Gops (also known as Goofspiel) is a rare example of a card game where luck doesn’t factor into the game play at all, owing to the fact that each player’s hand begins with exactly the same cards. In fact, the name Gops is said to derive from “Game of Pure Strategy”. It can be played with two or three players, or more if multiple decks are used.
Gops was invented at Princeton in the 1930s. Its complete lack of luck has led to it being studied to find the mathematically perfect strategy.
Object of Gops
The object of Gops is to win the most prize cards.
Gops with up to three players is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Unlike most games, the cards are not shuffled and dealt; instead, the deck is separated into its four suits. The diamond suit is set aside to serve as the prize cards, and each player is given all thirteen cards from one of the other three suits.
If playing with more than three players, hand out the hearts, spades, and clubs from a second deck. The diamond suit from the second deck is set aside and takes no part in game play.
Each player takes their suit and arranges it in such a way that its order in their hand is not obvious to the other players. The prize pile is shuffled and placed face-down in the center of the table.
Any player turns up the top card of the prize card pile. Each player then looks at it and places a bid for the prize card by taking one card from their hand and placing it face-down in front of them. After all players have bid, the bid cards are turned face up, and the player who placed the highest bid wins the prize card, keeping it in a face-up won-cards pile in front of them. Cards rank in the conventional order, with aces low (A, 2, 3, … J, Q, K). In the event of a tie, the prize card is not awarded to any player and discarded. After bidding is resolved, all of the bid cards are discarded.
Game play continues until all thirteen prize cards have been bid on. Each player then totals the value of their won prize cards. Aces are worth one point, jacks eleven, queens twelve, kings thirteen, and all other cards their face value. The winner of the game is the player with the highest point total.