All Fours, also known as Seven Up, is a trick-taking game for two to seven players (although three to five is the most common, and four is probably the optimal number). All Fours is a very old game, originating in English pubs; it appears in game books as far back as The Compleat Gamester from 1674. Its rules have gradually changed over the years, but the central premise of the game—scoring points for high, low, jack, and game—has remained unchanged.
All Fours has the distinction of being the first game to use the term jack, referring to the point for collecting what was then called the knave of the trump suit. Over time, the term jack began being applied to the actual card and not just the point it awarded. By the time indices became standard on playing cards, the most junior of the court cards bore a letter “J”, and knave for a rank of playing cards was simply a linguistic curio.
Object of All Fours
The object of All Fours is to be the first player to reach a score of seven points. Players score points by capturing the highest and lowest trump in play, the jack of trumps, and the highest-value cards in play.
All Fours requires the use of one 52-card deck of playing cards. Always use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards to make sure your cards make it through the whole game.
Shuffle and deal three cards at a time to each player. Make two passes so that each player has a hand of six cards. Turn the next card of the deck face up; this is the upcard. The deck stub is placed next to the upcard, forming the stock.
Determining the trump suit
The upcard indicates the first suit that can potentially be designated as the trump suit. This is initially up to the player at the dealer’s left, who can accept the upcard’s suit as trumps by stating “I stand.” Otherwise, they decline it by stating “Beg.” The dealer then has the opportunity to accept the upcard’s suit by saying “I give you one”—if this is done, the player to the dealer’s left scores one point. If the dealer does not wish to accept the upcard’s suit, they declare “Refuse the gift”, and a procedure called running the cards begins.
To run the cards, the dealer gives each player another batch of three cards and turns up a new upcard from the stock. If this card’s suit is the same as the previous upcard, the cards are run again. Otherwise, the new suit becomes trump. If this new upcard is a jack, the dealer scores one point. Players then discard back down to six cards, putting the discards face down into a discard pile. In the event that no new suit is turned up before the stock runs out, all cards are collected, and the same dealer deals a new hand.
Play of the hand
After the matter of determining trump has been resolved, actual game play begins. The player to the left of the dealer goes first, leading the first trick. Each player plays to the trick in turn. If able, each player follows the suit lead, unless they are unable, in which case they may play any card. Additionally, playing a trump is always acceptable. 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 separate score pile kept in front of them. The winner of the trick leads the next one.
If it determined that a player previously revoked (i.e. did not follow suit when able), the player is ineligible to score the points for Jack or Game (see below) on that hand, and all other players score one point, unless the jack of trumps is in play, in which case they score two points.
When all six tricks have been played, the following four points are scored, in order, by the appropriate players:
- 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 two players tie for game, the point is not scored.
Due to the fact that not all cards are dealt during the 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 is not always scored, since the jack of trumps is not always in play.
After the hands are scored, new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one player scores seven points.
Golf is a simple solitaire game played by playing cards in sequence to the discard pile. It is so called because the number of cards left in play are considered the player’s score, and as in the other, non-card game of golf, the lower the score, the better. As with several other card games, the game gained prominence in the 1990s due to a software adaptation by Microsoft; Golf appeared in the first Windows Entertainment Pack for Windows 3.1.
Golf is a game of mostly luck and is very difficult to win.
Object of Golf
The object of Golf is to move all cards in the deck to into the discard pile, earning a score of zero. Barring that, obtain the lowest score.
To play Golf, you need one 52-card deck of playing cards. If you use anything other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards we will be really, really sad, and you don’t want that, do you?
Shuffle and deal seven piles of five cards each, face up, with enough of each card showing so as to be identifiable. These 35 cards form the tableau. The remaining 17 cards are placed in a pile, face down, forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up, forming the discard pile.
Move cards from the tableau to the discard pile, as allowed, one at a time. Only the topmost card of each tableau pile (i.e. the one without any other cards on top of it) can be accessed.
