Carousel is a rummy-type game for two to five players. Carousel is one of a small family of “manipulation rummy” games. The chief feature of this group that all of the melds on the table are shared between the players. Players can lay off on any meld on the table, and not only that, they can move cards between melds, break them apart, and reform them at will! Rummikub, a proprietary tile-based game, fits into this game family quite well, and was probably derived from one of its members.
Object of Carousel
The object of Carousel is to get rid of as many cards as possible by putting them into melds. That allows a player to knock, hopefully ensuring that the total of their unmatched cards is lower than that of their opponent.
The number of cards used in Carousel depends on the number of players. For two players, use one deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, including one joker. For three to five players, use two decks with two jokers. You’ll also need something to keep score with, such as the traditional pencil and paper, or a smartphone app dedicated to the task.
Shuffle and deal ten cards to each player. Place the rest of the deck face down in the center of the table, forming the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. A player begins their turn by drawing one card from the stock. If they are able to meld, they may do so, melding as many cards as they legally can. Once they are done melding, their turn ends, and play passes to the next player to their left. If they cannot or do not wish to meld, they may draw a second card from the stock. Again, they may meld after their second draw if they can, which ends their turn. Otherwise, they draw a third card from the stock and their turn ends at that point. (Unlike most other rummy games, there is no discarding.)
Each card has a point value assigned to it. Jokers are worth 25 points each, face cards are worth 10 points each, and aces are worth 1 point each. All other cards are worth their pip value.
There are two types of valid melds in Carousel. The first is a set, which consists of three or four cards of the same rank and different suits. You cannot have two cards of the same suit in a set.
The second type of meld is a sequence, which is made of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit. For the purpose of sequences, cards rank in their usual order. Aces may start or end a sequence, but cannot be in the middle (A-2-3 and J-Q-K-A are both perfectly fine sequences, but K-A-2 is not).
When melding, you may rearrange the cards on the table to whatever combination of meld you see fit. For example, you may take a 10 from a set of four 10s on the board to use it in a run. Or you can take a card off the end of a run of more than three cards to form a set. The important thing is that at the end of your turn, every card on the table must still be part of a valid meld. (You cannot, say, take a card from the middle of a sequence, or leave only two cards in a meld.) You cannot take any cards from the table and put them into your hand.
Below is an example of a meld a player might make. Suppose two of the melds previously on the table were 8-9-10-J♦ and J-Q-K-A♠. The active player has the J♥ in their hand. They may remove the J♦ and J♠ from their existing melds and combine them with the J♥ from their hand in order to form a new meld of three jacks. The melds on the table at the end of the hand would be 8-9-10♦, Q-K-A♠, and J♦-J♠-J♥.
Using the joker
The joker is wild and can represent any other card in the meld. When playing a joker, you must specify the exact rank and suit of the card that it represents. The joker is then treated as though it is a natural card of that rank and suit. The joker can only be moved to a new meld where the card it represents would legally fit.
If the natural card that a joker is substituting for is in play, a player may remove the joker from its meld and add the natural card in its place. The natural card can come from either the player’s hand or another meld. The joker can then be moved to a different meld. It can once again represent any card that the player names. The joker cannot be returned to the player’s hand, however.
If a player ends their turn with less than five points in deadwood (unmatched cards), they may knock before the next player takes their turn. This ends the hand immediately, and no further melding may take place at that point. All players reveal their hands and total their deadwood score. The player who knocked wins the hand, unless any of their opponents has a lower or equal deadwood total. In that case, the player with the lowest score wins and scores a ten-point bonus for undercutting. (In the event that multiple players tie for the lowest deadwood score, every tied player other than the player who knocked is considered to have won and scores accordingly.) If a player melds all of their cards (and thus has a deadwood score of zero), they score a 25-point bonus.
The winner’s hand score is determined by calculating the difference between the winner’s deadwood and that of each of their opponents. They then total all of the differences, along with any relevant bonuses, as described above. No other players score for that hand.
The deal passes to the left and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one player reaches a score of 150 or more. That player is the winner, and receives a game bonus of 100 points. Each player also scores a 25-point box bonus for each hand that they won.
Kaiser, also known as Joffre, Three-Spot, or Troika, is a trick-taking game played throughout Canada, especially in the Ukrainian and First Nations communities of Saskatchewan. It is played with four players in partnerships.
Object of Kaiser
The object of Kaiser is to take the most tricks. Special attention is given to taking the trick containing the 5♥, and avoiding the trick containing the 3♠.
Kaiser is played with a unique setup of cards. Starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 6s through 2s. Then, remove the 7♥ and 7♠. Finally, return the 5♥ and 3♠ to the deck, bringing it to a total of 32 cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like the tried and tested pencil and paper.
