heart  club  ABUNDANCE  diamond  spade 

Number of Players:
Two.

The Deck:
The standard deck of 52 cards.

Other Equipment:
Approximately 1,000 units of currency. For convenience MonopolyTM money or poker chips may be used, or can be scored on paper.

Object:
To have the most currency after four rounds. This is achieved by managing risk, and by buying low at auction, and selling high either to the other player or to the bank (the "market").

The Deal:
The aces are removed from the playing deck. They are placed from left to right in order of suit: spade, heart, diamond, club. The purpose of this is to provide the base for a running tally of the market (and hence their value).

The remaining 48 cards are dealt face down in four piles. These are the trinket cards. At any time only one of these piles are in play.

Each player starts with 50 units of currency.

The Play:
The game comprises of four rounds of auction, trading, and selling to market.

1. Auction:
To start play, the non dealer chooses one of the four face down piles. These trinket cards form the first round of auctions. The others form subsequent rounds. The first card from this deck is turned face up to form the first trinket up for auction. The rank of this card is irrelevant, but the suit is important. Spades are generally the most valuable, unless they are particularly frequent in that pile (explained below). After the first card is auctioned off, cards are turned over one at a time for eleven more auctions.

The rounds are summarised below:

 Pile chosen by:Auction TypeValues when sold to market
1st RoundNon dealerOpen - non dealer opens bidding20, 4, 2
2nd RoundDealerHidden - dealer breaks tie40, 8, 4
3rd RoundNon dealerOne bid - non dealer opens bidding80, 16, 8
4th Round Open - dealer opens bidding160, 32, 16
  • Open auction - players bid in units of currency for title to the trinket card. Bids may be passed, offered and raised for as many rounds as necessary. Once the auction is decided, the highest bid is paid to the bank/market, and the successful bidder adds the trinket to his hand.
  • Hidden auction - players bid in secret (usually by writing the bid on paper) in units of currency. The higher bid is paid to the bank/market, and the successful bidder adds the trinket to his hand. In a tie the auction reverts to an open auction.
  • One bid (or once round) - the non dealer offers a bid. The dealer may either outbid or pass. The higher bid is paid to the bank/market, and the successful bidder adds the trinket to his hand.
  • Values when sold to market - explained below.
  • If both players decline to bid - the card is added to the hand of the player who opened the bidding for no cost.

2. Trading:
At any time in the round the players may choose to trade a trinket for another trinket and/or for currency. This is mainly practised so that one player can complete a set of three trinkets in the same suit.

3. Selling to market:
To end the round, the players’ trinkets are sold back to the bank/market. The higher value is paid per trinket for the rarest trinket - that is for the trinket cards in the suit that came up the fewest times in the round. The second and third values are paid for the second and third rarest trinket.

Ties are resolved in suit order: spade, heart, diamond, club.

For example in the first round two hearts, three spades and clubs and four diamonds are upturned.

These cards are melded face down with the aces of the respective suits (the base) so that the number of each is identifiable. The players are paid according to the trinkets they possess: in the above example round one pays twenty per heart, four per spade and two for each of the three clubs. Diamonds in this round were worthless.

If a suit does not come up at all in a round, that absent suit counts as the rarest for scoring purposes. The most abundant suit is always worthless.

If one player has three or more of a suit, as a result of auction purchases and/or trading, then she has cornered the market. For this the bank/market pays triple the value. So in the above example, if a player held the three spades, she is paid 36 (3 * 4 * 3). However if she had three or four diamonds they would still be worthless. It is in principle possible for both players to "corner" the market in the same suit, though such a suit would usually be worthless.

After the first round, the dealer chooses the pile for the second round. The process is repeated, and at selling to market stage the cards for the second round are combined in the base with those from the first.

By the fourth round the players will know the composition of the pile: thereby which suit is the rarest and most valuable, and which suit is worthless. The key at this stage is to maximise her return by diligent bidding and trading.

To Win:
The player with the higher currency total after the fourth sale to market wins the rubber.

A match is played to two rubbers: the deal alternates for the second rubber, and the players start over with 50 units of currency. The higher cummulative total wins the match.

© Matthew Shields 2006