Concentration

Concentration (also known as Memory, and, in the UK, as Pelmanism), is a simple game of memory. It is also a game with no luck involved; the only way to win a game of Concentration is through the skill of memorizing the layout.

Object of Concentration

The object of Concentration is to be the player to match the most pairs by remembering the locations of cards in the layout.

Setup

Concentration uses one standard 52-card pack. While Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards won’t necessarily help you remember the cards better, they do look rather nice, in our opinion, at least.

Shuffle thoroughly and spread the deck face-down on the table. Separate the cards so that they do not overlap. If you wish, you may arrange the cards into some sort of tidy pattern, like a grid, but this is not necessary.

Game play

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They flip any card, face up, then a second, trying to find a card of the same rank as the first. If they successfully find a match, they remove the two cards from the layout, keeping them in a personal discard pile, and then play again. If the two cards revealed do not match, they are turned face down and the turn passes to the next player to the left.

Game play continues until the entire layout has been paired off in this way. The winner of the game is the player with the most pairs.

Variations

The game may be played with two or more decks shuffled together. This allows for more players and makes finding matches more difficult (as well as making the game longer).

If more difficulty in finding matches is desired, you may require that each card only be matched with the card of the same rank and color as the first card revealed. Note that no matter how difficult you make matching, it will gradually become easier as the layout is cleared.

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Farmer

Farmer is a gambling game for two to eight players that highly resembles Blackjack in terms of its core game play. The primary difference in game play is that, in Farmer, the goal score is 16 rather than 21. Betting is radically different in Farmer, however, and instead of all bets being paid out from the central bank, money is anted into a central pot which is taken by those who obtain a score of exactly sixteen.

Object of Farmer

The object of Farmer is to be the player who gets closest to a count of 16 without going over.

Setup

Farmer uses a special 45-card deck. Starting with a standard deck, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all the 8s and all the 6s except for the 6♥. You will also need something to bet with, like poker chips. Players should agree to the amount of the ante (which also equals the amount of all other transactions in the game).

In order to determine the first dealer, any player may shuffle the deck and begin dealing cards face up, one at a time, to each player. The player that the 6♥ is dealt to is the first dealer, called the farmer.

All players ante to the pot, which is called the farm. The farmer shuffles and deals one card face down to each player, starting with the player to their left.

Game play

Players look at their cards, evaluating their scores. Aces are worth one, face cards are worth ten, and all other cards are worth their face value. After a player draws, scores for each card are added to obtain the score for the hand.

Starting with the player to the farmer’s left, each player is given the opportunity to draw cards. Each player is required to draw at least one card. Players do not actually draw the cards from the stock, they merely say “Hit”, and are dealt an additional card, face up, by the farmer. When they are satisfied with their hand, they say “I stay”. If a player should exceed a score of sixteen, called busting, they do not announce this publicly; they simply stay. After the player has stayed, the next player to the left is given an opportunity to draw, and so on, with the farmer drawing last.

After all players have drawn, the players’ face-down cards are revealed, and the hands are evaluated. If a single player has a score of exactly sixteen, they win the farm. If there’s a tie, with multiple players holding a score of sixteen, the following rules are checked, in this order, to determine who wins:

  1. The player with the 6♥ wins.
  2. If none of the players hold the 6♥, the player with the fewest cards wins.
  3. If there are players tied for the fewest number of cards, the farmer wins.
  4. If the farmer is not involved in the tie, the first player to the left of the farmer wins.

If there are no players with a score of exactly sixteen, the farm remains for the next deal. Each player with a lower score pays the amount of the ante to the player who is closest to sixteen without going over. If there are multiple players tied for closest to sixteen, these payoffs are aggregated into a side pot, which is then split as evenly as possible amongst the players (with any remainder going into the farm).

Regardless of whether the farm was won or not, all players that have busted pay the amount of the ante to the farmer (except for the farmer, who of course cannot pay himself).

If the farm was won, the player that won it becomes the farmer on the next deal. If not, the same farmer deals again. Either way, all players must ante again before the start of the next deal.

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Page One

Page One is a Japanese card game for two to four players. It features an interesting combination of mechanics; part trick-taking game and part Stops game.

Object of Page One

The object of Page One is to be the first player to run out of cards.

Setup

Page One is played with the international standard 52-card deck of playing cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, plus one joker, to make a 53-card pack.

