Triple Play (Hand, Knee, and Foot)

Triple Play, also known as Hand, Knee, and Foot, is a variation on Canasta for four players in partnerships. Like Hand and Foot, Triple Play gives each player extra hands of cards they must play through before going out. However, while Hand and Foot requires a player to play out their hand and one extra hand, in Triple Play, you have two extra hands to get rid of, or three in all! That means a Triple Play player effectively has a 39-card hand!

Most widely-played games evolved over time, their creators lost to history. Not so with Triple Play—it was invented by Sue Henberger of Huntley, Illinois. We even have an exact date when Henberger first began thinking of creating the game: New Year’s Eve, 2005. That night, she and three of her friends began discussing the possibility of adding new rules to their usual Canasta game to stave off boredom. Henberger kept working on the game and playtesting it, before finally introducing it to her local Canasta club, to great success. From one Illinois Canasta club, the game began to spread nationwide.

Object of Triple Play

The object of Triple Play is to score more points than your opponents over the course of four hands. Points can be scored by forming melds of three or more cards and canastas, which are melds of seven cards.

Setup

To play Triple Play, you’ll need a massive number of cards—six standard decks, plus twelve jokers (two per deck), 324 cards in all! Once you’ve put together such a big deck, you’ll want it to last as long as possible, so protect your investment by choosing Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll be holding a lot of cards in your hand, so you’ll probably want the bridge-size cards. You also need something to keep score with, such as pencil and paper or a smartphone app.

Determine partnerships, either by some form of random draw, or by mutual agreement. Partners should sit on opposite sides of the table, so that players of alternate partnerships play as the turn proceeds clockwise around the table.

Shuffle (using the multiple-deck shuffling technique) and deal a fifteen-card hand to each player. Next, deal out a thirteen-card knee pile for each player, and an eleven-card foot pile. Players may look at their hands, but not the knee and foot piles. The foot piles are stacked neatly in front of each player, face down, with the knee pile atop it at right angles.

The remaining undealt cards are placed in the center of the table, forming the stock. The top card of the stock is turned face-up and placed next to it. This is the upcard, the top card of the discard pile. If the upcard is a joker, 2, red 3, 5, or 7, bury it face-down in the middle of the stock and draw another card.

Game play

Card ranks and scoring

The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:

  • Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
  • Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
  • 2s: 2s are also wild. 20 points.
  • Aces: 20 points.
  • K–8s: 10 points.
  • 7s–4s: 5 points.
  • Black 3s: Cannot be melded. 5 points.

Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.

Play of the hand

Any player holding a red 3 in their hand at the beginning of the hand lays it face-up on the table and immediately draws a replacement. Any further red 3s that a player draws while playing their initial fifteen-card hand are similarly exposed and replaced. One player on each partnership is responsible for collecting their and their partners’ melds and red 3s and keeping them on the table in front of them.

After the red 3s have been replaced, play begins with the player to the dealer’s left. On a player’s turn, they will draw and then meld if possible. Normally, they will then discard.

Drawing

The first action a player takes is to draw. In most cases, they will do this by simply drawing the top two cards from the stock.

A player can also pick up the discard pile and add it to their hand. To do so, the player must have two cards in their hand that they can immediately meld with the top card of the discard pile. (Any other cards in the discard pile are inaccessible to them until they demonstrate that they can legally meld the top card.) If this is the partnership’s first meld for that deal, additional cards from the hand may be melded alongside the card from the discard pile in order to satisfy the opening-meld requirement.

Because black 3s cannot be melded, a player cannot draw from the discard pile when the upcard is a black 3. If the top card of the discard pile is a wild card, then the player can only draw from the discard pile if the player is holding two other cards of the same natural rank. That is, if there is a 2 on the discard pile, you must hold two other 2s to draw from it; you cannot substitute jokers for the 2s).

Melding

After drawing, a player may form one or more melds, or add to any existing melds formed on previous turns. A meld consists of three to seven cards of the same rank. Melds are traditionally fanned out so that each card’s index is visible.

A meld can contain only one wild card in a meld of three to five cards, and no more than two in a meld of six or seven. Melds of 5s and 7s can never contain wild cards. A player can also make a meld that consists of all wild cards. A meld with no wild cards is said to be a natural or clean meld; a meld that does include them is a mixed or dirty meld.

On the first turn of the deal that a partnership melds, they must meet a minimum point threshold, as follows:

  • First deal: 50 points
  • Second deal 90 points
  • Third deal: 120 points
  • Fourth deal: 150 points

Once the initial meld has been made, melds made by that partnership on subsequent turns on that deal are not subject to the minimums. Existing melds can be extended by either player in the partnership with more natural cards, or with wild cards, if possible. Players cannot move cards between melds, nor can they establish two separate melds of less than seven cards of the same rank. Players cannot add to their opponents’ melds.

A meld of seven cards is called a canasta. Traditionally, a canasta is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for a natural canasta, and a black card on top for a mixed canasta. A canasta cannot contain more than seven cards; once a canasta has been completed, the partnership can begin a new meld of the same rank.

