Four Aces

Contributed by Jeff Ferraro

Introduction

This is a 3-5 player game called 4 Aces. The goal is to create the best hand possible out of both your hidden and exposed hands, and use strategy to prevent your opponents from scoring big hands. You keep playing as many rounds as it takes until someone hits 20 points or more, or if someone manages to get 4 ACES in either their exposed OR hidden hands (all 4 ACES must be in ONE hand), they may call "4 ACES" immediately and the entire game is over and that person is the winner, even if it occurs in the first round or their score is negative, it does not matter. That is rare, however, and this game generally takes 6-10 rounds before a winner is revealed.

How To Get Started

Use a standard 52-card deck, plus 2 jokers. Deal all cards until someone receives the Ace of Spades. That person becomes the first dealer. All action and dealing takes place in the direction of the players' left (clockwise). After shuffling, deal 3 face-down cards to each player, which only the player receiving them gets to see. This is the "hidden hand". Then deal 3 face-up cards to each player, which they will place in front of them for all to see. This is the "exposed hand." Then place all other cards in the deck face down in a pile in the middle of your table. NO card is turned up at the beginning of play. The discard pile will not be started until a player discards and begins that pile. The first player to act will be to the left of the dealer.

Starting Play

There are two ways to take your turn. If you draw from the face-down card pile, you CAN ONLY use the card you draw for your HIDDEN HAND. If you draw from the discard pile, you CAN ONLY use the card for your EXPOSED HAND. (Example: you CANNOT take a 7 of Hearts from the discard pile to use in your hidden hand.) After drawing your card, you must either discard or play a joker on the opponent to your left. ***Incidentally, if there are no cards in the discard pile, you MUST draw from the face-down pile.*** The goal of this game is to make the highest point value hand you can achieve by the time the face-down pile runs out of cards, using the point system shown later in this summary. Keep in mind that each ace is worth 1 extra point, and can be used as a high or low card in making your hands.

How to Play a Joker

Let's say you draw a card for your hidden hand, and one of them is a joker. You could discard one of the regular cards into the discard pile and hold the joker for later. If you decide to play the joker, you must decide which of the cards the player to your left has in HIS EXPOSED hand that you want to steal. Keep in mind, the card you choose will be placed next to YOUR EXPOSED hand with the Joker placed sideways on top, this signifies that this card is yours and NO ONE can touch this card or trade it for another, including YOU. And one other IMPORTANT thing to remember, this card you take with your Joker is now part of BOTH YOUR HIDDEN AND EXPOSED HANDS. So try to pick this card wisely. Incidentally, you do NOT discard into the discard pile if you play the joker. You will now have an extra card, which is now part of both of your two hands, and your opponent will lose one card.

***The Joker is the only way to make a hand with more than 3 cards. If you are the first to use a Joker, you will now have 4 cards in both your hidden and exposed hands (the Joker'd card is now a part of both, remember!) And now the player to your left will only have 2 cards in his exposed hand, but he will still have 3 cards in his hidden hand, as you cannot touch his hidden hand.

Any unused Jokers are worthless, so be sure to use them!

Scoring

Once the last card has been drawn from the face-down card pile, the player who drew that last card takes his/her turn, then the game is over. Then we will score points based on the strength of each of the two hands, and REMEMBER, any cards with a JOKER OVER THEM is added to BOTH the HIDDEN and EXPOSED hands. And it is possible to have a negative score!

Each hand is scored as just one of the four possible types: "pairs" if it has two or more cards of equal rank, "flush" if it has two or more cards of the same suit, "straight" if it has two or more consecutive ranked cards, or "straight flush" if it has consecutive cards in the same suit. The type which gives the best score is used. A hand which does not belong to any of the four types is a "non-hand".

In a straight or straight flush hand, an ace can be counted as low (adjacent to the 2) or high (adjacent to the king), but not both at once.

Hand Point Values Chart:

PAIRSFLUSH OR STRAIGHTSTRAIGHT FLUSHES
One Pair = -1 pts.2 card = -2 pts.2 card = -1 pt.
3 of a Kind = +2 pts.3 card = 0 pts.3 card = +2 pts.
Two Pair = +3 pts.4 card = +2 pts.4 card = +6 pts.
Full House = +10 pts.5 card = +6 pts.5 card = +14 pts.
4 of a Kind = +10 pts.
4 ACES = WIN!!!***A Non-Hand is worth -3 pts.

SPECIAL BONUS - When scoring, each ace in each hand is worth an extra +1 pt.

***Example***

  • Your hidden hand: A (spades) 2 (spades) 3 (Spades)
  • Your exposed hand: 2 (clubs) 3 (hearts) 4 (diamonds)
  • You also have a joker with a card you stole: The Ace of Hearts

Your best hand you can get out of your hidden hand is a 3 card straight flush worth +2 points. You also have two aces however, worth an additional +2 points (don't forget the joker'd card is included in both hands). TOTAL OF HIDDEN HAND: +4 points.

The best hand you can get out of your exposed hand is a 4 card straight worth +2 points. You also have one Ace worth an extra +1 point. TOTAL OF EXPOSED HAND: +3 points. In this case you would have a total of +7 points for the round.

Each player counts their total, adds it to their previous score, and then the next round begins if no one has reached 20 points.

Another example:

  • Your hidden hand: 5 (clubs) 6 (clubs) 6 (hearts)
  • Your exposed hand: A (spades)

In this case, someone took 2 of your exposed cards with jokers. Too bad for you! The scoring for this hand would be:

The best you have in the hidden hand is either a pair or a 2 card straight flush, it doesn't matter which since both are worth -1 pt. TOTAL OF HIDDEN HAND: -1 pt.

The best you have in the exposed hand is a non-hand worth -3 points. But the Ace will add +1 pt. TOTAL OF EXPOSED HAND: -2 pts.

Therefore, your total for the round would be -3 pts, so you will lose 3 pts from the score you had in the previous round.

Keep playing until someone reaches 20 points or more, or if someone manages to get 4 ACES in one of their hands, they automatically are declared the winner. In the event of a tie, a playoff will occur involving only the tied players. Enjoy!