Speculation is a light and simple betting game. While the main goal of the game is straightforward—you just have to end the hand holding the highest-ranking card of a certain suit—more money can change hands by players selling potentially valuable cards to each other! A player may not win the game, but can still come out ahead by making a deal with another player to sell off a high-ranking card.
Speculation was most popular in the late 1700s through about 1880. During this time period, it was mentioned in works by several prominent authors, including Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The producers of a film of Austen’s Mansfield Park called in card game author and historian David Parlett as an advisor for a scene involving a game of Speculation. Parlett’s research on the game resulted in him publishing this reconstructed set of rules, allowing card players everywhere to rediscover the classic game.
Object of Speculation
The object of Speculation is to hold the highest card of the trump suit at the end of the hand.
To play Speculation, you’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Keep all of your risk limited to that in the game—don’t risk your cards failing you in the middle of the game! Always make sure to play with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
Players should decide if real money will be wagered, and if so, the value of each chip. If chips have real-world value, each player buys in for their desired number of chips. Otherwise, give each player an equal number of chips. All players ante, forming the pot.
Shuffle and deal three cards, face down, to each player. Players may not look at their cards. Instead, they should keep the three cards in a squared-up stack. Then, deal yourself one card, face up, in front of you. The suit of this card, the upcard, becomes the trump suit. The stub takes no further part in game play.
Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high.
The upcard belongs to the dealer. If it is an ace, there is no way it can be beaten, so the dealer automatically wins the hand and takes the pot. Otherwise, they may choose to keep this card, or sell it to any other player. The form such a sale takes is up to the dealer to decide; they may offer a firm price, or negotiate a price with a buyer, or even auction it off. Payment is made directly to the dealer, not the pot.
Play of the hand
The player to the left of whoever ends up with the upcard (the player to the dealer’s left, if they did not sell the upcard; otherwise, the player to the left of whoever bought it) takes the first turn. They turn up the first card of their stack of cards. The turn then passes to the left, and that player turns up a card, and so on. When the turn reaches whichever player is showing the highest trump, that player is skipped over and does not have to reveal any cards.
When a new highest trump is revealed by any player, they may choose to keep it or to sell it, in the same way the upcard could be sold. Again, this money goes to the player turning up the trump, not the pot. Once the owner of this card is decided, play picks up with the person to that player’s left.
Between turns, a player may also offer to buy one of another player’s face-down cards, sight unseen. This is normally done by the current holder of the high trump, to reduce the number of opportunities for higher cards to be revealed. Again, the other player may refuse the deal, or haggle with the buyer over the price.
Ending the hand
As players run out cards to reveal, eventually the ultimate holder of the highest trump will be known. This player takes the pot. They then serve as dealer for the next hand.
Trente et Quarante (French for “30 and 40”), also known as Rouge et Noir (“Red and Black”), is a gambling game of French origin. From a player’s standpoint, it’s very similar to Baccarat—two hands are dealt out, and the only decision the player must make is which hand will win. Once popular in casinos throughout Europe, Trente et Quarante is now mostly found in France, Italy, and Monte Carlo.
Object of Trente et Quarante
The object of Trente et Quarante is to successfully predict whether the rouge (red) or noir (black) hand will have the lower score after each of them have been dealt cards totaling at least 31 points.
In order to play Trente et Quarante, you’ll need six standard 52-card decks of playing cards (such as Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards). Since you’re going to be managing 312 cards at a time, it might be a good idea to find a dealing shoe and discard holder, like those used in Baccarat. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as chips.
Like most casino games, Trente et Quarante is played on a printed felt layout, which is divvied up into various regions corresponding to the different bets available. The image at right shows the traditional layout.
Shuffle the cards (using the multiple-deck shuffling technique if needed). Square the deck up, then roll it forward. The back of the cards should be facing the players and the cut card on the bottom of the deck should be facing you. Give the spare cut card to any player and have them insert it into the deck wherever they wish. Complete the cut by sliding the bottom part of the deck behind the cut card away and putting it on the top (far side) of the deck. Remove the cut card that was on the bottom, and is now in the middle, of the deck, and place it into the deck near the bottom (usually about one deck from the end of the shoe). When this card is reached, the cards will need to be shuffled. Place the cards into the shoe.
Before any cards are dealt, players may wager on any of the following bets:
- Noir: A bet that the noir (black) hand will win.
- Rouge: A bet that the rouge (red) hand will win.
