Fipsen

Fipsen is a four-player card game with a lot of similarities to Nap. Fipsen is played most in the area around Prisdorf, a small town in the north of Germany, where it is often played as a side game during Skat tournaments. Dating back to at least the 1920s, the game appears to have declined in popularity over time; it is now mostly played by older players.

Object of Fipsen

The object of Fipsen is to accurately judge the number of tricks you will take in order to make a bid. If you win the bidding, you want to capture at least as many tricks as you bid, and if not, you want to prevent the player who did from doing so.

Setup

Fipsen is played with a special 25-card deck. Starting with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 2s through 6s, as well as all of the diamonds except the 7♦. You’ll be left with 7s through aces in three suits, plus the 7♦.

You’ll also need pencil and paper to keep score with. Traditionally, Fipsen scoresheets are ruled in five columns. The first four columns show the running score for each player. The fifth column is used to record the value of each hand.

Shuffle and deal a batch of three cards to each player, then two face down to the center of the table, then two more to each player. The two face-down cards in the center of the table form the skat. The remaining three cards are set aside and, in most cases, take no part in further game play.

Game play

Bidding

Each hand of Fipsen begins with a round of bidding to determine the trump suit. The lowest bid in Fipsen is Two, which signifies the player’s intention to capture two tricks if allowed to fix the trump suit. A player may also bid Three, which is a bid to win three tricks, and so on up to Five, the highest basic bid. Combined with these, the player may also declare one or more of the following modifiers, each of which double the value of the bid:

  • Hand: To play without using the skat.
  • Ruten: To play with diamonds as trump. Since the only diamond in the deck is the 7♦, this considerably increases the difficulty of the game. The player does not necessarily have to hold the 7♦ to make a bid of Ruten (they may, for example instead hold a lot of high cards in the other suits), but this is a risky play.
  • Durch: To declare that the player will win all five tricks. Note that this does not necessarily imply a bid of Five (one can bid, e.g. Three Durch), but all bids of Five are automatically considered to be bids of Five Durch.

The value of a bid is calculated by the number of tricks (the numerical part of the bid), multiplied by two for each modifier added to it. For example, a bid of Three has a value of three, a bid of Three Hand is valued at six, while a bid of Three Hand Durch would have a value of twelve.

Unlike in most other games, the players do not all participate in the bidding at once. Instead, the first bid goes to the player to the dealer’s left. This player may make any bid, or pass. If they bid, the player to their left (the second player) may make a bid of higher value or pass. The first bidder may then hold, which is making a bid of equal value to the second player’s, or they may bid higher or pass. If the first player does not pass, the second bidder may again raise the bid or pass. This continues, back and forth, until one of the two players pass.

The next player to the left (the third player to the left of the dealer) then has the opportunity to bid higher than the high bidder between the first two players, and those two players continue bidding back and forth until one of them passes. Finally, the dealer bids against the remaining high bidder, and the high bidder between those two players becomes the declarer, with the high bid becoming the contract for the hand. The remaining players become the defenders.

If all four players pass, the hands are discarded and fresh hands are dealt by the same dealer.

After the bidding

After the bidding concludes, if the declarer made any bid other than a Hand bid, they pick up the two cards of the skat and discard two cards face down back to it. The bidder then selects the trump suit. If the player made a Ruten bid, this must be diamonds. Otherwise, it may be any one of the four suits. If the declarer did not make a Ruten bid, but decides at this point to make diamonds trump anyway (usually because the 7♦ was in the skat), the value of the contract is doubled anyway, the same as if they had bid Ruten all along.

Bidding Kieker

There is additional bid named Kieker that can be made under certain circumstances. A player may (but by no means is required to) bid Kieker when they hold no face cards. To verify this, upon making the bid, they reveal their hand to the player to their left. For the purposes of bidding, a Kieker bid has a value of 4½, but for all other purposes it is a bid of Five Durch.

If a player wins the bidding with a Kieker bid, they draw both the skat and the three undealt cards into their hand, then discard five cards. If this failed to materially improve their hand, they may surrender before game play starts. They are charged a penalty of five points, and the next hand is dealt.

Play of the hand

Once a trump suit has been named, the player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player, proceeding clockwise, plays a card of the same suit, if possible, or any other card if they don’t hold a card of the suit led. The trick is won by the player who contributed the highest trump to the trick, or if there were no trumps played, the highest card of the suit led.

Won tricks are not added to the hand, but instead discarded. The contents of the tricks won, or the number of tricks won by any of the defenders, are irrelevant.

