Time Machine: Pit


Time Machine posts are a look back at games that are 30+ years old. We’ll share some of the history behind the game and why we believe it should have a place on your family game shelf.

A couple years ago our family walked into a friends house and witnessed a table of people screaming numbers at one another. They were playing a game that is unmistakable to anyone who has played the fast-paced trading card game called Pit.

A Look Into the Future

The game of Pit has been around since the early 1900’s. At the time, Edgar Cayce was working at a local bookshop in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Edger was living with other young professionals including two doctors. Cayce created the simple card game as a wheat trading simulator that took its name from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) which was known as “The Pit”.

The CBOT was founded in 1848 and is one of the worlds oldest futures and options exchange. In “The Pit”, trades would take place as people yelled bids and offers for the contracts that were available. The story goes that Edgar Cayce, a well known psychic, developed this card game as a way of entertaining the people he was living with and those who visited. He sent off a deck of cards to a game company and later received a dozen decks of cards with a letter thanking him for his submission.

Pit, original edition - Board Game Geek

Copies of Pit flooded the store shelves under the Parker Brothers company name. When he met with a lawyer to discuss the game that he created, he was informed that the company owned the copyright by that time. Some people claimed that the game created by Edgar was merely a rip-off of Gavitt’s Stock Exchange designed by Harry E. Gavitt from Topeka Kansas. Gavitt’s game was about trading railway shares and was published and holds a copyright from 1903.

Edgar Cayce was not known for the game of Pit, but for his controversial views on psychic trance readings, various forms of alternative medicines and his theories on aliens and the city of Atlantis. While Pit may not have made Edgar Cayce financial wealth, the game has brought people around the table for more than 112 years.

The game was originally printed by Parker Brothers and published by Out of the Box Publishing starting in 2004. Currently Winning Moves is the publishing company for Pit. Early editions of the game allowed for up to 7 players but current iterations allow for up to 8 players. In the 1970’s the bell was introduced to the game play and can be found in most modern versions.

Fast-paced Trading

The modern version of Pit contains 74 cards and players are competing for a complete set of one of 8 different commodities. Each player starts with a hand of cards that will contain various commodities such as wheat, coffee, barley, sugar and other goods.

While Pit may not have made Edgar Cayce financial wealth, the game has brought people around the table for more than 112 years.

When the game starts, players start yelling the number of like cards they are willing to trade with another player. “Two…Two…Two!” Another player agrees to trade two and the trade is made quickly. The game also contain a “bear” and a “bull” card. The bull can be used as a wild card but the bear will give you a 20 point penalty. Don’t get stuck with the bear!

Eventually someone will make enough trades to complete a set of a single commodity. That player rings the bell that is in the middle of the table and that round is over. The player scores the value of that commodity and the game is commonly played till one player reaches 500 points.


Pit is an easy game to pick up and a lot of fun with the right group of people. Since the game works well with up to 8 players, this is definitely a great party game. You have to think quick and have fast hands to make trades that will give you the cards you need to win the game. The game is easily understood by kids as young as 6 or 7 years old. Our youngest daughter has definitely been able to hold her own with a table of adults during a game.

You can pick up a copy of Pit from your local board game shop, pick up a vintage copy on eBay or buy it new through Amazon today.

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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