How To Play Pick Up Sticks

Many simple childhood games will continue to live on mainly because of their simplicity and basic “fun” factor.  Pick-up sticks is one of those games.  What could be easier than picking up sticks?  Be careful! It may be harder than it looks.

The first step is deciding what you will use for your sticks.  You can always purchase the actual game Pick-Up Sticks which consists of a tube of brightly colored sticks about the thickness of a toothpick and about six inches long.  If you do not have the actual game, you can also use any similar stick-like objects such as straws or pencils.  The game can be played alone or with a group of any number of players.  When playing with a group you should decide who will drop the sticks and who will go first before you start.  The object of the game is to pick up as many sticks as possible, one by one, without moving any of the other sticks.

The game starts with one player grasping the sticks in the fist of one hand.  The sticks should be held straight up and should be perpendicular with the playing surface, not parallel to it.  The player then releases the sticks; this allows the sticks to fall on the playing surface in a haphazard way.

The person chosen to go first will attempt to pick up any single stick without moving any of the other sticks around it.  If the player is successful, the player keeps that stick and continues to pick up sticks until one of the sticks has moved.  If a player moves a stick while trying to pick up, that player's turn is now over.  The play then goes to the next person, who also attempts to pick up a stick in the same manner.  Successfully picked-up sticks are added to each player's pile of sticks.  Some players allow picked up sticks to be used as a tool to make it easier to pick up future sticks.   This should be decided among all players before the game begins.

The play continues around the circle, with each player picking up as many sticks as possible.  Once the playing field is cleared of sticks, count the sticks in each player's pile; the one with the most is the winner!


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