Sampen (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable) is a simple card game from China. It can be played by as few as two or as many as eight players. Sampen is nearly entirely luck-based, although players do have a few choices available to them. Its straightforward game play and lack of deep strategy make it a good option for young children.
Object of Sampen
The object of Sampen is to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards.
To play Sampen, you’ll need to build a special 60-card deck. To do this, start with two standard 52-card decks of the same back design and color—Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards is our preferred option, of course. From each deck, remove the aces through 10s of clubs. From the other three suits, remove the 10s and face cards. You’ll be left with two 30-card decks consisting of A–9♠, A–9♦, A–9♥, and J-Q-K♣. Shuffle these two 30-card decks together to form the full 60-card deck.
Note that as long as each card has one duplicate elsewhere in the deck, the exact composition of the deck is somewhat immaterial to the game play. If you wish, you can simply play with a full 104-card double deck (which allows you to accommodate even more players).
The number of cards you’ll need to deal depends on the number of players:
- Two or three players: deal fifteen cards
- Four players: deal thirteen cards
- Five players: deal eleven cards
- Six players: deal nine cards
- Seven or eight players: deal seven cards
Place the rest of the deck face-down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn over the top card of the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.
Because the game is played with a double deck, each card in the deck has a duplicate, either in one of the players’ hands or the stock. If a player holds the duplicate (matching in both rank and suit) to the upcard, they may discard it. They then play another card from their hand to the discard pile to serve as the new upcard. A player then discards this card’s duplicate, and so on.
A player may occasionally end up being dealt both copies of a given card. To rid themselves of such a pair, a player must first be able to match another upcard. Then they can play one card of the pair, then the other as its match, then finally another card to serve as the next upcard.
If the duplicate to an upcard isn’t played, the dealer should confirm that none of the players actually hold it. If that is the case, the dealer turns over the top card of the stock, which becomes the new upcard.
Game play continues until one player successfully discards all of their cards. That player is the winner.
One-Eyed Jack is a game for two to four players, played in North Carolina and Tennessee. When played by two or three, they play against each other; four play in partnerships. One-Eyed Jack uses a board created with an extra deck of cards. Players compete to claim spots on the board to complete rows of five adjacent spaces.
Like many card games, especially ones with special equipment, One-Eyed Jack has been adapted as a commercial game. It has been published by two different companies, under the names Sequence and Double Series. The commercial sets include a pre-printed board, chips, and a double-deck of cards, all you need to run the game.
Object of One-Eyed Jack
The object of One-Eyed Jack is to be the first player to complete two rows (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) of five adjacent spaces. In the three-player game, players need only complete one row.
One-Eyed Jack uses two standard 52-card decks of playing cards. We’d like to take the time to advise you to use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, as per usual.
You’ll also need a third deck of cards you don’t want to use for anything else ever again. (Once you’ve gotten some Denexa cards, you can use whatever you were playing with before for this.) Remove all of the jacks from this deck and add two jokers, leaving you with 50 cards. Now, cut each card in half (yes, with scissors! not what we usually mean when we say “cut the cards”!). Then, make another cut to the opposite side of the index to make the piece square. You should end up with 100 square-shaped card pieces. (See the image in this section for a diagram of how to cut the cards.)
Now, take your 100 card squares and paste them down in a 10×10 grid on whatever you want to use as a game board. You can use something as simple as posterboard, or get more elaborate and glue them to a piece of wood and apply a coat of varnish. No matter what you do, make sure the four corner squares are the four joker pieces. The rest can be in any order, either random or following some sort of pattern.
You will also need something to serve as markers on the game board. Each player or partnership should have identifiable markers belonging only to them. Differently-colored poker chips work well, but anything will do as long as they will fit in the squares on the board.
To set up for the actual game, supply each player with roughly the same number of markers (about 50 or so should do). Shuffle the two decks together and deal to each player seven cards if there are two players, six if there are three, or five if there are four. The rest of the deck is set aside to become the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. That player reveals one card from their hand and plays it face-up to the table. They then place a marker on either of the two spaces on the board corresponding to that card. You cannot play a chip in an occupied space, however. Then, they draw a replacement card, ending their turn.
