Ace-Deuce-Jack is an extremely simple gambling game that was popular during World War II. In Ace-Deuce-Jack, the players are simply betting whether three randomly-selected cards will be an ace, a 2, or a jack. That’s it; it’s all blind luck. There’s no skill involved at all.
It should be noted that the house edge on Ace-Deuce-Jack is just a shade over 10%. As a result, the players are at a significant disadvantage to the banker. If you’re going to play Ace-Deuce-Jack with your friends, we recommend not playing with real money.
Object of Ace-Deuce-Jack
The object of Ace-Deuce-Jack is to win money on bets that three randomly-selected cards will not be an ace, a 2, or a jack.
You will need one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As always, we heartily recommend Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for any card game you want to play. You’ll also need something to bet with, such as poker chips, buttons, beans, or some other similar counters.
Any player may shuffle and deal one card, face up, to each player. Whoever gets the highest card becomes the first banker. The banker declares the acceptable maximum and minimum bets that they will allow for the following hand.
The banker begins the hand by shuffling the deck and placing it face down. They then cut the deck twice, forming three piles of cards. Each player then decides how much they would like to bet and places that amount in front of them.
After all players have fixed their bet, the banker turns over each pile of cards. If any of the three exposed cards on the bottom of the piles are an ace, a jack, or a 2, the banker wins and collects all bets. If all three cards are of other ranks, the banker pays each player out at even money.
Rotate the bank after a predetermined number of hands. To maximize the fairness of the game, each player should have an equal opportunity to bank.
Pitch (also known as Setback) is an American adaptation of the old English pub game All Fours. Pitch is essentially All Fours with a more conventional bidding system to fix the trump suit, instead of the more complicated system used in the latter game. Pitch can be played as a partnership game (which is more commonly played in the Midwest and central parts of the United States) or as a cutthroat, every-player-for-themselves game, often for money (which is more commonly found on the coasts). The four-player partnership game is described here.
Object of Pitch
The object of Pitch is to be the first team to score 21 or more points by successfully fulfilling bids.
Pitch is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. We wholeheartedly endorse the use of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, naturally.
Partnerships may be determined by any agreed-upon method, including mutual agreement or any sort of random process. Partners should sit across from each other, such that as play proceeds clockwise, each player’s turn is followed by one of their opponents’ turns.
Shuffle and deal six cards to each player, in two batches of three. The stub is set aside and is not used for the rest of the hand.
Game play in Pitch revolves around scoring points for the following achievements:
- High—playing the highest trump in play during the hand,
- Low—capturing the lowest trump in play during the hand,
- Jack—capturing the jack of trumps,
- 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 the teams tie for game, the point is not scored.
Note that not all of the cards are dealt on each hand, the trump scoring for High is not necessarily the ace, and the trump scoring for Low is not necessarily the two. Likewise, the point for Jack sometimes goes unscored, since the jack of trumps is not always in play.
The right to choose the trump suit is given to the player who makes the highest bid. Available bids in Pitch are two, three, four, and smudge. The first three of these bids represents a commitment to score at least that many points on the following hand. A bid of smudge, the highest bid, is a bid to score four points plus all the tricks. However, by bidding four or smudge, you may unknowingly get yourself into a situation where it is impossible to make your bid. The jack of trumps is not always dealt, and in hands where this is the case, the point for Jack is not scored, meaning the most you can score is three. Even if you take all six tricks, you will not make your contract.
Bidding begins with the player to the dealer’s left. They may either bid or pass. Bidding continues clockwise, with each player passing or making a higher bid than the players before them. The dealer makes the last bid, and has the right to bid the same as the player before them, calling stealing the bid. If every player passes, the dealer is compelled to make a bid of two, called a force bid. There is only one round of bidding; the high bid stands after the dealer makes their bid. The player making the high bid is called the pitcher.
Play of the hand
The pitcher leads to the first trick. The suit of the card they lead off with becomes the trump suit. Each other player plays to the trick in turn, proceeding clockwise. Each player must follow suit, unless they are unable, in which case they may play any card. Additionally, playing a trump is always allowed, even if the player could follow suit. The player who plays the highest card of the suit led (aces rank high) collects the trick, unless a trump is played, in which case the highest trump played wins the trick. Collected tricks are not added to the player’s hand, but rather a score pile shared with their partner. The winner of each trick leads to the next one.
