Mitaines

This page is based mainly on information from Vincent Guerin, plus additional material from Vicky Lavoie.

Introduction

Mitaines is a French Canadian game: the French word 'mitaines' means mittens. The game is also known in English as Mitts. Cards are played to a common discard pile, which can be captured by matching its top card or playing a jack. Points are scored for sets of two or more equal ranked cards played to the common discard pile: two equal cards are a mitaine (mitten), three cards are a gant (glove), and four cards are a chausson (sock).

Players, Cards and Combinations

Mitaines is played with a standard 52 card deck. The game is for two or three players, each playing for themselves, or for four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite each other.

The cards rank from high to low J-A-K-Q-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. Suits are not relevant, except that the diamond10 is a scoring card.

Name Description Score
Mitten Pair of equal ranked cards (not Jacks) 10 points
Glove Three equal ranked cards (not Jacks) 100 points
Sock Four equal ranked cards (not Jacks) 200 points
Mitten of Jacks Two Jacks 50 points
Glove of Jacks Three Jacks 150 points
Sock of Jacks Four Jacks 300 points
Ten of Diamonds 50 points

Any sock is higher than any glove, and any glove is higher than any mitten. Among combinations of the same type, the higher ranking cards beat the lower ranking (Jacks rank highest, followed by Aces, Kings, etc.). For example a glove of Threes is higher than a mitten of Kings, which is higher than a mitten of Eights.

The Deal

If there are two or four players, the dealer deals clockwise six cards to each player and four cards face-up to start the discard pile. These four cards are placed on top of one another, but overlapped, so that all their values can be seen. The traditional method of dealing is: three cards to each other player, two to the table, then three to the dealer, then repeat.

The remainder of the deck is temporarily put aside, face down, beside the dealer.

After everyone has played their six cards, the same dealer deals another hand of six cards to each player from the remaining cards, dealing three at a time as before, but no more cards are dealt to discard pile after the first deal. If there are four players this will exhaust the deck. With two players, the remainder of the deck is again put aside, and after both players have played their second six-card hands cards there is a third deal of six cards each, and after these have been played a fourth an final deal of six cards each, which exhausts the 52-card deck.

After the players have played their last six-card hands and no more cards remain to be dealt, the round is scored. The turn to deal passes to the left for the next round.

When there are three players, eight cards are dealt to each player and four face up to start the discard pile. I am not sure of the exact dealing sequence with three players - probably it should be four to each opponent, two to the table, four to the dealer, repeat. After the players have played their hands, another eight cards each are dealt, and when these have all been played the round is scored.

The Play

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer and continuing clockwise, each player in turn must play one card out from hand face-up on top of the discard pile. (In a four-player game, each team's turn alternate). If there are cards remaining in the discard pile after everyone has played their six cards, they are kept on the table for the next deal.

During the play, mittens, gloves and socks can be called and scored, as described below. In the absence of any such calls, a player can clear the whole discard pile by playing either

  1. a card equal in rank to the top card of the discard pile, or
  2. any jack.
The cleared cards are placed in a face down waste heap to one side, and the next player starts a new discard pile by playing a card to the empty table. If you capture a discard pile that contains the diamond10, you place this card face up in front of you to represent the 50 points you have scored, and the rest of the discard pile is placed face-down on the waste heap.

If you play a jack when the discard pile is empty, it does not capture anything, but just remains on the table.

Example: A 4 is the top card of the discard pile. The player's whose turn is next has a 4 in his hand. He then plays the 4, clearing the discard pile. The ten of diamonds was not among the cards in the discard pile, so he scores nothing.
Note: You can't clear the discard pile when a mitten, a glove or a sock is called.

Calling mittens, gloves and socks

Suppose that a player holds two cards of equal rank (not jacks), and that no call has been made since the discard pile was last cleared. When he plays the first card of this pair to the discard pile he may announce the pair by calling "mitten". Play continues in rotation, and unless the mitten is stolen by another player, the player who called the mitten must complete it by playing the second card of the pair at his next turn. Completing the mitten captures the discard pile. It is cleared and placed face down on the waste heap, but the person who called the mitten keeps one card (usually the card he played to complete the mitten) and stores it face-up in front of him. At the end of the round, a face-up card in front of a player represents the 10 points scored for a mitten. Note that he can take any card from the waste pile to represent his mitten, as long as it is not the ten of diamonds or a jack.

