This page is based on information from Alexey Lobashev, Marek Nowakowski and Wojciech Wylon.
This page is about the Polish card game Pan, in which the objective is to get rid of all your cards. The last player left holding cards is the loser of the deal and is given one letter of the name of the game. The first player who loses three times, and thus collects the whole word P-A-N, loses the game. The Polish word Pan means 'gentleman', but any three letter word could be used. Pan is in fact a euphemism for the extremely vulgar name by which the game is commonly known. It is also sometimes known as 'Historyczny Upadek Japonii' (literally 'historical collapse of Japan'), and the loser of each deal is given one of the initial letters of this title. A player who loses three deals collects the whole acronym, which spells out the vulgar name which may then be used to insult the loser.
Note. The Polish game Pan described on this page is unrelated to the American game Panguingue, whose name is often abbreviated to 'Pan'.
Players and Cards
A 24-card French suited pack is used, the cards ranking from high to low: A-K-Q-J-10-9. Suits are irrelevant except that the 9 of hearts is a special card, used to start the game.
The game is best for 2 to 4 players, but can be played by as many as 6. Deal and play are clockwise.
Any player may deal. The cards are shuffled and dealt out as equally as possible to the players: 2 players receive 12 cards each, 3 receive 8 cards each, 4 receive 6 cards each, and 6 players receive 4 cards each. If there are 5 players one player is dealt 4 cards and the others are dealt 5 each.
The player who has the 9 of hearts plays it face up on the table to start the play pile. If this player also happens to have all the other three nines they can be played immediately on top of the 9 of hearts. Then it is the turn of the next player to the left.
The play continues clockwise around the table. Each player in turn must either play a card or cards from hand on top of the play pile in accordance with the rules below, or pick up cards from the play pile and add them to his or her hand.
The player whose turn it is to play has the following options:
- Play a single card that is higher than or equal to the top card of the play pile. For example if the top card of the play pile is a Queen, the next player can play a Queen, a King or an Ace.
- Play three cards that are equal to the top card of the play pile. For example if the top card of the play pile is a Queen and the next player has all the other three Queens, they may all be played to the play pile at once.
- Play four equal cards that are higher than the top card of the play pile. For example if the top card of the play pile is a Queen the next player may play four Kings or four Aces.
- Pick up cards from the top of the play pile. If there are more than three cards on top of the 9 of hearts, a player who picks up must take the top three cards and is allowed to take as many more card as he or she wishes, apart from the 9 of hearts which always remains on the table. If there are three or fewer cards on top of the 9 of hearts then a player who picks up must take all of them, leaving only the 9 of hearts.
Note. If there are any cards on top of the 9 of hearts, the next player always has the option to pick up cards instead of playing. If the 9 of hearts is the only card in the play pile the next player must play a card or cards in accordance with rules 1-3 above, which is always possible since 9 is the lowest rank.
Endgame and Scoring
As players run out of cards they drop out of the play and their turns are skipped. When there are only two players left and one of them runs out of cards, the other player has just one more turn. If the other player is able to play all his or her remaining cards on the play pile in that turn it is a draw: there is no loser. If not, the player holding cards loses and is given one letter of the name of the game.
A player who collects all three letters, for example P-A-N, loses the game. If no one has three letters yet, there is another deal.
- Players A and B each have an Ace and all the other cards are in the play pile. Player A plays her Ace and player B plays his Ace on it (rule 1). The result is a draw and neither player gets a letter.
- Player A has an Ace, player B has two Aces and all the other cards are in the play pile. Player A plays her Ace and player B can play one Ace, but still has an Ace left in hand. Therefore player B loses and is given a letter.
According to some descriptions, a player is not allowed to pick up more than three cards from the pile. If there are three or more cards on top of the 9 of hearts, exactly three cards must be taken .
Some allow a player to play any three equal cards that are higher in rank than the top card of the play pile, but others dislike this option saying that it makes the game too easy.
Software and Online Games
You can play Pan online on the Polish online games site Kurnik.