Discarding

After melding, a player that began their turn by drawing from the stock ends it by discarding a single card. If a player began their turn by picking up the discard pile instead, they do not discard. Instead, they knock on the table to signify when they are done melding. The next player has no choice but to draw from the stock.

Picking up the knee and foot

When a player finishes their partnership’s first canasta, they pick up their knee pile and add it to their hand. They then continue their turn as usual. On their partner’s next turn, they must also remember to pick up their knee pile. Nobody can remind them to do so; anyone who does is subject to a stiff 1,000-point penalty!

Beginning when a player picks up their knee pile, they no longer draw a card to replace red 3s. They simply play them and continue their turn.

After a player has picked up their knee pile, when they run out of cards, they pick up their foot pile and continue play from there. If a player’s last card was discarded, they do not pick up their foot pile until the beginning of their next turn.

Ending the deal

Throughout the game, each partnership works toward completing a set of five canastas known as the basic book. The basic book is as follows:

  • A natural canasta of 5s
  • A natural canasta of 7s
  • A canasta of wild cards
  • Any natural canasta
  • Any mixed canasta

When a player runs out of cards after picking up their foot pile, they may go out if their partnership has completed their basic book. To do so, they must first ask their partner if they can go out. Their partner’s answer is binding; a player cannot go out if their partner withholds their permission to do so.

In the rare event the stock runs out before a player can go out, follow the same procedure used in Hand and Foot to end the deal.

Each partnership totals the value of the cards it has melded. From this total, they deduct the value of any cards remaining in their hands, as well as their knee and foot piles. Unplayed red 3s have a value of –500 points each; unplayed black 3s are –100 points each.

Then, the following canasta bonuses are added:

  • 7s: 5,000 points per canasta.
  • 5s: 3,000 per canasta.
  • Wild cards: 2,500 points per canasta.
  • Natural canastas: 500 points per canasta.
  • Mixed canastas: 300 points per canasta.

The following bonuses are also included:

  • Red 3s: 100 points each.
  • Collecting seven or more red 3s: 300 points.
  • Going out: 200 points.

All of the above is combined to reach the total score for the deal and recorded on the score sheet. Then, the cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. The partnership with the highest score at the end of four hands is the winner.

See also

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Stop the Bus (Bastard)

Stop the Bus, also known as Bastard, is a simple English card game for two to six players. It is part of the Commerce family of games, where players gradually build up a good hand by exchanging cards from their hand with better ones. It plays somewhat similar to Knock Poker, but using Brag hands rather than poker hands.

Object of Stop the Bus

The object of Stop the Bus is to form the best three-card Brag hand.

Setup

Stop the Bus is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you want to treat your players to the best game of Stop the Bus possible, make sure you play with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also need some sort of counter or token, such as poker chips.

Give each player an equal number of tokens (higher numbers of tokens will produce a longer game). Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. Then, deal three face-up cards to the center of the table. Set the remaining deck stub aside; it has no further part in game play.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They draw one card from the three face up on the table. They then choose one card to discard, face up, replacing the card they drew. The turn then passes to the next player.

Game play continues in this way, with players seeking to improve their hands through successive draws and discards. When a player is satisfied with their hand, they may call out “Stop the bus!” Each of their opponents then takes one more turn. When the turn reaches the player who called “Stop the bus”, the hand ends. All players then turn their hand face up and compare their hands. Whichever player has the worst Brag hand surrenders one token.

The cards are collected and the deal passes to the left. Another hand is played. Game play continues in this fashion, with players dropping out whenever they run out of tokens. The last player with at least one remaining token wins the game.

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Diloti

Diloti is a Greek fishing game for two players (or four players in partnerships). It plays similarly to another Greek fishing game, Kontsina. However, it also incorporates bonuses for capturing all the cards in one fell swoop, as in Xeri. This, along with the ability to form cards into sets that can only be captured together, makes Diloti one of the most strategic games in the fishing family.

Object of Diloti

The object of Diloti is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank. Particular attention is given to capturing all the cards on the table on one turn, which scores higher.

Setup

If you want to play Diloti, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you want to give your players the best Diloti game ever—and who doesn’t?—you’ll need a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app. You can also use a Cribbage board.

If you’re playing with four players, determine partnerships by some convenient method like high-card draw, or simply mutual agreement. Partners should be seated across from each other, so that as the turn progresses around the table players from alternating partnerships get a turn.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up to the center of the table. If three or more of these cards are the same rank, shuffle all four of them back into the deck and deal four new cards. Place the stub next to these four cards, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left plays first. On each turn, a player plays a single card from their hand. If it doesn’t match with anything else on the table, they simply play it face-up to the table. This is called laying the card. If possible, however, a player will try to capture cards from the table, since this is how points are scored.

Capturing cards

A player may form one or more cards on the table into a bundle that must be captured as a single unit. This bundle is known as a declaration. For example, with a 2 and a 3 on the table, a player may play a 5 and form all three cards into a declaration with a value of 10. This declaration would only be able to captured on a later turn with a 10. Note that because face cards have no defined value, they cannot be included in a declaration. To avoid ambiguity, it is customary to state the value of the declaration when forming it. The declaration should be formed into a pile on the table, with all indices visible, to denote it can only be captured as a unit, as well as allowing players to see its value.

A player can also capture multiple cards by playing a card whose rank is equal to the total of the values of the cards being captured. For example, with a 5 and a 3 on the table, playing an 8 will capture both cards. Cards’ values are equal to their pip value; face cards have no value. If multiple combinations of cards add up to the card played, all of them can be captured at once. For example, if there are an 8, 6, 5, 3, and 2 on the table, an 8 could capture all five cards (8 alone, 5+3, and 6+2).

When a player captures cards, they place them, as well as the card used to capture them, face down in a pile in front of them. (In the four-player game, each player shares a captured-cards pile with their partner.) No player can inspect these cards for any reason until the end of the hand.

Regular declarations

A player may form cards on the table into a bundle that must be captured as a single unit. This bundle is known as a declaration. For example, with a 2 and a 3 on the table, a player may play a 5, then group all three cards into a declaration with a value of 10. This declaration would only be able to captured on a later turn with a 10. Note that because face cards have no defined value, they cannot be included in a declaration. To avoid ambiguity, it is customary to state the value of the declaration when forming it.

After a declaration has been formed, any player can capture it if they have a card of a proper value. An opponent may also raise the declaration by adding an additional card to it, thus increasing the value of the card needed to capture it. A player cannot raise their own declaration or one formed by their partner. Of course, a player cannot raise the value of a declaration above 10, because no single card in the deck has a value greater than 10.

To form a declaration, a player must have a card in their hand that can capture it. Likewise, to raise a declaration, the raising player must hold a card with the new value of the declaration. The player that formed or raised the declaration cannot use the card for any other purpose but capturing the declaration (unless it is captured or raised by another player). After forming a new declaration, a player cannot lay cards, nor form new declarations until the existing declaration is captured (either by themselves or someone else) or raised by an opponent. This restriction passes to an opponent who raises a declaration already on the table.

Group declarations

A more complex type of declaration is the group declaration. A group declaration is a set of multiple single cards or bundles of cards, where the value of each set is equal. For example, with a 2, 6, and two 4s on the table, a player could make a group declaration with a value of 8 (the first set being 2+6 and the second being 4+4). Later, all four cards could be captured by playing an 8. When forming a group declaration, a player should state that they are doing so by stating “group of 8s”. This avoids ambiguity regarding the type of declaration being made.

The real power of a group declaration is that it can incorporate existing regular declarations as one of the sets. For example, Alpha creates a declaration of 7 by playing a 3 onto a 4. The next player, Bravo, raises the declaration to 9 by adding a 2 to it. Then they combine it with another 9 on the table to make a group declaration. Bravo (or any other player) could then capture all four cards with another 9.

A player is permitted to incorporate an existing regular declaration that they are obliged to capture into a new group declaration. This is the only way a player can form a new declaration while they already have a uncaptured declaration on the table. A player may also incorporate their partner’s declaration into a group declaration. All of the same restrictions that apply to a player with a pending regular declaration apply to a player that has formed a group declaration as well.

Capturing xeri

Beginning on the second turn of the hand, when a player plays a single card that captures every face-up card on the table, they are said to have captured those cards xeri (an Greek word meaning “plain” or “dry”). A xeri capture scores more points than cards captured otherwise. Because of this, a good deal of the strategy in Diloti involves blocking your opponents from getting xeris, while seizing any opportunities your opponent may leave open to get one.

To record a xeri, the player places one card from the batch captured face up and at right angles to the rest of the their won-cards pile.

Replenishing the hands

After six turns, the players will have run out of cards. The dealer then deals every player a new hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.

When the last batch of cards has been dealt from the stock, the game continues until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining on the table and adds them to their won cards. (This does not count as a xeri.)

Scoring

After the hand ends, each player or partnership looks through the cards in their won-tricks pile and totals up their score for the hand, as follows:

  • Ten points for each xeri
  • Four points for capturing the most cards. If both players or teams tie at 26 cards, neither side scores these four points.
  • Two points for capturing the 10♦
  • One point for each ace captured
  • One point for capturing the 2♣

The scores are recorded on the scoresheet, the deal passes to the left, and another hand is played. Game play continues until a player or partnership reaches a score of 61 or higher. Whichever side has the higher score at that point wins the game.

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Seven Rummy (Seven Bridge)

Seven Rummy is a rummy game played in Japan. It’s also known as Seven Bridge, despite the fact that it has no trick taking, bidding, or any other characteristic of Bridge. It can be played by two to five players. What makes Seven Rummy unique among rummy games is the unusual role 7s play in the game. Any meld containing a 7 doesn’t have to contain three cards; it can have two, or even just one!