A card from the tableau may only be discarded if it is consecutive in rank with the top card of the discard pile. Aces are considered low, and can only be played on twos (and thereafter only twos may be played on Aces; there is no “wraparound” from ace to king). No card may be played on a king. Suits are irrelevant to the proceedings.
When no further plays are possible, draw a card from the stock and place it on the discard pile. Further plays may now be made with the new card on the discard pile.
Game play continues until the stock is depleted and no plays are possible. The remaining number of cards in the tableau is considered the player’s score. If the tableau was cleared, earning the player a score of zero, the game is won.
Newmarket (also known as Michigan, Boodle, or Stops) is a game for three to eight players. It is a member of the Stops family of card games, so called because play is periodically stopped by the unavailability of a card needed to continue play. Newmarket is similar to Tripoley, a modified and expanded version of the game that is available for sale in retail stores.
Object of Newmarket
The object of Newmarket is to obtain the most chips over the course of the game.
Newmarket requires a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Individuals found using cards other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards should be regarded as highly suspect and should be avoided.
The game also requires the use of chips for keeping track of who is winning. You can have your players buy in and have your chips represent real money if you like, but because the game is more luck-based than poker, it is probably better to just let the chips have no cash value. See our post on counting chips for tips on selecting and counting chips. Give each player an equal number of chips to start out with.
Additionally, a betting layout needs to be set up to allow chips to be placed on special pay or boodle cards. The pay cards are the A♥, K♣, Q♦, and J♠. The traditional way of setting up a layout is to grab these cards from a spare deck. (If you have a two-deck set of Denexa Playing Cards, you can simply use the cards from the other deck.) If you want to get more creative, you can create a layout with labeled betting circles on a piece of posterboard or felt. You can also use something like disposable plastic bowls, or the indentations in a cupcake tin. The exact form of the layout isn’t important, as long it clearly establishes which card each pile of chips belongs to.
Deal the cards out as evenly as they will go, to as many hands as there are players, plus one. For example, if playing with three players, deal four hands of thirteen cards. The extra hand dealt is called the widow. Place the widow face down in the middle of the table. Each player antes a predetermined amount to each of the pay cards on the betting layout.
The widow and the auction
The dealer inspects their dealt hand and determines whether they would prefer to keep it or to exchange it with the extra hand. The dealer may not view the spare hand before making a decision. If the dealer decides to exchange hands, they make the swap. The dealer’s former hand takes no further part in game play.
If the dealer opts to keep their hand as dealt, this decision is declared, and becomes irrevocable. The dealer then auctions the extra hand off to the highest bidder. The starting bid equal to the lowest-value chip in play. If, during the course of the bidding, two players make the same bid and it cannot be determined who spoke first, the first player going clockwise from the dealer is considered to have made the bid.
Upon conclusion of the bidding, the winner pays the dealer the agreed-upon amount, and swaps hands. If nobody makes an opening bid on the extra hand, nobody receives the hand, and it remains unexposed.
Play of the hand
The player to the left of the dealer goes first, and plays the lowest card they hold of any suit they choose (aces are high). The player holding the next-higher card of that suit then plays it, irrespective of where they sit. This continues until no further progress can be made in that suit. This happens one of two ways: either because the ace of that suit has been played, or because the next card that would be played is in the widow. In either case, the player who played last plays the lowest card they hold of a suit of the opposite color.
If, at any time, a player plays one of the pay cards, they are entitled to collect the corresponding pot of chips from the betting layout. After the first hand, the pots may not be equal due to uncollected chips remaining in them at the end of the hand. If a player fails to collect a pot they are entitled to, they forfeit it.
Game play continues until a player runs out of cards, thus winning the hand. All players pay one chip to the winner for each card remaining in their hand. Some pots may remain unclaimed, due to the card associated with them not being played during the course of the hand. This happens because the card either ended up in the dead hand, or because play simply never allowed for the pay card to be played. These uncollected pots remain for the next hand, and all players ante again to each of the four pots. The deal passes to the left, and the next hand is dealt.
