Seven Pennies

Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 15, 2000
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Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
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by Jonathan Leistiko


Selectively gather tossed pennies, ultimately ending each round with more pennies than any other player.

You Need

  • Three pennies, plus two additional pennies for each player (a two player game uses seven pennies: 3 + (2*2)).
  • A flat surface, separated into two areas called the “Theatre” and the “Balcony.”
  • Some way of keeping score (like a pencil and paper).

Setting Up

Place all pennies in the Balcony. Peacefully choose someone to go first.


Starting with the first player and proceeding to the left, each player takes a turn. A turn consists of the following steps:

  1. Throw: Take any pennies in the Balcony in your hand and toss them onto the Theater in a way that assures randomness.
  2. Booth: Look for Heads-Tails pairs, and set all of them aside in the Balcony for the next player’s turn. If no pennies are left in the Theater, then your turn is over.
  3. Gather or Cancel: All pennies left in the Theater will either be all Heads or all Tails. If you do not have any pennies, then you may Gather them—remove them from the area of play, making sure that they retain their facing (heads-up coins must remain heads-up, and vice versa.) You may also Gather them if their facing matches the facing of any pennies you’ve already Gathered. You may instead choose to Cancel—move all of the pennies in the Theater back to the Balcony. If you do this, note the facing of the pennies Canceled in this way. If a player has Gathered pennies with the opposite facing, he or she must return one of his or her Gathered pennies to the Balcony for each Canceled penny. If more than one player has Gathered pennies of the opposite facing, only the player with the most pennies of the opposite facing must pay this penalty.

Turns continue until no pennies are left in the Balcony. This signifies the end of a round. At the end of a round, all players put their pennies back into the Balcony, scoring one point for each penny they replace.



You win when your score equals or exceeds the number of players times ten.

Origin and Credits

Seven Pennies was created when several friends whined about being bored and not having anything to do (Hi Dax!).

The game Seven Pennies was derived from the game Eights, which was taught to me by Frank M. Truelove. Thanks again, Frank!


One of the simplest variants is called T.K.O. Each player starts the game with three nickels (or other tokens). You lose a nickel every time time all of your pennies are sent to the Balcony (Canceled) by another player. You also lose a nickel every time you Throw and all of your pennies Booth (when your turn ends before you have a chance to Gather or Cancel). You gain a nickel if you Throw and Gather all pennies thrown. The game is no longer played for points; it ends when only one player has any nickels left.

Seven Pennies can also be played with a homogenous set of dice of any kind, although six and eight-sided dice are best.

For this variant, the method for Boothing changes: Look for pairs of dice that add up to one greater than the number of faces on any die. For example, if you are playing with eight-sided dice, you would be looking for pairs of dice which add up to nine. Set these pairs aside in the Balcony for the next player’s turn. If no dice are left in the Theater, then your turn is over.

Gathering and Cancelling becomes: Using the dice remaining in the Theater, you may either Gather or Cancel. If you have no dice, you may pick a number and gather all dice that have that number showing. If there are dice whose number matches the dice you have, then you may gather those dice. When gathering, remember to keep the face up that the die landed on. If you choose to Cancel, then you may pick a number and place any dice in the Theater with that number in the Balcony; a player of your choice with dice that would pair with that number (see Boothing) must place one of his or her dice in the Balcony for each die you place in the Balcony.

There is an optional rule for this variant which states that if you Throw and are capable of canceling your own dice, then you must cancel as many of your dice as possible. Another optional rule states that a player who Gathers instead of Canceling (when the choice is available) gets to take another turn.

There are many more possibilities for variations. If you think of some, I’d really like to hear them.