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. The remainder of the pack is placed in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. They may play any card as their lead; all other players must follow suit. If they are unable to, they draw cards from the stock until they uncover a card of the suit needed. After everyone has played, the person who played the highest card wins the trick. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high. The joker acts as a trump card; it automatically wins any trick it is played to.

After a trick has concluded, the cards are moved to a discard pile and the winner of the last trick leads to the next one. If the stock runs out, this discard pile is shuffled to form a new stock. (If the situation arises that a player must draw, but so many cards are in the players’ hands there is no discard pile for a new stock to be made out of, the game ends as a draw.)

When a player plays down to their last card, they must call out “Page One!” to notify the other players that they are almost out of cards. If this was not done before the next player takes their turn (or before the player leads their last card, if they won the penultimate trick), the player must draw five cards as a penalty as soon as it is noticed.

The first player to successfully play all of their cards is the winner.

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Fifty-One

Fifty-One (in Japanese, goju ichi) is a popular Japanese family card game. (It is also played in China under significantly more complicated rules.) It is best for four players, but it can played by as few as two or as many as five.

Object of Fifty-One

The object of Fifty-One is to form a hand with the highest-ranked cards in one suit.

Setup

Fifty-One uses the standard international 52-card pack, like you’ll find in a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. If desired, a joker may be added as a wild card.

Shuffle and deal five cards, face down, to each player. Then, deal five board cards face up to the center of the table. The remainder of the deck forms the stock.

Game play

In Fifty-One, hands are scored by calculating the value of the longest suit, then subtracting the value of the off-suit cards. Aces are worth eleven points, face cards are worth ten, and all other cards their face value. For example, a hand containing J♦-9♦-3♦-8♣-4♥ would have a score of ten (10+9+3=22 for the diamonds minus 8+4=12 for the other two cards). If playing with the joker, it can stand for any card that is not in the player’s hand (in most cases it will be played as either an ace or a ten-value card). It is possible to have a hand that has a negative overall score.

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. On each turn, a player picks up one of the five board cards, then replaces it with a different card from their hand. After the first turn, a player also has the option to clear the board by moving the five board cards to a discard pile and dealing five new board cards from the stock. A player may only clear the board once per turn; after clearing the board, the player must take one of the cards just dealt. If the stock runs out during the process of replenishing the board, then the discard pile is shuffled and turned face down to form a new stock, and the remainder of the board is dealt as usual.

When a player is satisfied with their hand, they may call out “Stop!” Each other player has one more turn to complete their hand. When the turn makes it back to the player who called Stop, the hands are revealed and scored. Whoever holds the highest-scoring hand is the winner. In the event of a tie between the player who called Stop and any other player, the other player wins; all other ties are a shared victory between the players with the high score.

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500 Rummy

500 Rummy (sometimes called in 500 Rum in literature, and not to be confused with Five Hundred) is a member of the Rummy family for two to eight players. The main difference between basic Rummy and 500 Rummy is that, in the latter game, players score for the melds they lay down, rather than simply scoring for the points left in their hand, a feature also found in Canasta.

Object of 500 Rummy

The object of 500 Rummy is to be the first player to score 500 points by forming melds and laying off cards to other player’s melds.

Setup

500 Rummy uses a 54-card deck, a standard 52-card deck plus two jokers. If you’ve got a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’ll have all you need. If you are playing with five or more players, shuffle in a second 54-card deck, making a total of 108 cards in play. You will also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed face down in the center of the deck, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up next to it, forming the discard pile. As more cards are added to it, the discard pile should be kept neatly spread out, so that the indices of every card in the pile are visible, and the order that the cards were discarded should remain clear.

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 any card from the discard pile (in which case the player, as well as all of their opponents, will know what is being added to their hand). However, when drawing from the discard pile, the player must be able to immediately use the card drawn in a meld. When a card is drawn from the discard pile other than its the top card, the player must take all of the cards on top of it (i.e. that have been discarded more recently) into their hand as well.

After they have drawn, 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 (with no duplication in suits if the 108-card deck is being used; 5♣-5♠-5♥ is a valid meld, but 5♣-5♣-5♥ is not), or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces count either low or high, kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). 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 that would extend 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. Cards that have been laid off are kept in front of the player that laid them off (they are not actually placed with the meld they belong to, for scoring reasons), and the player must designate the meld that it belongs to, in order to prevent ambiguity in situations where the card could potentially belong to several melds.

