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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Commerce

Commerce is a French game that was popular in the 19th century. It was the forerunner of Whiskey Poker and other games that play similarly to it, like Knock Poker and Paiute, but unlike those games, it uses three-card combinations rather than five-card poker hands.

Commerce is originally a gambling game, but like Whiskey Poker, it is easily adapted to non-gambling play, where players compete to win just for the sake of winning. It is best for three to ten players.

Object of Commerce

The object of Commerce is to end the hand with the best three-card combination.

Setup

Commerce is played with a standard 52-card deck. We highly recommend using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, of course.

You will need to establish whether or not the game is being played with betting. If so, all players should agree to the value of one stake. Each player antes this amount to the pot.

Shuffle and deal three cards to each player. Then, deal three cards, face up, to the center of the table.

Game play

Commerce hands

Commerce does not use poker hands to determine who wins. Instead, the following three-card combinations are used to gauge the value of a hand, from highest to lowest:

1. Tricon
Three of a kind (e.g. three jacks). Ties are broken by the rank of the tricon (aces are high).
2. Sequence
Three cards of the same suit, in sequence (e.g. 9-8-7♣). Aces can count as high (in A-K-Q) or low (in 3-2-A). Ties are broken by the highest card of the sequence (3-2-A is considered a 3-high and thus the lowest possible sequence).
3. Flush
Three cards of the same suit. Ties are broken by the flush’s point.
4. Pair
Two cards of the same rank, plus one unmatched card (the kicker). Ties are broken by the rank of the pair, then by the kicker.
5. Point
Three unmatched cards. The hand with the highest point wins; if two hands have the same point, ties are broken by the rank of the highest card, then that of the second-highest, then the lowest.

If necessary, a hand’s point may be determined by adding up the value of all of the cards in the hand. Aces are worth eleven points, face cards are worth ten, and all others their face value.

Play of the hand

Before the dealer looks at their hand, they may discard one to three cards from their hand, unseen, in exchange for one to three of the three board cards. Their discarded cards are then turned face-up and serve as replacements for the cards drawn. This is entirely optional, and the dealer may decline to take any of the face-up cards, choosing instead to start the game with the (unknown) cards in their hand.

Game play proper begins with the player to the dealer’s left. This player may swap one to three of the cards from their hand for the cards on the board. Each player may only swap three cards on the same turn once per hand (if the dealer switched out all three of their cards at the beginning of the hand, this is counted as their one three-card swap for the hand). Play then passes to the player on their left.

When a player is satisfied with their hand, they may knock on the table rather than take their turn as usual. Each other player then has one more turn to act. The hand ends when the player to the right of the first player has played. The hands are revealed, and the player with the highest hand wins. If playing for money, the winner takes the pot. (If two hands tie for best, the pot is split.)

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