Keep playing until a predefined time or a set number of hands. The player with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner.
Canasta is a classic game for four players in partnerships. Originating in Uruguay in 1940, and further developed throughout the 1940s in Argentina, the game of Canasta became a fad in United States the early 1950s, challenging the popularity of the other popular partnership game of the 20th century, Contract Bridge. Since then, the game has evolved into a world-wide classic.
Canasta has the disadvantage of having a lot of intricacies to its rules, and rules that depend a lot on the scoring system, meaning that it can be somewhat overwhelming to novice players. Once it gets going, however, it is a quick and fun game.
Object of Canasta
The object of the game is to score 5,000 points before your opponent by forming melds of three or more cards of the same rank, and canastas, which are melds of seven or more cards of the same rank.
The players divide into two partnerships, sitting across from one another, so that the turn of play alters between partnerships when going clockwise. Set aside an area of the table for each partnership’s melds, and a neutral area accessible to all players for the stock and the discard pile.
Canasta uses a 108-card deck, consisting of two standard decks of playing cards, plus Jokers, shuffled together. The backs of both decks of cards should be identical. If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, pat yourself on the back for your smart purchasing decisions. You will also need some form of scorekeeping apparatus. We recommend either a pencil and paper or a smartphone application, since abacuses that go up to 5,000 are kind of hard to find in this day and age.
Deal 11 cards to each player. Set the rest of the deck in the center of the table, forming the stock, and turn one card face-up next to it. This is the top card of the discard pile, otherwise known as the upcard. If the upcard is a joker, 2, or red 3, turn another card over from the stock to cover it (continue turning cards until the upcard is something other than one of these three ranks). If the discard pile started with one of these three cards, it is considered frozen (see below).
Card ranks and scoring
The following are the scores and special properties of all of the cards in the game:
- Red 3s: Red 3s serve as a bonus card and are simply laid in front of the player and a new card is drawn to replace them. 100 points.
- Jokers: Jokers are wild. 50 points.
- Twos: Twos are also wild. 20 points.
- Aces: 20 points.
- K–8s: 10 points.
- 7s–4s: 5 points.
- Black 3s: Can only be melded at the end of the hand, and prevent the discard pile from being taken when one is the upcard. 5 points.
Other than the colors of the 3s, suits do not matter. Both jokers are likewise equal.
Play of the hand
Before game play actually kicks off, any red 3s the players hold in their hand are placed in the partnership’s melding area and new cards are drawn to replace them. Likewise, any red 3s encountered throughout the game are laid down and new cards drawn to replace them. Red 3s found in the discard pile are not replaced, however.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. The flow of the turn is to draw, meld if able and willing, and end the turn by discarding. A player may not deplete their hand of cards unless they meet specific requirements for going out, as described below.
When drawing, the player has the option to draw the top card of the stock, or to draw the upcard. To draw from the discards, the player must be able to immediately use the upcard in a meld (either by forming a new meld or extending an existing one with it); upon doing so, the player takes the entire discard pile into their hand! (This is a very good thing; the discard pile is often large and contains many things that are useful to the player.) Under some circumstances, however, the discard pile is frozen, which further restricts the ability of the player to take the discard pile—see below. A player also cannot take the discard pile when the upcard is a black 3.
After drawing, the player may meld, if able. A partnership’s first melds of the hand must meet a minimum value, depending on the partnership’s score at the beginning of that hand:
Note that a partnership with a negative score really has no “minimum” requirement; a minimum of 15 exists only by virtue of no valid meld having a score below this.
A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank (traditionally fanned out so that the indices of all of the cards in the meld are visible). At least two cards must be natural (i.e. not a wild card), and a meld can never contain more than three wild cards.
