Card Games: All Fours Group

These point-trick games seem to have originated in England. All Fours itself was recorded in Charles Cotton's "Compleat Gamester of 1674 as being played in Kent. The name derives from the fact that there are four points available: for being dealt the highest trump in play, for being dealt the lowest trump in play, for winning the jack of trumps in one's tricks, and for the 'game', which is the majority of card points (ace = 4, king = 3, queen = 2, jack = 1, ten = 10). The 'jack' point in this game actually gave rise to the name jack for the lowest court card of each suit - previously they were known as knaves.

All Fours became very popular in North America in the 19th century and gave rise to a series of games such as Pitch and Pedro, which added bidding and additional scoring cards. Meanwhile, in Britain and Ireland, the games of Don and Phat were developed. All Fours itself continues to be played in north-west England, and has become the national game of Trinidad.

  • All Fours - the original game, and the modern versions played in Trinidad and Britain.
  • Pitch / Setback - a North American descendent, with bidding, which has developed numerous variations.
  • Smear - another group of variations of Pitch
  • Pedro / Cinch / 63 / 83 - in these partnership games with bidding, the fives and various other trumps acquire a high point value.
  • All Fives - a 2-3 player variant in which the points are for the A, K, Q, J, 10 and 5 of trumps.
  • The British and Irish games of Phat and Don are partnership games without bidding. The top trumps and the 9s and 5s are the scoring cards.
  • Blind Don is a two-player variation of 9-card Don, played in Lanacashire.
  • Game to Lose is a reverse version of 9-card Don for three players in which the aim is to avoid taking points.
This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 2001, 2006. Last updated: 14th September 2020