If the declarer successfully makes their contact, they have the option to call an immediate end to game play and score the hand. They may also decide to play on, but if they do so, this converts the contract to a Durch contract, doubling the stakes and obliging them to take all of the remaining tricks!

If a player under a Durch or Kieker contract loses a trick at any point, game play is halted immediately, as the outcome of the contract is known at that point.

After the hand concludes, the declarer scores the value of their contract if they made it, but they lose twice that many points if they failed to make the contract. For example, a fulfilled contract of Three Ruten would score +6 for the declarer, while it would score –12 if it was broken. A Kieker contract is scored as if it were a Five Durch contract, scoring +10 if fulfilled and –20 if broken.

Game play continues for a previously-determined number of deals, such as eight. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner.

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Democracy

Democracy is a trick-taking game for two to six players. Although its precise origins are not known for sure, it is popular at the Tabletop Board Game Cafe in Cleveland, Ohio, and has been played there since at least 2004. It seems plausible that the game originates from Cleveland, perhaps being invented by one of the cafe’s patrons.

Unlike most card games, Democracy has a backstory: the players play the part of colonial powers attempting to annex an island inhabited by four tribes, which are represented by the four suits. The countries decide to resolve the question of which one of them will gain control of the island by putting it up to a vote of the people of the island. The night before the vote, though, the countries kidnap a few members of the tribes under cover of darkness, not knowing for sure which members of which tribes they’ve captured. The day of the vote, the captured tribal members make impassioned speeches in favor of the countries that have captured them—presumably under threat of death, of course. Thus, the name Democracy is certainly intended to be firmly tongue-in-cheek. Of course, the “speeches” are the tricks played by the players, and the winner of the trick is the card that have the “most persuasive speech”.

Democracy is often played with very loose adherance to the rules. When played this way, the game play is more akin to a roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons than to a traditional card game. In some games, the rules are entirely negotiable; the cards carry only a suggestion of value, with the players’ tribespeople arguing in support of the nation holding them in the form of verbal speeches given by the players! While a higher-ranking card has innate advantages over the lower-ranked cards, a well-received speech by a charismatic player might well take the trick regardless of whether it was the highest-ranked card played. We recommend sticking to the rules to start out with, but if you wish to add these roleplaying elements to the game later, have at it!

Object of Democracy

The object of Democracy is to capture, through trick-taking, a majority of points in as many suits as possible.

Setup

Democracy is played with a modified 52-card deck with a number of cards added or removed depending on the number of players. Starting with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards:

  • For two, three or five players, remove the 2s, leaving a 48-card deck (3 through ace in all four suits).
  • For four players, remove the 2s and add two jokers, creating a 50-card deck.
  • For six players, remove the 2s and add one joker, creating a 49-card deck.

Shuffle and deal amongst the players and an extra hand, called the voting pool:

  • For two players, twelve cards.
  • For three players, eight cards.
  • For four players, six cards.
  • For five or six players, four cards.

This deal is called the first day.

Rank of cards

In Democracy, the cards rank in an unusual order. The 5, 4, and 3 are moved from their normal spots to become the highest three cards in the game. So the full rank of cards is: (high) 5-4-3-A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6 (low).

In the game’s story, each rank is linked with a social class within each of the tribes. Each card also has a point value:

  • 5: the chief (five points)
  • 4: the chieftainess (four points)
  • 3, A: the warriors (three points)
  • K, Q, J: the hunters (two points)
  • 10, 9, 8, 7: the farmers (one point)
  • 6: the village idiot (zero points)

Game play

Each trick begins with the dealer turning the top card of the voting pool face up; this card, the upcard, determines the trump suit for the trick. Each player then chooses a card to play to the trick and places it face down in front of them. Unlike in most trick-taking games, there is no requirement to follow suit or trump if possible—the player may select any card they desire. Once everyone has played a card, on the count of three from the dealer, all players simultaneously turn their cards face up.

The trick is won by the highest trump played to the trick, unless both the 5 and 6 of trump are present, in which case the 6 wins over the normally unbeatable 5 of trump. If no trump is played to the trick, the highest card played wins the trick. (Note that the actual ranks of the cards determines who wins the trick, not the cards’ point values; kings and queens are both two-point hunter cards, but a king still beats a queen.) A player winning the entire trick places the cards comprising it, including the upcard, into a face-down won-tricks pile. In the event that two cards of different suits tie for highest, each player simply wins their own card and the upcard is discarded.