After a meld has been laid down, further melding by that partnership is not subject to the minimums. When a meld has been laid down, it can be extended by either player in the partnership, either by adding more natural cards to it or by adding wild cards. Players cannot move cards between melds, or establish two separate melds of the same rank. Players cannot contribute to their opponents’ melds.
A meld of seven or more cards is called a canasta, which, if you were wondering, is Spanish for “basket”. Canastas involving wild cards are called mixed canastas (canastas sucias or “dirty canastas” in Spanish), and canastas free of wild cards are called natural canastas (canastas limpias, or “clean canastas”). The distinction is important because natural canastas score higher. Traditionally, elevation to canasta status is denoted by squaring the meld up into a pile, with a red card on top for natural canastas and a black card on top for mixed canastas. (Should a wild card be added to a natural canasta, the top card of the canasta is switched out so that it again displays the correct color.)
After any melds are made, the player discards any card other than a red 3, and play continues with the player to the left.
Freezing the discard pile
Should a red 3 or wild card end up in the discard pile, either by being the initial upcard, or (in the case of wild cards) by being intentionally discarded there, the discard pile is considered frozen. This is signified by placing the offending card at right angles to the pile, causing it to stick out when further cards are placed on top of it. When the discard pile is frozen, it may only be taken if its top card can be used to form a new meld with two or more other cards of the same rank (i.e. you cannot take a frozen discard pile to form a meld with two natural cards and a wild card).
Depletion of the stock
In the uncommon event that the stock is depleted before someone goes out, the game simply continues without a stock; play continues with players taking the discard pile, melding if able, and discarding, until a player goes out as normal, or is unable to take the discard pile, at which point the hand ends and is scored as outlined below.
If, however, the final card of the stock is a red 3, special rules apply. The player taking the 3 declares it as usual, then does any melding possible, after which play ceases. This player is not entitled to discard.
In order to go out, a partnership must have formed at least one canasta. At this point, you may go out by divesting yourself of your remaining cards, either by forming new melds, adding to existing ones, or discarding.
It is permissible to consult your partner before going out by asking “May I go out?” This is done to ensure that the partner does not hold an unduly high total value of cards, which will be charged against the partnership at the end of the hand. The answer given is binding. The only answer permitted is “Yes” or “No”—if any further information is given, the opposing partnership is entitled to answer the question “May I go out?” for the offending partnership, and their answer is binding, often with disastrous results.
A player also has the option of going out concealed. This is achieved when a player goes out without the partnership having previously melded anything, and scores a bonus.
After a player has gone out, the hand is scored. Each team scores the value of the cards it has melded, and the value of cards held in hand is deducted against the partnership’s score (except for any undeclared red 3s, which are handled as discussed in “Penalties” below). The following bonuses, if applicable, are also scored:
- Natural canastas: 500 points each.
- Mixed canastas: 300 points each.
- Red threes: 100 points each, unless all four are held, in which case they are 200 points each (for a total of 800).
- Going out normally: 100 points.
- Going out concealed: 200 points.
After all of the above has been accounted for, if neither partnership has reached 5,000 points, all cards are shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. If one or both partnerships has exceeded a score of 5,000, the partnership with the higher score at that point wins.
Throughout the game, various penalties can occur, as set out below:
- Undeclared red 3s at end of hand: –500 points each.
- Attempting to go out anyway when a partner says no: –100 points.
- Not being able to go out after having asked “May I go out?”: –100 points.
- Taking the upcard when unable to use it: –50 points.
Canasta for two players
Although Canasta is canonically considered a partnership game, early accounts claim that it was conceived as a two-player game, and it works well in that form. Play with two players is the same as the partnership game, except that fifteen cards are initially dealt instead of eleven, players draw two cards instead of one (though they still discard only one card), and two canastas are required to go out instead of one.
Gin Rummy, also known simply as Gin, is a classic game of skill for two players. Gin Rummy is probably the most well-known and most often-played of the Rummy family of card games. Its heyday was in the 1930s and 1940s, when it was associated with Hollywood and Broadway stars.