There are no jacks on the board, because the jacks instead of special properties. The two-eyed jacks (J♦-J♣) serve as wild cards. Upon playing them, a player can place a marker on any square they wish. One-eyed jacks (J♠-J♥) are kill cards. When played, you may choose any chip on the board and return it to its owner.
Sometimes, due to a two-eyed jack, a player will have a card in their hand that has both spots on the board occupied. They have two choices when this happens. The player can hold onto the card and hope to draw a one-eyed jack to kill one of the markers in the way. They can also reveal the card and draw a replacement before taking their actual turn.
The four corner spaces are considered community property. These can be used by any player as part of a row, same as if they had a chip on the square.
The first player or partnership to form two horizontal, diagonal, or vertical rows of five claimed squares wins the game. The two rows are allowed to intersect (therefore only requiring nine chips instead of ten). In the three-player game, only one row is needed to win.
Pirate Bridge is a variation of Bridge that doesn’t use established partnerships from hand to hand. Partnerships are determined each deal by whoever is bold enough to make the first bid, and whoever else accepts it. That means your ally this hand might become your enemy the next!
Pirate Bridge was invented by R.F. Foster, and was originally published in 1917. Of note is that Pirate Bridge’s publication actually preceded the development of Contract Bridge. Nonetheless, Pirate Bridge is nowadays usually played the same as Contract Bridge, just with a different bidding procedure. As a result, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the rules of vanilla Contract Bridge before jumping in to Pirate Bridge.
Object of Pirate Bridge
The object of Contract Bridge is to accurately predict the number of tricks in excess of six that a prospective partnership will be able to win, and thus win two games, which constitute a rubber.
Pirate Bridge is played with all of the familiar trappings of Contract Bridge and its descendants. You’ll need a 52-card pack of playing cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, of course. You’ll also need a Bridge scoresheet, although it’s set up slightly differently than the sheets used in traditional partnership Bridge. Instead of two columns headed “WE” and “THEY”, each player has their own column. As in other forms of Bridge, a horizontal line is drawn across the sheet, separating it into two halves.
Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player.
Bidding begins with the dealer. A bid consists of a number, representing the number of odd tricks (tricks in excess of six) that the partnership will collect during the course of the hand, and either a suit to become trump for the upcoming hand or “no trump”. From lowest to highest, the suits rank clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, no trump. The lowest possible bid is 1♣, a bid to take seven tricks with clubs as trump. 1♣ would be overcalled by a bid of 1♦, and so on up to 1♠, then 1NT, which would be overcalled by 2♣.
On their turn to bid, a player may either pass or make a bid. Upon a bid being made, each player in turn must either accept the bid, agreeing to join that player’s partnership, or pass. If nobody agrees to accept the bid, then the bid is rejected and the player making it is treated as though they had simply passed. If all four players pass, the cards are shuffled, and a new hand is dealt.
Once a bid has been made and accepted by another player, the next player to the left may propose a higher bid, which likewise must be accepted by any other player (including one of the participants in the previously accepted bid) in order to become the new high bid.
Rather than overcalling an opponent’s accepted bid, a player may instead double it, which keeps the bid the same but doubles the risk of breaking and the reward of fulfilling the contract. Any bid so doubled by an opponent can be redoubled by one of the players who accepted the original bid, which again doubles the risk and reward of accepting the contract. A player can also attempt to propose a bid higher than the doubled bid, though this must of course be accepted by a potential partner.
Bidding continues until three consecutive players decline to propose a new bid; the current high bid at this point becomes the contract. The winning bidder becomes the declarer, their partner the dummy, and the other partnership the defenders.
Play of the hand and scoring proceeds according to typical Contract Bridge rules. Play begins with the declarer and proceeds clockwise, even if the declarer and dummy are seated next to one another. Each partnership’s hand score is recorded on the score sheet in the columns belonging to the two allied players.