Choose partners by whatever method is convenient, be it a random method like high-card draw, or just mutual agreement. Partners must sit across from each other, such that the turn of play alternates between partnerships as it goes around the table.
Shuffle and deal out the entire deck. Each player will get eight cards. If a player receives a hand with no aces, face cards, 5♥, or 3♠, they may declare a misdeal. All four players throw in their cards, and the same dealer deals new hands.
After the players have had a chance to take a look at their hands, players bid to fix the trump suit. The player to the dealer’s left has the first opportunity to bid, and each player proceeding clockwise must either bid higher. Any player may also pass. The final bid goes to the dealer, who has the privilege of being able to simply equal the previous bid rather than overcalling it. There is only one round of bidding; each player only has one chance to bid.
The minimum bid is six points. Players may also make no trump bids (stated with “no” after the number, e.g. “seven no”), which outrank a normal bid of the same amount. No trump bids increase the risk and reward of the contract. The highest possible bid is twelve no.
After the bidding has concluded, the player with the winning bid names the trump suit. They and their partner become the declarers. The other partnership becomes the defenders. The declarers’ high bid becomes their contract, their goal score for the hand.
Play of the hand
The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays to the trick. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump.
After all four players have played to the trick, the person who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins it. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.
The player winning the trick takes the cards and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of one of the partners. (Since the number of tricks won matters, it’s a good idea to place each trick at right angles to the previous one to keep the tricks identifiable.) The winner of the trick then leads to the next one.
The hand continues until eight tricks have been played and the players have exhausted their hands.
After the hand has been completed, the partnerships each tally up the value of their won tricks:
- One point for each trick
- Five points for capturing the 5♥
- ‒3 points for capturing the 3♠
If the declarers made their contract, they add the value of their tricks to their score. However, if they broke the contract, they subtract the value of the tricks. If the contract was played at no trump, then the trick score is doubled before being added to or subtracted from the score.
If the defenders have a score of 45 or less, they add the values of their collected tricks to their score, regardless of whether or not the declarers made their contract. Note that it’s possible for the defenders to have a negative hand score, if they captured the 3♠ but less than three tricks. (In this case, their game score actually goes down.) If the defenders have a score greater than 45, their score is only affected if they have a negative hand score.
New hands are dealt and game play continues until one team reaches a score of 52 or more. The partnership with the higher score wins the game.
Scotch Whist, also known as Catch the 10, is a fairly straightforward trick-taking game for two to seven players. Players simply try to take the most tricks possible, with an eye toward capturing tricks with high-ranking trumps in them. As the name implies, the game originates from Scotland.
Object of Scotch Whist
Scotch Whist is played with a 36-card pack. Starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 5s through 2s, leaving a deck with 6 through ace in each of the four suits. If playing with five or seven players, also discard the 6♣, leaving just 35 cards, which divides neatly by both five and seven. You will also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper, or a program on your smartphone.
Shuffle and deal out the entire deck. Turn the last card dealt, which belongs to the dealer, face up. The suit of this card fixes the trump suit for the ensuing hand.
For the sake of clarity, and because it will come up later, the number of cards each player receives is:
- Two players: eighteen cards.
- Three players: twelve cards.
- Four players: nine cards.
- Five players: seven cards.
- Six players: six cards.
- Seven players: five cards.
Card ranking is slightly different than the expected order in the trump suit. This is because the jack is elevated to the highest position in the deck. The full rank of cards in the trump suit is (high) J, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 (low).
In the non-trump suits, the cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.
Play of the hand
The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays to the trick. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump.
After every player has played to the trick, the person who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins it. The player winning the trick takes the cards and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. The winner of the first trick then leads to the second one.
The hand continues until the players have exhausted their hands.
At the conclusion of the hand, each player examines their won-tricks pile and tallies up their score for the hand. Points are scored in the following order:
- 10 of trump: ten points.
- Trick score: one point for each card collected in excess of the amount dealt to them. For example, if a player in a four-player game took five tricks, they would have captured 20 cards. They would score eleven points (20–9=11) as their trick score for that hand.
- Ace of trump: four points.
- King of trump: three points.
- Queen of trump: two points.
- Jack of trump: eleven points.
In most cases, these can simply be tallied and scored at once. However, if multiple players exceed a score of 41 on the same hand, the first player to exceed 41 wins the game, following the order of scoring laid out above.
If nobody reaches a score of 41 or more, the deal passes to the left, and new hands are dealt. Continue playing until one player reaches a score of 41.