Object of Gin Rummy
The object of Gin Rummy is to arrange your hand into melds and be the first to knock, hopefully ensuring that the total of your unmatched cards is lower than that of your opponent.
You will need one deck of 52 playing cards. Using anything other than Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards comes as a great disappointment to all involved.
You will also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper work fine, or you can use something fancy like a smartphone app designed for the purpose, of which there are many.
Deal ten cards to each player. Place the deck stub in the middle of the table, forming the stock, and turn one card face up next to it, which is designated the upcard, or top card of the discard pile.
Gin Rummy revolves around melds, which are combinations of three or more cards. Valid melds include three or four of a kind, or a run or sequence, such as 5-6-7, of the same suit. Aces are low, and kings are high, and a sequence cannot progress from one to the other (K-A-2 is not a valid meld).
Cards also have a point value, used in calculating the amount of deadwood, or unmelded cards, each player has. Aces are worth one point, face cards worth ten, and all other cards their face value.
Game play begins with the non-dealer. They may take either the top card of the discard pile, or the top card of the stock. They then end their turn by discarding a card from their hand. Play then passes to the dealer, who follows the same procedure, and so on and so forth. The discard pile is to be kept squared up at all times, and fishing through the discards is not permitted; if a player wants to use the information of what the discard pile contains, it is their responsibility to remember what has been discarded throughout the game.
When a player’s deadwood total reaches ten or less, they may knock, which is discarding face-down and knocking on the table. Both players then reveal their hands, sorting them into melds on the table. The player that did not knock may reduce their deadwood total by adding cards from it to the knocker’s melds. Thereafter, the players both total up their deadwood; if the player that knocked has the lower deadwood total, as is usual, they score the difference between the two deadwood totals. However, if the non-knocker has the lower total, they score the difference, along with a ten-point bonus for undercutting the knocker.
As an alternative to knocking, a player may elect to play on until their deadwood score reaches zero. Rather than knocking, they declare gin and reveal their hand, scoring the opponent’s deadwood total plus a 25-point bonus. The opponent may not lay off deadwood on a gin hand.
In the rare event that the hand continues until only two cards are left in the stock, play stops, and the hand is considered a draw. No points are scored.
After the end of the hand, the deal rotates, and the cards are shuffled and a new hand is dealt. Game play continues until a player reaches 100 points. This player then scores an additional 100 bonus points, and each player scores box bonuses of 25 points for each hand that they won.
Gin Rummy is a fairly old game, and over the years many variants have been concocted to spice up the game. We won’t get into all of them here, but many of them can be combined as the players choose to make a truly customized Gin experience.
Gin Rummy as a betting game
Gin Rummy can be played as a betting game. Prior to the game, both players agree to the monetary value of a point and write it down on the score sheet. Play commences as above. After all bonuses have been taken into account, the difference in points is calculated, and the loser pays the winner the difference multiplied by the amount agreed to before the game.
Oklahoma Gin is exactly the same as normal Gin for the most part. However, rather than a knock being possible at 10 or fewer points, the value of the first upcard of each hand is used to determine this threshold for that hand. If an ace is the first upcard, knocking is not allowed; the winner must go gin.
A further variant described by David Parlett in the 2008 edition of The Penguin Book of Card Games sets the knock threshold equal to whatever the current upcard being displayed happens to be. This allows a player to stall their opponent by discarding low cards in an attempt to prevent them from knocking.
In Around-the-Corner Gin, king and ace are considered consecutive for the purposes of sequences, meaning K-A-2 is a perfectly valid meld.
Canfield is a popular solitaire game similar to Klondike, which is the familiar solitaire game most people know from Microsoft Windows. Canfield takes up much less space than Klondike, which is a good thing because software adaptations of Canfield are less common than those of Klondike.
Object of Canfield
The object of Canfield is to move all of the cards up to the foundations.
You will need one standard 52-card deck. Are you using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards? If no, why not?