Jokers are wild for any card other than a trump. In practice, this usually means that they represent a non-trump 5, and will win the trick unless a trump or another 5 is played to the trick. Captured jokers do not score anything; playing them is simply an attempt to capture the actual scoring cards in a trick.

After the hands have been exhausted, the first day is concluded. The dealer then distributes the cards for the second day, discarding any leftover cards. After the second day is played, the entire island is scored. Each player looks through their won-cards pile and tallies the point total of the cards captured. If a player captures thirteen or more points of a given suit (i.e., more than half), they score that tribe (essentially, a victory point). All four tribes may not be scored for a particular island, especially in larger games, as the cards may be split evenly enough that no one player scores thirteen points.

After scoring an island, the deal rotates, the cards are shuffled, and the first day of a new island is dealt. Keep playing islands until one player scores five tribes. That player is the winner.

 

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Soko (Canadian Stud)

Soko, also known under the name of Canadian Stud Poker, is a variation on Five-Card Stud Poker that adds two new hands to the hand ranking. It is most popular in Finland, which is where it derives its name; sökö is a form of the Finnish word for check.

Object of Soko

The object of Soko is to form the best five-card poker hand, or to bet in such a way as to convince your opponents that you have the best hand.

Setup

Like all poker games, Soko uses the standard 52-card deck, without any jokers. We commend anyone who makes the correct decision to choose Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for their game. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.

As with all betting games, it is important to establish betting limits that all players mutually agree to and are comfortable with. Like most classic stud poker games, Soko is played with an ante, the amount of which should be decided ahead of time, as well as the maximum and minimum betting limits.

All players ante. Shuffle and deal one card face down to each player (the hole card), then one card face up.

Game play

Rank of Soko hands

Soko uses two hands that aren’t found in standard poker, the Canadian straight (or four straight) and Canadian flush (or four flush). Both of these are simply a straight or a flush, respectively, made of four cards with one unmatched card. A Canadian straight outranks one pair, a Canadian flush outranks a Canadian straight, and two pair outranks a Canadian straight. The remainder of the hands follow the standard rank of poker hands, so the full rank of Soko hands, from highest to lowest, is:

  1. Royal flush.
  2. Straight flush.
  3. Four of a kind.
  4. Full house.
  5. Flush.
  6. Straight.
  7. Three of a kind.
  8. Two pair.
  9. Canadian flush.
  10. Canadian straight.
  11. One pair.
  12. High card.

Play of the hand

The first action of the hand goes to the player who shows the lowest face-up card. (If there are multiple players tied for low, the one closest to the left of deal goes first.) This first player is obliged to make an initial bet called the bring-in. The minimum amount of the bring-in is only half that of the usual minimum bet (rounded down if the minimum bet does not divide into an even number of chips). If the player wishes to bet more than the bring-in amount, they may do so. The betting round is thereafter conducted according to the usual rules of betting in poker.

After the betting round, each player is dealt another face-up card, bringing them to a total of three cards. A second betting round is then conducted, with first action again going to the player showing the lowest hand, although there is no bring-in required on this or subsequent betting rounds. If any player shows a pair as their two face-up cards, the betting limits (minimum and maximum) are doubled.

Another card is dealt face up to each active player, then another betting round occurs, with doubled betting limits for the remainder of the hand regardless of what any of the players hold. This pattern continues, with more cards being dealt until each active player has a five-card hand (four face up and one face down), with a betting round following each card dealt. After the fifth and final betting round, all players still in contention for the pot reveal their hands. The pot is awarded to the player holding the highest hand.

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Oklahoma Rummy (Arlington)

Oklahoma Rummy
Oklahoma Rummy, also known as Arlington (and not to be confused with Oklahoma Gin Rummy), is a game for two to eight players in the Rummy family. It plays much like a greatly simplified, non-partnership version of Canasta, incorporating the option to draw the entire discard pile into the hand.

Oklahoma Rummy is based on an earlier game named Fortune Rummy, which was popular in the Midwest region of the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.

Object of Oklahoma Rummy

The object of Oklahoma Rummy is to be the first player to score 1,000 or more points by forming cards into combinations called melds.

Setup

Oklahoma Rummy is played with a 104-card pack formed by shuffling two standard 52-card packs of playing cards together. Since you’re playing Oklahoma Rummy, you may as well use some cards from Oklahoma: Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, of course!

