All Fours, also known as Seven Up, is a trick-taking game for two to seven players (although three to five is the most common, and four is probably the optimal number). All Fours is a very old game, originating in English pubs; it appears in game books as far back as The Compleat Gamester from 1674. Its rules have gradually changed over the years, but the central premise of the game—scoring points for high, low, jack, and game—has remained unchanged.
All Fours has the distinction of being the first game to use the term jack, referring to the point for collecting what was then called the knave of the trump suit. Over time, the term jack began being applied to the actual card and not just the point it awarded. By the time indices became standard on playing cards, the most junior of the court cards bore a letter “J”, and knave for a rank of playing cards was simply a linguistic curio.
Object of All Fours
The object of All Fours is to be the first player to reach a score of seven points.
All Fours requires the use of one 52-card deck of playing cards. We suggest using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, naturally.
Shuffle and deal three cards at a time to each player. Make two passes so that each player has a hand of six cards. Turn the next card of the deck face up; this is the upcard. The deck stub is placed next to the upcard, forming the stock.
Determining the trump suit
The upcard indicates the first suit that can potentially be designated as the trump suit. This is initially up to the player at the dealer’s left, who can accept the upcard’s suit as trumps by stating “I stand.” Otherwise, they decline it by stating “Beg.” The dealer then has the opportunity to accept the upcard’s suit by saying “I give you one”—if this is done, the player to the dealer’s left scores one point. If the dealer does not wish to accept the upcard’s suit, they declare “Refuse the gift”, and a procedure called running the cards begins.
To run the cards, the dealer gives each player another batch of three cards and turns up a new upcard from the stock. If this card’s suit is the same as the previous upcard, the cards are run again. Otherwise, the new suit becomes trump. If this new upcard is a jack, the dealer scores one point. Players then discard back down to six cards, putting the discards face down into a discard pile. In the event that no new suit is turned up before the stock runs out, all cards are collected, and the same dealer deals a new hand.
Play of the hand
After the matter of determining trump has been resolved, actual game play begins. The player to the left of the dealer goes first, leading the first trick. Each player plays to the trick in turn. If able, each player follows the suit lead, unless they are unable, in which case they may play any card. Additionally, playing a trump is always acceptable. The player who plays the highest card of the suit led (aces rank high) collects the trick, unless a trump is played, in which case the highest trump played wins the trick. Collected tricks are not added to the player’s hand, but rather a separate score pile kept in front of them. The winner of the trick leads the next one.
If it determined that a player previously revoked (i.e. did not follow suit when able), the player is ineligible to score the points for Jack or Game (see below) on that hand, and all other players score one point, unless the jack of trumps is in play, in which case they score two points.
When all six tricks have been played, the following four points are scored, in order, by the appropriate players:
- High—playing the highest trump in play during the hand,
- Low—capturing the lowest trump in play during the hand,
- Jack—capturing the jack of trumps,
- Game—accruing the highest total of cards captured during the hand, scoring as follows: ten for each 10, four for each ace, three for each king, two for each queen, and one for each jack. 9s and below do not count toward the game score. If two players tie for game, the point is not scored.
Due to the fact that not all cards are dealt during the hand, the trump scoring for High is not necessarily the ace, and the trump scoring for Low is not necessarily the two. Likewise, the point for Jack is not always scored, since the jack of trumps is not always in play.
After the hands are scored, new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one player scores seven points.
Golf is a simple solitaire game played by playing cards in sequence to the discard pile. It is so called because the number of cards left in play are considered the player’s score, and as in the other, non-card game of golf, the lower the score, the better. As with several other card games, the game gained prominence in the 1990s due to a software adaptation by Microsoft; Golf appeared in the first Windows Entertainment Pack for Windows 3.1.
Golf is a game of mostly luck and is very difficult to win.
Object of Golf
The object of Golf is to move all cards in the deck to into the discard pile, earning a score of zero. Barring that, obtain the lowest score.
To play Golf, you need one 52-card deck of playing cards. If you use anything other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards we will be really, really sad, and you don’t want that, do you?
Shuffle and deal seven piles of five cards each, face up, with enough of each card showing so as to be identifiable. These 35 cards form the tableau. The remaining 17 cards are placed in a pile, face down, forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up, forming the discard pile.
Move cards from the tableau to the discard pile, as allowed, one at a time. Only the topmost card of each tableau pile (i.e. the one without any other cards on top of it) can be accessed.