Shuffle and deal as follows:
- Deal 13 cards face down. Square up the pile, and turn it face up, so you can only see the top card. This forms the reserve.
- Deal one card above and to the right of the reserve. This forms the first of the four foundations.
- Deal four cards in a line to the right of the reserve. This forms the tableau.
- The remainder of the deck is the stock.
Refer to the image at the top of this post for an example layout (click to enlarge).
In Canfield, the king, ace, and 2 are considered consecutive, i.e., the ace is below the 2 and above the king, and both ascending and descending sequences can wrap around from low to high.
The foundation piles are built up by suit, in ascending rank order. The card dealt to the first foundation sets the card that each foundation pile begins with. In this case, since a 3 was dealt, each foundation pile will begin with 3, and will be completed when the 2 of that suit is played upon it.
The tableau is built down by alternating colors (red cards are played on black cards and vice versa), in descending rank order. When a card is moved, all cards on top of it are moved as well. In other words, the tableau in Canfield works pretty much exactly like that of Klondike.
The top card of the reserve is available to be moved to any legal location at any time. Cards beneath the top card are not accessible and should not be known to the player. When an empty spot appears on the tableau, the top card of the reserve is moved to fill the vacancy. If the reserve is depleted, empty spots in the tableau can be filled by any card.
Cards may be drawn from the stock and placed in a discard pile, from which they may be moved to any location. For a more challenging game, draw three cards at once (with only the third card available for play, freeing up the second card when the third is played, etc.) After the stock is depleted, the discard pile is flipped over to replenish it.
3-5-7 is a poker game with an unusual betting structure. Rather than confronting one another directly by raising and calling each other’s bets, players simply decide whether or not to fold. The risk comes when you don’t fold and you lose—which is really much like regular poker, come to think of it.
Object of 3-5-7
The object of 3-5-7 is to win lots of money by correctly deciding whether or not to play, i.e. by deducing whether your hand is likely to win or not.
You need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. If you go with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, we think you’re just amazing.
In addition to whatever kind of chips you normally use for poker, you will need some sort of marker for keeping track of strikes. If you have some chips from a different set (like those cheap interlocking chips) or chips of a color you don’t normally use for poker games (like those weird blue chips which come with most of the dice chip sets for some reason, which have no standard value) sitting around, this is a great time to use them. If nothing else, you can use whatever’s handy. Pennies are a good option. We actually use some wooden discs from Hobby Lobby that are painted to resemble the strikes from the 3 Strikes game from The Price Is Right. Yes, we’re a little weird.
Everyone antes. Deal three cards to each player. Keep the deck stub around, you will be dealing more cards in a little bit.
At any point in time, one card is a wild card; this card is the same number as however many cards everyone has. Initially, everyone has three cards, so all threes are wild. Players examine their hands to determine whether they want to play or fold.
Players will now need to declare their intentions, simultaneously. The most reliable method of doing this is for players to take a chip in hand, shuffle it from hand to hand out of sight from the other players, then, make a fist above the table. When all players are ready, all reveal—chip in the presented hand means the player is in, no chip means the player is out.
Now, all players who are in share their hands with one another, without letting the players who folded see. The winner is determined using regular poker hands, minus all the straights and flushes (so a three-of-a-kind is the strongest possible hand). All players who played and do not win pay the winner an amount equal to the pot.
Now, two cards are dealt to all players, giving them five cards, and fives are now wild. Game play is as before, but with the usual poker hands (straights and flushes count again). Then, two more cards are dealt, and hands are formed with five of the seven cards available to them. Hands are shuffled and play begins again with new three-card hands.
If, at any time, only one player elects to play a hand, all other players having folded, the player who stayed in gets a strike marker. When one player collects three strike markers, the game ends, and the pot goes to the player to get the three strike markers.