Leopard is a card game for two players. Each player uses the cards in their hand to manipulate a pair of three-by-three tableaux by playing cards to them. The players try to form lines of cards of the same suit or the same color and prevent their opponent from doing so.
Leopard was created by Robert Abbott, who is best known for creating the more popular game Eleusis. It was published as part of Abbott’s 1963 book Abbott’s New Card Games. A proprietary version of the game, Sabotage, was produced in Germany in 1996.
Object of Leopard
The object of Leopard is to build the highest-scoring tableau. This is done by forming lines of three cards of the same color or the same suit. At the same time, players attempt to disrupt their opponent from doing the same thing.
Leopard uses a deck of 104 cards, formed by shuffling together two standard 52-card decks without jokers. While we’ve never tested Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards against a leopard attack, we’re fairly confident they’d do better than paper cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper or a smartphone application.
Each player should be seated such that they have enough space between them to fit a three-by-three square of cards in front of them. This initially vacant area is the tableau. Each tableau consists of nine empty spaces corresponding to the ace in the upper left through the nine on the lower right. (See the image above.) Shuffle and deal eight cards to each player. Place the deck stub face down to the side, midway between the two players, forming the stock. The area immediately adjacent to the stock is reserved for the discard pile.
Game play begins with the non-dealer. Their turn begins by drawing one card from the stock. They may then either play one card to either of the tableaux. If they cannot or don’t wish to, they can simply discard a card to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the dealer. Cards in either the discard pile or either tableau cannot be returned to a player’s hand.
The value of each player’s tableau is determined by the combined total of each of the tableau’s lines. A line is a vertical column, horizontal row, or either of the diagonals (from upper left to lower right and from upper right to lower left). A line is worth three points if it contains three cards of the same suit. If it contains three cards of the same color but not the same suit, it is worth one point. All other lines are worth zero points.
Most cards can be played either to your own tableau or to your opponent’s. Also, some cards may be played face down to the tableau. When a card is played face down on top of another card, it is treated as though that spot is vacant until another card is played on top of it.
Role of each card
Each card has a slightly different set of restrictions on where and how it can be played:
- Aces through 9s can only be played in their designated spots in either tableau.
- 10s can be played in any empty space on your own tableau.
- Jacks are always played face down on top of another card. They may be played to either tableau.
- Queens are always played face down, like jacks. However, they can only be played to your own tableau.
- Kings are the most powerful cards in the game. They may be played on top of any card or in any blank space in your own tableau.
In some cases, it can be ambiguous which spot in the tableau a 10 or a king may be played to. A player may require their opponent to clarify which space a given card is intended to occupy, if necessary.
When the point value of your tableau reaches seven or more points on your turn, you may go out. You must go out before you have played or discarded any cards, i.e. right after drawing. Going out is entirely optional; you may choose to continue playing in order to increase your score. Unlike most games, the player that goes out is charged a one-point penalty for doing so, in order to provide an incentive to not go out immediately when able.
When the stock is depleted, play continues as usual, although players do not draw at the beginning of their turn. They must, however, still play a card or discard on each turn. If both players exhaust their hands before one of them goes out, the game is simply scored at that point, with neither player taking the penalty for going out.
When the hand ends, both players calculate the final value of their tableau. To this, each player also adds one point for each point in excess of seven that their tableau was worth. For example, a player with an ending tableau worth 7 points would have a final score of 7. A tableau worth 8 points would score 8 + 1 = 9 points, a tableau worth 9 points would score 9 + 2 = 11 points, and so on. The player going deducts their one-point penalty from this total. These final scores are then recorded to the scoresheet.
The player with the highest total score at the end of four hands wins the game.
Sometimes, the best intentions aren’t enough to save a card game…or a marriage. The story of Jo-Jotte illustrates both of those facts. It’s a game for two players that functions somewhat as a hybrid of Belote and Contract Bridge.
Noted Bridge expert and personality Ely Culbertson created Jo-Jotte as an effort to create a two-player game as strategic as Bridge. The Jo in Jo-Jotte came from the name of Culbertson’s wife, Josephine. However, Jo-Jotte never took off and quickly faded into obscurity after its 1937 release. Ely and Josephine Culbertson divorced in 1938, for what we can only hope were unrelated reasons.
Object of Jo-Jotte
Jo-Jotte is played with a 32-card deck. To form such a deck, take a standard 52-card deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and remove all the 6s through 2s. You’ll be left with just the 7s through aces in each of the four suits.
You’ll also need pencil and paper to keep score with. Jo-Jotte uses the same four-part scoresheet that Contract Bridge uses. To create such a sheet, draw a vertical line down the center of the page, then a horizontal line about midway down the page. Each column contains the points scored by one player. Melds and bonuses are recorded in the top half of the sheet (“above the line”) and points for tricks are scored in the bottom half (“below the line”).
Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Turn the next card (the thirteenth card of the deck) face-up. This card will be referred to as the upcard. Set the rest of the deck aside; it will be used later.
Jo-Jotte uses the same rank of cards that Klaberjass does. In case you need a refresher: the 10 ranks higher than the face cards, just under the ace, giving a full ranking of (high) A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7 (low). In the trump suit, however, the jack and 9 are elevated to the highest and second-highest trumps. In the trump suit, the cards rank (high) J, 9, A, 10, K, Q, 8, 7 (low).
Although these rankings apply to most aspects of the game, for the purposes of sequences, the “natural” order still applies, with ace high (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7). So the highest four-card sequence would be A-K-Q-J, not A-10-K-Q or J-9-A-10 in trump.
The non-dealer has the first chance to fix the trump suit. They may either accept the suit of the upcard as trump, or pass. If they pass, then the dealer also has the option to accept the upcard’s suit as trump or pass. If the dealer passes, the non-dealer may then declare any of the other three suits as trump, or declare the hand will be played with no trump. They may also pass again, at which point the dealer has the same options. If the dealer chooses to pass, the hands are thrown out and the same dealer deals new hands.
When a player selects a trump suit, their opponent may increase the stakes by doubling the bid. This doubles the reward if the doubling player wins and doubles their penalty if they fail. The original player may then choose to redouble, increasing the stakes to four times their original amount. (Doubles and redoubles only affect scores below the line, not above.)
The player who ultimately fixes the trump suit becomes the declarer, and the other player the defender. Each player’s goal for the ensuing hand is to collect the most points in tricks. Deal three more cards to each player. Turn the deck stub over so its bottom card is exposed. This card remains out of play, but its identity is revealed to both players for informational purposes.
After the bidding has been resolved and the players have their full hands, they may declare melds. Valid melds are:
- Four of a kind: Each four of a kind scores 100 points. Ties are broken by the rank of the cards. If there is a trump suit, the rank of cards in the trump suit is used; if there is no trump suit, the non-trump ranking takes precedence.
- Sequences: A run of three or more cards of the same suit, in sequence. A run of five or more scores 50 points, a run of four scores 40 points, and a run of three scores 20 points. Longer sequences rank higher than shorter ones. Ties are broken by the rank of the highest card of the sequence. If there are two identical sequences and one is trump, the trump sequence ranks higher.
First, the defender speaks, stating the rank of any four of a kind they have. If the declarer does not have a higher four of a kind, they say “good”. Otherwise, they say “No good, mine is in [rank].” Whoever is established as holding the higher four of a kind scores for all of their four-of-a-kinds above the line.
Then, the defender states the length of their longest sequence. If the declarer has a longer one, they say “No good, mine is x long.” If the declarer has one of the same length, they responds with “How high?”, upon which the defender states the rank of the highest card of their sequence. If the declarer cannot beat a declaration, they say “good”. The holder of the highest sequence may score all of the sequences they hold above the line.
After the highest declaration has been determined, the opponent may request that the combination declared be revealed.
Nullos and slams
Instead of declaring melds, the defender may bid nullo. By doing so, they are committing to lose every trick, with the hand converted to a non-trump hand. The declarer may raise the stakes by bidding a slam instead, committing to take all nine tricks. In either of these cases, neither player scores for melds on that hand.
Play of the hand
The non-dealer leads to the first trick. The dealer then plays a card to the trick. Players must follow suit, if possible. Otherwise, they must play a trump. If they cannot, they may play any card. If a trump was led or played to the trick, players are also required to play a higher trump than the lead, if possible.
When both players have played to the trick, it is awarded to the player that played the highest trump. If no trump was played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. The cards making up won tricks are not added to the hand. Instead, they’re added to a face-down won-tricks pile in front of the player. The player who wins each trick leads to the next one.
The king and queen of trumps is a special combination known as Jo-Jotte. If a player holds Jo-Jotte, they may declare “Jo” when playing the king, then declare “Jotte” when playing the queen to a trick after the king. If they do this, they score 20 points above the line.
Play continues until the players run out of cards.
After the hand concludes, each totals the values of the cards they collected in tricks. Cards score:
- The jack of trump: 20 points.
- The 9 of trump: 15 points.
- The 10 of trump: 10 points.
- The king and queen of trump: 5 points each.
- Aces and non-trump kings: 10 points each.
- Non-trump queens and jacks: 5 points each.
