Conquian, also known as Coon Can, is a rummy game for two players. Conquian follows an open (face-up) melding style, and allows users to rearrange their melded cards. One unusual feature of the game is that players are not allowed to draw cards into the hand—any new cards the player gets must immediately be melded!
Conquian is one of the oldest rummy games in existence, and it is believed to be the common ancestor of the entire family of Western rummy games. It is believed to originate from Mexico, although it could share a common Phillipine heritage with Panguingue. The roots of the rummy family may trace even further back, to the Chinese game of Khanhoo.
Object of Conquian
The object of Conquian is to be the first player to lay down eleven cards in melds.
Conquian is played with the traditional 40-card Spanish deck. To get your hands on such a deck, just take a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and remove all the 10s, 9s, and 8s. You’ll be left with the aces, face cards, and 7s through 2s in each of the four suits.
The non-dealer plays first. They turn the first card of the stock face up. If they can form a valid meld with that card and two or more others from their hand, they can lay all the cards in the meld face-up in front of them as a group, then discard one card from the hand, placing it next to the stock to start the discard pile. Otherwise, they simply discard the card from the stock. The turn then passes to the dealer. They have the opportunity to use the discard to form a meld. If they can’t or don’t want to, they draw the next card from the stock and can meld it if possible, and so on.
There are two types of valid melds in Conquian. The first is the set or group, which is three or four cards of the same rank (e.g. 5-5-5). The second is the run or sequence, which is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g. 3-4-5♦ or 7-J-Q♠). Note that a nine- or ten-card sequence would make it impossible to go out, so a player will usually avoid sequences of longer than eight cards if they can help it. For the purposes of runs, aces are always considered low, and 7s are considered consecutive with jacks.
A player can only lay a new meld down when they have access to a card from the center of the table that can be added to it. That is, unlike in most rummy games, a player can never lay down a fully-formed meld from the hand. Nor can a player lay down cards on their opponent’s melds—all cards must be played only to a player’s own melds.
Players may rearrange their melds on the table in order to meld new cards from the stock or discard. A player may, for instance, move a card from a set of 4s to extend an A-2-3 sequence. They could then extend it further with a matching 5 from the discard pile. All cards on the table must be part of valid melds with three or more cards after rearranging.
A player is not required to accept a card from the stock or discard pile that they are able to meld. However, if a player notices their opponent passing up a melding opportunity, they can compel the opponent to take the card and meld it anyway. This is a surprisingly powerful move, since it can occasionally force a player to make a meld that makes it impossible to go out.
Ending the hand
Game play continues until one player has melded eleven cards, i.e. the ten from their hand plus one more from the center of the table on the last turn. If the stock is depleted before a player goes out, the hand is considered a draw.
Play or Pay is a simple game from the Stops family for three or more players. One player starts a sequence, and each player in turn must play the next higher card that continues it—or pay up!
Object of Play or Pay
The object of Play or Pay is to be the first player to run out of cards.
Play or Pay uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We accompany that statement with the familiar exhortation to give Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards a try. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips or some other convenient value-bearing token.
Discuss with your players whether or not actual money will be changing hands in the game. If so, sell the players the amount of chips they wish to purchase. Otherwise, distribute an equal number of chips to each player.
Shuffle and deal out the deck as far as it will go. Some players may receive more cards than others; this is perfectly fine.
The player to the dealer’s left begins the first sequence, playing any card that they desire, face up in front of them. The next player to the left must then play the next-highest card of the same suit if they hold it. If they don’t, they pay one chip to the pot and play passes to the left. Eventually, one player will be able to play the card (since every card in the deck was dealt) and the next player after them will be required to play the next card in sequence. This continues on up to the king of that suit, which is followed by the ace, and then the 2.
The sequence ends when the card immediately below the card that started the sequence—that is, the thirteenth card of the suit—is played. Whichever player holds this card immediately plays a card of one of the other three suits to start a new sequence.
Game play continues until one player runs out of cards. That player wins the hand. Each of their opponents pays one chip to the pot for each card they hold in their hand. The winner then collects the entire pot, and the deal passes to the left for the next hand.
