Bourré

Bourré (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, Booray) is a gambling trick-taking game of French origin popular in Louisiana. It is best for seven players, but can be played by as few as two (though at least five is recommended) or as many as eight.

Object of Bourré

The object of Bourré is to accurately gauge whether your hand is likely or not to be a winner, and if so, to capture the majority of the five tricks in the game.

Setup

Bourré uses one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Anything other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards simply can’t compare. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal five cards to each player, one at a time, face down. The final card dealt, the dealer’s last card, is dealt face-up. The suit of this card determines the trump suit. The deck stub becomes the stock.

Game play

Determining pass or play

Each player looks at their hand and determines whether they would like to play or pass (and therefore forfeit the ante and sit out of the hand). The player to the left of the dealer must declare whether they will pass or play first, with the turn proceeding clockwise around the table until it reaches the dealer. If a player opts to pass, they simply discard their cards face down into a central discard pile. Should a player elect to play, they may discard any number of cards from their hand (from zero to all five), and are immediately dealt the appropriate number of replacement cards from the stock. If the stock runs out of cards before a player may act, the discard pile is shuffled (with the cards from the active player set aside so as to prevent them from getting them back) and the replacement cards dealt from that.

If the face-up trump card is an ace, the dealer is compelled to play (since it is impossible for them to lose every trick with the highest trump possible). If only one player decides to play, all other players choosing to pass, then that player wins the pot by default. If all players have passed but the dealer, then the dealer should, of course, choose to play and take the pot.

Play of the hand

The next active player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. If able to follow suit, a player must do so. If they are unable to, they must play a trump, if able; otherwise, they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, unless a trump is present, in which case the highest trump wins the trick.

A player must always play a card that will take the trick, if they have one, while also abiding by the rules of following suit. If a player can play the highest card so far of the suit led, they must, unless a played trump renders it moot, in which case they can play a lower card of the suit led. If a player cannot follow suit but can trump, they must, and they must play the highest trump so far if able.

Collected tricks are not added to the hand, but rather kept in a discard pile in front of the player. Since it is important to keep track of the number of tricks captured, each trick should be placed onto the pile at right angles, so that the tricks can be easily separated after the hand. The player that won the trick leads to the next one.

A player who is certain to end the hand with at least three of the five tricks captured, no matter how the cards are played, is said to have a cinch hand. This can happen before any cards have been played, or midway through the hand if a player’s actually-captured tricks and the remaining tricks certain to be captured by them adds up to three. A player with a cinch is required to always lead with their highest trump, and must play their highest trump when they are able to trump.

Penalties and awarding the pot

The pot is awarded to the player who has taken the most tricks. Three tricks always wins the pot; two tricks may be enough if the other players each took one trick each. If no player takes a majority of the tricks (i.e. there is a tie), the pot remains for the next hand, with all of the players who didn’t tie adding their ante to it for the next hand.

If a player chose to play and took no tricks at all, they are said to have gone bourré. A player who has gone bourré antes the entire amount of the pot at the beginning of the next hand.

When a player is found to have failed to follow the rules of play (e.g. by failing to follow suit or by not playing the highest card of the suit led when able), the player must pay the amount of the pot the same as if they went bourré.

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Authors (Go Fish)

Old books

Authors is a classic game for two or more players. A variant with slightly different rules, Go Fish, is probably the best-known version of the game, and one of the first card games that many children learn to play.

Object of Authors

The object of Authors is to be the player to collect the most books (sets of four of a kind).

Setup

Authors uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is handy, so much the better. Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. The deck stub is placed in the center of the table and becomes the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They ask any other player, by name, for a particular card, e.g. “Martin, do you have the Queen of Spades?” A player must have at least one card of the rank they are asking for in their hand. If the player being asked does have the card named, they are required to hand it over, and the player who asked continues with their turn, asking another player for a card.

If the player being asked doesn’t have the card, they simply say they don’t, and the player who asked unsuccessfully draws a card. If they happen to draw the last card that they asked for, they reveal it and continue to play. Otherwise, the turn passes to the next player to the left.

When a player manages to collect four of a kind in their hand, they place all four cards face-up on the table in front of them, forming a book. They then continue with their turn as normal.

When the stock is depleted, the game continues, with players unsuccessful in asking for cards simply ending their turn without drawing. The game ends when all thirteen books have been assembled. The player with the most books is the winner.

Go Fish

Go Fish is an easier variant of Authors that is frequently played by children. The main difference between Authors and Go Fish is that in Go Fish, the player asks for all of the cards of a given rank, e.g. “Jon, do you have any jacks?” If the player asked does have the cards of the rank specified, they hand all of them over; otherwise, they tell the other player to “go fish”. Should the player draw any card of the rank they asked for, they get to continue with their turn.

