A fast game of bluffing for 2 players.

(Based almost entirely on a wonderful game from the anime series ‘Kaiji’)


Empress is a gambling game distilled down to the finest points of bluffing. There is no random chance. It is just two players competing at their ability to ‘read’ the moves of the other.

One player is the powerful Empress. The other is the wily assassin. The empress has all the power, but a clever assassin can avoid her guards until she has nowhere left to hide, then claim the greatest of prizes.


How To Play

Empress is played in Sets of 4 Games.

Players first agree how many Sets they will play. For example, the players could agree to play 4 games, 8 games, 12 games and so on...

Each player has one of two hands. Both contain 5 cards:

(Usually the sixes and sevens are used for the suit cards. They are treated as identical and collectively called the Citizens)

Card Ranking

The ranking is simple:


There are two outcomes to the game:

Game Setup

Each player takes one of the Empress or Assassin Hands.

Players take turns until one player makes a winning move.

The Empress hand leads the first round.

Each Round

  1. The lead player looks at their hand, chooses a card and plays it face down.
  2. The other player then chooses a card from their hand to match it.
  3. Both cards are then flipped.
    • If it is a draw (2 citizens) - The cards are put to one side. The round continues, with the opposite player leading.
    • If one card beats the other - the game ends and points are tallied. The players now swap hands.

Winning the Set

Victory goes to the player who has the most points at the end of the final game.


Empress can easily be played for coin. Simply agree on how much (in coin) a point is worth.

At the end of the final set, the difference between the scores is paid to the winner.