A card from the tableau may only be discarded if it is consecutive in rank with the top card of the discard pile. Aces are considered low, and can only be played on twos (and thereafter only twos may be played on Aces; there is no “wraparound” from ace to king). No card may be played on a king. Suits are irrelevant to the proceedings.
When no further plays are possible, draw a card from the stock and place it on the discard pile. Further plays may now be made with the new card on the discard pile.
Game play continues until the stock is depleted and no plays are possible. The remaining number of cards in the tableau is considered the player’s score. If the tableau was cleared, earning the player a score of zero, the game is won.
Newmarket (also known as Michigan, Boodle, or Stops) is a game for three to eight players. It is a member of the Stops family of card games, so called because play is periodically stopped by the unavailability of a card needed to continue play. Newmarket is similar to Tripoley, a modified and expanded version of the game that is available for sale in retail stores.
Object of Newmarket
The object of Newmarket is to obtain the most chips over the course of the game.
Newmarket requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Individuals found using cards other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards should be regarded as highly suspect and should be avoided.
The game also requires the use of chips for keeping track of who is winning. You can have your players buy in and have your chips represent real money if you like, but because the game is more luck-based than poker, it is probably better to just let the chips have no cash value. See our post on counting chips for tips on selecting and counting chips. Give each player an equal number of chips to start out with.
Additionally, a betting layout needs to be set up to allow chips to be placed on the A♥, K♣, Q♦, and J♠, which are known as pay or boodle cards. The traditional way of setting up a layout is to grab these cards from a spare deck (Denexa Playing Cards come in a two-deck set, so you can simply use the cards from the other deck). If you want to get more creative, you can create a layout with labeled betting circles on a piece of posterboard or felt, or use something like disposable plastic bowls or the indentations in a cupcake tin. The exact form of the layout isn’t important as long it clearly establishes which card each pile of chips belongs to.
Deal the cards out as evenly as they will go, to as many hands as there are players, plus one. For example, if playing with three players, deal four hands of thirteen cards. Place the extra hand in the middle of the table. Each player antes a predetermined amount to each of the pay cards on the betting layout.
The dealer inspects their dealt hand and determines whether they would prefer to keep it or to exchange it with the extra hand. The dealer may not view the spare hand before making a decision. If they decide to exchange hands, they make the swap, and the dealer’s former hand takes no further part in game play. If the dealer opts to keep their hand as dealt, this decision is declared, and becomes irrevocable. The dealer then auctions the extra hand off to the highest bidder, starting with one of the lowest-value chip in play as the opening bid. If, during the course of the bidding, two players make the same bid and it cannot be determined who spoke first, the first player going clockwise from the dealer is considered to have made the bid. Upon conclusion of the bidding, the winner pays the dealer the agreed-upon amount, and swaps hands. If nobody makes an opening bid on the extra hand, nobody receives the hand, and it remains unexposed.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first, and plays the lowest card they hold of any suit they choose (aces are high). The player holding the next-higher card of that suit then plays it, irrespective of where they sit. This continues until no further progress can be made in that suit, either because the ace of that suit has been played, or because the next card that would be played is in the extra, out-of-play hand. In this case, the player who played last plays the lowest card they hold of a suit of the opposite color.
If, at any time, a player plays one of the pay cards, they are entitled to collect the corresponding pot of chips from the betting layout. After the first hand, the pots may not be equal due to uncollected chips remaining in them at the end of the hand. If a player fails to collect a pot they are entitled to, they forfeit it.
Game play continues until a player runs out of cards, thus winning the hand. All players pay one chip to the winner for each card remaining in their hand. Some pots may remain unclaimed, due to the card associated with them not being played during the course of the hand, either because the card ended up in the dead hand or because play simply never allowed for the pay card to be played. These uncollected pots remain for the next hand, and all players ante again to each of the four pots. The deal passes to the left, and the next hand is dealt.
Keep playing until a predefined time or a set number of hands. The player with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner.
Jenny Jenny is an unusual game featuring the use of face cards as a currency of sorts. Because of its simple, luck-heavy gameplay, it works best as a children’s game. Up to four players can play.
Object of Jenny Jenny
The object of Jenny Jenny is to be the first player to obtain a “Jenny Jenny”, i.e. one of each rank of card from ace through ten inclusive.
You will need one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. You can include jokers if you like (treat them as extra face cards). We wholeheartedly emphasize the fact that if you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your games, you are definitely the sort of person that we’d like to play cards with.
Deal seven cards to each player. The remainder of the deck forms the stock. Players remove their face cards from their hand, forming a pile in front of them. Players also remove any duplicate cards and spread them out in front of them, where they are all visible to each of the other players.