Note that 8s and 7s, as well as 9s and 10s in non-trump suits, do not score anything. The player that takes the last trick adds ten points to their trick score. There are 150 possible points available through tricks (60 in trumps and 90 in non-trumps), plus ten for the last trick, for a maximum score of 160. On non-trump hands, the maximum score is 130, because the fourth jack is worth 5 points rather than 20, and the fourth nine scores 0 rather than 15.
The two players then compare their trick scores. If the declarer had the higher score, they record their trick score beneath the line and the defender scores nothing. If the defender had the higher score, they add their trick score to that of the declarer, and record the total beneath the line. When the bid is doubled, these scores are doubled before being entered on the score sheet; when redoubled, the scores are quadrupled.
In the event of a tie, neither player scores. Instead, the trick scores are added together and the total set aside. Whichever player wins the next non-tied, non-nullo hand scores this amount as a bonus above the line.
Scoring nullos and slams
If the defender bid nullo and did not take any trick, they score 200 points above the line. If the defender took at least one trick, the declarer scores above the line 200 for the first trick and 100 for each additional trick. Nothing is scored below the line on a nullo hand.
When the declarer bids a slam and takes all nine tricks, they score 500 above the line. If the defender took one or more tricks, they score the trick scores of themselves and their opponent above the line. The declarer scores nothing when failing to make a slam bid.
If a lucky player manages to make a slam without bidding it, they score 100 points above the line.
Game and rubber
The deal passes to the previous hand’s non-dealer, who deals new hands. This continues until one player reaches or exceeds 80 points below the line. This ends the first game, and the trick scores start again from zero. After the second such game, each player adds up the totals of their points above the line and the below-the-line scores for both games. Whichever player has the higher total score wins the rubber, and scores an additional 300 points for winning.
Nine-Card Don, often known as simply Don, is a game in the All Fours family. It is played with four players in partnerships.
The name Don most likely comes from Dom Pedro, an alternate name for Cinch. Dom Pedro was played in both the United States and Ireland, likely spreading from the latter country to Britain. Today, Nine-Card Don is played in Wales and northern England. A thirteen-card variant of Don is still played in Ireland.
Object of Nine-Card Don
The object of Nine-Card Don is to be the first partnership to reach a score of 121 points. Points are scored by collecting certain point-scoring cards in tricks.
Nine-Card Don is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Always choose Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards to make sure your cards are durable enough to last for game after game.
You also need some method of keeping score. Many players choose to keep score on a Cribbage board (see our article on Cribbage for more information on how to score using the Cribbage board). Twice around the Cribbage board equals the goal score of 121 points. If no Cribbage board is handy, you can keep score with pencil and paper or any other convenient method.
Determine partnerships through mutual agreement or by a random method such as high-card draw. Partners should sit opposite one another, with their opponents sitting in between. The turn of play should alternate partnerships as it progresses around the table.
The player to the dealer’s left is called the pitcher and is responsible for leading to the first trick. As being the pitcher is a fairly powerful position, the first pitcher should be determined randomly. Shuffle and have one person from each partnership draw a card. Whoever draws the higher card (aces are high) chooses the first pitcher, which will normally be themselves or their partner.
Shuffle and deal nine cards to each player. Set aside the remaining sixteen cards, which take no part in game play. The pitcher’s partner may not look at their hand until a card is led to the first trick. This custom prevents the partner from cheating by signaling what card they’d like the partner to play.
The pitcher leads to the first trick. The suit of this card becomes the trump suit. Each player in turn then plays to the trick. Players must follow suit if able; otherwise, they may play any card, including a trump.
After all four players have played to the trick, the person who played the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trumps were played, wins it. The player winning the trick takes the cards and places them in a face-down won-tricks pile in front of them. The winner of the first trick then leads to the second one.
Scoring during the hand
As certain trumps are played to tricks, the partnership collecting them immediately scores for them. The point-scoring trumps are:
- 5: ten points.
- 9: nine points.
- Ace: four points.
- King: three points.
- Queen: two points.
- Jack: one point.
Additionally, any non-trump 5 captured scores five points for the partnership capturing it.
Scoring for game
When all nine tricks have been played, the hand is over. Now, the players need to determine who scores the points for game. Each team totals up the value of the cards in their won-tricks pile. Aces are worth four points apiece, kings are worth three, queens two, jacks one, and 10s are worth ten points each. No other cards have any value for game. The teams then compare their totals. Whichever team has the higher total scores eight points for game. If the two teams tie, neither team scores these points.
After the points for game have been scored, the deal passes to the left. The next dealer is the pitcher of the hand just concluded.
Ending the game
Play immediately ceases whenever one partnership reaches or exceeds a score of 121 or more points. That partnership wins the game.