Example: in a two-player game, player 1 has a mitten of 7's in his hand. He plays one of his 7's and calls mitten. Player 2 can't steal his mitten, so he plays a 3 which is not part of a combination. Then, the player who called mitten (player 1) plays his other 7, clears the discard pile, and takes a single card from it, say the 7 he just played, and puts it face-up in front of him.

Suppose that a player has three or four cards of the same rank in his hand, and no call has been made since the discard pile was last cleared. When he plays the first card of the set he may call "glove" for three of a kind or "sock" for four of a kind. Play continues in rotation, and if no one steals the glove or sock, the player who called must play the other cards of the combination at each of his turns until it is completed. Having completed the glove or sock, the player puts the discard pile aside on the waste heap but claims the score for the glove or sock by taking a card or cards from the waste heap and storing them face-down in front of him in his scoring pile. Each face-down card in the scoring pile represents 100 points, so the player takes one card for a glove (100 points) or two cards for a sock (200 points).

Example: in a two-player game, player 1 has a glove of 9's in his hand. He plays one of his 9's and calls glove. Player 2 can't steal his glove, so he plays a 5 which is not part of a combination. Then, the player who called glove (i.e., player 1) plays his second 9. Player 2 plays another odd card, a 4. Finally, player 1 plays his third and last 9, clears the discard pile, and takes a single card, say the 9 he just played, and puts it face down in front of him for 100 points.

After a mitten, glove or sock has been called, the current discard pile can only be cleared by completing or stealing a called mitten, glove or sock. Playing a jack or matching the top card of the pile in these circumstances has no effect, unless the card played also happens to complete or steal a called combination. After the discard pile has been cleared by a player making a mitten, glove or sock, a new discard pile is started, and this can be captured by a jack or by matching its top card so long as there is no further mitten, glove or sock call.

Ten of diamonds

If the ten of diamonds is in the discard pile, the player who clears the pile scores for thediamond10. This is true no matter whether the diamond10 was played before or after any call of mitten, glove or sock, or even forms part of a mitten, glove or sock of tens. If a player scores a mitten of 10's which includes the ten of diamonds, he than keeps the ten of diamonds (50 points) and a card to represent his mitten as well (10 points). The same goes for a glove of 10's which consists the ten of diamonds, and a sock of 10's.

Example 1: In a two-player game, player 1 has two cards left: a mitten of 5's. He plays one of his 5's and calls mitten. Player 2, who has a single card left in his hand which is the ten of diamonds, has no choice but to play it. Player 1 then plays his second 5, clears the discard pile, keeps a 5 to represent his mitten, and keeps the ten of diamonds as well (both cards are place face-up in front of him), for a score of 60 points.
Example 2: In a two-player game, player 1 has a mitten of 10's, which includes the ten of diamonds. He plays his other 10, and calls mitten. Player 2 can't steal his mitten, so he plays an odd 4. Then, player 1 plays the ten of diamonds, clears the discard pile and keeps both 10's, placing them face-up in his scoring pile (one 10 to represent his mitten, and the ten of diamonds).

If, at the end of the round, (when all 52 cards have been played), the ten of diamonds is still in the discard pile, the last player to have clear the discard pile picks up the ten of diamonds for scoring.

Stealing a mitten, a glove or a sock

If at your turn, you hold a mitten, glove or sock that is higher in rank than a mitten, glove or sock called but not yet completed by another player, you can attempt to steal the other player's combination by playing the first card of your superior combination and calling "mitten", "glove" or "sock" as appropriate. Play continues in rotation, and you must play the remaining card(s) of your called combination on your next turn(s), while the other players may play any cards. If you succeed in completing your mitten, glove or sock, you will score for this, and also for the combination that you stole. However, if someone has a still higher combination, they may in turn steal your combination before you are able to complete it. This stealing continues until some combination is completed, without a higher combination being announced. Then, all cards in the discard pile are put aside in the waste heap and the last player who completes the last and highest combination that was called scores for all the mittens, gloves and socks that were announced during the pay to that discard pile, and adds cards from the waste heap to his scoring pile accordingly. If the ten of diamonds was played to the pile, the player who clears the pile of course scores this as well.

Example: In a two-player game, player 1 has a mitten of 2's in his hand. He plays one of the 2's and calls "mitten". Player 2 has a mitten of 9's, which is higher than the mitten of 2's. He plays one of his 9's on top of the 2 and also calls "mitten". However, player 1 also has a glove of 3's, which is a higher play than any mitten. He then plays one of his 3's and calls "glove". Player 2 does not have a higher play, so he plays his other 9. Player 1 plays his second 3. Then, player 2 plays another card, a 4. Finally, player 1 plays his last 3, clears the discard pile, and keeps two cards face-up (his two mittens) and one card face down (his glove) in front of him, representing 120 points.