Object of Seven Rummy

The object of Seven Rummy is to be the first player to form their entire hand into melds.

Setup

Seven Rummy uses the standard 52-card deck. You can play with any 52-card deck, but to give your players the best that they deserve, insist on Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You also need pencil and paper or some other way of keeping score.

Shuffle and deal seven cards to each player. Place the stub face down in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn over the first card of the stock. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. A Seven Rummy player’s turn follows the usual Rummy pattern of draw, then meld, then discard. A player normally draws from the stock—unlike in other rummy games, in Seven Rummy, there are some restrictions on when a card can be drawn from the discard pile, described below. After drawing, a player may lay any melds they can form face up on the table in front of them. Then, they discard a card face up onto the discard pile, and their turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.

Melding

Organizing their hands into melds is the goal of every player. There are two types of melds. The first is three or four of a kind. The other meld type is the sequence, which is three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as 4-5-6♣. For the purposes of sequences, cards rank in their usual order, with aces always low.

A player may lay down as many melds as they are able to on their turn. (However, if a player is able to meld all seven cards at once, they score double for the hand.) If a player can extend another player’s meld on the table using cards from their own hand, they may also lay off cards onto those melds.

Including a 7 in a meld waives the normal minimum-card requirements for that meld. A 7 may be melded by itself. It can also be part of a two-card sequence (like 6-7♦) or part of a pair (like 7♥-7♠).

Drawing from the discard pile

Normally, a player is only allowed to draw from the stock, not the discard pile. However, there are two situations in which a player can draw the top card of the discard pile instead. Both of them require a player to be able to immediately form a new meld with cards from their hand. Also, in both cases, a player must have already had at least one turn where they drew a card from the stock.

If a player can use the previous player’s card along with one or more cards from their hand to form a new sequence, they can do so. They must meld it immediately. They may then lay down any other melds they have in their hand and discard. The turn then passes to the left, as normal.

If a player discards a card that another player can use to form a new three or four of a kind, that player may draw the card immediately, even if it’s not their turn. As with a sequence formed with a discard, the meld must be laid on the table immediately. The player can then lay down any other melds, as desired, and discards to end their turn. The next player to the left still plays next, not the player whose turn would have been next had the active player not interrupted—this often results in players getting skipped.

If two players can draw and meld the same discard, the player melding the three or four of a kind has priority.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when a player has no cards left in their hand after melding and discarding. (A final discard is always required.) This player wins the hand. All of the other players total up the value of the deadwood left in their hands, as follows:

  • 7s—20 points each
  • Face cards—10 points each
  • All other cards—their pip value

The winner of the hand scores the total of all of the other players’ deadwood scores. If a player goes out without having previously melded any cards at all (i.e. they melded all seven cards at once, then discarded), they score double for that hand.

The player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer for the next hand. Game play continues until a predetermined stopping point, either a certain number of hands or a target score. Whoever has the highest score at that point wins the game.

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Kontsina

Kontsina (also sometimes known as Koltsina or Kolitsina) is a straightforward fishing game for two to four players. Much like in Cassino, players try to capture cards laid out on the table. This can be done through matching cards in rank, or by adding the values of the target cards together to equal the rank of a card in your hand.

Like Xeri, Kontsina originates in Greece. There, the game is often learned and enjoyed by children. A more complex Greek game, Diloti, is similar to a merge between Kontsina and Xeri, allowing more latitude for strategy.

Object of Kontsina

The object of Kontsina is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured with a card matching them in rank, or by using one card from the hand to capture a combination of cards that add up to its rank.

Setup

To play Kontsina, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, to make your Kontsina game the place to be, you’ll want to play using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also want something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player. Then, deal four cards face up on the table. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player may play a single card from their hand. If the card doesn’t match any of the other cards on the table, it is called laying the card. A card that is laid simply remains on the table. However, if possible, a player will normally try to match another card on the table, as doing so allows them to capture the card.

Capturing cards

The simplest way to capture a card is to merely match it by rank. For example, a jack can capture another jack, a 4 can capture another 4, and so on. Note that if there are multiple cards on the table of the same rank, a player can only capture one of them through matching.

Another way a player may capture a card is by playing a card that two or more cards on the table add up to in pip value. For example, a 9 could be used to capture a 5 and a 4, or a 6 and a 3, or a 2, 3, and 4, and so on. Aces are considered to have a value of one. Face cards do not have a value in this way and can only be captured by matching by rank.

When a player captures a card, the cards so captured, as well as the card used to capture them, are placed face-down in a pile in front of the player. This pile is kept separate from the player’s hand, and no player may look through it until the hand is over.

After playing one card, whether it captures anything or not, the player’s turn ends. The turn then passes to the left.

Replenishing the hands

When each player has played four times, everyone will be out of cards. The dealer then deals four new cards to each player from the stock, and the game continues.

