How to Organize an Ace of Spades Reverse Raffle at Your Next Nonprofit Event

Want a truly unique and energetic fundraising game at your next event? Then read on!

An Ace of Spades game has the appeal of winning a coveted prize, the added suspense of any reverse raffle (when people are eliminated from winning to get to the real winner), and the excitement of a live auction. It is also extremely easy to pull off and does not require much planning or promotion.

How Does an Ace of Spades Reverse Raffle Work?

Start with event organizers identifying a live auction item as the prize. Once you have identified the prize, you’ll need a full deck of cards, a basket to hold the cards for the drawing, and energetic volunteers to sell.

The jokers and Ace of Spades are removed from the deck of playing cards and the remaining 51 cards are sold as raffle tickets, resulting in 51 opportunities to participate. The seller allows each buyer to choose his/her card. The card is then torn in half — the buyer keeps half of the card as their “receipt” to match with the winning card and the other half is placed in the basket for the drawing.

The auctioneer or emcee draws cards and announces each card as it is removed. When a card is drawn, the holder of that card is out. Depending on the venue and audience, you may ask people with tickets to stand for the drawing and stay standing until their card is drawn. When only one card remains, announce the card and identify the holder.
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Next, the auctioneer will sell the Ace of Spades and either the holder of the remaining card or the winning bidder of the Ace of Spades will win the prize. Before selling the Ace of Spades, the auctioneer tells the holder of the remaining card, “We will now auction off the Ace of Spades. You now have a 50/50 chance of winning the package. IF you want to increase your chance to 100%, you can buy the Ace of Spades that I am going to auction off”.

Conduct the auction and if the holder of the card in the basket is the high bidder, he/she wins the prize. If someone else buys the Ace of Spades, it is placed in the basket with the one remaining card. An impartial third party is brought forward and the winning card is drawn. Be clear in announcing if the card drawn or the card remaining wins.


Match your deck of cards with the theme of your event — look online to find custom-printed decks of cards.

Mix it up and give multiple prizes — in descending order based on how many people are still standing. That way 5 people or 10 people win something, and you can charge more for tickets.

Charlie’s Advice

  • Your professional auctioneer can help select the prize from their auction item lineup and establish the cost per chance to align with the event’s revenue goals, the prize, and the audience.
  • Ideally, the prize will be an item the majority of event attendees would love to win, though not an item expected to create a bidding frenzy and/or sell for far above raffle proceeds.
  • Ensure your guests know the rules and how the game will be run.
  • Thoughtfully select and train volunteers that are outgoing, personable, and able to explain the process to guests.
  • If it is getting late, and you still have cards left over, sell them to the highest bidder in a package as part of your live auction segment.
  • Make sure you only attempt an Ace of Spades fundraiser when you have enough guests to make it work.
  • Sometimes an incentive to participate is very successful — such as a blinky ring or pin for participating.
Note: Many states have specific rules that govern auction games. Make sure to check your state’s raffle licensing laws as well as your organization’s bylaws. Also, check on alcohol sales rules and permits, as well as firearms, if those will be available at your event or in the auction.

Some Personal Insight from Charlie

Crowds like to keep the action and the auction moving. The drawing and announcing of the cards that are out of the running can be completed between auction items. When there are a few cards left, ask the card holders remaining to stand up. As the cards that are out are announced, those holding the cards are asked to sit down. The Ace of Spades is a great way to generate revenue, involve the participants, and keep the action moving between live auction packages.

An Ace of Spades Reverse Raffle can be as simple or as complicated as you make it! It’s easy to organize and pull off, but much more complex and interesting than your typical static raffle or auction.

This article is part of our 26 Proven Revenue Enhancers for Your Fundraiser eBook available as a free download. If you looking for new revenue enhancing ideas and how to incorporate them into your event—this easy-to-use lookbook is for you.

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