Play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. On their turn, a player adds one card to their hand by either
- drawing a card from the stock, or
- buying one of their opponents’ duplicate cards by exchanging it with one of their face cards (which serve as “money”).
A player may not refuse the sale of their cards to an opponent—this would result in no trades occurring at all, since the value of the surplus card is greater than that of the “money” cards being exchanged. A player also may not set a higher price for the sale of their cards; it remains fixed at one face card.
Play continues until one player successfully obtains one each of ace through ten (suit does not matter). This player calls out “Jenny Jenny!” and wins.
That’s Jenny Jenny—but the game mechanic of face cards serving as currency is interesting and gives a glimmer of something more under the surface of this game. With some tinkering, this could become a real cutthroat game of capitalism in action. If you’re beyond the stage of your life where vanilla Jenny Jenny catches your fancy, try dreaming up some more interesting rules for it and let us know what you come up with.
In May, we shared the rules of Cash, also known as Kemps or Kent. Now, we’re going to take a deeper look at the signals used in the game, where the majority of the game’s opportunities for strategy are found. The most important rule in choosing a signal is to choose something that works for your partnership! Not all players notice or react well to the same same thing, so get to know your partner and learn what works and what doesn’t.
Keep in mind that part of a successful Cash game is fooling your opponents. Turn the pitfalls mentioned here around on your opponents—watch them to see if they are committing these errors, or commit them yourself with a phony signal to trick your opponent into calling “Counter cash!”
Verbal signals (a spoken word used as a signal) are the easiest to successfully communicate and are therefore also the easiest for your opponents to detect. Most of the time, you will be able to use a verbal signal only once. For this reason, it can be pretty much anything, because even if it’s something that you would obviously never say unless it was a signal, like “shark putty”, all you have to do is call “Cash!” before your opponents can call “Counter cash!” and you’re good.
But if you do want to reuse a verbal signal, you can attempt to camouflage it. You can use a single word and bury it within a longer sentence, for instance. Make sure it’s a word that is common enough that it won’t stick out like a sore thumb, but not so common that you will say it on accident. It should also be something that doesn’t force an awkward change in subject—you don’t want to be talking about your grandmother’s cookies, then suddenly bring up Breaking Bad because that’s your signal word. Something that can help camouflage a signal is deliberately waiting for a few moments before calling “Cash”, in the hopes of keeping your opponents from associating the signal with you winning.
There is some merit in pretending an already-used signal is your code word, when in reality you have since changed your signal. The reason for this, of course, is to trick your opponents into losing by calling a bogus “Counter cash!” If that’s what you’re trying to do, re-read that last paragraph, and do everything it tells you not to!
With non-verbal signals, many of the same rules apply. You will want something natural enough that your opponents will not notice, but conspicuous enough that your opponent will. Practically anything will do—taking a drink, fanning your cards out wider or narrower than usual, fiddling with your watch, slowly swaying your chair side to side. Just don’t pick anything like scratching your head or rubbing your eye—you are guaranteed to get a sudden itch in that spot when the hand starts!
One thing to watch out for is that you don’t fixate on wherever your partner’s signal will be coming from. If your partner will signal by adjusting their glasses, don’t stare at their glasses! Your opponents may notice and start staring too, and will call “Counter cash” whenever they notice anything amiss.
And remember, just because non-verbal signals have a higher shelf-life, it doesn’t mean they have an indefinite shelf life. You should still probably use the same signals for no more than three hands. Your opponents are bound to catch on eventually.
Canasta is a classic game for four players in partnerships. Originating in Uruguay in 1940, and further developed throughout the 1940s in Argentina, the game of Canasta became a fad in United States the early 1950s, challenging the popularity of the other popular partnership game of the 20th century, Contract Bridge. Since then, the game has evolved into a world-wide classic.
Canasta has the disadvantage of having a lot of intricacies to its rules, and rules that depend a lot on the scoring system, meaning that it can be somewhat overwhelming to novice players. Once it gets going, however, it is a quick and fun game.
Object of Canasta
The object of the game is to score 5,000 points before your opponent by forming melds of three or more cards of the same rank, and canastas, which are melds of seven or more cards of the same rank.
The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.
Canasta uses a 108-card deck, consisting of two standard decks of playing cards, plus Jokers, shuffled together. The backs of both decks of cards should be identical. If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, pat yourself on the back for your smart purchasing decisions. You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus. We recommend either a pencil and paper or a smartphone application, since abacuses that go up to 5,000 are kind of hard to find in this day and age.