There is a second way to steal a mitten or glove. If, at your turn, you have a card that matches the rank of a mitten or glove which has been called but not yet completed by another player, you can play that matching card to steal the mitten or the glove. After playing the matching card, you clear the discard pile immediately, and take a card from the waste heap to represent the score for the mitten or the glove you have stolen.

Example: In a two-player game, player 1 has a mitten of 4's. He plays one of his 4's and calls mitten. Player 2 has a 4 as well. He plays the 4 to steal the opponent's mitten, clears the discard pile, and keeps a card, say the 4 he just played, and puts it face-up in front of him.

It is also possible to steal more than one mitten or glove using this play.

Example: In a two-player game, player 1 has a mitten of 7's. He plays one of his 7's and calls mitten. Player 2 has a pair of 9's and plays the first of them, calling his own mitten to try to steal player 1's mitten. But player 1 also has a 9. He plays it, stealing player 2's mitten of 9's and with it the mitten of 7's that he himself began. He immediately clears the discard pile and takes two cards from the waste heap, adding them face-up to his scoring pile to represent the two mittens.

Note that it is never compulsory to call mitten, glove or sock when playing the first of equal cards. Indeed, if you have a pair but know or suspect that your mitten would be stolen, it is better to play your cards without calling. In this case the second card of your pair does not clear the pile or score, but at least you deny your opponent the score for stealing your mitten.

Adding a mitten or a glove

If, at his turn, a player holds two or three cards which match the rank of the top card of the discard pile, he can play the first of his matching cards and call "glove" (if it is the first of two cards of that rank) or "sock" (if it is the first of three equal cards). Playing a card which your opponent can match with two or three cards in this way is known as "giving a glove / sock to your opponent".

Example: in a two-player game, player 1 plays a 7. Player 2 has a mitten of 7's in his hand. He plays one of his 7's and calls glove. (Player 1 just gave a glove to player 2). Player 1 doesn't have a higher play, so he plays a card, a 3. Player 2 than plays his last 7, clears the discard pile, and keeps one card face down in front of him to represent his glove.

It is possible to add a mitten or glove after a call has already been made, provided that the glove or sock you make is higher than the previous call. In this way you also steal the previous call, and it is possible to steal your own call by this method. An example (for a two-player game) may make this clearer.

Example:Player 1 has a mitten of K's. He plays one of his K's and calls mitten. Player 2 can't steal the mitten, so he plays a 9. Player 1 has another mitten, a mitten of 9's. He plays one of the 9's and calls glove (which is allowed because a glove of 9's beats a mitten of kings). Then, player 2 plays an unmatched card (a 4). Player 1 then plays his last 9. He clears the discard pile and picks up the 3 to put it face-up in his scoring pile (as a stolen mitten), as well as a 9, putting it face down in his scoring pile (as a glove).

Scoring a mitten with a single card (clearing for 10)

If there is just a single card in the discard pile, and the next player in turn has a card of a matching rank in hand, the matching card can be played to empty the discard pile. This counts as a mitten and a card is placed face-up in front of the person who played the matching card, representing a score of 10 points. This is also known as "clearing for 10".

Example: In a two-player game, a single card is on the table; it is a Q. The player whose turn is next has a Q in his hand. He then plays the Q and clears the discard pile for 10, taking a Q and placing it face-up in his scoring pile to represent this score.

Double mittens and double gloves

Suppose that the discard pile is empty, and a player plays a card that is one of a pair and calls mitten. If the player whose turn is next can match that rank, then playing the matching card scores two mittens - the stolen called mitten and a second mitten for matching a lone card on the table. This is called a double mitten (in French 'deux sur la table', which means two on the table). The same applies for a glove: when a player plays the first of three equal cards to the empty table, calling 'glove', and the next player clears the table by playing the fourth card of that rank, this matching play scores two gloves.
Example: In a two-player game, the discard pile is empty. Player 1 plays an 8 and calls mitten. Player 2 has an 8 in his hand, which he plays, stealing the mitten from his opponent. He scores two mittens because player 1's mitten was called on an empty discard pile. So player 2 takes both eights from the discard pile and place them both face-up in his scoring pile.

Mittens, gloves and socks of jacks

If you score a mitten of jacks, by any of the above methods, you place a jack face-up in your scoring pile, and this counts as 50 points, the value of a mitten of jacks. In the case of a glove of jacks, you score a glove and a jack, represented by a card face down (100) and a jack face up (50) for 150 points, and in the case of a sock of jacks, you score a sock (two gloves) represented by two cards face down, plus two jacks face up for a total of 300 points. The sock of jacks is the highest possible play.