- Couleur: A bet that the hand of the same color as the first card dealt will win. That is, if the first card dealt on that hand is a black card, it is a bet that black will win; if the first card dealt is a red card, it is a bet that red will win.
- Inverse: A bet that the hand of the opposite color as the first card dealt will win. It is the opposite of the couleur bet; it always wins when couleur loses, and vice versa.
Play of the hand
The dealer begins by dealing a row of cards representing the black hand. A running total of the hand’s value is tallied as the cards are dealt. Aces are worth one point, face cards ten, and all other cards their pip value. When the hand’s value reaches 31 or greater, no more cards are dealt to it. (The highest score possible is 40, achieved by drawing a ten-value card when the count is 30.) Then, the red hand is dealt on a second row, following the same procedure.
Whichever hand has the lower total (that is, closest to 31) is the winner. The dealer pays out all winning bets at even money and collects the losing bets. The cards are then discarded in preparation for the next hand.
When the two hands tie, it is called a refait. A refait on a score of 32 to 40 is simply a push—bets neither win nor lose. On a refait of exactly 31, however, all bets on the board are imprisoned. They must remain where they are until the next hand. If an imprisoned bet wins on the next hand, it is returned to the player with no payout. If the bet loses, it is collected as normal. (In some games, a player may choose to immediately surrender half their bet rather than have it imprisoned.)
A player may place an insurance bet on any other bet they have on the board. This bet can be no more than 1% of the amount of the main wager. If the bet that it is tied to wins or loses, the insurance bet loses and is collected. If the bet pushes, the insurance bet also pushes. The only time that the insurance bet wins is on a refait of 31. Winning insurance bets pay out 49 to 1.
Triple Draw Lowball (often called just Triple Draw) is a form of lowball poker for two to six players. It’s a fairly simple game, especially if you’re familiar with Five-Card Draw or other Draw Poker variants. However, having four chances to bet instead of one makes Triple Draw an exciting, competitive game with large pots and lots of betting action. Triple Draw has become popular in Las Vegas casinos, being included in many high-limit mixed game rotations.
Object of Triple Draw Lowball
The object of Triple Draw Lowball is to form the lowest-ranking poker hand after drawing new cards up to three times.
Triple Draw uses the same standard 52-card deck as most other poker games. We suggest that you give Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards a try if you haven’t yet. You’ll also need something to bet with, probably poker chips. The game is typically played with fixed limits (see “Betting in poker“), so all players should agree to what the limits will be.
Upon receiving their cards, players evaluate the strength of their hand. Triple Draw is most frequently played with deuce-to-seven lowball rules. In this version of lowball, straights and flushes are taken into consideration when ranking hands, and aces count high. That means the lowest possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7 (because 2-3-4-5-6 forms a straight). The first betting round then begins, with the player to the left of the big blind (the player under the gun) starting the betting. Betting follows the typical rules of betting in poker.
After the first round of betting is resolved, the first draw occurs, starting with the player to the left of the dealer (the small blind). This player discards any number of cards, from zero to five, face down in front of them. The dealer then deals them the appropriate number of replacement cards from the stub. This continues, clockwise, until all active players have had a chance to swap cards. The dealer then collects the discards and sets them aside.
When the first draw finishes, the second betting round begins, starting this time with the small blind player. This is followed by a second draw (conducted the same way as the first), then the third betting round, then the third draw, then the fourth and final betting round. Betting limits are typically doubled on the third and fourth betting rounds. If there are at least two active players left at the end of the fourth betting round, they reveal their hands. Whoever has the lowest-ranked poker hand wins the pot.
Kabu is a Japanese banking game for two to six players. Kabu is quite similar to the game of Baccarat, where players do their best to reach a score of nine, and scores above nine have their first digit dropped.
Traditional Kabu is played with a deck of Japanese hanafuda, or “flower cards”. This adaptation of the game for the Western deck was created by the American game collector, inventor, and author Sid Sackson, who published it in his 1981 book Card Games Around the World.
Object of Kabu
The object of Kabu is, through selective drawing of cards, to obtain a score of nine or as close as possible to it.
Japanese Kabu is normally played with hanafuda, a traditional Japanese deck featuring four cards each of twelve “suits”, one for each month, January to December. In Kabu, the November and December cards are set aside. Each card uses the numerical value of the month it represents (1 for January, 2 for February, etc.) in adding up the player’s score.