Jokers are wild and may represent any card for the purpose of melding. At the time that it is melded, the player must declare the card the joker stands for, and this cannot be changed later (it is okay if the designated card is present elsewhere on the table; there can be several “copies” of a card in play). The card named must, of course, be able to be legally melded in order for the joker to be played.

Finally, a player ends their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the left.

If, after a player has discarded, the discard pile contains any cards which could immediately be melded, i.e. either a card that could be laid off immediately, or a complete meld, not requiring any cards from a player’s hand, any player other than the one who just discarded may call out “Rummy!” That player is then entitled to draw the relevant cards from the discard pile (and any cards on top of them, as usual) and play them. They then take their turn as normal, performing any other melds and discarding one card. Play then passes to the left, as per usual.

Game play continues until one player, or the stock, has run out of cards. The hand then ends immediately, with no further melding possible. Each opponent then calculates the value of their melds and the deadwood (the remaining unmelded cards) in their hand. Aces and jokers are worth fifteen points each (except for in an A-2-3 sequence, where aces are worth only one point), face cards are worth ten points each, and all other cards are worth their face value. Each player scores the value of their melds minus the amount of deadwood in their hand.

The game ends when a player reaches a score of 500 or more. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.

 

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Piquet

Piquet is a two-player trick-taking game, regarded as one of the most skillful two-player card games in existence. It is one of the oldest card games still being actively played, with references to it in literature dating back to the year 1535. By 1650, Piquet’s rules had evolved to pretty much the form we know today.

Object of Piquet

The object of Piquet is to score the most points (ideally over 100) over the course of six hands.

Setup

Piquet uses a special stripped deck, called a Piquet deck. Starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all the 2s through 6s. You’ll be left with a 32-card deck, with 7s through aces in all four suits. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high. You will also need pencil and paper to keep score with.

As the dealer has a distinct disadvantage in Piquet, and there is advantage to dealing first (because the player who deals first does not deal the sixth hand), the dealer of the first hand should be determined randomly. One player should cut the deck, and the other player claim one of the two halves of the deck; whoever have the highest bottom card on their half of the deck will deal first. Shuffle and deal twelve cards to each player. The remaining eight cards form the talon.

Game play

The exchange

Before game play begins, players exchange cards with the talon in hopes of bettering their hand. The non-dealer exchanges first, and may discard up to five cards and draw back up to twelve cards. Players must exchange at least one card. If the non-dealer elects to exchange fewer than five cards, they are allowed to look at the cards they did not draw and place them back on the talon in the same order (e.g. if the non-dealer only exchanges three cards, they may look at the top two cards of the talon).

After the non-dealer has exchanged, it is the dealer’s turn to exchange. As with the non-dealer, the dealer must exchange at least one card, and may exchange up to five, assuming that there are five cards remaining in the talon. (The non-dealer’s discards are not recycled so the dealer may draw). If there are any cards left in the talon after the exchange, the dealer may, at their option, reveal the remaining cards to both players.

Carte blanche

A hand with no face cards prior to the exchange is called carte blanche (French for “white card”, probably because of the comparatively large amounts of open space on number cards). A player may declare carte blanche prior to the exchange to score 10 points. When carte blanche is declared, it must be revealed to the opponent.

If the dealer has carte blanche, they simply turn their cards face up after the non-dealer exchanges cards. If the non-dealer has it, they draw the number cards they wish to exchange from the talon and set them aside without looking, the dealer makes their exchange as normal, and then the hand is exposed and the dealer makes their exchange thereafter.

Declarations

After the exchange, players may declare certain combinations in their hands. As this reveals information about the hand to the opponent, a player may choose not to make a declaration (known as sinking the declaration), especially if they believe their opponent’s declaration to be higher, although once the opportunity has passed for the declaration, it cannot be made later if more information becomes available. Declarations always follow the format of the non-dealer declaring first, to which the dealer replies “Good,” if they are unable or unwilling to beat it, or offering a counter-declaration if they wish to. If they have an equal declaration, they say “equal”, upon which more information is exchanged to determine who, if anyone, has the better holding in that category. Players may request that their opponent reveal the relevant cards to support any declaration made that scores point or ties, in order to verify it, though in practice this is rarely done because of the relative ease in determining what cards a player holds based on their declarations.