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. The remainder of the deck is placed in the center of the table to form the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face up; this card, the upcard, is the top card of the discard pile.

Game play

Like all rummy games, play in Oklahoma Rummy revolves around combinations of cards called melds. A meld is either three or four of a kind, or three or four cards of the same suit, in sequence. A meld may never contain five or more cards. When a meld is formed, it is placed face up on the table in front of the player. Unlike in other games, players may not contribute to their opponents’ melds. Aces may be either high or low for the purposes of melding, but not both at the same time, i.e. melds may not go “around the corner” from king to 2.

2s are wild and may represent any card, with one restriction. A 2 may not replace the Q♠ in a spade sequence unless it is the only 2 in the meld. You may also form a meld of all 2s without any natural cards.

A player normally begins their turn by drawing a card from the stock. However, if they are able to immediately meld the top card of the discard pile along with two cards from their hand, they are entitled to take the entire discard pile into their hand. While this causes an influx of cards to the player’s hand, many of these are immediately meldable, so taking the discard pile is often quite lucrative.

After drawing, a player may lay down any melds that they have. They may also extend any other melds they have played in previous turns, so long as doing does not cause the meld to exceed four cards. Melding is optional and doing so is not required on every turn, but if it is possible, it is always in the player’s best interest to do so.

The player then completes their turn by discarding one card, face up, to the discard pile. Almost any card may be discarded, even 2s, but the Q♠ may not be discarded at any time.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when a player successfully gets rid of all of their cards. Their final card may either be melded or discarded. All players then tally up the value of cards in their melds:

  • Q: 50 points
  • Aces: 20 points each
  • Kings thru 8s: 10 points each
  • 7s through 3s: 5 points each
  • 2s: 25 points each in a meld of all 2s, otherwise scores equivalent to the card it represents

The player who went out scores a 100 point bonus for doing so, which they add to the value of their melds to obtain their hand score. All other players calculate the value of the cards left in their hand, using the values given above, 20 points for 2s, and 100 points for the Q♠. They take this total and subtract it from the value of their melds to arrive at their score for the hand.

Game play continues until at least one player reaches a score of 1,000 points at the end of a hand. The player with the highest score at that point is the winner.

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Open-Face Chinese Poker

Dragon_Lantern_Festival_crop Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) is a variant of Chinese Poker where, instead of the players getting all their cards at once, they receive them one at a time and choose which hand to put them in. Additionally, all the cards are played face up, so players can change their strategy based on what their opponents are doing! That means the game has a lot more action, because there’s more strategic play and more players fouling, increasing the amount of money being shuffled around. Because each player receives thirteen cards, it is limited to two to four players, unlike most poker games.

Open-Face Chinese Poker originated in Finland, spreading to Russia shortly thereafter. High-stakes Russian poker players introduced it to the mainstream poker community in 2012, and since then it has spread around the globe, quickly becoming an extremely popular side game for many poker elites.

Object of Open-Face Chinese Poker

The object of Open-Face Chinese Poker is to split the thirteen cards dealt to a player over the course of the game into three hands in such a way that, ideally, each of the hands is stronger than their opponents’ hands.

Setup

Like almost all poker games, Open-Face Chinese Poker is played with the standard 52-card deck. We naturally endorse the use of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in your game. You’ll also need something to bet with, preferably poker chips.

As in Chinese Poker, hands are compared from player to player, not against all other players at once. Before play begins, the players should establish the value of one unit. All transactions will be conducted in multiples of this unit. Two players may mutually decide that one unit will be a different value for transactions between those two players in particular, while transactions with other opponents will be conducted at the usual rate.

Shuffle and deal five cards, face down, to each player. Place the remaining cards face down in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

Over the course of a hand of Open-Face Chinese Poker, the player will be forming three hands: a three-card hand, called the front hand, a five-card hand stronger than the front hand, called the middle hand, and a five-card hand stronger than the middle and front hands, called the back hand. This act is called setting the hands. Straights and flushes are not counted as such in the three-card front hand. If the hands are not set with the strongest hand as the back hand and the weakest as the front hand (according to the standard rank of poker hands), this is considered a foul and none of the player’s three hands are eligible to win.

The player to the left of the dealer plays first. They turn their five cards face up and split them any way they wish between the three hands. They may place all five cards in either the back or the middle hands, place three in the front hand and one each in the other two hands, or so on. To distinguish which card goes with which hand, they place cards meant for the back hand in a row closest to them, cards for the middle hand above those, and cards for the front hand above those, furthest away from them. After the player has set their first five cards, the turn passes to the left, with that player setting their cards the same way, and so on.

