Playing with a full deck: A game of Dominance and submission*

I have a good friend, fellow educator, and former sweetie I’ll call B. B and I met when we were both teaching at a conference and, for a while afterwards we had a long-distance relationship that included a D/s dynamic. Long-distance relationships have some obvious drawbacks – not seeing each other regularly being probably the worst of it. However, because you don’t get to be face-to-face very often, you have to find other ways to connect on personal and intimate levels. Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention and kinky and polyamorous folks are notorious for making the most of long-distance relationships in very creative, sexy ways. This relationship was no different. B and I came up with lots of fun ideas that I love sharing with my friends and clients to this day. One of my all-time favorite things we did together involved a deck of playing cards. The best part about this is that you can play it as a one-time game or you can do what we did and make it an ongoing part of your relationship – and this is great whether you’re long-distance or live in the same house! This can be done with two of you or a whole group, too, so whatever your relationship looks like, there’s something in this for everyone. I’m going to show you how we played and then offer some suggestions for ways you can vary it up to make it your own.

D/s Deck:

As the Dominant in our dynamic, B asked me to keep an online journal where I would track my progress on tasks and goals and communicate all sorts of other information to him. As is typical in many D/s relationships, if I didn’t complete a task as negotiated, there would be a corresponding punishment. That’s where the deck of cards came in! Dominants will often ask their submissives to collaborate in the dynamic by helping to determine the details of punishments and rewards. In our case, B asked me to get a deck of cards and to assign a punishment to each number – something different for red numbers and black numbers. They had to increase in severity as the numbers got larger, and red card punishments were more severe than black cards. He reserved the right to review the punishments after they’d been written and make changes where he saw fit (and, in a few cases, he did just that). So, when the time came for a punishment to be handed down, B would ask me to shuffle the deck and pull a card (or two, or three) and then tell me how long I had to complete the card and then write to him about how it went.

So, how do you start?  

First, decide if you want what’s on the cards to be FUN-ishments (punishments that are kind of fun, really) or punishments (things that feel genuinely punishing), or a mix between the two. This is also a good time to talk about personal limits and things you both *don’t* like. 

Next, write punishments for each card in the deck. Remember you can assign punishment by card value or you can do a different set of punishments for black cards vs. red cards. You’re creating this, so the only limitations are ones you set.

Here are some examples of what you might decide to write on the cards and how they might look different between decks:

Black 5: The submissive must watch porn for 30 minutes without orgasm.
Black 7: The submissive must do 100 lunges.
Black Joker: The submissive must go to the lingerie department of the department store, try something on, take a picture of themselves in the dressing room with the lingerie. Send the picture to the Dominant.

Red 5: The submissive must watch porn and masturbate for 45 minutes without orgasm. 

Red 7: The submissive must do 100 lunges wearing a butt plug. 

Red Joker: The submissive must go shopping wearing nipple clamps and a small vibrator/cock ring (etc). No orgasms all day. 

The Dominant can do this for their submissive, have the submissive write the punishments, or you can write them together, but the point is that you’re collaborating. Collaboration is an important part of the consent process when negotiating any kind of BDSM scene or dynamic.

Finally, play! The Dominant decides if and when the submissive draws a card, and how long the submissive has to complete what’s there. The Dominant also decides how the submissive will communicate that the card has been drawn and that the punishment has been completed.


Near and Far.

Because we were long-distance, it did limit some of the kinds of punishments we could do, but if we’d lived in close proximity, punishments likely would’ve included impact play and other things we could engage in together. Get creative and don’t be afraid to go back and change things up if they’re not working.

Make it rewarding.

This could also be a fun way to create a reward system. Assign a reward to each number, using the same rules as the punishment deck. Keep track of the meaning of each card in writing somewhere, maybe in a special journal or online space you both share like a google doc. The Dominant will decide when the submissive is drawing for punishment or reward.

Explore more.

You could also use this as a fun way to explore sexy things you want to try together. Maybe all the red cards are things on the Dominant’s wish list and all the black cards are things on the submissive’s wish list. Create a list of things you love doing or want to do, assign cards to them, shuffle and draw! May the odds be ever in your favor!

I hope you enjoy your deck of cards as much as I’ve enjoyed my own! Remember, you’re only limited by your own creativity! If you need some help coming up with fun (and sadistic) ideas for your deck, please reach out to me for a one-on-one consultation at


*this article first appeared in the May 2018 Kink Crate workbook. For more information or to subscribe to Kink Crate go to

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