Three-Card Line Up

Training Wheels Games

Type of Activity:  Problem Solving

Source:  Playing With A Full Deck, by Michelle Cummings

Props Needed:  playing cards

Object of the Game:  To line up in the correct order from the lowest number to the highest number.

Group size:  6-12 Players per deck of cards.

Setting up the Cards:  Remove all of the face cards and tens.  Shuffle the deck well.

Playing the Game:  Deal each participant three cards.  After looking at the cards, participants turn  their cards face down and mix them thoroughly so they have no idea of the relative positions of the cards.  Then, without looking at the cards, the participants each raise the three cards and hold them to their foreheads, creating a three-digit number, visible to their teammates.  Without talking, each participant looks at his teammate’s exposed cards. Each participant should place themselves in a line, based on what he believes the position of his own three-digit number.  Gesturing is not allowed.  After everyone is standing in a line, players may look at their cards.  The goal is to get the entire group in the correct order from lowest to highest based on intuition.

Tips for Good Play:  The Player, knowing the three digits in his number, but not what place each occupies, may be able to calculate the probabilities of his relative position.  If the Player’s digits are, for example, 3,7, and 8, and opponents’ numbers are 452 and 921, Player is twice as likely to be in the “middle” (with 7 or 8 in the 100’s place) than “low” (with 3 in the 100’s place).  If Player goes second or third, and other players have already made bets, Player is in an even better position to make a guess that takes the opponents’ reasoning into consideration.

Variation:  Players do not see their own cards, but they are told the total of their three cards.  With only that information and the view of each of the opponents’ three-digit number, players each guess whether their number is highest, lowest, or in the middle.

Learning Skills:  practice in reading three-digit numbers, place value, calculating probabilities, deductive reasoning.

Practical Applications:  This is a good activity for groups or individuals struggling to find their ‘place’ in an organization or classroom.

Debriefing Topics: