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Fight for the Lead

Contributed by Jay Noack

  1. This is a trick based game using a standard 52-card pack. Each player receives 4 cards, and anyone who plays but does not win a trick must match the pot. There are no trumps, so aces are the top dog.
  2. Before the first deal, each player pays an ante to the pot. The size of the ante is decided so that the pot is divisible by 4.
  3. Each player picks one of their four cards and places it face down in front of them. This is the "fight card" that will be used to try and win the right to lead to the first trick. (You want the lead because if you have an ACE you are guaranteed a trick and one quarter of the pot.)
  4. Players flip over their fight card. The dealer then flips the top card of the undealt part of deck. The person with the highest card of the same suit as the card flipped from the deck wins the lead. If no one has the suit flipped, the dealer continues flipping further cards from the top of the deck until someone does.
  5. The fight cards are discarded and each player then receives a 4th card to replace their fight card.
  6. In the first hand, everyone must play. In the second and subsequent hands, players have the opportunity to drop out, to avoid the risk of having to match the pot if they fail to take a trick. Players make this decision simultaneously, by means of a coin concealed in the hand. Players who have chosen to play can trade any or all of their cards, discarding them in exchange for an equal number of new cards from the deck. (A player who has won the lead, and has no high cards, will often take a chance on trading 4).
  7. The four tricks are then played out. The winner of the fight leads to the first trick, or if this player dropped out, the leader is next player in order around the table who stayed in. Players must follow suit if they can - otherwise they may play any card. There are no trumps. The highest card played of the suit led wins the trick, and the winner leads to the next trick.
  8. Players who have won at least one trick collect one quarter of the contents of the pot for each trick that they won. Anyone who played but did not win a trick must match the pot - i.e. contribute an amount equal to the current pot to the pot for the next hand. Players who dropped out cannot win any part of the pot, but do not have to pay anything into it.
  9. If there is money in the pot, because at least one player matched it, a new hand of four cards to each player is dealt, and players fight for the lead as before. If the pot is empty, because everyone who played won at least one trick, the game is over. If another game is to be played, players must ante again, and once again, players have to stay in on the first deal.

This is quite a fun game. Quite often a player with two aces must decide on the last 2 tricks which ace to keep.


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Last updated 18th September 2005