How Low Can You Go?

Contributed by Jack Whalen

Players: 2 or more

Set-up: Everyone playing gets 5 cards (from a standard 52-card pack) and 7 chips.

Object: To have the lowest total value of cards in your hand. The card values are:

  • king = 13
  • queen = 12
  • jack = 11
  • two to ten = face value
  • black ace = 1
  • red ace = -5

Directions:

Dealer deals 5 cards to each player. Each player can drop a maximum of 3 cards (discarding them face down) and pick 3 new (drawing them from the top of the stock of undealt cards). Each player can discard and draw in this way 3 times at the most.

If you have a king in your original hand and don’t like your cards you can show your hand to the other player(s), discard all 5 cards, and pick a new hand of 5 cards from the top of the stock. This option is only available if it is the first hand dealt to you. This exchange doesn’t count as one of your three times to pick new cards.

When everyone has finished exchanging cards, the player who has the lowest count of cards wins:

  • 2 chips from the bank if they have 11 or more points
  • 3 chips if they have from 0 to 10 points
  • 5 chips if they have a negative total (possible if holding both red aces).

Also, the player with the highest amount, when adding the cards together, pays 2 chips to the bank.

If there is a tie for lowest number of points, each tying player receives 1 chip, even if they have 10 points or less. If both have negative points each player receives 2 chips (but this does not seem to be possible unless playing with multiple packs).

If there is a tie for highest number of points then each tying player pays one chip to the bank.

Any player who has no more chips drops out of the game.

The winner is the last player left in, but this could take a long time, so for a shorter version you can play for an agreed length of time and the winner is the player who has the most chips when the game ends.