A Math Game to Encourage Math Thinking

We are a card-playing family, from crazy eights to pinochle. All our children from 8 to 15 enjoy cards. We think card playing teaches them a lot. Are we right? -- Wondering

Answer: Learning to play cards has many different benefits for mathematical thinking and creativity. Here is a game for you:

Procedure: The object of this game is to combine the number values of the playing cards in any order using any operation to make the value of 100. The playing cards have been given these number values:

Ace (1), Kings (13), Queens (12), Jacks (11) and 2-10 (number value of the cards).

Shuffle the deck of playing cards. Start play by dealing yourself cards one at a time. Keep dealing cards until you can make the value of 100 out of the cards you have dealt. Try to make 100 using the fewest cards possible 

To make 100 with the cards dealt, follow these rules:

  • -Every card dealt must be used.
  • -The cards can be used in any order.
  • -Any operation can be used.

For example, if the cards dealt are Jack, 10, 5 and 2, those cards can be arranged as follows to make 100:
(Jack x 10) - (5 x 2) = (11 x 10) -10 = 110 -10 = 100 

Work through the entire deck of playing cards. If needed, turn the last card in the deck into a wild card (any number) to make the final 100.