What is Nogginate?

Every Sunday, my family in St. Louis gets together and eats dinner. We alternate who hosts the dinner. One night it’s at my 87 year old Mom’s house. She’s still able to live independently, even with her macular degeneration and three joint replacements. One night it’s at my brother and his wife’s house. And one night it’s at mine.

After dinner, we always play a game. We’ve played many different games, but one game has become the favorite. It’s fun, never gets old and is quite addictive. The game is Samba, a variation of the popular card game Canasta from the 1940s.

I’m the kind of guy that likes to take things to the next level and improve them. I’m always asking “what if…?” or “wouldn’t it be nice to do this…?”

So I created Nogginate™. It’s based off Samba, but has a few twists.

Numerical Decks

The first thing you’ll notice is the numerical playing cards have been tweaked. The same four suits exist, clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. But the colors and design has been modernized. Instead of just using red or black to represent the four suits, we gave each suit its own color. The suits use blue for clubs, orange for diamonds, purple for hearts and green for spades. This helps people with low vision differentiate between the cards more easily. And instead of just placing a number of symbols in the middle of each card (ie: eights clovers for the eight of clubs), we used a big fat number that’s easy to see. Each card also has its point value on the card, so you don’t have to keep referring to the rules to see what a card is worth.


Samba uses standard decks of playing cards and creates rules around each card. This makes it somewhat illogical and hard to learn the game.

With Nogginate, the decks were designed to work with the rules of the game. You’ll notice that there are no face cards and a zero and one card have been added. What? Why? Well, people count with numbers from zero to whatever. And people new to card games don’t need to know the rank order of the Jack, Queen, King and Ace.

In Samba, two’s and three’s have special meanings and couldn’t be used where you would think they could be used. In Nogginate, they can. We just added special cards to replace those special meanings, so you could use those two’s and three’s like a normal human would do.

Samba and Canasta traditionalists are probably ranting and raving. But hopefully, some of them are saying, “huh…that makes sense.” And people new to this game will appreciate the logic that’s been built into it. There are still 54 cards per deck, we just made it more logical and easier to see.

Cheat Decks

Along with a few more ways to score, we added some cheat cards. You don’t have to use them, but we promise they’ll spice up the game even more. In essence, they allow you to do things that you wished you could do with normal Samba rules.



Learn how to play Nogginate.

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