When all six tricks have been played, the hands are scored. If the pitcher’s team makes at least as many points (as described above) as they bid, they score one point for each point made. When a bid of smudge is made, the pitcher’s team scores five points (the four points they scored, plus one for the smudge). If the pitcher’s team failed to make their bid, they are said to have been set. They are set back the amount of their bid instead, i.e., the value of their bid is deducted from their score. Regardless of if the pitcher’s team makes their bid or not, their opponents always score the number of points they made.
The deal passes to the left, the cards are shuffled, and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until a partnership reaches a score of 21 or more after having successfully made their bid. Note that it’s possible for a team to score above 21 while not being the high bidders. In this case, the team must remain above 21 points and successfully make a bid before they can win. (In some cases, the winning team may even have a lower score than their opponents, simply because they made a winning bid and crossed 21 before their opponents, already over 21, could.)
Pitch is one of those games with lots of variations—tell us how you like to play in the comments!
Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) is a variant of Chinese Poker where, instead of the players getting all their cards at once, they receive them one at a time and choose which hand to put them in. Additionally, all the cards are played face up, so players can change their strategy based on what their opponents are doing! That means the game has a lot more action, because there’s more strategic play and more players fouling, increasing the amount of money being shuffled around. Because each player receives thirteen cards, it is limited to two to four players, unlike most poker games.
Open-Face Chinese Poker originated in Finland, spreading to Russia shortly thereafter. High-stakes Russian poker players introduced it to the mainstream poker community in 2012, and since then it has spread around the globe, quickly becoming an extremely popular side game for many poker elites.
Object of Open-Face Chinese Poker
The object of Open-Face Chinese Poker is to split the thirteen cards dealt to a player over the course of the game into three hands in such a way that, ideally, each of the hands is stronger than their opponents’ hands.
Like almost all poker games, Open-Face Chinese Poker is played with the standard 52-card deck. We naturally endorse the use of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in your game. You’ll also need something to bet with, preferably poker chips.
As in Chinese Poker, hands are compared from player to player, not against all other players at once. Before play begins, the players should establish the value of one unit. All transactions will be conducted in multiples of this unit. Two players may mutually decide that one unit will be a different value for transactions between those two players in particular, while transactions with other opponents will be conducted at the usual rate.
Shuffle and deal five cards, face down, to each player. Place the remaining cards face down in the center of the table, forming the stock.
Over the course of a hand of Open-Face Chinese Poker, the player will be forming three hands: a three-card hand, called the front hand, a five-card hand stronger than the front hand, called the middle hand, and a five-card hand stronger than the middle and front hands, called the back hand. This act is called setting the hands. Straights and flushes are not counted as such in the three-card front hand. If the hands are not set with the strongest hand as the back hand and the weakest as the front hand (according to the standard rank of poker hands), this is considered a foul and none of the player’s three hands are eligible to win.
The player to the left of the dealer plays first. They turn their five cards face up and split them any way they wish between the three hands. They may place all five cards in either the back or the middle hands, place three in the front hand and one each in the other two hands, or so on. To distinguish which card goes with which hand, they place cards meant for the back hand in a row closest to them, cards for the middle hand above those, and cards for the front hand above those, furthest away from them. After the player has set their first five cards, the turn passes to the left, with that player setting their cards the same way, and so on.
After all players have set their initial five cards, the player to the dealer’s left draws one card from the stock, turns it face up, and adds it to any one of their three hands. They cannot cause any hand to exceed the maximum number of cards in that hand (five cards for the middle and back hands and three for the front hand). The player to their left does the same thing, continuing in turn around the table until each player has a total of thirteen cards, with three complete hands.
After all players have formed their complete hands, the hands are scored. Each player begins by calculating the score of all royalties in their hands, according to the table below:
|Hand||Front hand||Middle hand||Back hand|
|Four of a kind||—||20||10|
|3 of a kind||20||—||—|
The players then compare hands, one at a time, with each opponent. The players each add one point to their royalty score for each hand that they beat (comparing front to front hand, middle to middle, and back to back) belonging to that opponent. If a player wins all three hands, this is considered a sweep and they score an additional three-point bonus. After the players calculate their scores, the player scoring lower pays one unit per point for the difference between their scores.
If a player fouled, they pay to each opponent a flat penalty of six units, plus one unit per point for all royalties that the opponent held.
After all payouts have been made, the deal passes to the left and the next hand is played.