After all players have set their initial five cards, the player to the dealer’s left draws one card from the stock, turns it face up, and adds it to any one of their three hands. They cannot cause any hand to exceed the maximum number of cards in that hand (five cards for the middle and back hands and three for the front hand). The player to their left does the same thing, continuing in turn around the table until each player has a total of thirteen cards, with three complete hands.

After all players have formed their complete hands, the hands are scored. Each player begins by calculating the score of all royalties in their hands, according to the table below:

Hand Front hand Middle hand Back hand
Royal flush 50 25
Straight flush 30 15
Four of a kind 20 10
Full house 12 6
Flush 8 4
Straight 4 2
3 of a kind 20
A-A-x 9
K-K-x 8
Q-Q-x 7
J-J-x 6
10-10-x 5
9-9-x 4
8-8-x 3
7-7-x 2
6-6-x 1

The players then compare hands, one at a time, with each opponent. The players each add one point to their royalty score for each hand that they beat (comparing front to front hand, middle to middle, and back to back) belonging to that opponent. If a player wins all three hands, this is considered a sweep and they score an additional three-point bonus. After the players calculate their scores, the player scoring lower pays one unit per point for the difference between their scores.

If a player fouled, they pay to each opponent a flat penalty of six units, plus one unit per point for all royalties that the opponent held.

After all payouts have been made, the deal passes to the left and the next hand is played.

Fantasyland

If a player sets their hand with a pair of queens or better in the front hand without fouling, they are entitled to play the next hand in fantasyland. More than one player may be in fantasyland at once. The deal does not rotate on a fantasyland hand, instead being dealt by the same dealer as the last normal hand. After the initial five cards are dealt, eight more cards are dealt to each player in fantasyland, giving them all thirteen cards, which they immediately set, face-down. The other players play out the hand the normal way, with the fantasyland player turning their hands face up only when everyone else has set their hands.

If a player in fantasyland sets their hand with four of a kind or better in the back, or a full house or better in the middle, or three of a kind in the front, they may remain in fantasyland for another hand, and continue doing so as long as they continue to hold these hands.

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Chinese Poker

A Chinese dragonChinese Poker, also known as Pusoy, is a form of poker where players receive thirteen cards, which they must split into three poker hands. This mechanic is similar to that found in Pai Gow Poker, although in Chinese Poker, the players are playing against each other, rather than the house. Unlike most forms of poker, Chinese Poker and its variants are limited to four players because of the comparatively large number of cards each player gets. It’s also unusual because wagers are settled player-to-player, rather than with a traditional poker betting structure.

Despite its somewhat unconventional play, Chinese Poker has been embraced by the serious poker community. Chinese Poker was played at the World Series of Poker in 1995 and 1996. It is spread at a number of casinos in the United States. Open-Face Chinese Poker, a variant where five of the player’s thirteen cards are exposed to their opponents, was introduced in the United States in 2012, and has become increasingly popular as a side game in poker tournaments in the last several years.

Object of Chinese Poker

The object of Chinese Poker is to split the thirteen-card hand given to a player into three hands in such a way that, ideally, each of the hands is stronger than their opponents’ hands.

Setup

Like most forms of poker, Chinese Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards are perfect for any game. You will also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.

Players should agree as to the value of one unit. All transactions will be conducted in multiples of this unit. Unlike other poker games, hands are compared from player to player, not against all other players at once, so two players may mutually decide that one unit will be a different value for transactions between those two players in particular.

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. Any unused cards are set aside and have no further bearing on game play.

Game play

Each player looks at their cards and separates them into three hands: a three-card hand, called the front hand, a five-card hand stronger than the front hand, called the middle hand, and a five-card hand stronger than the middle and front hands, called the back hand. This act is called setting the hands. Straights and flushes are not counted as such in the three-card front hand. If the hands are not set with the strongest hand as the back hand and the weakest as the front hand (according to the standard rank of poker hands), this is considered a foul and none of the player’s three hands are eligible to win. Once a player has decided how to set their hands, they place them face-down on the table, with the back hand closest to them and the front hand closest to the center of the table.