Example: Player 1 plays a jack and calls mitten. Player 2 plays an odd 9. Player 1 then plays his other jack, clears the discard pile, and scores a mitten (he takes one jack to represent his mitten of jacks, placing it face-up in his scoring pile).

Note that whilst a jack can clears the pile if there has been no call, if you play a jack after someone called mitten, glove, or sock, your jack is wasted and is considered as a normal card, unless the mitten or glove called consists of jacks. A single jack in your hand is not capable of stealing a mitten, a glove or a sock of another rank.

However, a mitten of jacks is the highest mitten, a glove of jacks is the highest glove, and a sock of jacks is the highest sock. Also, if someone calls a mitten of jacks or a glove of jacks, and you have a jack in your hand, you can play it and capture the mitten or the glove.

Other possible plays with the jack:

  • Scoring a mitten of jacks with a single card. If a single card is on the table, and it is a jack, and the next player has a jack in his hand, he can play the jack to empty the discard pile. This counts as a mitten of jacks (50 points) and a jack is placed face-up in the scoring pile of the player of the second jack.
  • Double mittens of jacks and double gloves of jacks. Suppose the discard pile is empty, and a player holding a pair of jacks plays one of the jacks and calls mitten. The player whose turn is next also has a jack, so he plays it and scores two mittens of jacks. Therefore, he places two jacks face up in his scoring pile (instead of one). A double glove of jacks is also theoretically possible, but happens very rarely.

Special Case: scoring combinations in the initial pile.

At the beginning of the play, four cards are placed face up to start the discard pile. These cards are spread slightly to show whether they contain any scoring combinations. If there are two, three or four equal ranked cards among these four they will count as a mitten, glove or sock respectively to whoever first clears the pile. Also as usual the ten of diamonds will count if present. If there are no points in the initial pile, the cards can be stacked one on top of each other.

Example: At the beginning of play, the four face-up cards are: A, 5, 8, 5.Therefore, there is a mitten of 5's in it. (Note that the cards of the mitten or glove do not need to be adjacent). The player whose turn it is plays the jack, picks up all the cards, and keeps one card face-up in his scoring pile to represent his mitten.

Another example: The four face-up cards consists of: 3, J, ten of diamonds and K. The player whose turn it is has a K. He plays the K, which matches the K on top of the discard pile. He picks up all the cards but only keeps the ten of diamonds. Note that he can't pick up the J for scoring because there is only one jack on the table.

Yet another example: the four face-up cards are: 2, 6, 6, 6. The player whose turn it is has a mitten of 3's. He plays one of the 3's and calls mitten. If no one else has a higher play, everyone plays a card and then the player who played the mitten must play his other 3. He picks up all the cards of the discard pile and keeps in his scoring pile a face-up 3 (to represent his mitten) and a 6 that he must turn face down (to represent his glove).

Scoring

When all 52 cards have been played, the point values of the cards in each player's (or team's) scoring pile are counted and added to their cumulative score.

  • Each face down card counts 100 points.
  • Each face up jack or diamond10 counts 50 points
  • Each other face-up card counts 10 points
(In a four-player game, the teammates' scores are added together.)

Whichever player (or team) reaches 500 points first wins the game.

If both players (or teams) reach 500 points in the same hand, the player (or team) with the higher score wins. In case of a tie, more hands are played until the tie is broken.

Customs and Tactics

The best way to play is to first get rid of all your odd cards which do not form mittens, gloves or socks. Keep the big plays for last.

It is always good to play your lowest plays first (e.g. a mitten before a glove). If your opponent has a higher play, he can call it, and you can top it by playing an even better play. Therefore, you have a chance to steal more of your opponent's mittens or other scores.

Try to empty the discard pile as much as possible. This gives you an advantage: your opponent must play a card on an empty table, and risk giving you a single card mitten. You may even get the chance to score a double mitten or double glove.

Try not to play a mitten or a glove when the discard pile is empty; you might regret it!

Try not to play a jack when the discard pile is empty, because not only will you waste a chance to clear the discard pile, but you may also give your opponent a mitten of jacks (or glove of jacks).

Play your jacks very carefully. If you play your jack too soon, maybe your opponent has a mitten of jacks or a glove of jacks that you could have stolen from him.

If you have the ten of diamonds in your hand, maybe it's best to play it before your mittens, gloves, socks or jacks because you might have a chance to pick it up later on with these plays. However, you take a chance because your opponent might have a jack, a ten or a higher play than you.