To play Kabu with the typical English-style deck, simply remove all of the face cards from a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You’ll be left with a 40-card deck: ace through 10 in each of the four suits. You’ll also need some chips for betting. Distribute the chips evenly to each player. (Sackson recommends a starting stack of ten credits, plus fifteen for each player in the game. This would yield 40 credits for the two-player game, 55 for the three player game, etc.)
Shuffle and deal two cards, face down, to each player. The rest of the deck becomes the stock.
The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They look at their cards and add up their total value. Aces are worth one point, and all others their face value. If the score exceeds nine (the best possible score), the first (tens) digit is dropped to arrive at a score under nine. If the player is satisfied with their score, they may pass. Otherwise, they may request a card from the stock. Then, the next player has the opportunity to draw, and so on around the table. Players may draw a maximum of two cards (making a four-card hand altogether). Drawing continues until all players have either passed or drawn twice.
After the drawing portion of the hand is complete, each player reveals their hand and announces the total. Each player then pays each opponent with a higher score the difference between their hands’ values. For example, if Jim holds a seven-point hand and George holds a four-point hand, George would pay Jim three credits.
The cards are collected and shuffled, then the next hand is dealt. Game play continues until one player does not have enough chips to pay the amount owed to their opponents. That player does not actually pay any of their opponents. Instead, each player counts up the number of chips they hold. Whoever has the most chips wins the game.
Put and Take is a simple gambling game for two to nine players. The game is divided into two rounds: a put round where players put money into the pot when one of their cards matches the dealer’s, and a take round where they take money out on a match. There’s absolutely no skill or decisions to make in Put and Take—the outcome is purely the luck of the cards!
Object of Put and Take
The object of Put and Take is to win money by not matching the dealer’s cards in the first round and matching the dealer’s cards on the second round.
Put and Take uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Are you planning on playing with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards? If not, why not?
All players should agree to the value of one credit, the basic unit of value in the game. The game can be conducted in cash, but it’s much tidier if the players purchase chips worth one credit each. Distribute the chips accordingly.
Shuffle and deal five cards to each player other than the dealer. (There is no ante.)
The first half of the hand is the put round. The dealer turns one card face-up from the deck. Any players holding a card of the same rank as the upturned card must pay one credit to the pot for each card of that rank that they hold. The dealer then turns another card. Players must put two credits into the pot per card of this rank that they hold. This continues until five cards have been dealt, with players paying three credits on the third card, four on the fourth, and five on the fifth.
The five cards in front of the dealer are then discarded. The take round now begins. It is conducted exactly the same as the put round, except that the players now take money from the pot when they match the dealer’s card. If the pot runs out before the take round ends, the dealer must pay the remaining balance to any players.
Any remaining chips in the pot after the take round go to the dealer.
If you wish to increase the amount of money moving around the table, have the players put and take one credit per card on the first card, two credits on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and sixteen on the fifth.
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.
Skin is a banking game for three to seven players. Unlike most banking games, the banker has no inherent edge over the rest of the players. The players are just as likely to walk away a winner as the banker is. As a result, when it was spread in casinos, the house simply ran the game and charged a rake, much the way they do with poker. You’re not likely to find a game of Skin in the casinos anymore, though.
Skin is likely descended from the quite similar Italian banking game Ziginette. At the height of its popularity, it was played throughout the American Midwest and South.
Object of Skin
The object of Skin is to win money when the dealer matches their card before you match yours.
You’ll need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards to play Skin. Why not treat your players to a game dealt with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards? You’ll also need something to bet with—as usual, poker chips are usually best, but you can also use tokens of some other type (which may or may not have a cash value). Straight cash can theoretically be used, but is likely to make dealing the game more difficult.
Determine the first banker, who also serves as dealer, by shuffling the pack and dealing one card, face up, to each player in turn until someone is dealt an ace. That player is the banker. Before dealing, the banker/dealer declares the minimum and maximum bets they are willing to accept. The banker should have enough money on hand to cover a maximum bet by every player at the table. The dealer thoroughly shuffles the deck in preparation for the deal.
The first card is dealt to the player to the dealer’s right. This player has the right to either bet on this card or reject it. If they reject the card, they must sit out until the turn of play makes it around to them again. (There is little rational reason for rejecting a card, but some players may have superstitions regarding particular cards.) The rejected card is then offered to the next player to the right, and so on.
When a player accepts the card, the banker deals themselves a card. If the first two cards dealt form a pair, they are simply discarded and a new card is offered to the player that accepted the first one. Otherwise, the player places a bet on the center of their card between the minimum and maximum allowed. The dealer stacks an equal amount of their money on top of the player’s bet.