A few particular thirteen-card combinations are considered to be naturals. A player must declare and reveal the natural prior to the other hands being exposed if they wish to score it as a natural, although the player has the option to set the hands and score them as usual if they feel they will score better that way. Any natural will always beat a regular hand, but if two natural hands are compared against each other, the higher-ranked one wins. A winning natural hand is paid three units, except for the dragon, which is paid thirteen units. Payments are made by each opponent immediately upon declaration. The naturals, from highest to lowest, are:

1. Dragon
A thirteen-card straight, from 2 up to ace. Suits are irrelevant. If there are two dragons, they tie. (This hand is not set into front, middle, and back hands.)
2. Three flushes
A flush in the middle and back hands and a three-card flush in the front hand (the only time a flush in the front hand is usable as a hand). If there are two players that hold this, the tie is broken by comparing the strength of the back hand, then that of the middle hand, then that of the front hand.
3. Three straights
A straight in the middle and back hands and a three-card straight in the front hand (the only time a straight in the front hand is usable as a hand). If there are two players that hold this, the tie is broken by comparing the strength of the back hand, then that of the middle hand, then that of the front hand.
4. Six pair
Six pairs and one unpaired card. If two players hold this, compare the highest pair, then the next-highest, and so on until the tie is broken. (This hand is not set into front, middle, and back hands.)

Prior to the hands being revealed, but after any naturals have been paid, a player who does not feel confident about their hand may choose to surrender (fold). A surrendering player makes a flat two-unit payment to each opponent, regardless of what the opponent holds.

All remaining players (other than those who held naturals and who surrendered) then reveal their hands. Each player compares their three hands against each of their opponents’ hands, one at a time. By default, a player pays their opponent one unit for each hand that they lost. If a player loses all three hands, they are said to be scooped and must pay three extra units (for a total of six units).

If a player holds a three of a kind in the front hand, a full house or better in the middle hand, and/or four of a kind or better in the back hand, they are paid out at higher rates if the hand wins:

  • Front hand, three of a kind: 3 units.
  • Middle hand, full house: 2 units.
  • Middle or back hands:
    • Four of a kind: 4 units.
    • Straight flush or royal flush: 5 units.
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Pineapple

A pineapple shrub
Pineapple is a variant of poker that plays almost identically to Texas Hold’em, but with one key difference—players are dealt three cards, one of which they discard in the middle of the hand! While Pineapple seems like a bizarre hybrid that you’d only find in dealer’s choice games, it’s gained a lot of acceptance in serious poker circles, being spread in online and brick-and-mortar casinos alike. Not only that, there are several variations of it that have gained popularity as well.

Object of Pineapple

The object of Pineapple is to form the best five-card poker hand from a combination of the two of the three cards dealt to you and five shared cards (called board cards), or to bet in such a way as to convince your opponents that you have the best hand.

Setup

As with most poker games, Pineapple is played with a standard 52-card deck. We highly recommend using plastic playing cards, specifically Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, in order to ensure game integrity and reduce the number of deck changes required. You’ll also need something to bet with; usually, poker chips fill this role.

Prior to game play, establish whether the game is limit or no-limit and the minimum bets (Pineapple is typically played as a limit poker game). You should also agree on the amount of a buy-in, that is, how much each player’s initial stake will be, and whether you will allow players to deep stack (i.e. buy in for a greater amount).

All players either ante or post blinds, although Pineapple is usually played with blinds. Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. These cards are called the player’s hole cards.

Game play

The players look at their three hole cards, then the first round of betting, called the pre-flop round, takes place. The player to the left of the dealer bets first, unless blinds were posted, in which case the player under the gun (to the left of the big blind) opens the betting. Betting is conducted according to the typical rules of betting in poker. If everyone folds except for one player, they automatically win the pot, no further cards are dealt to “see what would have happened”, and they are not required to show their hole cards to anyone.

After the pre-flop betting round concludes, the players each discard any one of their cards of their choosing. After everyone has discarded, the dealer deals one card from the deck face down (called burning a card) and deals three more cards to the center of the table, face up. (See “Dealing the flop, turn, and river” for more information on proper dealing procedures). The three cards just dealt, called the flop, are the first three of the five board cards, which are used by every player to form their hand. Once the flop has been dealt, a second betting round occurs, with first action going to the player immediately left of the dealer (which is the same player who posted the small blind, if applicable).

After thus betting round concludes, the dealer again burns the top card of the deck and deals the next card card face up, called the turn. Another betting round occurs, after which one more card is burned and the fifth and final board card, the river, is dealt. The final betting round is then conducted, after which each remaining active player shows their hand. The pot is awarded to the player who can form the best five-card poker hand, using five of the seven cards available to them (the five board cards and their two hole cards).