If you’d like to liven up the betting, require all other players to make a contribution to the pot whenever a player receives a strike. This will increase the size of the reward for the player that finishes off the game. It also makes staying in the game increasingly intimidating as it goes on, making the game go quicker, since the higher stakes will induce people to play tighter, creating more strikes.
Hearts is a classic game for four players. Unlike most card games, Hearts works on golf rules—the player with the lowest amount of points is the winner. Winning is generally done by avoidance of certain cards that score points—namely, the hearts, after which the game is named, and also the ultimate old maid, the Queen of Spades.
Hearts received a boost in popularity in the 1990s because Microsoft included a computerized version of it in its Windows operating system.
Object of Hearts
The object of the game is to have the lowest score at the end of the game by avoiding the thirteen Hearts and the Q♠. Or, collect absolutely everything and watch your opponents suffer.
You will need scorekeeping equipment (pencil and paper, or one of several smartphone/tablet apps that do all the math for you) and a standard 52-card deck of cards. Use Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for the full effect of the Q♠’s wrath—her role in Hearts is why her artwork on the Denexa deck depicts her with a uniquely…unpleasant expression.
Shuffle and deal out the entire deck. Each player should end up with thirteen cards.
At the beginning of the first hand, each player selects three cards and pass them to the left; they will receive three replacement cards from the right. On the second hand, cards will be passed to the right; on the third, straight across. No passing occurs on the fourth hand. The fifth hand restarts the cycle, passing to the left, and so on.
After passing has occurred, the player holding the 2♣ leads it. The next player to their left responds by playing a club, if they are able; otherwise, they may play any card except for a heart or the Q♠. The other two players follow in turn. These four cards played to the table are called a trick. After all players have played a card, the player who played the highest club collects the trick and places it into a score pile separate from their hand. The 2 is the lowest card of any suit, and the ace is the highest card.
The player that won the first trick then leads any card, except for a heart; again, all players must follow the suit led, if able. There is now no restriction on what may be played if the player cannot follow suit. After all four cards have been played, the player who played the highest card of the suit led collects the cards and gets to start the next trick, and the process repeats.
When a player who is unable to follow suit plays a heart, hearts are said to have been broken. Hearts can then be led to subsequent tricks.
After the thirteenth trick, all players will have exhausted their hand. Each player looks through their score pile and adds up their score, as follows:
- The thirteen hearts: one point each.
- The Q♠: thirteen points.
In the uncommon event that one player has managed to score all thirteen hearts and the Q♠—an act known as shooting the moon—rather than scoring 26 points, they score zero for the hand, and all three of their opponents score 26!
The deal passes to the left, the cards are shuffled, and a new hand is dealt. Game play continues until one player exceeds 100 points; the player with the lowest score at that point is the winner.
The Jack of Diamonds variant of Hearts, also known as Omnibus Hearts, adds a fifteenth point card to the game, the J♦. Unlike the other scoring cards, however, the J♦ is not a penalty; it is a bonus, worth −10 points. Like all other scoring cards, however, it cannot be played on the first trick of a hand, and it must be collected in order to successfully shoot the moon.
Some groups allow a player to opt to score −26, rather than forcing their opponents to score 26, when shooting the moon. This avoids some unfortunate scenarios where a player shoots the moon, forcing an opponent over 100 and ending the game, but causing the shooter to lose to a player that still has a lower score after the 26 points are accounted for.
If you like Red Dog, you’ll probably like In-Between (also called Between the Sheets and Acey-Deucey, and confusingly, sometimes called Red Dog). Like Red Dog, it requires players to bet against the pot rather than each other. It also makes for a nice break from poker in dealer’s choice games.
Object of In-Between
The object of the game is to win lots of money by accurately judging when the rank of the third card dealt to you is likely to be in between that of your first two cards.
To play In-Between, you’ll need one standard fifty-two card deck of playing cards. Your players wouldn’t want to play with sticky, gunky cards, so be sure to get an easily-washable deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards for your game.