Kowah is a rummy-esque game for two to four players, from the Indonesian island of Java. In this game, players try to form their eight-card hands into triplets—but winning the game requires holding three cards of the same rank and suit!
Object of Kowah
The object of Kowah is to form a hand of a certain structure so that the player can make a declaration of checki. Then, the player must obtain a card of the same rank and suit as two others in their hand.
Kowah uses a highly unusual 120-card deck. To build such a deck, start with four decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. 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 four 30-card decks together to form the full 120-card deck.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They draw from the stock, then discard one card from their hand, placing it face-up next to the stock to form the discard pile. Upon discarding, the turn passes to the left. Thereafter, players may draw either the top card of the stock or the top card of the discard pile at the beginning of their turns.
Players are trying to form a hand that meets either of these criteria:
- Two threes-of-a-kind (suits do not matter) and a pair of the same rank and suit. For example, 5♠-5♥-5♦-7♥-7♠-7♦-A♦-A♦.
- Three of a kind and a five-of-a-kind consisting of two pairs of the same rank and suit and one card of the same rank but a different suit. For example, 5♠-5♥-5♦-7♠-7♠-7♦-7♦-7♥.
Upon forming one of these hands, they declare checki, and place the pair of identical cards face up on the table in front of them. (For a checki of the second type, they may place either pair face up.) These cards are still considered part of the player’s hand.
When a player has declared checki
After player has declared checki, each time an opponent draws from the stock, they must reveal the card they have drawn. If it is a third card matching the same rank and suit as two in a checki player’s hand, they may claim that card. Likewise, if a player discards a card that would be the third card of the rank of suit a checki player needs, they may claim that card out of turn. As play continues, additional players may declare checki and are then able to claim cards out of turn the same way.
Game play continues until a checki player gets the third card they need. This player wins the game. If the stock is depleted before a player gets the card they need, the hand ends without a winner.
Pontoon is a British banking and gambling game, deriving from the same common ancestor as Blackjack. As in Blackjack, the goal of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Those who have played Blackjack before will find it instantly familiar; it plays much like the former game, but with a few extra rules and more places for the player to increase their bet.
The name Pontoon is most likely a corruption of vingt-et-un, French for twenty-one.
Object of Pontoon
The object of Pontoon is to, through selectively drawing more cards, obtain a better score than the dealer without going over 21.
Unlike in Blackjack, which can be dealt with as many as six decks of cards, Pontoon only uses one 52-card deck of playing cards. There’s absolutely no reason not to use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in your game. You’ll also need something to bet with, most likely poker chips.
Establish one player to be the dealer and banker. This player will be required to shoulder the risk of paying out all winning players, but also the reward of collecting all the losing players’ bets. Therefore, the banker is permitted to establish the maximum and minimum bets they are comfortable with.
Shuffle and deal one card, face down, to each player. Each player looks at their card, not revealing or disclosing it to the other players. Starting at the dealer’s left and going around, each player then places a bet between the dealer and their cards, making it clear which bet corresponds to which player. The dealer then gives each player a second card, face up.
The point value of each hand is calculated by adding the values of its cards together. Aces are worth one or eleven points, at the player’s option, face cards are worth ten points, and all other cards are worth their pip value.
The hands rank in the following order, highest first:
- Pontoon. Two cards totaling 21, i.e. an ace and a ten-point card: A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10.
- Five-card trick. Five or more cards totaling 21 or less. For example, 5-3-3-2-A (counting ace as one).
- All other hands in order of point value, starting at 21 (with three or more cards) and going down from there.
If a player exceeds a score of 21 at any time, they are said to have busted, and can no longer win anything from their bet.
Play of the hand
Before the hand is actually played, if the dealer is showing an ace or a ten-valued card, they check their face-down card to see if they have a pontoon. If they do, they collect double the amount bet from each player, and the hand ends with no further play.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They have the following options:
- Declare pontoon. If a player has a pontoon, they simply note this and move the cards so that the ace is face up and the ten-point card is face down. Play moves to the next player to the left.