If a player sets their hand with a pair of queens or better in the front hand without fouling, they are entitled to play the next hand in fantasyland. More than one player may be in fantasyland at once. The deal does not rotate on a fantasyland hand, instead being dealt by the same dealer as the last normal hand. After the initial five cards are dealt, eight more cards are dealt to each player in fantasyland, giving them all thirteen cards, which they immediately set, face-down. The other players play out the hand the normal way, with the fantasyland player turning their hands face up only when everyone else has set their hands.
If a player in fantasyland sets their hand with four of a kind or better in the back, or a full house or better in the middle, or three of a kind in the front, they may remain in fantasyland for another hand, and continue doing so as long as they continue to hold these hands.
Farmer is a gambling game for two to eight players that highly resembles Blackjack in terms of its core game play. The primary difference in game play is that, in Farmer, the goal score is 16 rather than 21. Betting is radically different in Farmer, however, and instead of all bets being paid out from the central bank, money is anted into a central pot which is taken by those who obtain a score of exactly sixteen.
Object of Farmer
The object of Farmer is to be the player who gets closest to a count of 16 without going over.
Farmer uses a special 45-card deck. Starting with a standard deck, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all the 8s and all the 6s except for the 6♥. You will also need something to bet with, like poker chips. Players should agree to the amount of the ante (which also equals the amount of all other transactions in the game).
In order to determine the first dealer, any player may shuffle the deck and begin dealing cards face up, one at a time, to each player. The player that the 6♥ is dealt to is the first dealer, called the farmer.
All players ante to the pot, which is called the farm. The farmer shuffles and deals one card face down to each player, starting with the player to their left.
Players look at their cards, evaluating their scores. Aces are worth one, face cards are worth ten, and all other cards are worth their face value. After a player draws, scores for each card are added to obtain the score for the hand.
Starting with the player to the farmer’s left, each player is given the opportunity to draw cards. Each player is required to draw at least one card. Players do not actually draw the cards from the stock, they merely say “Hit”, and are dealt an additional card, face up, by the farmer. When they are satisfied with their hand, they say “I stay”. If a player should exceed a score of sixteen, called busting, they do not announce this publicly; they simply stay. After the player has stayed, the next player to the left is given an opportunity to draw, and so on, with the farmer drawing last.
After all players have drawn, the players’ face-down cards are revealed, and the hands are evaluated. If a single player has a score of exactly sixteen, they win the farm. If there’s a tie, with multiple players holding a score of sixteen, the following rules are checked, in this order, to determine who wins:
- The player with the 6♥ wins.
- If none of the players hold the 6♥, the player with the fewest cards wins.
- If there are players tied for the fewest number of cards, the farmer wins.
- If the farmer is not involved in the tie, the first player to the left of the farmer wins.
If there are no players with a score of exactly sixteen, the farm remains for the next deal. Each player with a lower score pays the amount of the ante to the player who is closest to sixteen without going over. If there are multiple players tied for closest to sixteen, these payoffs are aggregated into a side pot, which is then split as evenly as possible amongst the players (with any remainder going into the farm).
Regardless of whether the farm was won or not, all players that have busted pay the amount of the ante to the farmer (except for the farmer, who of course cannot pay himself).
If the farm was won, the player that won it becomes the farmer on the next deal. If not, the same farmer deals again. Either way, all players must ante again before the start of the next deal.
Cucumber is a game for two to seven people, played throughout Northern Europe, with a heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Cucumber works as kind of the inverse of Agram—the object is to lose the last trick, and nothing else matters.
Many regional variations of the game exist, most of them bearing the name “Cucumber” in the local language. The version described here is Agurk, the Danish variant of the game.
Object of Cucumber
The object of Cucumber is to win the last trick.
Cucumber uses the standard 52-card pack of playing cards. Using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards would make you pretty cool. Some might say…cool as a cucumber. But not us. That’s not a thing we would say. We would just say you’re pretty cool.
You will also need a pencil and paper to keep score with.
Shuffle and deal seven cards to the player to the left of the dealer, then to the next player to the left, and so on through the dealer. The deck stub is set aside and takes no further part in game play.
The cards rank in their usual order in Cucumber, with aces high (A, K, Q, J, 10, … 2). Suits are irrelevant and play no part in the game.
The player to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick, leading any card. The next person to the left must play either a card higher than the lead, or, if they do not have one, the lowest card in their hand. This continues on to the left, with each player either laying down a card higher than the highest card in play, or the lowest card they can. This continues until everyone has played.
