Game, Flip, Flop

This page is based on a description contributed by Chad Shumate.

Introduction

This variation of the American rummy game Tunk is popular in the city of Dayton, Ohio. It features two extra pots, the "flip" and the "flop" won by the holders of the lowest cards in two suits.

Players and Cards

Game, Flip, Flop is best for 3 to 5 players. A standard 52-card pack without jokers is used. Deal and play are clockwise.

The cards have values: picture cards (K, Q, J) count 10 points, aces count 1 point and other cards count face value.

Stakes and Deal

The value of the stake must be agreed before the start of the game.

There are three pots, called game, flip and flop. Before the deal each player must put the agreed stake into each pot. A player who does not have enough money for all three pots contributes only to the game and flip pots. A player with only enough money for one pot contributes only to the game pot. If a player who does not contribute to a pot cannot win that pot on that deal.

Note: players must always have at least one stake in reserve to cover the extra payment in the event that they are caught or another players wins with 50 or tunks out. A player who has only enough to put a stake in the game pot while keeping the required reserve is considered "all in" (as in poker). The player's "tunk life" is at stake and if they do not win the game pot they are eliminated from the game.

The first dealer is selected by cutting cards. Thereafter the turn to deal passes clockwise after each hand.

Five cards are dealt to each player, clockwise, one at a time. The dealer's last card is turned face up: this is the flip card.

The remaining undealt cards are placed face down in a stack to form the stock. During the play, discards will be placed in a face-up pile next to the stock. At the start of the play the discard pile is empty.

Winning with 49 or 50

Before play begins, anyone who has a total of 49 or 50 - that is five 10-point cards or four 10-point cards with a nine - can declare it and win. In this case there is no play [though players still show cards to determine who wins the flip and the flop - see below].

A player with 49 points wins the game pot. The player simply takes this pot. 50 points wins double the game pot: the winner takes the pot and in addition the other players each have to pay an extra stake (equal to their original game pot stake) to the winner.

If more than one player has 49 or 50 points, the procedure is as follows:

  1. All the winners split the game pot equally between them.
  2. All the players who did not have 50 points (including those who had 49) pay an extra stake to a new pot, and this pot is split equally between the players who had 50.

Example. Five players, $1 stake. The game pot contains $5. Player A has 49 and player B has 50. Players A and B take $2.50 each from the pot. Then everyone except B pays another $1 to B. Net result for the game pot: A is up $0.50, B is up $5.50, and the other three players are down $2 each.

The Flip and the Flop

The flip pot is won by the player who was dealt the lowest card in the suit of the dealer's exposed flip card. The flop pot is won by the holder (if any) of the lowest card in the other suit of the same color - for example the lowest spade if the flip card is a club. Aces are low.

In order to win the flip or the flop, the players must show their card(s) before they draw from the stock pile. This is done in order around the table, beginning to dealer's left, just before each player's first turn of play.

Players only show cards that have a chance of winning. So if you are the first player, you show your lowest card of the flip suit only if you have a lower card in this suit than the dealer's flip card, and your lowest card of the flop suit if you have any cards of this suit. Other players, at their turn, show cards in either or both suits if they are better (lower) than the lowest card in the suit so far shown. The dealer's flop card (if any) does not have to be shown until the dealer's turn. 

The flip pot is won on every deal, because the dealer always has a flip deal. The flop pot may not be won if no cards of that suit were dealt. In that case the players add another stake before the next and the size of the pot increases until it is won.

The Play

The turn to play passes clockwise around the table. A turn consists of

  1. Drawing the top card of the face down stock pile or the top card of the face up discard pile.
  2. Optionally laying down one or more spreads, and adding cards to spreads that are already on the table.
  3. Discarding one card from hand face up on top of the discard pile.

To player to the left of the dealer begins and must draw from the stock, since the discard pile is empty. Subsequently, players may draw either from the stock pile or from the discard pile.

A spread consists of either

  1. a run of three or more consecutive cards of the same suit, such as club9-club10-clubJ or heartA-heart2-heart3-heart4. Note that K-Q-A is not a run, because aces are always low.
  2. a set of three or four cards of the same rank, such as heartQ-clubQ-diamondQ or heart8-club8-diamond8-spade8.

The aim is to reduce the value of cards in your hand to as low a value as possible, ideally zero. When drawing and discarding you try to form the cards in your hand into spreads of three or more cards, which you can place them on the table. These cards then no longer count towards the total in your hand. Also you can eliminate cards from your hand by adding them to spreads that are already on the table (you own or other players'), extending runs in either direction or adding the fourth card to a set of three.

If after placing or adding to spreads you have any cards left in your hand, you must end your turn by discarding one card face up on top of the discard pile. In this game, however, it is legal to lay down all your cards, leaving yourself with no discard. If a player has no cards in hand at the end of his or her turn, either without a discard or by discarding the player's last card, the play ends.

At the start of your turn, instead of drawing a card, you are allowed to drop. You place all your cards face up on the table and this ends the play. It is a claim that the value of the cards in your hand is lower than that of any other player.

Note. A player can only contest the flip or flop pot, or claim a win with 49 or 50 points at the start of a player’s initial turn.  A player can not draw first in order to win the flip or flop pot, or to try to collect 49 or more points. These wins are only possible on the basis of the original five cards that you were dealt.

End of the Play

There are four ways that the play can end.

1. Going out
If a player has no cards at the end of a turn, the play ends and the player collects the game pot. 
2. Dropping
A player chooses to drop their hand - showing all their cards. In this case all players must show their hands and total the value of their cards. If the player who dropped has the lowest total, that player simply collects the game pot. If some other player has an equal or lower total, the player who dropped is caught, and must pay an extra stake to the game pot. This increased pot is won by the opponent who has the lowest total. If two or more players other than the one who dropped have equally low totals, the double pot is shared equally between them. Note that if the player who drops has the same lowest score as another player, the player who dropped loses and the other player wins.
Example: Five players, $1 stake. Player A drops but players A, C and D all tie for lowest total. Player A pays an extra $1 into the game pot, and then players C and D share the $6 pot. The net result in this case is that A has lost $2, C and D have won $2 each and the other two players (B and E) have lost $1 each.
3. Tunking out
To tunk out you must lay down two spreads of 3 cards, which will leave you with no discard. The two spreads do not have to be played on the same turn. You cannot tunk out by adding cards to existing spreads. A player who tunks out wins a double game pot: each of the other players adds a second stake to the game pot and the winner take it.
 
4. The stock pile runs out
The player that pulls the last stock pile card ends the hand.  Note the next player cannot use the last discarded card.  Everyone shows their cards and the player with the lowest hand wins the game pot.  If more than one player has the same lowest hand, the game pot is split equally between them.