If you’re playing with very young children, you can make Go Fish even easier to play by requiring only a pair to be laid down, rather than four of a kind. As before, the game ends when all 26 pairs have been played, and the player with the most pairs is the winner.

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Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot is a North American variant of Canasta. Like its parent game, it is best for four players in partnerships. Hand and Foot adds a twist to the basic game of Canasta by introducing more cards—a lot more cards—and giving each player two hands to have to contend with. It gives a partnership more specific requirements to fulfill before going out.

Object of Hand and Foot

The object of Hand and Foot is to score more points than your opponents by forming melds of three or more cards and piles, which are melds of seven cards.

Setup

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.

Hand and Foot requires a 270-card deck consisting of five standard 52-card decks plus jokers, a truly impressive number of cards for a non-casino game. If you’ve got five sets of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, well, you’re one of our best customers and we love you. Shuffle the decks together (it might help to use the multiple-deck shuffling technique). Split the deck in two, forming the stocks, with a gap between the two halves of the deck for the discard pile.

Unlike in most games, in Hand and Foot, the players are responsible for dealing their own cards. Each player takes a small portion of one of the stocks and deals two piles of eleven cards face down in front of them. If a player managed to pull exactly 22 cards from the stock, they immediately score a 100-point bonus. Otherwise, any excess cards are returned to the stock. Each player selects one of the eleven-card piles as their hand, and the other eleven cards are passed to their right, forming that player’s foot. The foot is kept face-down in front of the player.

One card from one of the stocks is turned face-up and placed between them. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, discard it face-down into one of the stocks and draw another card.

Game play

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: Cannot be melded. 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.

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 begins their turn by drawing. They may draw either the top two cards of one of the stock piles or the top seven cards of the discard pile (or the whole pile if it contains less than seven cards). In order to draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately meld the top card of the discard pile with two cards from their hand. (The other six cards are inaccessible to them until they demonstrate that they can legally meld the top card.) If this is the partnership’s first meld for the hand, additional cards from the hand may be melded alongside it in order to satisfy the opening-meld requirement. Because black 3s cannot be melded, a player may never draw from the discard pile if the upcard is a black 3. If the top card of the discard pile is a wild card, then the player can only draw from the discard pile if the player is holding two other cards of the same rank (e.g. if there is a joker on the discard pile, you need two other jokers to draw from it, you cannot substitute twos for the jokers).

After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the round of the game:

  • First round: 50 points
  • Second round: 90 points
  • Third round: 120 points
  • Fourth round: 150 points

A meld consists of three to seven cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). A meld can contain no more than one wild card in a meld of three, four, or five cards and no more than two in a meld of six or seven. A player can also make a meld that consists of all wild cards.

After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership on that hand 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 incomplete melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven cards is called a pile, so called because it is traditionally denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile. A pile with no wilds, or a pile with only wilds, is called a clean pile, while a pile with a mix of natural cards and wilds is called a dirty pile. This distinction is important because clean piles score higher. The type of pile is traditionally indicated by its top card; clean piles are squared up with a red card on top, and dirty piles with a black card on top. A pile cannot contain more than seven cards; once a pile has been completed, a new meld of the same rank can be established.

Picking up the foot

When a player has exhausted their hand, they may then pick up their foot pile and play with it. If the player manages to run out of cards before discarding (i.e. through melding), they may simply pick up their foot at that time and continue their turn. If the player gets rid of their final card through discarding, they pick up the foot at the beginning of their next turn.

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 drawing from the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable or unwilling to draw from 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.

Going out

In order to go out, a partnership must meet the following conditions: they must have completed two clean piles, two dirty piles, and one wild pile, both players must have played at least part of one turn with their foot piles, and the player wishing to go out must have received permission to go out from their partner.

Permission to go out is received by simply asking the partner “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.

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. The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:

  • Wild piles: 1500 points each.
  • Clean piles: 500 points each.
  • Dirty piles: 300 points each.
  • Red threes: 100 points each.
  • Going out: 100 points.

After all of the above has been accounted for, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. The game ends after four hands have been played. The partnership with the highest score at that point is the winner.

Penalties

Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:

  • 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.
  • Attempting to draw from the discard pile when unable to use the upcard: –50 points.

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Rummy

Rummy is the basic game underlying a whole family of card games. As such, it is sometimes referred to as Basic Rummy or Straight Rummy to disambiguate it from the other games of the Rummy family, many of which have eclipsed their parent game in popularity. Rummy is ideal for two to four players, but you can squeeze in six if you want to.

