Subtraction Pole Vault

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This game can be played solo or with 2 or more players. You’ll need a calculator (to verify answers), paper and a deck of cards with 10s, Jacks, Kings removed. Ace = 1, Queen = 0. The object is to get as close to 0 as possible, without going below 0, after five subtractions from a target number.

Shuffle the cards, place deck face down. The target number is 250 (or whatever the teacher or players decide on). Players take turns doing the following:

  • Player 1 turns over top two cards and makes a two-digit number. Subtract this number from 250 on scratch paper, check on calculator. Player 2 then does the same.
  • Turn over the next two cards, make a two-digit number and subtract from the result in step one.
  • Do this three more times.
• Whoever is closest to 0 (without going over) after five rounds, wins.


Turn 1: Draw 4 & 5 Subtract 45 or 54 250 – 45 = 205 Turn 2: Draw 0 & 6 Subtract 6 or 60 205 – 60 = 145 And so on.