Fundex who held it until 2010. In 2010, Mattel purchased the game and added it to their collection of board and card games—upping its distribution range even further.

The Rules

For a full version of the rules, consult the instruction manual included with the game (if you have chosen to purchase the special deck). However, in case you've lost or forgotten the basics, these rules will help:

Object of the Game:

The first player to complete all 10 phases wins. If there is a tie, the player who has scored the least amount of points wins.

Required Materials:

Reference cards that list the phases, a deck of 108 cards (includes colored, numbered cards as well as skip and wild cards), pen and paper for score keeping.

How to Play:

One player shuffles the cards and deals out 10 cards to each player face down. The remaining cards are placed in a face-down pile and one card is flipped upright. The player to the left goes first and either takes the top card from the discard pile or the facedown pile. Play proceeds clockwise.

The goal is for each player to complete his or her phase. Once you've completed your phase, work to be the first player to discard all cards by playing them off other's phases or your own. Once a player has gone out, the remaining players count up their remaining cards and points are added. The next hand play continues with players working on whichever phase they are on. The first player to reach phase 10 and complete it wins. In case of a tie, points are calculated and the player with the fewest points wins.

There are a few more details and potential situations. The official game rules will explain.


Gameplay Explained

This video guide by "TheGameBoyGeeks" breaks gameplay down into simple steps. Watch this less-than-10-minute video and you'll better understand how the game progresses and what it takes to win a hand—and the game!

Phase 10 Strategy

Want to take your game to the next level? Keep these Phase 10 strategy tips in mind next time you sit down to play a game.

  • Dump Your High Cards: High cards count for more if you're stuck with them. So, if everything else is the same, discard a 12 before a 2.
  • Skip Strategy: Skip cards are more useful than you may think. Hold on to these for the end of the round and it can be easier to go out.
  • Watch Your Opponent: Keep an eye on what your opponent may need, what he's discarding and what phase he is on. This can be the key to going out before him.
  • Bluff: Don't give away the strength of your hand with your body language. Learn to bluff and you'll more easily fool your opponents.

A Quick Poll

Which Phase Do You Find the Hardest?

See results

Facts About Phase 10

  • Phase 10 is the second-best selling card game behind Uno.
  • Previously owned by Fundex, Mattel bought the rights to the game in 2010.
  • Phase 10 is available to play online as well as on the iOS and Blackberry mobile stores.
  • There is also a Phase 10 dice game available.

Do you have any strategy tips, memorable moments or other information about the game you want to share? Comment below and I'll be happy to add your information to this ever-growing database about this awesome card game!

Comments from Fans

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    • profile image

      Red 12 

      16 months ago

      I’ve noticed, whether you keep score, or just play out each phase, collecting 10’s and above is beneficial from phases 2-8, as these are the most discarded.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      good tips

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      We are having a debate on if you have a phase do you have to play it or can you hold onto it until you want to play it? One says it's a fine strategy the other says that's cheating.


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