Ending the hand

The hand ends when all of the players are out of cards and there are none remaining in the stock. Any remaining cards on the table are taken by the last player to capture any cards. Each player then looks through their captured-cards pile, and scores points as follows:

  • Two points for capturing the most cards. If two or more players tie for capturing the most cards, these two points are not scored by anyone.
  • One point for capturing the most clubs.
  • One point for capturing the 2♣. (Note that the 2♣ still counts as a club for the purpose of capturing the most clubs.)
  • One point for capturing the 10♦.

The deal then passes to the left, and a new hand is played. Game play continues until at least one player reaches a predetermined score, for example, 21 points. Whichever player has the highest score at that point is the winner. If there is a tie, additional tiebreaker hands are played until a winner is determined.

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Trash

Completed Trash card game layout

Trash is a simple card game for two or more players. In Trash, players compete to fill in a ten-card layout first. The cards you get to place are the luck of the draw, however, pretty much making any form of strategy impossible. It is an excellent game for children, though, and can be used as a teaching tool for kids still learning their numbers.

Object of Trash

The object of Trash is to be the first player to fill in a layout of ten cards with one card of each rank from ace to 10.

Setup

To play Trash, you’ll need a one standard 52-card deck of playing cards for every two players besides yourself. That is, for two players, you’ll need one deck, for three or four players, you’ll need two decks, for five or six you need three decks, and so on. Shuffle all the decks together. It doesn’t matter if the back designs don’t all match. As always, using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will make your game night better.

Shuffle and deal each player ten cards, face down, in two five-card rows. Players may not look at their cards. The stub is placed in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing one card from the stock. If the card drawn is an ace through 10, they place it in the appropriate spot on their layout, as shown by the image above. Jacks are wild and may be placed anywhere in the layout. The player then flips over the face-down card previously occupying that space. They then place that card, and so on. A player’s turn ends whenever they expose either a card they cannot place on the layout, a queen, or a king. When this happens, they discard it and their turn ends. Discards are placed face up next to the stock, forming a discard pile.

The turn then passes to the next player. If the previous player’s discard fits into their layout, they draw it and begin their turn by playing it to their layout. Otherwise, they begin the turn by drawing a card from the stock.

If, at any point, a player draws a natural card that would fit in their layout in a spot currently occupied by a jack, they may place the natural card. The jack is then free to be played to any other space in the layout.

Should the stock be depleted before a hand ends, set aside the top card of the discard pile. Shuffle the rest of the cards, and turn them face down to form a new stock. The old top card remains as the first card in the new discard pile.

Game play continues until a player has filled in all ten spots of their layout. That player is the winner of the hand.

Later hands

After the first hand, the cards are collected, and the deal passes to the left. The new dealer deals the winner of the previous hand a layout of only nine cards, leaving the previous 10 spot blank. To win a second hand, the player must only fill in the spots corresponding to ace through 9. However, this means that exposing a 10 will end their turn, the same as kings and queens. When this player wins a second hand, they are dealt an eight-card layout, corresponding to aces through 8s, and so on.

A player wins the entire game by being the first player to fill in a one-card layout with either an ace or a jack.

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Xeri

Xeri is a simple fishing game for two players. In Xeri, players alternately discard single cards to a pile in the middle of the table. When someone plays a card that matches the rank of the top card of the discard pile, they get to claim all the cards in the pile!

Xeri originates from Greece, and xeri is a Greek word meaning “dry” or “plain”. This comes from the bonus scored when capturing a single-card pile. The notion of collecting bonuses for capturing cards one at a time is also found in the more complex and strategic Greek game Diloti.

Object of Xeri

The object of Xeri is to capture as many cards as possible. Cards are captured by matching cards from the hand to the top card of the discard pile.

Setup

To play Xeri, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As a discerning host that wants to provide the best to their players, you’ll of course want to play with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper or a smartphone app.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, deal four cards, face up, to form a discard pile. Take a look at these cards to see if the top card of the pile is a jack, or if the card on top of the pile and the card below it are the same rank. If either of these are true, shuffle the discard pile back into the deck and deal a new four-card discard pile. After the discard pile has been formed, place the stub next to it, forming the stock.

Game play

The non-dealer goes first. They may play any card they wish to the discard pile. The turn then passes to the dealer, who also discards a card, and so on.

If a player plays a card of the same rank as the card currently showing on top of the discard pile, they capture the pile. They take the whole pile and place it face down in front of them, forming a won-cards pile. Their opponent then discards a card, starting a new discard pile.

Jacks are essentially wild. When played, they capture the pile as if they matched the top card, whatever its rank is.

Once cards are captured and placed in the won-cards pile, neither player can look through them to see what has and hasn’t been played yet.

Capturing xeri

After a player captures cards, their opponent starts a new discard pile with a single card. The capturing player is then faced with a discard pile with only one card in it. If they capture this card with a card of the same rank, they are said to have captured that card xeri (an adjective meaning “plain” or “dry”). Capturing xeri scores more points than cards captured otherwise. To signify this, the card captured xeri is turned face up and placed at right angles to the rest of the pile.

If a single card is captured by a jack, it does not count as a xeri capture unless the single card in the pile was also a jack.

Replenishing the hands

After six turns, both players’ hands will have been depleted. The dealer then deals each player a fresh hand of six cards from the stock. Play continues as before.

When the stock is depleted, the hand is played out until all the cards have been played. This ends the hand. The last player to capture cards takes any cards remaining in the discard pile and adds them to their won cards.

Scoring

At the end of the hand, each player calculates their score for the hand as follows:

  • 10 points for each xeri (note that the xeri cards also count as captured cards, and so should be included when considering the scoring options below)
  • 3 points for capturing more cards than the opponent
  • 1 point for each ace, king, queen, jack or 10
  • 1 point for capturing the 10♦ (note that the 10♦ also counts as a 10, so capturing it is worth two points altogether)
  • 1 point for capturing the 2♣

Whichever player scores the most points wins the hand. The deal passes to the other player, and the next hand is played. Whoever won more hands at the end of a predetermined number of hands wins the overall game.

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Dingo

Dingo is a strategic card game for four players. In this game, being the last player to play a black card of a given rank gets you points, but being the second-to-last gives your opponent points. So what’s a player to do? A good Dingo player has to keep track of the location of as many cards as possible! That, plus a healthy amount of plain intuition, lets a player determine when they should play and when they might be better off passing.

Dingo doesn’t appear to be very closely related to any other card game we’ve seen. That means someone probably just invented it from scratch. Who that might be, though, we don’t know. We do know that it’s played most frequently in Cleveland, Ohio, so that’s most likely where it started out.

Object of Dingo

The object of Dingo is to score the most points possible. This is primarily done by being the last player to play a black card of a particular rank.

Setup

A game of Dingo requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. You can easily give your game a real upgrade by playing with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Remove all of the diamonds from the deck, except for the A♦. Arrange the diamonds in ascending rank order and place them in a pile, face up, in the middle of the table, with the 2♦ showing. These diamonds are called rabbits. Shuffle the remaining 40 cards and deal them out evenly. Each player will have ten cards.

Game play

Discards and exchanges

Starting with the dealer, each player discards one card other than an ace from their hand, face up, to a discard pile visible to each of the players. Aces may never be discarded. Players should take care to keep the discard pile squared up, so that only the most recent card played to it is visible.

After everyone has discarded, the dealer chooses one card from their hand and passes it to their left. That player looks at the card passed to them, and likewise passes a card from their hand to the left. This continues until all four players have passed. Each player, again starting with the dealer, then discards a card, as before.

The dealer then leads the next round of passing, this time passing a card to the player directly across from them. The player to the dealer’s left does likewise. Then the turn continues to the left, with the player across from the dealer passing a card back to the dealer. Finally, the player to the dealer’s right passes a card back across to the player on the dealer’s left. Each player in turn, again starting with the dealer, discards a third card.

The final round of passing begins with the dealer, as you might expect, passing a card to their right. The turn still follows the usual clockwise order, though, meaning that the only player who gets to see the card they’ve gotten before choosing to pass a card of their own will be the player to the dealer’s right. Once this is done, there is a fourth and final round of discards. Each player will have discarded four of their initial ten cards, leaving them with their final six-card hands.

Hunting the rabbits

With the players having established their hands, the hunts now begin. The dealer calls out the rank of the card showing on the rabbit pile (for the first hunt of the game, this will be the 2). Whichever player holds the heart of that rank, called the dingo, must immediately play it. If nobody holds the dingo, meaning it was discarded, the hunt ends with nobody scoring, and the rabbit is discarded.

If someone does play the dingo, each player after them in turn may play one of the black cards of that rank, known as the wolves. Unlike the dingo, a player holding a wolf is not compelled to play it; they may simply pass. Wolves can only be played by players other than the dingo player.

When the dingo and only one wolf is played, the wolf catches the rabbit—the person playing the wolf places it and the rabbit in a score pile in front of them. The dingo player also places the dingo in their score pile. If both wolves are played, the second wolf played catches the rabbit. The dingo player places both the dingo and the first wolf in their score pile.

If all three players pass, with no wolves being played, the rabbit is discarded. The dingo then counts against the player who played it. They place the dingo in a penalty pile placed at right angles to their own score pile.

After each hunt is completed, the hunt for the next-higher rank begins. This continues for each rank from 2 all the way up to king.

Hunting the A♦

After the players complete the king hunt, they hunt the ace. Because all of the aces, including the A♦ (the rabbit), are in the players’ hands, this hunt goes a little differently. First, the dingo is played, as usual. Each player in turn then may play one or both wolves (playing wolves is still optional). If both wolves have been played by the time whoever holds the rabbit takes their turn, they may play it then. (If a player holds wolves and the rabbit, they must play the wolves first. They can then immediately play the rabbit afterward.) After the other three players have taken their turn, the dingo player gets a turn to play wolves or the rabbit, if they have them. The hunt then ends.

If the dingo was the only card played and everyone else passed, the dingo is added to that player’s penalty pile, as usual. If any wolves were played, those that played them add them to their own score pile. The dingo player scores for the dingo. The player holding the rabbit adds it to their score pile if they were able to play it; otherwise, they reveal it to the other players and put it in their penalty pile.

Scoring

After the ace hunt is complete, the players expose their remaining cards. Players should not have any red cards remaining in their hand; playing these cards at some point in the hand is compulsory. Any players who are found to hold any red cards forfeit the game.

Each player tallies up the value of their score piles. The A♦ is worth ten points, all other aces three points each, face cards and 10s two points each, and 9s and lower one point each. The players then compute the value of their penalty piles the same way, although the A♦ is worth only three points in the penalty pile. Finally, by subtracting the value of the penalty pile from that of the score pile, the players arrive at their scores for the game.

Whichever player has the highest score wins the game. In the event of a tie, the player holding the highest rabbit in their score pile (not their penalty pile) wins.

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Envite

Envite is a trick-taking game for four to as many as twelve players in teams. Although it includes a round of bidding, the result of this doesn’t affect the trump suit—it merely sets the stakes for the hand. Each team has a captain that is solely responsible for speaking for their teammates. To communicate with the captain, the players must send secret signals, and hope their opponents don’t catch on!

Envite plays like a more elaborate version of the mainland Spanish game of Truc, blending in the practice of secret signals found in Mus. Envite was created in Spain’s Canary Islands. It is still widely played there, with tournaments common during local holidays.

Object of Envite

The object of Envite is to successfully capture two of the three tricks on each hand, thus scoring points (stones). When a team reaches twelve or more points, they win the game. Traditionally, a match of three games is played, with the team winning two out of three winning the match.

Setup

Supplies

Envite is normally played with a Spanish 40-card deck. If all you’ve got on hand is a standard English-style 52-card deck, like a pack of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you can make an equivalent deck pretty easily. Just remove all the 8s, 9s, and 10s. What’s left over will be a 40-card deck made up of face cards and 2s through 7s in each of the four suits.

You’ll also need something to keep score with. Players in the Canary Islands typically use a “hard score” method. If you wish to do so too, you’ll need 22 chips, stones, or tokens of some kind. You can also use pencil and paper if that works better for you.

Teams

Divide up into two teams through whatever means is convenient, like random-card draw or mutual agreement. Each team should also designate a captain that will speak for the team in matters of bidding. (This can also be done randomly, if needed to avoid arguments!) Players should be seated so that as the turn proceeds around the table, players of alternating teams take their turn.

If playing with an odd number of players, one team’s captain will control a “dummy” hand. Establish this spot the same as if a real player were sitting there. It will receive a hand and play in turn just like any other player.

Evite is normally played with a series of signals that players can use to indicate to their captain what is in their hand. The signals used are the same for both teams. A key Evite skill is learning how to pass the signals to the captain without the opponents noticing. Which signals are allowed and what they mean should be agreed upon before the game starts.

The deal

Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. After the hands have been dealt, turn up the next card of the deck and place it in the middle of the table. The suit of this card will become the trump suit for the ensuing hand. The remainder of the stub takes no part in play.

Card ranking

In Envite, the trump suit is enlarged as more players are added to the game:

  • Four players (two per side): (high) 2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
  • Five or six players (three per side): (high) 3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
  • Seven or eight players (four per side): (high) 5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
  • Nine or ten players (five per side): (high) 2♦-5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)
  • Eleven or twelve players (six per side): (high) A♦-2♦-5♦-3♣-Q♣-J♦-2-K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3 (low)

In non-trump suits, the cards rank in more or less their usual order, with the ace inserted between the jack and the 7, for a full ranking of (high) K-Q-J-A-7-6-5-4-3-2 (low). Note that if you’re playing with more than four players, the cards that are added to the trump suit do not count as belonging to the suit printed on the card. They are part of whichever suit the trump is for that hand.

Game play

Bidding

The bidding process in Envite is more like a negotiation between the two captains. While it’s going on, the players on each team are furtively signaling their captain as to what they hold, hoping to feed them information that can help them decide how strong their team’s position is.

By default, winning a hand is worth two stones (points). If neither captain acts, the hand simply proceeds at this stake. However, either captain may challenge the other to increase the stake to four stones. If the challenged captain declines, then the challenging team automatically wins the hand at a value of two stones. The captain may also accept playing the hand for four stones, or may raise the stakes further to seven stones.

If the stake is raised to seven stones, the other captain may then, as before, forfeit the hand (with the other team scoring four stones), agree to play at a stake of seven stones, or raise further to nine. The next raise after this is a raise to make the ensuing hand determine the winner of the whole game.

Play of the hand

Game play begins with the player to the dealer’s right, who leads a card to the first trick. Each player in turn, continuing to the right, must play a card of the same suit, if able. If they cannot, they may play any card, including a trump. The highest card of the suit led, or the highest trump if any were played, wins the trick. The player that won the trick then leads to the next one.