Pope Joan is a game in the Stops family for four to eight players. It was popular amongst families in the Victorian era. Pope Joan is similar to Newmarket (also known as Michigan) with a few added quirks. Most notably, the 8♦ is missing from the deck, so the 9♦ is extremely difficult to put into play. As a result, playing that card, called Pope Joan, awards its owner with a special payout.
Object of Pope Joan
The object of Pope Joan is to obtain the most chips over the course of the game. Chips are collected by playing particular cards associated with individual pots that the players contribute to.
Pope Joan uses a 51-card deck of playing cards, formed by removing the 8♦ from the standard 52-card deck. Individuals found using cards other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards are to be questioned as to their motives.
You’ll also need chips for keeping track of who is winning. You can have your players buy in and have your chips represent real money if you like, but because the game is more luck-based than poker, it is probably better to just let the chips have no cash value. See our post on counting chips for tips on selecting and counting chips. Give each player an equal number of chips to start out with.
Pope Joan is traditionally played with a special board consisting of eight pockets or indentations to hold each of the various pools of chips. These are labeled “Pope”, “Matrimony”, “Intrigue”, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Game. A custom-made board is not necessary to play the game, however; whatever means of keeping the pots separate will work. Some ideas include simply drawing divisions on a large sheet of paper or posterboard, using eight drinking glasses (although be advised that using red plastic cups may give onlookers the wrong idea as to what kind of game you’re playing), eight chip trays, a cupcake tin, or whatever. Just be sure that each container is clearly labeled as to which pool the divider contains.
The ante and deal
The first dealer should be determined randomly. They ante six chips to the Pope pool, two each to Matrimony and Intrigue, and one each to all of the remaining pots. The dealer is the only person who antes.
Deal the cards out as evenly as they will go, to as many hands as there are players, plus one. For example, if playing with three players, deal four hands of thirteen cards. The cards to the extra hand should be dealt last, after the dealer’s cards, but before the player to their left’s. Some hands may receive more cards than others; this is fine.
The final (51st) card dealt is turned face up. The suit of this card becomes the “trump” suit for the hand. It should be noted that, in this game, the trump suit does not rank higher than the other suits, as a true trump suit does. If this card is eligible to win any of the pots (see below), the dealer immediately collects the corresponding pot.
Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s left, who plays the lowest card that they hold of any suit they wish, face up. The player that holds the next-higher card of that suit then plays it, and so on. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high. Players keep playing progressively higher cards of the same suit until nobody is able to continue. This happens because 1) the ace of that suit has been reached, 2) the 7♦ is played, or 3) the necessary card is in the extra, unplayed hand. When this occurs, the last player who was able to make a valid play then starts a new sequence with the lowest card they hold of any suit.
Each pool on the board, except the Game pool, is associated with a particular card or set of cards. When someone plays these cards, they collect the appropriate pot. These pools are:
- Ace, King, Queen, Jack: The appropriate card of the trump suit.
- Intrigue: The queen and jack of trump.
- Matrimony: The king and queen of trump.
- Pope: The 9♦.
Game play continues until one player runs out of cards. That player takes the Game pot. Each of the winner’s opponents pays them one chip for each card left in their hand (except for the 9♦). Any remaining chips in any of the pools remain on the table for the next hand.
Liar’s Poker recasts the bluffing spirit of the game of poker into an I Doubt It-style affair, doing away with the gambling aspect altogether. That makes it an excellent game for younger players, or to familiarize new players with the poker hands. It can be played with two to eight players, but is best with three to five.
Object of Liar’s Poker
The object of Liar’s Poker is to successfully determine whether the active player in fact has the hand they claim to have.
Liar’s Poker is played with a 54-card deck of playing cards, formed by adding two jokers to a standard 52-card deck. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t wish you’d use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in your game. You’ll also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper is fine, but it’s much simpler to use a supply of markers, such as poker chips.
