California Jack

California Jack is a trick-taking game for two players. It plays pretty similarly to All Fours, which it descends from. Unlike most games, though, the stock is kept face up. This allows each player to see what’s coming up on future draws, and lets them keep track of what’s in their opponent’s hand!

Object of California Jack

The object of California Jack is to be the first player to reach a score of ten points. Players score points by capturing certain trumps and the most card points overall on a hand.

Setup

California Jack uses a standard 52-card pack of playing cards. The choice is yours as to what kind to use, but we of course endorse playing with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, place the stub face up in the center of the table, forming the stock. The suit of the top card of the stock becomes the trump suit for the hand.

Game play

The non-dealer leads to the first trick. They may lead any card they wish. The dealer must either follow suit or trump. Only if they have neither a card of the suit led or the trump suit are they free to play a card of any other suit.

The highest card of the suit led wins the trick, unless someone played a trump to it, in which case the highest trump takes the trick. The winner of the trick puts the two cards in a won-tricks pile in front of them, then draws the top card of the stock. The player who didn’t win the trick then draws the next card. The winner of each trick leads to the next one.

Players should keep an eye on what the next card of the stock is going to be. Many times, whether a player wants this card or not will determine how seriously they contest the trick. Additionally, as the hand goes on, a player with a good memory can keep track of the exact contents of their opponent’s hand.

After the stock is exhausted, the players simply play out the last six tricks without drawing.

Scoring

After the hand ends, the appropriate players score the following four points, in order:

  1. High—capturing the ace of trumps,
  2. Low—capturing the 2 of trumps,
  3. Jack—capturing the jack of trumps,
  4. Game—accruing the highest total of cards captured during the hand, scoring as follows: ten for each 10, four for each ace, three for each king, two for each queen, and one for each jack. 9s and below do not count toward the game score. If two players tie for game, the point is not scored.

After scoring the hands, the non-dealer from the hand just played deals new hands. Game play continues until one player reaches ten points. When a player scores their tenth point, scoring stops immediately. That player wins; the remaining points for that hand do not count.

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