The person who played the highest card is the winner of the trick. If there are multiple cards of the same rank tied for high card, the most recently-played of these takes the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next one. Unlike in most games, the cards of the last trick aren’t collected or turned face-down; they simply remain on the table and can be inspected by any player at any time (although it may be prudent to push them into a loose discard pile to prevent confusion as to whether a card was played on the current trick or a previous one).
On the seventh and final trick, the player with the highest card is charged a penalty according to the rank of the card they used to take the trick. Aces score fourteen, kings thirteen, queens twelve, jacks eleven, and all other cards their face value. Should there be a tie for high card, the last card of that rank wins the trick and thus takes the penalty, as per usual; the others who played a card of that rank score negative points equal to the value of that card (though their score cannot pass below zero).
Should a player’s score exceed 21, a cucumber is drawn next to the score to highlight this. Their score then resets to the score of the next-highest active player. If a player who already has a cucumber goes over 21, they are eliminated from the game.
Cards are collected and shuffled, the deal passes to the left, and the next hand begins. Game play continues until all players but one have been eliminated; that player is the winner.
Brag is a gambling game for four to eight players that is popular in Britain. Although it is often compared to poker, which displaced it in the United States, there are several key differences between the two games. Most importantly, the betting is very different—in Brag, it is possible for betting to come down to a stalemate where players continue betting until someone finally gives up.
Object of Brag
The object of Brag is to be one of the players remaining at the showdown with the best Brag hand.
Brag uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Since you’re playing Brag, you may as well play it with some cards you can brag about; that is, Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. You will also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.
Before play begins, there should be a mutual agreement as to the size of the ante and the bets. This should include both the minimum and maximum amount that the first player may bet, as well as the amount the bet can be increased by each subsequent player. This can either be a hard numerical limit, or the game can be played at pot limit.
All players ante. Shuffle and deal three cards face-down to each player. Players may look at their cards if they want to, or they may abstain from this and play blind (see below).
Rank of Brag hands
While Brag hands resemble poker hands, they have different names, and the ranking is slightly different. Notably, because of the different probabilities involved in three-card versus five-card hands, a run outranks a flush (whereas the opposite is true in poker). The rank of Brag hands, from highest to lowest, is:
- 1. Prial
- (derived from pair royal) Three cards of the same rank. The highest-ranked prial is 3-3-3; the second-highest is A-A-A, then K-K-K, and so on down to 2-2-2.
- 2. Running flush
- Three cards of the same suit in sequence, e.g. 9-10-Q♠. Ties are broken by the highest card. Equivalent to poker’s straight flush.
- 3. Run
- Three cards of any suit in sequence (e.g. 6-7-8). If all cards are the same suit, it becomes a running flush. Ties are broken by the highest card. Equivalent to poker’s straight.
- 4. Flush
- Three cards of the same suit, not in sequence (e.g. 4-7-J♦). Ties are broken by the rank of the highest card, then by the next highest if necessary, and so on until the tie is broken.
- 5. Pair
- Two cards of the same rank, plus one unmatched card (e.g. 5-5-9). Ties are broken by the rank of the pair, then the rank of the unmatched card if necessary.
- 6. High card
- Three cards unmatched in suit or sequence. Ties are broken by the highest card, then next-highest, and so on down.
Good Brag etiquette is to keep everything to yourself. Cards should never be shown to anyone but the player they were dealt to (except, of course, at the showdown). Similarly, players should never verbally state the supposed contents of their hand. Also, as in poker, it is very important that betting and folding be executed in turn, not early.
Play of the hand
Betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer. The first player, if they desire to bet, must do so according to the agreed-upon limits. Each subsequent player must bet at least as much as the last player to bet before them. If a player does not wish to bet, they must fold (also called stacking); they are out of the hand, and their cards are placed, unrevealed, at the bottom of the stock. Betting continues in this same manner around the table, even after it reaches the players who have already bet; players must continue betting if they wish to remain in the hand, and anyone can raise whenever they wish.
Players also have the option to play blind. So long as the player has not seen their hand, their money essentially counts as double. Blind players are only required to bet half the amount bet by the player before them, and the player after them must bet double the amount that they did. For example, if the player to the right of the blind player bets $10, the blind player is only required to bet $5, and the player to the right must still bet $10. However, should the blind player wish to bet $20, the player to their left must bet at least $40, or else fold. A person playing blind may choose, before betting, to look at their cards, although this, of course, requires them to return to the usual betting rules.