Select the first active player by any convenient means, such as mutual agreement or high-card draw. Shuffle and deal five cards to that player only. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The first player looks at the five-card hand they have dealt. They then declare any standard poker hand that they assert the hand contains (jokers act as wild cards). They may simply declare the hand type that they purport to hold (e.g. “a pair”), or they may declare more specifics, such as “a pair of 10s”, “a pair of 10s with an ace kicker”, etc. The player to the left of the active player must decide whether or not they believe the declaration. If they do, they accept the hand, and the cards pass to that player.
The new active player then looks at the cards. They don’t reveal whether or not the declaration was true or not. Instead, they may discard up to four cards, face down, and draw new ones to bring the hand back up to five cards. They must then make a declaration higher than that of their predecessor. This may be a wholesale improvement in the hand (e.g. going from “a pair” to “two pair” or “a pair of 5s” to “a pair of 9s”) or it may disclose more information than the previous one. For example, if the previous player declared “a pair of jacks”, then “a pair of jacks with a queen kicker”, “a pair of jacks with a 7”, etc. would qualify as a higher declaration.
If a player doesn’t believe a declaration that has been presented to them, they call “Liar!” If the declaration was honest, then the active player reveals just as many cards needed to prove the declaration correct, and the doubter is given one point. Otherwise, the cards are discarded, face down, and the liar gets one point. In either case, the cards are shuffled. The player that scored the point is dealt a new hand and becomes the new active player.
Game play continues until one player reaches a predetermined number of points. The player with the lowest score at that point is the winner.
Tyzicha is a Russian card game for three players. In this trick-taking game, the trump suit changes every time a player reveals a king and queen of the same suit. That means which suit is trump can change several times over the course of a hand!
Object of Tyzicha
The object of Tyzicha is to be the first player to reach a score of 1,001 points. Points are scored by accurately bidding on the number of points that can be made on each hand and proceeding to collect those points.
Tyzicha is played with a 24-card deck. To obtain one, start with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Remove all of the 8s through 2s, leaving 9s through aces in each of the four suits. It’s a good idea to hold on to a full rank of the discarded cards (such as all the 2s) to serve as trump markers. You’ll also need pencil and paper for scoring.
Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. Place the remaining three cards face down in the center of the table, forming the widow.
The cards rank slightly out of their usual order in Tyzicha. The 10 is ranked just below the ace, but above the face cards. That means the full order of card ranking is (high) A, 10, K, Q, J, 9 (low).
Before the hand actually starts, the bid for the ensuing hand must be determined. The player to the dealer’s right bids first. They may either make an opening bid of 110 or pass. The next player to the left (the dealer) has the chance to bid or pass next. Once someone has bid 110, the next player may raise by ten points to 120, or else pass. A player may not raise by anything other than ten points. When a player passes, they drop out of the bidding and cannot bid again on that hand. When two players have passed, the remaining player becomes the declarer, and their bid becomes the contract for the hand.
Should the first two players pass on the first round of bidding, the third player (the player to the dealer’s left) is forced to play. A forced player may opt to accept a typical 110-point bid as usual. However, they also have the special option of making a contract of only 100 points. While this reduces their risk in the ensuing hand, it also limits their pre-hand options slightly, as described below.
After the bidding is concluded, the declarer turns the widow face-up. Once their opponents have seen it, they take it into their hand. They then choose one card from their hand (either one of the cards they had before, or a card from the widow) to give, face up, to each of their opponents, bringing each player to eight cards.
If, after exchanging cards, the declarer believes their hand has improved, they may choose to raise their bid. Raises must be a multiple of ten points. On the other hand, if they feel they are unlikely to make their contract, they may concede the hand. They deduct the value of the bid from their score, and each opponent scores 40 points. The hand is then over at that point.
If the declarer was forced and bid only 100 points, there are slightly different rules for dealing with the widow. Neither the widow, nor the cards passed to the opponents, are turned face up. Also, the declarer’s bid is locked in at 100; they cannot raise beyond this. A player with a bid of 100 may still choose to concede, however.
