Good Old Days: All About Pick Up Sticks

Good Old Days: All About Pick Up Sticks

The Colorful History and Rules of Pick Up Sticks 

In the advent of ultra-modern Singapore and the rise in popularity of video and computer games, the bar for what constitutes as a “fun” game has been set so high. There's always a game trying to be brighter, more interactive, more dynamic... the list goes on. In short - it’s much more challenging to have fun these days. 


But taking a step back, the truth is the simplest games are the ones that never get old - like good old-fashioned pick-up sticks. The pick up sticks game has a long and well-traveled history spanning centuries. Learn more about pickup sticks, where to buy pick up sticks in Singapore, how these can bring fun in your next get-together, too.


What is the aim of Pick Up Sticks? 

The pick up sticks game set comprises 40+ wooden or plastic sticks of assorted colors. These thin sticks must be removed one at a time without disturbing any other stick in the pile. The goal of each player is to rack up the most points based on the colors of the sticks they retrieve. The winner is whomever successfully picks the sticks of the highest points.


This simple yet classic game is a great way to improve strategy and coordination while having hours of fun. You can easily buy a set of pick up sticks yourself from OneDollarOnly. With their local stock and quick delivery within Singapore, pickup sticks will be your next go-to game that’s a hit for all ages. Affordable, portable and easy to play - the game of pick-up sticks truly stands the test of time.


Buy Pick Up Sticks now or browse our Traditional Games collection.


Pick up Sticks History

Pick up sticks originated in China as a means to communicate with their gods, but was later on adapted for gambling purposes. The game was shared to neighbors Korea and Japan, and presumably crossed through the Bering Strait or the Pacific Ocean to reach the West. 


The Haida Indians of British Columbia and some Native American tribes in California have also documented the use of stick games for recreation. The game that was played used straws of wheat, which influenced the English settlers of the early United States. 


As time passed, wheat straws were replaced with thin, wheat-like pieces of wood, painted in six different colors. It is also presumed that the name ‘pickup sticks’ was given by the English, as found in the children’s nursery rhyme, “five, six… pick up sticks!”


What are the rules to Pick Up Sticks?

To play pick up sticks, one player begins by holding up all the sticks in his hand and drops them on a flat surface. The sticks must scatter naturally on the surface without any intervention.


A player then picks up the sticks one by one without moving any of the other sticks scattered on the floor. If another stick gets moved, the player’s turn ends and the next player starts his turn. 


Players keep taking turns until all sticks have been picked up. For longer plays, all the sticks can be collected and dropped once again to continue accumulating points. 


The scores are as follows:

  • Black - 25 points
  • Red - 10 points
  • Blue - 5 points
  • Green - 2 points
  • Yellow - 1 point


There is only one black stick, also known as the “master stick” in the pile. The player that is able to draw the master stick will be able to move sticks around, separate sticks lying closely together and assisting those which are difficult to pick up.

At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.


The game of pickup sticks may be simple, but it comes with a colorful history and rules that remains mostly unchanged to date. Grab a set of pickup sticks for surefire competitive fun that everyone can enjoy.

Read our guide to Traditional Games We Used To Play In Singapore to learn more about the old school games.

Or want to deep dive into individual traditional games? Read our Good Old Days blog: