Porrazo

Porrazo (also sometimes called Porosso, Parosso, or Parear) is a fishing game of Mexican origin for two to five players. (Four players may play either in partnerships or singly.) Like the most well-known fishing game, Cassino, game play centers around playing cards to the table and then capturing them with cards from the hand of the same rank. However, in Porrazo, there are all manner of available bonuses for playing the right card at the right time.

Porrazo first appeared in American game books around the turn of the twentieth century. It experienced a couple of decades of popularity before being quietly dropped from the books and fading into obscurity in the 1920s.

Object of Porrazo

The object of Porrazo is to be the first player or partnership to score 61 points. Points are scored chiefly by forming pairs of cards between the cards on the table and the cards in your hand.

Setup

To play Porrazo, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Hopefully, you’ve got a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards you can press into service for the occasion. You’ll also need something to keep score with. Because of the frequent scoring and the target score of 61 points, using a Cribbage board for scoring is a natural fit (see how to keep score with a Cribbage board). If you don’t have a Cribbage board, or you’re playing with more than three individual players (since most Cribbage boards have three scoring tracks at most), you’ll probably have to use pencil and paper or something like that.

Shuffle and deal three cards, face down, to each player. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.

Game play

Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low.

Rondas and rondines

Before any cards are played, the players look at their cards and may declare any pairs or three-of-a-kinds that they may have. A pair is declared as a ronda and a three-of-a-kind as a rondine. The ranks of the rondas and rondines are not declared. The hand is then played out, and the player with the highest ronda or rondine scores a bonus, as follows:

Rank Ronda Rondine
Kings 4 12
Queens 3 9
Jacks 2 6
10s–As 1 3

A rondine always outranks a ronda. That is, three aces, the lowest rondine, outranks a pair of kings, the highest ronda. Only the highest declaration scores a bonus; the others score nothing. Any ties go to whichever player is first in turn order, going clockwise from the dealer. The ronda/rondine bonus is not scored until the set of three cards is played out. This means it’s possible the game may end before the bonus is scored.

Play of the hand

After any declarations have been made, the player to the dealer’s left goes first. On their turn, a player must play one card, face-up, to the table. If there are any cards already on the table of the same rank, the player captures one card of that rank, and they place the captured card along with the card that they played in a face-down won-cards pile in front of them. (If there is a pair of cards on the board and a player holds a third card of that rank, they capture only one of the table cards, not both.)

A player can also capture a sequence of two or more consecutive cards if the card that they play to the table matches the lowest card of the sequence. For example, if a 7, 8, 9, and 10 are all on the table, a player may capture them all by playing a 7. For the purposes of sequences, aces are considered consecutive to kings, so if the table contained Q-K-A-2, it would be a sequence that could be captured by a jack.

If a player can make no captures, the card they play simply remains on the table. That card can then be captured by any player on a later turn. (Depending on the card being played, the card may score for being played in place, as described below.)

When the players have exhausted their hands, the dealer replenishes them by dealing three more cards to each player from the stock. Any cards already on the table stay there, and play continues.

Limpias

Occasionally, a player may be able to capture all of the cards off the table in one fell swoop. This is called a limpia. The simplest limpia occurs when there is one card on the table, and the player captures it by pairing. If there are more cards than that, the only way a limpia can happen is if they all form a sequence.

A player making a limpia immediately scores the same point value as a ronda of the last rank of the sequence captured in the limpia (or the rank of the card captured, if only one card was involved). Note that the last rank is not necessarily the highest rank. For example, if a sequence of K-A-2-3-4 is captured as a limpia, it would only score one point. This is because the 4 is the last rank in the sequence. The fact that a king is involved, despite its higher rank, is irrelevant.

Playing in place

If a player places an ace through 4 on the table without capturing anything, and the pip value of that card matches the number of cards on the table, that card is said to be played in place. That is, a card is played in place if it is an ace played to an empty table, a 2 as the second card on the table, a 3 as the third card on the table, or a 4 as the fourth card on the table. A 5 or above cannot be played in place. Playing a card in place scores the player the pip value of the card.

If a card could both be played in place or capture a card, a player can choose to forgo the capture in order to play it in place. This is the only situation in which a player is not compelled to take a capture.

The tendido

Once per hand, after dealing three cards to the players, the dealer may deal a tendido (layout). This can occur after the first three cards have been dealt, or after any time the dealer replenishes the player’s hands. When the dealer chooses to deal their tendido, they deal two pairs of cards, face up in a horizontal row, to the table. The two cards in each pair may be swapped, but cards cannot be crossed between the two pairs.

The dealer counts from left to right or right to left, as desired, to find any cards that appear in their “correct” places in the tendido: an ace in the first position, a 2 in the second, etc. If any cards have been so dealt, the dealer scores the pip value of the card. Also, if any pairs, three- or four-of-a-kinds have been formed within all of the cards now on the table, the dealer may score for them. The points scored equal the same as a ronda or rondine of the appropriate rank. Four-of-a-kinds score twice as much as a rondine of that rank.

The cards of the tendido remain on the table after being scored and can be captured just like any other card on the table.

Porrazos

If a player places a card on the table without capturing anything, and the next player in turn plays a card of the same rank, it is called a porrazo. If the next player plays a third card of this same rank, then this is a counter-porrazo. If a porrazo is allowed to stand, that player immediately scores the same value as a ronda of the appropriate rank and captures the card, as normal. Should a player counter-porrazo, the original porrazo does not score, the counter-porrazo scores the same value as a rondine of the appropriate rank, and the player captures both the non-capturing card and the card played for the porrazo.

After a counter-porrazo has been played, the next player may be able to play the fourth card of that rank. This is called a san benito and scores the player the entire game! Therefore, especially in a two-player game, it may be better to simply let a porrazo stand rather than countering it and risking the san benito. (One can sometimes use players’ ronda declarations to deduce whether a san benito may be possible.)

A porrazo (or a counter-porrazo or san benito) must take place with cards all from the same deal. That is, if the players run out of cards and new cards are dealt, it interrupts the sequence of play, and any porrazo cannot be declared using cards from before the hands were replenished.

Ending the hand

If playing with an even number of players, the deck will, at some point, be exhausted. If playing with an odd number of players, there will be three odd cards left in the deck. These three cards are placed face up on the table immediately after the last three-card hands are dealt to the players. They do not count as a tendido for the dealer.

After the players’ hands are exhausted, on the dealer’s last turn, they automatically capture all of the cards remaining on the table. This does not count as a limpia, even if they would have been able to legitimately capture it as one.

Each player or partnership counts the number of cards in their captured-cards pile. Whoever has the highest number of captured cards wins the hand. They score the difference between the number of cards they captured and that of their next-closest opponent.

The deal passes to the left, and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one player or partnership reaches a score of 61 or more points. Play immediately ceases—even if it happens in the middle of a hand—and that player is the winner.

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Conquian (Coon Can)

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.

Setup

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.

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

Game play

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.

Melding

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.

Forcing

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.

 

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Malilla

Malilla is a trick-taking game for four players in partnerships. Players vie to take tricks that contain aces, 7s, and face cards, as those are the only cards worth any points!

Malilla originated in Spain, where it is called Manilla, and most likely derives from an earlier French game called Manille. From Spain, it crossed the Atlantic to Mexico, where it remains popular today.

Object of Malilla

The object of Malilla is to be the first partnership to score 35 or more points. This is achieved by winning tricks containing aces, 7s, and face cards.

Setup

Malilla is traditionally played with a 40-card Spanish deck. Outside of Spain, however, it is commonly replicated using a subset of the standard 52-card deck. Starting from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all the 10s, 9s, and 8s. This will yield a deck with ten cards in each of the four suits (aces, kings, queens, jacks, and 7s through 2s). You also need something to keep score with; pencil and paper works admirably.

Determine partnerships by whatever method is convenient, such as high-card draw or even just mutual agreement. Partners should sit opposite one another, with their opponents in between. The turn of play should alternate partnerships as it progresses clockwise around the table.

Shuffle and deal ten cards to each player. The first 39 cards should be dealt face down. The 40th and last card in the deck should be dealt face up to the dealer. This card indicates the trump suit for the hand. Once all players have seen it, the dealer can add it to their hand.

Card ranking

For the most part, the cards rank in their usual order in Malilla. However, the 7 is elevated to become the highest-ranking card, leading to a complete ranking of (high) 7, A, K, Q, J, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (low).

The card ranking influences the point values of each of the cards, as well. The 7 is also the most valuable card in the game. The point values of each card are:

  • 7: five points.
  • Ace: four points.
  • King: three points.
  • Queen: two points.
  • Jack: one point.
  • 6s through 2s: zero points.

Game play

If the dealer’s last (face-up) card is a point-scoring card, the dealer’s team scores that many points as a bonus. These points are, in most cases, scored immediately. The only exception to this is if the bonus would cause the dealer’s team to win the game. In that case, the bonus points are held in abeyance until the end of the hand, and are only scored after the results of the hand are scored.

Play of the hand

The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. The other players, in turn, each contribute a card to the trick. When all four players have played, the person who contributed the highest trump, or the highest card of the suit led if no trump was played, wins the trick.

There are a few restrictions on what can be played to a trick. As in most trick-taking games, in Malilla, you must follow suit. If you cannot follow suit, you may play almost any card, including a trump. The exception is that you cannot play a 7 of a non-trump suit that has not yet been led in that hand. (In the rare case that this is the only card available to play, this rule is waived.) Also, if an opponent has played the card that is winning the trick as of your turn, you must beat it if it would be legal for you to do so.

Once a player has won a trick, they collect the cards and place them in a won-tricks pile shared with their partner. For ease of scoring later, it may be a good idea to keep the point-scoring cards in a separate pile than the non-scoring cards. The winner of each trick leads to the next one. (Note that it is always OK to lead a 7—the restriction on them only applies to playing them when not following suit.)

Scoring

After all ten tricks have been played, each partnership totals the value of the point-scoring cards they captured. Whichever partnership collected more points over the course of the hand wins it. They subtract their points collected from 35 and score the difference. If both partnerships tie, both collecting 35 points, neither partnership scores for that hand.

If a partnership captures all ten tricks, they will have collected 70 points, thereby scoring 35 points for the hand. This is sufficient to win the game, and is called a capote.

If neither side reaches a score of 35 after the hand is scored, then the deal passes to the left and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one partnership ends the hand with a score of 35 or more. That partnership is the winner.

Irregularities

Malilla is unusually harsh on players who fail to play correctly. Any irregularity in dealing results in the errant dealer being forced to surrender the cards to the next dealer. If it is discovered that a player made an incorrect play to a trick, such as failing to follow suit when able, or not winning the trick when able, the partnership committing the foul loses the entire game.

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