Cooper's Pack Official Rules to Zambezi Falls

Zambezi Falls – A 2-Player Card Game for Travelers of All Ages

Cooper loves to play Zambezi Falls while traveling and even at home.  Games are fun and quick, with strategy…and a bit of luck.

PLAYERS:  2 Players Required

CARDS:  1 Standard Deck of 52 Cards (minus Jokers)

Cooper's Pack Official Rules to Zambezi Falls

The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards before the other player.

It is generally harder to get rid of your single low cards compared to pairs, three-of-a-kind sets and 2’s.  Therefore think strategically when discarding into the visible pile of cards.


Shuffle and start by dealing each player 18 cards, one at a time back and forth, starting with the player who is not the dealer.

Keep the remaining cards face down in a reserve pile.


In Zambezi Falls, the suit of the card does not matter.

Cards are ordered from low to high:  3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, like in traditional card games.

However the 2 is the highest card in the deck and can shut down every play except for four-of-a-kind (two 2’s are required to shut down four-of-a-kind).

A pair beats any single card (except a 2)

Three-of-a-kind beats any pair or single card (except a 2)

Four-of-a-kind beats any single, pair or three-of-a-kind play.

For example: A pair of 10’s beats a single King and three 8’s beats a pair of Aces.

Playing a 2 (or two 2’s on four-of-a-kind) will shut down the round.

The player discarding the 2 starts a new round.


When a player matches a card already shown on the top of the discard pile, that person skips the other person and gets to go again, provided they can make a play of higher value.

For example, if Player #1 discards a 7 and Player #2 plays a 7 on top of it, it skips Player #1 and Player #2 gets to go again so long as they beat the 7 (by either playing an 8 or higher, a pair, three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind or a 2).


Zambezi Falls occurs when four cards of the same number are played, a single card is topped with three of the same number or a pair is topped with the same pair.

For example, if Player #1 lays down two 9’s on the pile, and Player  #2 discards a matching two 9’s, then Player #2 calls out “Zambezi Falls”.

When Zambezi Falls occurs, the player who called it out deals two additional cards from the reserve pile to each player, one at a time.

These cards are added to each player’s hand and gameplay continues.

NOTE:  Gameplay continues by beating the last card (or pair or three-of-kind) played.

If a Zambezi was created by matching a pair already on the discard pile, that player must beat the pair they just laid down (after dealing 2 cards).

For example, if a pair of 6’s make a Zambezi Falls, then the same player must beat a pair of 6’s with a pair of 7’s or higher (or three-of-a-kind, four-of-a-kind or 2).

A Zambezi Falls does not occur when there is a single card played on a three-of-a-kind (because a single card doesn’t beat three-of-a-kind).

When a four-of-a-kind is played in one turn, that is always a Zambezi Falls and each player gets dealt 2 cards from the reserve pile.

If there are no more cards remaining in the reserve pile then play continues without dealing.

In the event a player lays down a Zambezi Falls using all their cards then that player does not need to take 2 extra cards and therefore wins the game.


At the start of a new game players exchange one card of their choice.

The player who wasn’t the dealer then begins play by discarding a card (or cards).

The other player then lays down a card (or cards), trying to match or beat the other player’s discard.

If a player can’t beat the other player’s discard the other player gets to start a new round by playing whatever they like.


1.  If three 3’s or four 4’s are played, you may call “social” and grab some ice cream or a treat.
2.  If three 7’s are played, have a cheers to Boeing’s 777 aircraft which is a great way to fly around the world.


1.  It is almost always best to get rid of your lower single cards first.
2.  Don’t hold on to your 2’s too long.  They are usually more valuable to play earlier in the game.
3.  Sometimes you want to avoid getting a Zambezi Falls because it can leave you with low, single cards.
4.  It is best to organize your cards before starting play, otherwise you may miss a pair or three-of-a-kind.
5.  Play multiple hands (best 3 of 5, 4 of 7) to crown the Zambezi Falls Champion of the Day
6.  After calling out “Zambezi Falls”, add “Ride the Pony” (when grabbing the cards).

This game was invented by Kyle while traveling through Botswana and Zambia along the Zambezi River.  Enjoy!