Be careful when playing a 10. It may give your opponent an easy opportunity to save his ten of diamonds.

If you have a mitten (or glove) of 10's that includes the ten of diamonds, play the other 10's before playing your ten of diamonds. If your opponent has a 10, he would only steal your mitten (or glove), but your ten of diamonds would be safe for the moment (because it would be in your hand).

If your opponent calls a glove, and you have the matching rank, don't play it right away. Play it on the next turn. This way, not only does your opponent lose his glove, but he also loses his mitten! Note however that this does not apply when the opponent plays the first card of the glove to the empty table. In that case it is more profitable to steal it immediately and score a double glove.

Finally, remember which cards have been played; then you are less likely to give a glove or even a sock to your opponent by accident. Also, on the last deal of a round, if you can remember what cards your opponent must have, you may be able to avoid announcing a mitten or glove that is sure to be stolen.

Summary of all possible scores for mittens, gloves and socks

  1. An ordinary mitten: 10 points (one card face-up)
  2. A double mitten: 20 points (10 + 10) (two cards face-up) (scored by stealing a player's mitten that was called on an empty discard pile)
  3. A mitten of jacks: 50 points (one jack face-up)
  4. A mitten of 10's which includes the ten of diamonds: 60 points (10 + 50) (one card face-up and the ten of diamonds)
  5. A double mitten of 10's which includes the ten of diamonds (70 points) (ten of diamonds and two other cards face up) (scored by using the ten of diamonds to steal a mitten of tens called on an empty discard pile)
  6. A double mitten of jacks: 100 points (50 + 50) (two jacks face-up) (scored by stealing a player's mitten of jacks that was called on an empty discard pile)
  7. An ordinary glove: 100 points (one card face down)
  8. A glove of 10's which includes the ten of diamonds: 150 points (100 + 50) (one card face down and the ten of diamonds)
  9. A glove of jacks: 150 points (100 + 50) (one card face down, one jack face-up)
  10. A double glove: 200 points (100 + 100) (two cards face down) (scored by stealing a player's glove that was called on an empty discard pile)
  11. An ordinary sock: 200 points (two cards face down)
  12. A double glove of 10's which includes the ten of diamonds (250 points) (two cards face down and the ten of diamonds face up) (scored by using the ten of diamonds to steal a glove of tens called on an empty discard pile)
  13. A sock of 10's: 250 points (200 + 50) (two cards face down and the ten of diamonds)
  14. A double glove of jacks: 300 points (150 + 150) (two cards face down, two jacks face-up) (scored by stealing a player's glove of jacks that was called on an empty discard pile)
  15. A sock of jacks: 300 points (200 + 50 + 50) (two cards face down, two jacks face-up)

Variations

Some play that the cards rank from high to low A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. In this version, jacks keep their special scoring value and properties, but a mitten of jacks can be stolen by a mitten of queens, kings or aces, and the same for gloves and socks.

Some play that if there is just one card in the discard pile and it is not a jack, and no call has been made, the next player can score 10 points by playing a jack to clear the pile. This is a form of clearing for 10, and it is represented as usual by a face-up card added to the player's scoring pile.

Some record the score using any face down card to represent 50 points, and any face up card 10 points. The scores for the various events abd combinations are not changed by this, but the cards you add to your scoring pile are somewhat different - for example one face-down card rather than a face-up jack for a mitten of jacks.

Vicky Lavoie has provided the following alternative schedule of scores:

NameDescriptionScore
MittenPair of equal ranked cards (not Jacks)10 points
GloveThree equal ranked cards (not Jacks)50 points
SockFour equal ranked cards (not Jacks)100 points
Mitten of JacksTwo Jacks50 points
Glove of JacksThree Jacks150 points
Sock of JacksFour Jacks250 points
Ten of Diamonds10 points

Some play to a higher total of 1000 points.

A collection of rules published by the "Unité régionale loisir et sport" at Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine includes a variant of La Mitaine played with a 54-card pack including two Jokers. The discard pile is begun with a mise of six cards rather than four. The basic scores are 10 points for a mitten, 50 for a glove and 200 for a sock. A mitten, glove or sock of Jacks has twice the value of an ordinary mitten, glove or sock. The 10 of diamonds is worth 100 points and each Joker is worth 50 points. Jokers are the highest cards, so a mitten of Jokers beats a mitten of Aces. There is also a score of 10 points for a swip, which occurs when the discard pile contains just one card and a player captures it with an equal card.