Leading with a trump is called trawling. When a player trawls, all players must play a trump if they are able. If any player doesn’t have a trump to play, their team immediately loses the hand. Their opponents score the value of the hand as determined in the bidding, plus a two-stone bonus.

Otherwise, game play continues until one team scores two tricks. Whichever team does so wins the hand, and scores the value of the hand. The deal then passes to the right, and another hand is played.

Lying down

When a team’s score reaches eleven points, any points in excess of eleven are ignored. (That is, if a team were to have a score of, say, eight stones, and then win a hand valued at four stones, their score would become eleven; the extra point is ignored.) This team is said to be lying down. Special rules apply when a team is lying down, because only one more stone is needed to win the game.

When a team is lying down, the normal bidding procedure doesn’t happen. Instead, the captain of the team that is lying down chooses whether or not to forfeit the hand. If they forfeit, the opponents score one stone. Should the lying-down team play the hand and lose, the opponents score three stones. When a lying-down team wins a hand, they win the game.

If both teams are lying down, the hand is played no matter what, and the winner of the hand wins the game.

Traditionally, Envite is played in best-of-three matches. Whoever wins two out of the three games wins the overall match.

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Mattis

Mattis is a Norwegian trick-taking game for three to eight players. A game of Mattis consists of two distinct parts. First, players build their hands by capturing cards during the first trick-taking segment. Then, players try to rid their hand of cards in the second half. The last player to have cards in their hand is called the mattis, Norwegian for fool.

Mattis is part of a family of Scandinavian games with this two-part structure. Like the Swedish game Skitgubbe and the Finnish game Koira, it likely derives from the game Myllymatti, which originated in what is now western Finland in the early nineteenth century. As these games spread west into Norway, they evolved into what is now called Mattis.

Object of Mattis

The object of Mattis is to capture high-ranking cards through the first round of trick-taking. Then, the players take part in a second round of trick-taking, using the cards they won in the first round. The ultimate goal of the game is to avoid being the last player holding cards in the second round.

Setup

In order to play Mattis, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Of course, you’ll probably want to treat your guests to your Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in the center of the table, where everyone can easily reach it, forming the stock.

Game play

Building the hands

The player to the dealer’s left leads any card they wish to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays whatever card they wish. There is no requirement to follow suit. Whichever player contributes the highest card (according to the standard ranking, with aces high, and irrespective of suit) to the trick wins it. They collect the cards played to the trick, placing them face-down in a won-cards pile in front of them. Each player then draws back up to three cards, and the player that won the trick leads to the next one.

In the event that two or more cards tie for highest, all of the cards in the trick remain on the table. Each player involved in the tie then plays another card to break the tie. If there is another tie, the tied players play again, and so on until the tie is resolved. The ultimate winner takes all of the cards on the table (both the original trick and all the tiebreak cards) into their won-trick pile.

When there are cards left in the stock, a player can choose to play blind by turning up the top card of the stock. When they do this, they are committed to play whatever card comes up; they cannot change their mind and play a card from their hand.

Ending the first half

When the last card of the stock is drawn, the player who draws it shows it to the other players. Then, they put it directly into their won-cards pile. The suit of this card will become the trump suit in the game’s second phase. With the stock now depleted, play continues on, but players simply do not draw new cards.

The first phase ends when a player runs completely out of cards. Each player puts any remaining cards in their hand into their won-cards piles. Any player that did not capture any cards during the first phase are called blåmattis (blue fool), but they remain in the game for the second phase.

Playing the hands out

Each player’s won-tricks pile forms their hand for the second half of the game. Players who are blåmattis will, of course, start the hand with no cards. Game play begins with the player who took the last card of the stock (the trump maker) in the first phase. This player leads any card they wish to the first trick. Each player in turn then plays a card that beats all previous cards played to the trick. A card is considered higher than another card if it is of a higher rank and of the same suit, or if it is a trump.

Rather than playing a single card, a player may also play a sequence. A sequence is two or more consecutive cards of the same suit. This helps a player get cards out of their hand more quickly. The length of a sequence doesn’t matter, only the rank of the cards comprising it. A sequence can start a trick, or it can be played to beat a lower single card or sequence. Higher single cards can beat lower sequences.

If a player is unable to play (either because they are blåmattis or because they have no cards that can beat the last card played), they pick up the lowest card on the table, and the trick continues with the next player to the left. When the lowest card on the table is part of a sequence, someone who cannot play to a trick must pick up that entire sequence.

A trick is considered complete whenever there are the same number of plays (either single cards or sequences) in it as there were players at the start of the trick. For example, if a trick started with four players, there would need to be four plays in it before the trick was considered finished. When a trick is finished, the cards in it are discarded, and the last person to play (and thus who played highest) leads to the next trick.

Ending the game

As players run out of cards, they drop out of the game. The last player with cards loses and becomes the mattis. Traditionally, during the next game, the mattis of the previous game is required to wear the mattishaetta (fool hat), a particularly ugly hat procured for the purpose.

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