La payana
(Play jacks)

(Adaptado de algo que envió Silvana Demicheli, quien a su vez lo sacó de algún otro lado.)

  True classics never die, and this childhood game doesn't require much to keep it thriving: a little bouncy ball, at least 10 jacks, and a hard, level playing surface.


  1. Sit on the ground (blacktop, sidewalk or floor) unless you're playing on a table, in which case standing is usually better than sitting on a chair.

  2. Toss the 10 jacks gently out onto the playing surface.

  3. Toss the ball into the air with your throwing hand.

  4. While the ball is in the air, pick up 1 jack using only your throwing hand.

  5. Catch the ball in your throwing hand before the ball hits the ground.

  6. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 until you've picked up all 10 jacks.

  7. Toss the 10 jacks out onto the playing surface again.

  8. Toss the ball into the air, and now pick up 2 jacks each time and catch the ball before it hits the ground.

  9. Continue tossing the ball, picking up jacks and catching the ball - increasing the number of jacks you pick up when the ball is in the air until you pick up all 10 at one time.

  10. It's the other player's turn when you don't pick up the correct number of jacks or you miss the ball.

  11. Begin where you left off when it's your turn again. If you were picking up 3 jacks at a time, toss the 10 jacks onto the playing surface and pick up 3 each time.

  12. Declare a winner if you want to when you or your friend succeeds at 'onesies' through 'tensies' (1 jack through 10 jacks).

There are ways to make the game more difficult, such as not touching jacks you don't pick up and placing the jacks you do pick up in your other hand before catching the ball.


  1. Throwing the jacks
    When you're on onesies, you want the jacks to be far apart, so throw them so that they're scattered. But, when you're on a higher number, you want the jacks to be clumped together, so throw with less force.

  2. How to throw
    This may seem dumb, but this actually works most of the time. It's easy to pick up the jacks and take all the jacks in your hands. For example, we'll say you're on twosies. Take 2 jacks and hold them inbetween your index finger and your middle finger. Then throw all the jacks down. This will work.

  3. Pigs in a poke
    After you've finished regular jacks 1-10, you can go on to variations, one of which is Pigs in a poke. Throw the jacks as usual for onesies, twosies, etc. Throw the ball up, position your hand in a C-shape on the ground next to the jacks, with the little-finger side down, and scoop one jack into your hand. Keep your hand stationery, throw the ball again, scoop one more jack into your hand. Continue for onesies to scoop one jack for each throw of the ball, for twosies, scoop 2 at a time, and so forth to tensies. You're out if you miss the hand with your jack, as well as if you bump the wrong jack.

  4. Picking cherries
    Another variation on regular jacks is played like regular jacks except that you put each jack into your other hand, held in the air, as you pick it up after throwing the ball. Continue with 2 jacks at a time and so on through tensies.

  5. Airplanes
    With the game Airplanes, the ball is tossed up and caught before it bounces.

  6. Around the world
    Throw the jacks as the usual; 1 through tensies. Throw the ball into the air, pick up a jack and circle your hand around the ball before your put the jack into your hand and catch the ball before it bounces. Do this with each jack all the way through the tensies. To make this harder try to do it without touching other jacks while picking up your set.

  7. Over the fence
    Toss your jacks. Place your non-throwing hand or your arm next to your playing surface. With your ball throwing hand, toss the ball. While the ball is in the air, place one jack over the fence (or in this case your hand), and catch the ball after one bounce. Continue through tensies. You can re-toss the jacks to separate them and bring them back over the fence onesies through tensies.

  8. The second round of jacks
    We always played the second time through as double bounce. So each time you let the ball bounce 2 times before catching. The third round was cherries in a basket. First time you throw the ball and pick up the required number of jacks with one bounce. Without using your other hand (you keep the jacks in your hand with your fist closed as you catch the ball on your mostly closed hand, actually on your tips of your fingers and your nails), you toss the ball up a second time and transfer the jacks into your other hand before catching the ball after a bounce.


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