Play of the hand
The declarer leads to the first trick. Each player must follow suit, if possible. If not, they must play a trump; only if they have neither a trump nor a card of the suit led may they play a card of the other two suits. Players must also head the trick. That is, they must play a card able to win the trick if they have one they can legally play. The highest trump played to a trick wins it. If no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led takes the trick. Won tricks are not added to the hand; instead, they are placed in a won-tricks pile in front of each player. The player that won the trick leads to the next one.
Initially, there is no trump suit. If a player has a king and queen of the same suit when it is their turn to lead, they may reveal both of these cards as a marriage. They must then lead either of them to the trick. The trump suit then changes to that of the marriage. Which suit is trump may change multiple times per hand as players reveal further marriages. To remind the players of the current trump suit, keep an out-of-play card of the appropriate suit displayed, changing it as necessary.
Once all eight tricks have been played, the hand is scored. The declarer totals the value of the cards they captured in tricks. Aces are worth eleven points, 10s are worth ten, kings four, queens three, and jacks two. 9s have no point value. To this total, the declarer adds the value of any marriages they revealed in the hand. A marriage in hearts is worth 100 points, in diamonds 80, in clubs 60, and in spades 40. If the combined total exceeds the contract value, the declarer has made their contract.
A declarer that fulfills their contract scores the value of the contract (not their hand total). If the declarer breaks contract, they subtract the value of the contract from their score instead. In this case, the declarer’s opponents also score the value of their hand (calculated the same way as is done for the declarer).
The deal passes to the left and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until a player reaches a score of 1,001 or more points. A player is capped at a score of exactly 1,000 points when not the declarer, meaning players must make a contract on their final hand in order to win the game.
James Bond is a card game from the Commerce group of games. It can be played by either two or three players. It plays very similarly to a smaller, non-partnership version of Cash (Kemps), with each player holding multiple hands. In James Bond, players manage several four-card piles of cards, swapping cards with those on the table to make four-of-a-kinds.
Object of James Bond
The object of James Bond is to be the first player to collect four of a kind in each of their four-card piles.
James Bond is played using one standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Believe us, if you use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’ll definitely be as cool as James Bond.
Shuffle and deal the entire deck out into piles of four. With two players, give each player six of the piles; with three, give each player four piles. Players should keep the piles in front of them, clearly separated, and not look at them until the game begins. You’ll be left with one extra pile; turn it face up and spread it in the center of the play area, easily accessible to all players.
Players do not take turns in James Bond. Instead, every player acts simultaneously, playing as quickly as they can. Claiming cards is very much a first-come, first-served sort of ordeal!
Upon a signal from the dealer, all players begin play at once. They may pick up any one of their piles and look at it. If they wish to look at a different pile, they must place the first one face down on the table before picking up another one. A player cannot hold one or more piles in their hand at the same time. Piles cannot be combined, and cards may not be switched directly between piles.
When a player is holding one of their piles in their hand, they may switch any one card from that pile with one of the cards on the table. A player cannot switch more than one card at a time. If a player wishes to take multiple cards from the table, they must switch one card, then the other. Players may move cards between piles by swapping them with cards on the table, then switching piles and swapping again. Of course, this runs the risk of an opponent claiming the cards during the time that they’re on the table.
Game play continues until one player has collected four of a kind in every one of their piles. They call out “James Bond!” and turn their cards face up to allow the opponents to verify that they do, in fact, have four of a kind in each pile. If so, the player wins the game.
A decent amount of skill in this game is simply being fast. A player swapping cards quickly is more likely to establish a four-of-a-kind before their opponent. Part of this is inherent reflexes, and part is just practice.
Other than that, the best strategy in this game is to simply be aware of what’s going on. It’s easy to get lost in the frenzy of card swapping and get tunnel vision for what you need to complete your piles. Try to pay attention to what your opponent is doing, though. If you can remember what your opponent has been taking, you can retain cards of that rank in your piles until you are ready to complete a four-of-a-kind. If you have multiple cards of that rank split across piles, you can seriously delay them in completing their piles.