Object of Rummy

The object of Rummy is to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards by melding them or laying them off on your opponents’ melds.

Setup

Rummy uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We now make our standard suggestion that you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need some sort of scorekeeping equipment, such as pencil and paper.

It should be agreed upon at what point the game ends. A game may end after a certain number of hands, or after a player has reached a given point threshold. When that point is reached, whoever has the highest score wins.

Shuffle and deal the following number of cards, one at a time, to each player:

  • For two players: deal ten cards.
  • For three or four players: deal seven cards.
  • For five or six players: deal six cards.

Place the deck stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the first card of the stock face-up, forming the discard pile.

Game play

The player to the left of the dealer (or the non-dealer, in a two-player game) goes first. The first action a player takes at the beginning of a turn is to draw a card, either from the stock (in which case the player will not know what it is) or from the top of the discard pile (in which case the player, as well as all of their opponents, will know what is being added to their hand).

The player then has the option to meld. Melding is laying down a combination of cards called a meld face-up on the table in front of oneself. Valid melds include three or four of a kind, or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces are low, and kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). A player may only meld once per turn (with one exception, see “Going rummy” below). Melding is not compulsory; a player may choose to keep melds in their hand as long as they like.

After melding, a player has the opportunity to lay off on a pre-existing melds, if able. This is extending a meld already on the table, either yours or an opponent’s, by playing a legal card to it. If an opponent has melded three of a kind and you hold the fourth card of that rank, you may lay off the fourth king onto the meld. Runs can also be extended; with a meld on the table of 9-10-J♦, you may lay off either the 8♦ or the Q♦ if you hold either of them. A player cannot move cards from one meld to another to facilitate laying off. A player may lay off as many cards as they are able to on one turn, but laying off is optional and is not required.

After melding and laying off if they so desire, a player ends their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. If the player started their turn by drawing from the discard pile, they cannot discard the same card that they drew (i.e. they cannot cause the discard pile to have the same card on top of it that was there at the beginning of their turn). The turn then passes to the player to the left.

Game play continues until one player has run out of cards. Each opponent then calculates the value of the deadwood (the remaining unmelded cards) in their hand. Aces are worth one point each, face cards are worth ten points each, and all other cards are worth their face value. The winner of the hand scores the combined deadwood scores of all of the opponents.

Going rummy

A player may, instead of melding when they are able, keep their melds in their hand until they are able to play them all at once and go out on the same turn. This is called “going rummy”. A player scores double points on a hand where they successfully go rummy.

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Escoba

Escoba is a Spanish game in the “fishing” family that plays very similarly to the Italian game Scopa. Escoba is popular in Spain, Argentina, and Chile, and can be played with two to four players. The four-handed game may be played either as a partnership game or with four individual players. Escoba is Spanish for broom, probably referring to the “sweep” that occurs when a player takes all of the cards on the board.

Object of Escoba

The object of Escoba is to capture cards from the table with a combined value of fifteen.

Setup

Escoba is traditionally played with a 40-card Spanish deck, with suits of batons, coins, cups, and swords and rey (king), caballo (horse), and sota (jack) as court cards. An equivalent deck can be made by removing all of the 8s, 9s, and 10s from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, leaving a 40-card deck with the king, queen, jack, ace, and 2 through 7 in each of the four suits. Diamonds take on the role the coin suit plays in the Spanish game; the suits are otherwise irrelevant.

You will also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper, or a replica of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

If playing a four-handed game with partnerships, players on the same partnership should sit directly across from each other, so that when going around the table players alternate partnerships.

Shuffle and deal three cards, face down, to each player. After all players have received their hands, deal four cards, face up, to the center of the table. The remainder of the deck becomes the stock.

Game play

Each card in Escoba has a numerical value for the purposes of capturing. Kings are worth ten, queens are worth nine, and jacks are worth eight. Aces are worth one. All other cards are worth their face value.

In the event that all of the board cards have a value totaling fifteen, all of the cards are immediately captured by the dealer, who scores for an escoba. If the board cards total 30, the dealer scores for two escobas (see below).

Game play in Escoba begins with the player to the dealer’s right and continues on to the right, the opposite of most other games. On their turn, each player simply places one card face-up on the table. If the value of the card played plus any of the other cards already on the table equals exactly fifteen, the player captures those cards. The captured cards, as well as the card used to perform the capture, are all moved to a face-down score pile in front of the player (if playing with partnerships, one score pile is formed from the captured cards of both players on the partnership).

If all of the cards on the table are captured at once, this is called an escoba (sweep). To record the escoba, the capturing card is placed face-up in the score pile .