Betting continues until all but two players have folded. These two players go on betting until either one of them folds, thus awarding the pot to the other player, or one of the players decides to see the other, by doubling the previous bet and stating “See you”; a doubled bet does not necessarily constitute a see unless it is specifically declared as such. When a player sees their opponent, the opponent must reveal their cards. If the first player has a higher hand, they reveal it and take the pot. If not, their opponent wins the pot; the losing seer may choose to simply fold their hand without revealing it. Should the hands tie, the seer loses the pot.
A special rule applies when one or both of the final two players are playing blind. That rule is stated as “you can’t see a blind man”; that is, should your opponent be playing blind, you do not have the option to see. You must either continue to bet or fold, or hope that they either look at their cards or fold. A blind player, can, however, see their non-blind opponent, if they wish to do so. If both players are playing blind, they may see each other.
Should a player run out of money, they may cover the pot by placing their cards face-down on top of it. The other players carry on without them, placing all further bets in a side pot. The winner of the side pot is determined first, then, the winning hand is compared with the hand covering the pot, and the winner of those two hands takes the main pot.
The next hand is customarily dealt immediately, with no shuffle. Shuffles only occur when a pot is won with an exposed prial.
Spite and Malice is a game that plays a lot like a two-player solitaire variant. Like many older card games, it has been reimagined as a commercially-available game with a custom deck; Spite and Malice was adapted to become Skip-Bo.
Object of Spite and Malice
The object of Spite and Malice is to be the first player to deplete their talon pile.
Spite and Malice needs two standard 52-card decks of playing cards, which are shuffled together to form a 104-card pack. If you have a set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards handy, you’ve got everything covered on the card front, since it includes two decks.
Shuffle and deal 20 cards from the combined deck face down to each player. This forms the player’s talon pile and is placed at each player’s right. The top card of the talon is turned face-up and put on the top of the stack, but the remaining cards cannot be looked at. Each player is also dealt a hand of five cards, which they may look at (but their opponent may not). The deck stub becomes the stock and is placed to the side in the middle of the table.
The center of the table is partitioned out as follows: in the center of the table will be the three build piles, then, on the next row closest to each player, they have their own four discard piles. Initially, none of these piles will contain any cards, so the center of the table will be empty until play begins.
Unlike in some similar games like Speed, each player takes turns. The primary goal of each player will be to move cards, hopefully mostly from their talons, to the build piles in the center of the table. Kings are wild in Spite and Malice, with aces ranking low and the remainder of the cards following in the conventional order, with queen as the highest. Suits are immaterial to the game.
If a player begins their turn with fewer than five cards, the first thing they do is draw back up to five from the stock. On a player’s turn, they may play as many cards as they wish face-up to the build piles; these cards may be the top card of their talon (at which point a new top card is exposed) or one of the five cards from their hand. Each build pile begins with an ace, and is then built up in sequence to the queen. When a pile reaches the queen, it is removed and shuffled into the stock. There may only be three build piles at any time; new piles can only be formed by an ace when there is an empty pile to begin adding cards to. If a player depletes their hand on a single turn, they may draw five new cards and continue onward.
A player may also take one card from their hand (not the talon) and put it face-up in one of their discard piles. A player may only have four discard piles; if they wish to add more cards, they must put the new card on top of one of the existing discards, making it inaccessible until the card on top of it is moved. When a card in the discard pile is played, the player’s turn ends and they cannot make any further actions until it is their turn again. Cards in the discard piles may be played only to the build piles on subsequent turns; they may not be moved to the player’s hand or from one discard pile to another.
Game play continues until one player depletes their talon, winning the game. If the stock runs out of cards (presumably because a stalemate has been reached, preventing any of the build piles to be completed to replenish it), whoever has the fewest cards in their talon is the winner.
At the end of last April, we posted for the first time on our brand-spanking-new blog, sharing the rules to Thirteen. Over the past year, we’ve been pretty busy—we’ve posted the rules to 48 different card games! You can find a list of them on our new Game Rules Index page, which you can access at any time from the link on the blog’s right sidebar.
Here’s to another year of blogging!
No matter which variant of poker you play, the rank of poker hands always stays the same. The hand ranking was determined over a hundred years ago, with each hand’s rank roughly corresponding to the likelihood that a particular hand will occur (unlikely hands are ranked higher), although the exact odds for each hand will vary between different types of poker.