Variations

Crazy Pineapple

Crazy Pineapple is played just like regular Pineapple, except that the players keep their third card through the pre-flop and flop betting rounds, discarding just before the turn is dealt. This means that players have more information about possible hands they and their opponents can make before discarding. This often leads to a choice commonly found in Crazy Pineapple, between sticking with a good, already made hand, or sacrificing it in hopes of hitting an even larger hand on the turn or river. The bigger pots and more action found in Crazy Pineapple make it even more popular than regular Pineapple.

Crazy Pineapple Hi-Lo 8 or better

This variant is played the same as Crazy Pineapple, except the pot is split between two players: the player with the best poker hand, and whoever holds the best Ace-to-five Lowball hand, 8 or better.

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Eleusis

Eleusis is a game with a simple premise—only the dealer knows which cards are acceptable to play and which are not, and the players have to determine what the rule of play is! But getting there is the fun of the game; players only have the history of previous cards played to go off of, and must deduce the rule of play from that knowledge.

Robert Abbott invented the game in 1956, and was the subject of a column by Martin Gardner in Scientific American in June 1959. Abbott began revising the game in 1973, adding the role of the prophet, and Gardner wrote about the game again in Scientific American‘s October 1977 issue. After the latter column, Eleusis started to be added to the game books. The game’s uniquely deductive game play has been noted as being a practical application of the scientific method in everyday life, and scientific papers have been written analyzing the thought processes of Eleusis players for this reason. A variant of the game, Eleusis Express, was even created to help provide educators a hands-on tool to illustrate the scientific method to students.

[Eleusis] should be of special interest to mathematicians and other scientists because of its striking analogy with scientific method and its exercise of precisely those psychological abilities in concept formation that seem to underlie the ‘hunches’ of creative thinkers.” —Martin Gardner, Scientific American, June 1959

Object of Eleusis

The object of Eleusis is different for the dealer than it is the players. The dealer’s goal is to create a rule of play that is difficult enough that the players cannot easily deduce it but easy enough that it is eventually solved. The players’ goal is to correctly deduce the rule of play.

Setup

Eleusis requires quite a few cards to be played right. Use two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, shuffled together (not including jokers), to form the initial stock. You should also have a third and possibly fourth deck handy if necessary to replenish the stock.

Eleusis has quite a large layout, so a suitably large table will be necessary in order to play the game. If nothing else, you may be required to play on the floor (although this leaves the game vulnerable to roving toddlers and dogs if any are present).

Before dealing, the dealer comes up with a rule of play that will be followed throughout the hand and records it on a scrap of paper, keeping it concealed from the players. The rule must prescribe which cards are acceptable to play, determining this in terms of the previous cards played and cannot reference anything outside of the layout, such as the time or date, details about the players or the number of cards they hold, et cetera. Rules often, but not always, use something about the last card played as their basis, such as its color, suit, or number (if number is used, aces are normally treated as having a value of one, jacks equalling eleven, queens equalling twelve, and kings equalling thirteen). Some example rules are:

  • If the last card played was red, play a black card, and vice-versa.
  • Each card played must have a value of two less or two more than the last card played.
  • Two consecutive cards of the same color must be played, then three consecutive cards of the other color, and so on.
  • The cards must cycle through the suits in the order ♠♣♦♥.

Shuffle the deck and deal fourteen cards to each player, except for the dealer, who receives no cards and takes no active part in game play. Turn the top card of the deck face-up and place it at one edge of the play area; this card is the starter. The remainder of the deck becomes the stock.

Game play

The player on the dealer’s left plays first. They lay a card down, face-up, as a potential play. The dealer calls this card “Right” if it fits with the rule of play or “Wrong” if it does not. If the card is right, it is placed beside the starter, forming a horizontal line called the mainline. Otherwise, it is placed above or below the starter, forming a line of incorrect plays called a sideline, and the player who attempted the incorrect play is dealt two cards to add to their hand.

As players become more confident in their knowledge of the rule, they may set down multiple cards as their play, specifying the order they are to be played in. The dealer then declares this string to be “Right” or “Wrong” in its entirety. In the event of a wrong play, the dealer does not specify which or how many of the played cards caused the string to be incorrect. The cards are moved to the sideline as a unit, fanned together to show that they were played as a string and not as singleton plays, and the player is dealt twice the number of cards in the string as a penalty (e.g. for an incorrect five-card string, the player is dealt ten cards).