Deal 11 cards to each player. Set the rest of the deck in the center of the table, forming the stock, and turn one card face-up next to it. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, turn another card over from the stock to cover it (continue turning cards until the upcard is something other than one of these three ranks). If the discard pile started with one of these three cards, it is considered frozen (see below).
Card ranks and scoring
The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:
- Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
- Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
- Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
- Aces: 20 points.
- K–8s: 10 points.
- 7s–4s: 5 points.
- Black 3s: Can only be melded at the end of the hand, and prevent the discard pile from being taken when one is the upcard. 5 points.
Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.
Play of the hand
Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them. Red 3s found in the discard pile are not replaced, however.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding. A player may not deplete their hand of cards unless they meet specific requirements for going out, as described below.
When drawing, the player has the option to draw the top card of the stock, or to draw the upcard. To draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately use the upcard in a meld (either by forming a new meld or extending an existing one with it); upon doing so, the player takes the entire discard pile into their hand! (This is a very good thing; the discard pile is often large and contains many things that are useful to the player.) Under some circumstances, however, the discard pile is frozen, which further restricts the ability of the player to take the discard pile—see below. A player also cannot take the discard pile when the upcard is a black 3.
After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the partnership’s score at the beginning of that hand:
Note that a partnership with a negative score really has no “minimum” requirement; a minimum of 15 exists only by virtue of no valid meld having a score below this.
A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). At least two cards must be natural (i.e. not a wild card), and a meld can never contain more than three wild cards.
After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.
A meld of seven or more cards is called a canasta, which, if you were wondering, is Spanish for “basket”. Canastas involving wild cards are called mixed canastas (canastas sucias or “dirty canastas” in Spanish), and canastas free of wild cards are called natural canastas (canastas limpias, or “clean canastas”). The distinction is important because natural canastas score higher. Traditionally, elevation to canasta status is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for natural canastas and a black card on top for mixed canastas. (Should a wild card be added to a natural canasta, the top card of the canasta is switched out so that it again displays the correct color.)
After any melds are made, the player discards any card other than a red 3, and play continues with the player to the left.
Freezing the discard pile
Should a red 3 or wild card end up in the discard pile, either by being the initial upcard, or (in the case of wild cards) by being intentionally discarded there, the discard pile is considered frozen. This is signified by placing the offending card at right angles to the pile, causing it to stick out when further cards are placed on top of it. When the discard pile is frozen, it may only be taken if its top card can be used to form a new meld with two or more other cards of the same rank (i.e. you cannot take a frozen discard pile to form a meld with two natural cards and a wild card).
Depletion of the stock
In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players taking the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable to take the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.
If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.
In order to go out, a partnership must have formed at least one canasta. At this point, you may go out by divesting yourself of your remaining cards, either by forming new melds, adding to existing ones, or discarding.
It is permissible to consult your partner before going out by asking “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.
A player also has the option of going out concealed. This is achieved when a player goes out without the partnership having previously melded anything, and scores a bonus.
After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score (except for any undeclared red 3s, which are handled as discussed in “Penalties” below). The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:
- Natural canastas: 500 points each.
- Mixed canastas: 300 points each.
- Red threes: 100 points each, unless all four are held, in which case they are 200 points each (for a total of 800).
- Going out normally: 100 points.
- Going out concealed: 200 points.
After all of the above has been accounted for, if neither partnership has reached 5,000 points, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. If one or both partnerships has exceeded a score of 5,000, the partnership with the higher score at that point wins.
Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:
- Undeclared red 3s at end of hand: –500 points each.
- Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
- Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
- Taking the upcard when unable to use it: –50 points.
Canasta for two players
Although Canasta is canonically considered a partnership game, early accounts claim that it was conceived as a two-player game, and it works well in that form. Play with two players is the same as the partnership game, except that fifteen cards are initially dealt instead of eleven, players draw two cards instead of one (though they still discard only one card), and two canastas are required to go out instead of one.
Casino poker rooms usually run lots of promotions to get people at their tables and away from those of their competitors. They help to spice up the game and give the players a chance to win a little extra money. One common promotion that is easy to add to a home game is a high hand jackpot.
What is a high hand jackpot?
A high hand jackpot is merely a jackpot awarded to a player for going to the showdown with the highest hand within a defined period. In a busy casino, the jackpot might be paid out as often as once per hour. In a home game with only one table running, you will probably want to award the jackpot at the end of the night as your players are cashing in their chips.