We now offer a Rank of Poker Hands poster (image at right) that can be displayed in your game room to help your newer players learn the hands and the order they rank in. It’s an excellent way to head off questions about what outranks what that can reveal to other players what might be in the newbie’s hand.
The standard rank of poker hands is:
- 1. Five of a kind
- This is technically the highest-ranked hand, although it is only available in games involving wild cards. Five of a kind consists of all four of a particular rank of card, plus a wild card (example: 9-9-9-9-2 in a deuces wild game). Ties are broken by the rank of the cards (five nines beats five eights).
- 2. Royal flush
- This is the highest-ranked traditional poker hand. A royal flush consists of A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. Competing royal flushes split the pot.
- 3. Straight flush
- A straight flush consists of five cards of the same suit in sequence (example: 4-5-6-7-8♠). Ties are broken by the highest card; competing straight flushes with the same top card split the pot.
- 4. Four of a kind
- Four of a kind consists of all four of a particular rank of card (example: 5-5-5-5-J). Ties are broken by the rank of the cards (four 6s beats four 5s).
- 5. Full house
- A full house consists of three of one rank of card and two of another (example: 7-7-7-3-3). Ties are broken by the rank of the three matching cards (Q-Q-Q-9-9 beats 10-10-10-K-K).
- 6. Flush
- A flush consists of five cards of the same suit, not in any particular order (example: 5-6-9-J-K♦). Ties are broken by the rank of the highest card, then by the next highest if necessary, and so on until the tie is broken.
- 7. Straight
- A straight consists of five cards of any suit in sequence (example: 4♦-5♣-6♣-7♠-8♥). If all cards are the same suit, it becomes a straight flush. Ties are broken by the highest card; competing straights with the same top card split the pot.
- 8. Three of a kind
- Sometimes called trips or a set, three of a kind consists of three cards of the same rank and two non-matched cards (example: 7-7-7-3-A). Ties are broken by the rank of the three matching cards.
- 9. Two pair
- Two pair consists of two matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank, with a fifth unmatching card (example: 7-7-3-3-10). Ties are broken by the higher pair, then the lower pair, then the unmatched card.
- 10. One pair
- A pair with three unmatched cards (example: A-A-5-7-9). Ties are broken by the pair, then the highest unmatched card, then next highest, and so on.
- 11. High card
- Five unmatched cards (example: 4-5-7-9-10). Ties are broken by the highest card, then the next highest, and so on.
Fan Tan, also known as Parliament, is a member of the Stops family of card games. Like its cousins Newmarket and Crazy Eights, the game is characterized by play continuing until a necessary card is unavailable, thus stopping play. In fact, this mechanic is so well-associated with Fan Tan that another alternate name for it is simply Stops. Fan Tan is best for three to eight players.
Object of Fan Tan
The object of Fan Tan is to end play with the most chips. Players win chips by being the first to run out of cards.
Fan Tan requires the use of a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. As is customary, we remind you that we recommend Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.
Fan Tan accounts for scoring with some form of counters, such as poker chips. If you like, each chip can represent some amount of money, in which case players are given chips equal to the value of their buy-in. Otherwise, give each player an equal amount of chips.
Shuffle and deal the cards out as evenly as they will go, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. All players ante one chip to the pot to begin play. Any players that happen to have received fewer cards than others due to the deck dividing unevenly between the number of players in the game ante an additional chip to make up for the advantage.
Play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. Initially, the only card that may be played is a 7; if the player to the dealer’s left cannot play a 7, they add one chip to the pot and play continues to the left. Once a 7 has been played, it is placed in the center of the table, and the 6 and 8 of the same suit may be played by subsequent players, with the 8 being placed to the left of the 7 and the 6 to its right. Plays continue in sequence, with descending cards being placed in a stack on top of the 6 and ascending cards played on top of the 8. As the 7s of the other suits are played, they form new rows underneath the first 7, with the 6s and 8s being placed alongside them, forming a three-by-four grid in the center of the table.
Note that play is compulsory—any player that can play a card cannot elect to simply pass. If a player is found to have been able to play but passed instead, they pay an additional three chips to the pot; if they held a 7 at the time, they pay five chips each to the players holding the 6 and 8 of that suit. However, if a player has multiple options on a turn, they of course are not penalized for selecting one option over another (even if this means that a 7 goes unplayed for awhile).
Game play continues until one player runs out of cards. Each other player counts the number of cards remaining in their hand and pays one chip per card to the pot. The pot is then collected by the player who ran out of cards.