After three rounds of play, each player will have run out of cards. Three more cards are then dealt from the stock to each player. Play continues in this manner, with more cards dealt to each player after every three rounds, until the deck is depleted. Play continues until each player’s hands are empty. Any remaining cards on the table are scored for the last player to successfully perform a capture (but this does not count as an escoba).

Scoring

At the end of the hand, the score piles are examined to determine the score for the hand:

  • collecting the most cards*
  • collecting the most diamonds*
  • capturing the siete de velo (7♦)
  • la setenta (see below)
  • one point for each escoba

*In the event that the players are tied for the most cards in these categories, neither player gets the point.

In order to be eligible for la setenta, a player must have collected cards of all four suits. A player then finds the highest-scoring card in each suit according to the following ranking: (high) 7, 6, A, 5, 4, 3, 2, face cards (low). Setentas are compared as in poker, with the highest card compared first, then going to the second-highest card in case of a tie, and so on.

After scoring, the deal is passed to the right. The game ends when a player or partnership has reached 21 points; whoever has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, keep playing until the tie is broken.

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FreeCell

FreeCell layoutFreeCell is a popular solitaire game that, like several games of that category, achieved popularity by being included in the Microsoft Windows operating system. FreeCell appears there as a more strategic alternative to the popular Klondike (which is simply titled “Solitaire”); it is sometimes said that every FreeCell deal is winnable. While this is not exactly the case, and luck does play a factor, FreeCell is certainly a game in which skill is necessary to pull off a win.

Object of FreeCell

The object of FreeCell is to move all 52 cards to the foundation piles.

Setup

FreeCell uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. It would be pretty awesome if you used Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Just sayin’.

Shuffle and deal a row of eight cards. Then deal another row of eight cards overlapping the first, and so on until the entire deck is exhausted. You will be left with a tableau with four columns of cards with seven cards each and four columns with six cards each.

Above the first four columns are four empty spaces referred to as free cells. To the top right are four empty spaces called the foundations. Refer to the diagram for an example layout.

Game play

The majority of the game involves moving cards within the tableau and to and from the free cells. The free cells, as their name implies, are free to contain any card; a card may be moved from the tableau to the free cells at any time, and cards may be moved from the free cells to any other legal location at any time. Each free cell can only contain one card at a time (so a total of four cards may be in the free cells at any given moment).

Card movement in the tableau follows similar rules to those in Klondike. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low (K, Q, J, 10, … 2, A). Face-up cards may be moved so that they are on top of a card of the opposite color and one higher rank. For example, the J♦ may be placed on either the Q♣ or the Q♠. Empty spaces formed in the tableau may be filled by any card.

Cards may only be moved one at a time. To move a series of cards, the cards must be moved one at a time into the free cells, then moved back out in reverse order. For example, to move a 5-4-3 run onto a 6, the 3 must be moved into a free cell, then the 4 into a cell, then the 5 moved onto the 6, then the 4 from the free cell onto the 5, then finally the 3 onto the 4. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the free cells as clear as is practical to make the movement of long strings of cards possible.

The first card that is moved to each foundation pile must be an ace. Foundation piles are built up by suit and sequence thereafter; the A♣ may have the 2♣ played upon it, then the 3♣, and so on up to the K♣. The game is won when the entire deck has been played to the foundations.

See also

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Snip Snap Snorem

Snip Snap Snorem is a simple children’s game for two or more players. Although it dates back to at least the 18th century, it is quite a simple game, with the only skill necessary being the ability to match ranks of cards.

Object of Snip Snap Snorem

The object of Snip Snap Snorem is to be the first player to successfully get rid of all your cards by discarding cards of the same rank as previously-played cards.

Setup

Snip Snap Snorem is played with a standard 52-card deck. Since you’ll probably be playing with many excited children, the durability of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will come in handy.

Shuffle and deal the cards out, one at a time, until they’re all gone. Some players may end up having more cards than others.

Game play

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They play one card of their choosing face up to the center of the table. The next player to the left plays another card of the same rank, if able, saying “Snip”. The next player to the left may play another card of that rank, saying “Snap”, and if the fourth player has the fourth card of that rank, they say “Snorem”. If, at any time, the active player does not have a card of the rank required, they simply say “Pass”, and their turn is skipped. When a player gets to play the final card of a rank and say “Snorem”, they may play again with the first card of a new rank.

Game play continues until one player has run out of cards. That player is the winner.

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Klondike

Klondike layoutKlondike is probably the most popular solitaire game played, and is what most people are referring to when they simply say “Solitaire”. Klondike is included under the name Solitaire in Microsoft Windows, thereby becoming the bane of office managers everywhere. Despite Klondike’s popularity, it is fairly difficult to win; the vast majority of games are unwinnable before the player has made a single move.