If a player believes they have no legal play, they may expose their hand and call “No play”. The dealer then examines their hand. If the player truly has no moves, the player’s hand is discarded to the bottom of the stock and they are dealt a new hand with four fewer cards than they had previously, unless the player only has four or fewer cards, in which case the hand ends immediately. If the dealer spots one or more cards that can be legally played, they move one of these cards to the mainline and receive a penalty of five cards from the stock.

The prophet

Once a player is certain they have discovered the rule of play, they may, after their turn but before the next player’s, declare themselves to be the prophet (or in some rules, the forecaster). There can only be one prophet at a time, and a player may not serve as prophet twice in one hand. There must also be two or more active players other than the prophet and the dealer in order to become the prophet. A marker of some kind (such as a chip, a coin, or a roulette dolly) is placed on the last card played whenever a player becomes a prophet. The prophet sets their hand aside (but does not discard it).

The prophet then takes over all functions as dealer, declaring the other players’ actions to be “Right” or “Wrong”, and the dealer merely calls out “Correct” so long as the prophet continues to accurately follow the rule of play. If the prophet makes an incorrect declaration, they are deposed as a “false prophet” and are dealt five penalty cards from the stock. They then pick up their hand, remove their marker from the mainline, and resume normal game play again. If the prophet was overthrown as a result of a player’s incorrect play, the player does not receive any penalty cards for that play (as an incentive to try to deliberately trip up the prophet).

Expelling players from the game

Beyond a certain point in the game, players who make an incorrect play (i.e. a card or string of cards declared “Wrong” or an incorrect “no play” declaration) are expelled from the game. If there is a prophet, this is when 30 or more cards have been played after the prophet’s marker on the layout. If not, then it occurs when there are 40 or more cards on the mainline. Note that it is possible for expulsion periods to stop and start again, as a new prophet essentially resets the clock for the start of the expulsion period, and overthrowing a prophet means that an expulsion period begins on the next turn if 40 or more cards have been played to the mainline.

There is one exception to expulsion, and that is when a player’s incorrect play overthrows the prophet. A player who successfully causes a prophet to be deposed is immune to both penalty cards and expulsion for their incorrect play.

When a player is expelled, they still retain their hand and receive their penalty cards, as normal. They simply do not take any part in active game play for the rest of the hand (which includes becoming the prophet).

Ending the hand

A hand of Eleusis ends when:

  • A player correctly declares “no play” while holding four or fewer cards.
  • A player depletes their hand.
  • All players (other than the prophet, if any) have been expelled.

At this point the hand is scored. Each of the players counts the number of cards in their hand, then scores the difference between the number of cards they hold and the number held by whoever had the most cards (who scores zero). For example, if a player holding thirteen cards had the most cards, then a player holding nine cards would score four points.

If there is a prophet, they score their hand as usual, but receive a bonus of one point for each correct card after their marker and two points for each incorrect card after their marker.

The dealer’s score is typically equal to whatever the highest hand score of all the players was. However, if there was a prophet, the number of cards between the starter and the prophet’s marker is counted and multiplied by two. If this value is less than the high score for the hand, this is the dealer’s score instead. (This is to provide a deterrent to making easy rules.)

Game play continues until all players have had a chance to deal. Whoever has the highest total score at this point is the winner.

Eleusis Express

Eleusis Express is a pared-down version of Eleusis that was developed by mathematics professor John Golden in 2006. It was intended as a teaching tool to illustrate the scientific method to elementary-school-aged children, although it makes for a quicker, simpler game. Eleusis Express is identical to base Eleusis except:

  • Players start with twelve cards rather than fourteen.
  • Only one card may be played at a time—no strings.
  • If a player correctly declares a no play, they are dealt a new hand with one card fewer than the number they had (if they were down to one card the hand ends). If they declared no play in error, the dealer plays a correct card from their hand to the mainline, and the player receives only two cards as a penalty.
  • There is no prophet and no expulsion.
  • If a player believes they know the rule of play, they may simply guess it out loud after any correct play. The dealer confirms if they are right or wrong (note that the exact wording on the sheet is, of course, not necessary, only an accurate and complete description of the rule). If they are right, the hand ends.

Scoring for Eleusis Express is as follows:

  • Each player scores twelve points minus one point for each of the cards in their hand.
  • A player who depleted their hand scores a three-point bonus (scoring fifteen in all).
  • A player who successfully guessed the rule scores a six-point bonus.
  • The dealer’s score is equal to whatever the highest hand score of all the players was.

See also

 

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