After the bet is placed, the banker deals the next card face-up in the center of the table. If this card is the same rank as the player’s, the dealer takes all of the money on the player’s card (the player’s bet plus the dealer’s match). The player’s card and the matching card are both discarded, and the other two cards of that rank are dead for the rest of the deal—they’re simply discarded whenever they’re revealed. If the card does not match the either the player’s or the dealer’s cards, it is offered to the next player to the right of the player who bet, as before, and so on.
Once two players are in the game, they may wager against one another that the other player’s card will be matched before their own. Both players must, of course, agree to the proposed wager and its amount. Such side bets are placed in an unambiguous location so they won’t be confused with the bet against the dealer. (Betting can get quite complex with so many players betting against each other and the dealer!) A player must have established a bet with the dealer before they can bet against another player. A player that has no card (either because it’s not their turn yet, or because they rejected the card offered to them) cannot place a side bet.
Once the player to the dealer’s left has been offered a card, the dealer goes around the table again, offering cards to players without them (either because they rejected the card offered on the first round or because they lost). If there’s nowhere else for a card to go, it is simply placed in the center of the table. Thereafter, when a player needs a new card on their turn, they simply choose one from the middle of the table.
It is important for the dealer to keep track of which cards are dead. Any dead cards must be discarded whenever they are encountered. It’s quite easy to forget that a rank is already dead and offer it to another player!
When the banker loses
If the banker deals a card that matches their own in rank, every active player wins their bet with the dealer. The dealer may then choose to take a new card. If so, each player has the option to bet against the dealer’s new card. They are not obligated to, however. The dealer can also decline to draw a new card, and simply continue dealing until any outstanding side bets are settled.
Ending the deal
The deal ends whenever the banker chooses not to take a new card and all side bets are settled, or when the deck runs out, whichever comes first. The player to the left then becomes the new banker. Game play continues anew with the incoming dealer.
Soko, also known under the name of Canadian Stud Poker, is a variation on Five-Card Stud Poker that adds two new hands to the hand ranking. It is most popular in Finland, which is where it derives its name; sökö is a form of the Finnish word for check.
Object of Soko
The object of Soko is to form the best five-card poker hand, or to bet in such a way as to convince your opponents that you have the best hand.
Like all poker games, Soko uses the standard 52-card deck, without any jokers. We commend anyone who makes the correct decision to choose Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for their game. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.
As with all betting games, it is important to establish betting limits that all players mutually agree to and are comfortable with. Like most classic stud poker games, Soko is played with an ante, the amount of which should be decided ahead of time, as well as the maximum and minimum betting limits.
All players ante. Shuffle and deal one card face down to each player (the hole card), then one card face up.
Rank of Soko hands
Soko uses two hands that aren’t found in standard poker, the Canadian straight (or four straight) and Canadian flush (or four flush). Both of these are simply a straight or a flush, respectively, made of four cards with one unmatched card. A Canadian straight outranks one pair, a Canadian flush outranks a Canadian straight, and two pair outranks a Canadian straight. The remainder of the hands follow the standard rank of poker hands, so the full rank of Soko hands, from highest to lowest, is:
- Royal flush.
- Straight flush.
- Four of a kind.
- Full house.
- Three of a kind.
- Two pair.
- Canadian flush.
- Canadian straight.
- One pair.
- High card.
Play of the hand
The first action of the hand goes to the player who shows the lowest face-up card. (If there are multiple players tied for low, the one closest to the left of deal goes first.) This first player is obliged to make an initial bet called the bring-in. The minimum amount of the bring-in is only half that of the usual minimum bet (rounded down if the minimum bet does not divide into an even number of chips). If the player wishes to bet more than the bring-in amount, they may do so. The betting round is thereafter conducted according to the usual rules of betting in poker.
After the betting round, each player is dealt another face-up card, bringing them to a total of three cards. A second betting round is then conducted, with first action again going to the player showing the lowest hand, although there is no bring-in required on this or subsequent betting rounds. If any player shows a pair as their two face-up cards, the betting limits (minimum and maximum) are doubled.
Another card is dealt face up to each active player, then another betting round occurs, with doubled betting limits for the remainder of the hand regardless of what any of the players hold. This pattern continues, with more cards being dealt until each active player has a five-card hand (four face up and one face down), with a betting round following each card dealt. After the fifth and final betting round, all players still in contention for the pot reveal their hands. The pot is awarded to the player holding the highest hand.