- Stick or stand. To take no action because they are satisfied with the current total of their hand. Play moves to the next player to the left.
- Buy a card. To place an additional bet, at least the amount of the original bet but no more than twice the bet, and receive an additional face-down card. Unlike doubling in Blackjack, a player can continue to buy cards as long as they have the money and remain under 21 (unless they twist a card, as explained below).
- Twist a card or hit. To request an additional face-up card without having to pay for it. Upon twisting a card, a player can no longer buy cards. Any further cards must be twisted.
- Split. If a player has two cards of the same rank, they may turn them both face up and split their original hand into two hands, receiving a second card for each. Only available on the first action after being dealt a hand. The player first plays out the two hands in turn order, only moving to the second hand when the first is resolved. They may stick, twist, or split again if dealt a pair.
If a player busts as a result of buying or twisting cards, they turn all of their cards face up and announce this fact. The dealer then collects their bet and their cards (the latter of which go on the bottom of the deck).
After all players have had a chance to act on their hands, the dealer reveals their face-down card. They may draw until they are satisfied with their hand total (unlike in Blackjack, there is no requirement for the dealer to stop at 17).
After the dealer resolves their own hand, all players reveal their cards. The dealer collects bets made by all players with a point total lesser than or equal to theirs (e.g. if the dealer stops at 19, the dealer collects all bets from players holding 19 or lower. Players holding a pontoon or a five-card trick are paid double the amount of their wager.
If the dealer makes a five-card trick, only players with pontoons are paid out, receiving twice the amount of their bet as normal, and all other bets are lost to the bank.
If the dealer busts, all active players get paid, with pontoons and five-card tricks paying double, as per usual.
The next hand
If anyone had a pontoon on the last hand, the cards are collected and the deck shuffled. If the pontoon was held by a player, that player becomes the banker for the next hand. Should there be multiple people with pontoons, the first one to the left of the dealer has the right to bank the next hand.
The next hand is dealt by the same banker if there were no pontoons on the preceding hand. The cards are collected and simply placed on the bottom of the deck, with no shuffle. This rewards players with a good enough memory to remember which cards were in play on the previous hand, and therefore are less likely to come up.
Stealing Bundles is a game from the same fishing family as Cassino. It is played with two players. Players collect cards from the board with cards from their hand of the same rank. But if you happen to have another card of the same rank as the one your opponent just captured, you’re in luck, because then you can capture every card they’d collected up to that point!
Because of the simple game play and how one lucky card can radically change the game, there’s not a lot of strategy to Stealing Bundles. However, that makes it an excellent game to play with a young child. It can be used as a fun way to introduce kids to card games and the idea of forming pairs of cards. By the time they’re old enough to add, they might find Cassino more engaging.
Object of Stealing Bundles
The object of Stealing Bundles is to capture more cards than your opponent by pairing cards from your hand with those on the board and the card your opponent most recently paired.
Stealing Bundles requires one 52-card deck of playing cards. If you’re playing with a youngster, you could probably use the durability of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards even more than usual.
The non-dealer plays first. They examine their hand and the four board cards. If a card from their hand forms a pair with a card from the center of the table, they may capture that card. This is done by revealing the card from their hand, collecting the board card, and putting both cards face-up into a stack in front of them. This pile is called the player’s bundle. (Every capture a player makes is added to the same bundle pile.) Should there be multiple cards of the same rank on the board, one card from the hand can capture every card of that rank.
If a player cannot capture any cards on a turn, they discard one card, face up, to the board. This is known as trailing. After either making a capture or trailing, a player’s turn ends.
After a player’s opponent has started a bundle, the player may capture the bundle by revealing a card of the same rank as the top card of the bundle. By doing so, the player captures every card in the opponent’s bundle, adding them all to their own bundle pile!
After four turns, the players will have exhausted their hands. Deal four new cards from the stock to each player (but not the board). Continue refreshing the players’ hands every four turns until the stock is depleted. When the stock runs out, each player continues playing cards until they are unable to make any more plays. Each player then counts up the number of cards in their bundle. Whoever has more cards (i.e. whoever has more than 26 cards) wins.