Object of Klondike

The object of Klondike is to move all 52 cards to the foundations.

Setup

Klondike uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As always, we heartily recommend using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Shuffle and deal a row of seven cards, with the first card face up and the rest face down. Then, deal a second row of six cards, overlapping the first, starting with a face-up card on the second column and face-down cards in the remaining columns. Continue in this manner, starting with the third column, and so on until there is a face-up card on each column. (Refer to the diagram for an example layout.) These seven cards form the tableau. Place the deck stub at the upper-left, above the first tableau pile, forming the stock.

Game play

The majority of action in Klondike involves movement of cards in the tableau. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low (K, Q, J, 10, … 2, A). Face-up cards may be moved so that they are on top of a card of the opposite color and one higher rank. For example, the J may be placed on either the Q or the Q. A series of cards so matched may be moved as a unit; a combination of the Q and J may then be moved together onto the K. When face-down cards are uncovered, they may be flipped up and used as part of regular game play. Empty spaces created when an entire column’s worth of cards have been moves can only be filled by a king (or a stack of cards with a king on the bottom).

As aces are revealed, they may be moved up to the four foundation piles in the upper-right of the layout. The foundations are built up in sequence, with all cards of the same suit. For example, when the A is uncovered, it may be moved to form the spade foundation pile, then the 2 may be moved on top of it, then the 3, and so on up to the K.

Cards may also be drawn from the stock to be made available for play. Cards drawn from the stock may be immediately moved to any legal location (i.e. in the tableau or the foundation piles). Otherwise, they are placed on a discard pile next to the stock. When the stock is exhausted, the discard pile may be turned face-down to replenish it.

Game play continues until all 52 cards have been moved to the foundations or no further moves are possible.

House rules

Two of the most common variations of Klondike impose additional restrictions on drawing cards from the stock. This makes the game more challenging, although it could be argued that winning Klondike is enough of an achievement already that adding more obstacles is kind of unnecessary.

One variation on Klondike requires that three cards be drawn from the stock at a time, and they are immediately placed on the discard pile. Since only the topmost card of the discard pile is playable, two of the cards drawn are inaccessible until the cards on top of them have been moved.

Another rule that can be played with is to limit the number of times the stock can be gone through, usually to three. After the third run through the stock, the game ends.

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Cucumber

Cucumber is a game for two to seven people, played throughout Northern Europe, with a heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Cucumber works as kind of the inverse of Agram—the object is to lose the last trick, and nothing else matters.

Many regional variations of the game exist, most of them bearing the name “Cucumber” in the local language. The version described here is Agurk, the Danish variant of the game.

Object of Cucumber

The object of Cucumber is to win the last trick.

Setup

Cucumber uses the standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards would make you pretty cool. Some might say…cool as a cucumber. But not us. That’s not a thing we would say. We would just say you’re pretty cool.

You will also need a pencil and paper to keep score with.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to the player to the left of the dealer, then to the next player to the left, and so on through the dealer. The deck stub is set aside and takes no further part in game play.

Game play

The cards rank in their usual order in Cucumber, with aces high (A, K, Q, J, 10, … 2). Suits are irrelevant and play no part in the game.

The player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick, leading any card. The next person to the left must play either a card higher than the lead, or, if they do not have one, the lowest card in their hand. This continues on to the left, with each player either laying down a card higher than the highest card in play, or the lowest card they can. This continues until everyone has played.

The person who played the highest card is the winner of the trick. If there are multiple cards of the same rank tied for high card, the most recently-played of these takes the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next one. Unlike in most games, the cards of the last trick aren’t collected or turned face-down; they simply remain on the table and can be inspected by any player at any time (although it may be prudent to push them into a loose discard pile to prevent confusion as to whether a card was played on the current trick or a previous one).

On the seventh and final trick, the player with the highest card is charged a penalty according to the rank of the card they used to take the trick. Aces score fourteen, kings thirteen, queens twelve, jacks eleven, and all other cards their face value. Should there be a tie for high card, the last card of that rank wins the trick and thus takes the penalty, as per usual; the others who played a card of that rank score negative points equal to the value of that card (though their score cannot pass below zero).

Should a player’s score exceed 21, a cucumber is drawn next to the score to highlight this. Their score then resets to the score of the next-highest active player. If a player who already has a cucumber goes over 21, they are eliminated from the game.

Cards are collected and shuffled, the deal passes to the left, and the next hand begins. Game play continues until all players but one have been eliminated; that player is the winner.

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