The first declaration to be made is for “point”, which is the greatest number of cards in one suit. One point is scored for each card in the suit. Should the two players each hold the same number of cards in their longest suit, the dealer replies “How much?” and the value of the cards is computed, with aces counting as eleven, face cards as ten, and all other cards at face value. If the value ties, then neither player scores. (Note that the card values are used only for comparing declarations; the player who claims point still only scores one game point for each card held.)

The next declaration is for sequences (three or more cards of the same suit in sequence). Possible declarations are:

Name of declaration Cards Point value
Tierce 3 3
Quart* 4 4
Quint 5 15
Sixième 6 16
Septième 7 17
Huitième 8 18

*Quart is pronounced “cart”. Note that, if desired, the traditional French names may be dispensed with and quoted merely as a “run of 3”, or whatever.

Only the player with the longest sequence can score for sequences, but once it’s been determined who that player is, they may score for every sequence they hold. If two competing sequences tie in length, they are compared by their highest card (with the higher of the two scoring higher); if these tie, neither player scores.

The third and final declaration to be made is for sets (three or four of a kind, 10s or better). Four of a kinds outrank three of a kinds, and sets of the same length are compared based on rank. As before, the player with the highest set may score for any additional sets they hold, and the opponent scores nothing.

Play of the hand

If a player’s opponent has scored nothing, and the player has scored 30 or more points before the start of actual play (i.e. through declarations only), they score a 60-point bonus for repique. If a player’s opponent has scored nothing, and the player, having not scored for repique, scores 30 or more points during the hand, they score a 30-point bonus for pique.

The non-dealer leads to the first trick. If able to follow suit, a player must do so. If they are unable to, they may play any card. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. Collected tricks are not added to the hand, but rather kept in a discard pile in front of the player. Players may look through the captured-trick piles at any time. 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.

Players score one point every time they lead a card, and one point for each trick taken. When one player takes seven tricks, they score ten points for “the cards” (these points can count toward a pique). If a player manages to take all twelve tricks, they score an extra 30 points for capot (which cannot be counted toward a pique, although they score 40 points together with the ten for the cards).

Scoring

Score in Piquet is usually kept verbally, with each player calling out a running total of their points for the hand as they score. The total hand scores are written down on the score sheet at the conclusion of each hand.

After the sixth hand, the player with the higher score is the winner. The margin of the win is then calculated by subtracting the loser’s score from the winner’s score and adding 100. Example: if a game was won 128 to 119, the margin would be 109 (128–119+100). However, if the loser failed to score at least 100 points (an act which is known as crossing the Rubicon), regardless of whether the winner did the same, the two scores are added to 100 to produce the margin. Example: if a game was won 117 to 96, the margin would be 313 (117+96+100).

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Tonk

Tonk (also known as Tunk) is a quick-playing member of the Rummy family, best for two to four players. Because each hand is so short, it is often played in places like break rooms where players might have to leave on short notice. Tonk is often played for money to avoid the need for actual scorekeeping.

Tonk dates back to at least the 1930s, when it was played by members of Duke Ellington’s orchestra.

Object of Tonk

The object of Tonk is to be the first player to run out of cards, by discarding, spreading, and hitting other players’ spreads.

Setup

Tonk uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Playing with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is always an excellent choice.

Before playing, it should be established whether the game is being played for money, and if so what the value of one stake is. If the game is not being played for money, each hand can simply be considered its own game.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. The deck stub is placed in the center of the table and forms the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face-up next to it; this card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Each card in Tonk has a point value which is used to determine the value of the player’s hand. These values are the same as those in Gin Rummy, i.e. aces are worth one point, face cards are worth ten, and all others their face value.

Upon receiving their cards, players immediately calculate the total score of their hand before any cards have been played. If a player has been dealt a count of exactly 50, or a count of 11 or lower, they may show their cards and declare “Tonk,” which is considered an instant win, and all other players pay double the stake to that player. If multiple players have a tonk, the hand is considered a draw with no winner.

If nobody has a tonk, the player to the left of the dealer plays first. A usual turn will begin with the player drawing one card from either the stock or the discard pile, either spreading or hitting, then discarding.