Like in Red Dog, you also need to determine a minimum bet. A tame group of players will set it to be equal to whatever the lowest chip value is. A more wild set of players will make it higher.
All players ante to open the pot.
The player to the left of the dealer is first to act. The dealer deals two cards face up on the table (leaving some space between the two). The player places a wager based on the perceived strength of their hand. The bet may be any amount of money between the minimum bet and the amount in the pot. The player designates any aces in the hand as being either high (above a king) or low (below a two).
After the wager is placed, a third card is dealt between the other two. If this card’s rank falls between the ranks of the other two, the player wins. The dealer pays their bet out from the pot, at even money. If the third card’s rank is not in between the other two, the player loses. Lost bets are added to the pot. Note that matching one of the end cards, called hitting the post, is merely a painful loss, not a win.
If two consecutive cards are turned up, the player forfeits the minimum bet to the pot. (No third card is turned up because a loss is assured.) If a pair is turned up, the player is immediately paid two times the minimum bet. Again, no third card is turned up.
After a player’s turn of play, the three cards are discarded. Play then passes to the next player to the left. Shuffle after the dealer’s turn of play. Game play continues until a player takes the whole pot.
In-Between does have the tendency to suck money into the pot at an alarmingly high rate, even more so than Red Dog. Therefore, if everyone agrees that they’ve had enough, the game can be ended by equally splitting the pot.
One can make the game more interesting by allowing betting on a third card when a pair is dealt. In this case, the win condition is getting a third card of the same rank. This has a 1 in 25 chance of happening for the first player to act, but it can vary dramatically throughout the hand. A winning bet would be paid out at 25 to 1. If a 25-to-1 payout exceeds the size of the pot, the player wins the entire pot.
It is up to the players whether the player is compelled to bet in such a situation, or if they can just opt to take the standard two-times-minimum-bet payout.
Much like Seven Twenty-Seven, Red Dog is a fun game you can put into your dealer’s choice poker nights as a break from actual poker. Red Dog makes a nice respite from the competitive betting found in other games, because all of the betting in Red Dog is done against the pot, not other players.
Object of Red Dog
The object of the game is to win lots of money when your hand is favorable and to not lose lots of money when it isn’t. But then, that’s every poker game…so….
You need one standard fifty-two card deck of playing cards. If you’re using Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, you’re awesome and we love you. You also need to determine a minimum bet—if you’re a friendly bunch, it will be equal to whatever your lowest chip value is. Masochistic groups of players can set it higher.
All players ante. Shuffle and deal four cards to all players.
The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They make a wager of any amount of money, between the minimum bet and the amount in the pot, based on the perceived strength of their hand. Then, a fifth card is dealt face up. If they have a higher card of the same suit as the fifth card, they expose it. The bet wins, and the dealer pays the player an equal amount from the pot. If the player doesn’t, they expose their hand and the dealer adds their bet to the pot. The next player to the left plays in the same manner. Exposed cards remain on the table as each player plays their hand, giving the players later to act more information about the composition of the deck.
After the dealer’s turn of play, any money left in the pot remains, the cards are collected and shuffled, and the deal passes to the left. Game play continues until someone takes the entire pot by making a bet equal to the whole pot (colloquially potting it) and winning. Occasionally, the size of the pot will climb to ridiculous proportions due to several attempts to take the pot failing catastrophically. If, out of fear or boredom, all players agree to end the game early, the pot is simply split as evenly as possible between all players, with whatever remainder exists staying in the pot as a splash-pot bet for the next game.
If you want to allow players to have some more information, and thus allow them to make more informed judgments about their hands, deal the hands face up—this also makes the order of play slightly less important, and adds a more lively atmosphere as people suddenly begin to have strong opinions about each others’ play (“C’mon, Bill, pot it! You can’t lose! Well, you probably won’t, anyw—ouch, bad luck, man…”). If you want to give them even more information, deal the whole deck out, rather than shuffling between hands. This allows players to take advantage of knowledge they remember from prior hands.