In the casino, the purpose of the jackpot is to get people in the door, so the money is being paid out of the casino’s marketing budget. While your players will think it’s very generous of you if you give them free money to play at your place, you probably don’t want to do that. Instead, you can collect an extra amount from each player when they buy in (it is best to make participation optional; players who do not contribute simply can’t win the jackpot). Set chips equal to this amount of money aside. Keep track of who has the highest hand as the night progresses. When it is time for the jackpot to be awarded, give the chips in the jackpot to the player to cash in with their winnings. It’s that simple!
Well, not exactly. There are still some details to iron out. How much should each player’s contribution to the jackpot be? Will wild cards count? (We recommend that hands with wild cards be treated as their natural values for the purposes of the high hand jackpot, since it’s easy to create ludicrously high hands with wild cards.) What happens if two players tie—does the first player to get the hand get the entire jackpot, or is it split? What happens if a player holding high hand leaves before they get a chance to collect? As host, it’s your responsibility to come up with a fair set of rules for all of these situations. Put it in writing so there’s no question as to fairness later. (You should probably consult with your players as you write the rules, so they have a hand in deciding what works best for your group.)
Don’t forget the law
Before starting a high hand jackpot for your home game (and before starting a home game, really), check your local laws to make sure that it is legal. Running a jackpot like this may cause your house to be legally considered a casino, and chances are it’s not licensed as one. Adding bells and whistles to your home game isn’t worth it if the next game you get dealt into is behind bars.
Before any deck of cards is put into a game, it’s always a good idea to verify it first. Verifying a new deck of brand new cards is done to ensure that the deck was manufactured correctly and to catch any production errors before they have a chance to affect your game. Verifying a used deck of cards is done to ensure that no cards have gotten lost and that the cards have not been damaged or marked by players seeking an advantage.
Verifying a deck of cards that has never been played with before is simple. First, remove the packaging and spread the deck on the table, face up. New cards are always supplied with the cards in sequence, so it is easy to see if there are any cards missing or any duplicates. (Before Denexa was founded, one of us purchased a deck from a competitor, and because we didn’t verify the deck first, we didn’t realize until midway through a game that the deck had been shipped with two copies of the 2♦.) Check for any printing errors as well. Then, collect the cards and spread them face down. Now, check the backs, looking for any printing errors that will cause the card to be identifiable in play.
Verifying previously-used decks of cards follows a similar procedure. However, you will need to sort the deck back into sequence to ensure that all cards are present. We recommend doing this after your game breaks, before you put the cards back in the box; this allows you to check the play area for any missing cards.
Denexa Games stands behind its products, and we do our best to ensure that your cards won’t have any of these issues. However, should you run across a defect, we will be happy to send you replacement cards. A Guarantee Card is included in each deck with instructions on how to contact us in this situation.
Two of the most popular poker games today, Texas Hold’em and Omaha, both share a defining characteristic—five community cards, dealt face up in the middle of the table. Despite the apparent simplicity of the task—it’s just dealing five cards!—a lot of players do it wrong. Here, we’ll explain the right way to do it, and the most common pitfalls for amateur dealers.
The correct way
Dealing the flop
After the initial betting round has been resolved, the dealer taps the table with their hand. This is to attract the players’ attention and inform them that the flop (the first three board cards) is coming out, so that if betting action is still taking place, the players can speak up. After this, one burn card is dealt, face down. Most dealer procedures advise tucking the burn cards under the chips in the pot for safe keeping, although casinos may have variations on this rule (such as tucking a corner of each burn card under the face-up card it preceded). Three cards are dealt, face down, then the group is moved into position in the center of the table, flipped face up, and spread out all at once.
Dealing the turn and the river
The turn and the river are the cards dealt after the second and third betting rounds, respectively. The procedure for dealing both of these is the same—tuck one burn card under the pot, and turn one card face-up, placing it to the right of the previously dealt cards.
- Mixing the burn cards and the discards. The burn cards should be kept separate from the discards, in order to demonstrate that three cards were burned properly.
- Dealing or flipping up the flop cards one at a time. This may cause players to react to each individual card, which can give some players information about how each individual card affects each player. To prevent this, always deal the three cards face down, and expose them as a unit.
- Dealing the flop, turn, and river ahead of time and leaving them face down until it’s time to expose them. The purpose of burning a card before each segment of the board is dealt is to shield the backs of the board cards until just before they are exposed. This helps to limit the effect of cards deliberately marked by cheaters. Dealing the flop ahead of time defeats the purpose of the burn cards. It’s also possible that the board may be prematurely exposed by errant chips during betting.