A spread is equivalent to a meld in most other rummy games. A valid spread is three or four of a kind, or a run of three or more cards of the same suit in sequence. Aces may be either low or high, but a sequence cannot use it as both (K-A-2 is not a valid meld). When a player forms a spread, they may lay it face-up on the table in front of them. Once a spread has been laid down, it is no longer considered part of the hand. Laying a spread down is not mandatory; a player may keep the spread in their hand if they so desire.

A player may also hit their opponents’ spreads. A hit is extending a spread already on the table, either yours or an opponent’s, by playing a legal card to it. If an opponent has spread three of a kind and you hold the fourth card of that rank, you may lay off the fourth king onto the spread. Runs can also be extended; with a spread 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 spread to another to facilitate laying off. A player may hit as many spreads as they are able to on one turn, but it is optional and is not required. When a player has one of their spreads hit, they may not hit or lay down any spreads on the next turn they take.

When a card is discarded, any player may slap it, a la Slapjack, if they can immediately play it to a spread. If multiple player slap the same card, the player whose hand is on the bottom wins the slap. The slapping player takes the card and plays their turn as normal, essentially skipping all of the players before them. Turn order continues with the player to the left of the slapping player.

Going out

There are many ways that a Tonk hand can end. Each of them has different requirements to fulfill and consequences to the game.

A player may drop on any turn, even on their first turn. To drop, a player simply spreads their cards face-up on the table prior to drawing, and all other players must then also reveal their hands. The player is essentially betting that they have the lowest total in unmatched cards in their hand. If they do, they win the hand, with each opponent paying the stake to them. If another player ties with them, or has a lower score, they are said to be caught and must pay the stake to each of their opponents with a lower or equal score. Additionally, each player must pay the stake to the player (or players, if there is a tie) with the lowest score.

If the stock runs out before anyone ends the hand in any other way, the players reveal their hands and compare the totals of their unmatched cards. The player with the lowest total wins the hand, and is paid one stake by each of their opponents. If there is a tie, the hand is considered a draw and no stake is paid.

If a player has no cards in their hand after discarding, they are said to have run out. They win the hand, and each of their opponents pays a single stake to them. However, if a player runs out of cards before discarding (i.e. they play their last card by laying down a spread or by hitting another player’s spread), they may call out “Tonk,” and are said to have tonked out. When a player tonks out, they are paid a double stake by each of their opponents.

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Jack Change It

Jack Change ItJack Change It is a shedding-type game for two to six players. Its simplicity makes it a popular game for children. Like the commercial game Uno, Jack Change It takes the basic gameplay mechanic of Crazy Eights and extends it by adding special abilities to the other cards in the game.

Object of Jack Change It

The object of Jack Change It is to be the first player to run out of cards.

Setup

Jack Change It uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We follow that statement with our usual recommendation that you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. Place the deck stub in the center of the table, forming the stock, and turn its top card face-up next to the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

Play begins with the player to the dealer’s left. They may play a card from their hand to the discard pile so long as it matches the upcard in either suit or sequence. After they do so, play passes to the next player to the left, who must then match the new upcard. If a player has no legal plays, they draw one card from the deck and the turn passes to the left.

Additionally, several cards are classified as trick cards, which have a special effect on game play. A player may not play a trick card as their final card of the hand; if a trick card is the only card remaining in a player’s hand, they must draw. The trick cards are:

  • 2s: When a 2 is played, the next player must draw two cards from the stock. However, if they possess a 2 themselves, they may play it instead, and the next player after them must draw four cards (two for each 2 played), and so on until someone is unable to avoid drawing cards.
  • 8s: When an 8 is played, the next player’s turn is skipped.
  • Jacks: When a jack is played, the player calls “Jack change it to…” and names one of the other three suits. The next player must play a card of that suit, as if the upcard was a card of that suit.
  • Queens: Queens are only considered trick cards in games of three or more players. A queen reverses the order of game play, so that if play is proceeding to the left, it proceeds to the right after the queen is played, and vice versa.
  • A♥: When the A♥ is played, the next player must draw five cards from the stock. The A♥ may be played in combination with a 2 (the only time two cards may be played at once) to cause the player to draw seven cards. The A♥ may be blocked by playing the 5♥; in this case, no cards are drawn.

Should the stock be depleted, set the current upcard aside, shuffle the rest of the discard pile and turn it face-down to form the new stock.

Game play continues until one player has discarded all of their cards. That player is the winner.

See also

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