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Card Game: Fools Gold

Side note: After doing the colours, I realized that they were really tacky... but I dont have the heart to undo them. Sorry!

If you tried out this game, I'd really appreciate your feedback! And if you like it, and played quite a bit of it, I'd especially like to hear from you! Give me a line at silpheed_tandy_storage@yahoo.ca Thanks.

Examples are highlighted in cowboy red-orange, which might not need to be read.

Explanatory text that isnt necessary to read, but that is used to avoid confusion, is highlighted in blue-green.

Text in cowardly yeller is not crucial to read.

Number of Players

Three; although Fools Gold can be adapted to more players.

The Main Idea of Fools Gold

Fools Gold is a trick taking game [just as Bridge or Hearts are]. (So, with three people, each trick consists of three cards).

Each trick has a suit associated with it. The suit of the card that led the trick [that is, the first card played in the trick] is that tricks suit.

At the end of the game, a player will have won tricks to herself, each having a suit associated with it. She might have 2 tricks of spades, for instance, and 1 trick of clubs. [Aside from bonuses,] a players score is calculated by counting the most number of tricks of a single suit that she has, and subtracting the number of other tricks she got.

A running tally of each players score is kept [as in Hearts]. That is, after each game, a player earned a certain number of points. They add this to previous points earned in past games, and this is their running tally. Note that negative scores are possible! The first person to win to 10 or more points is the winner.


1] [At the end of the game,] the player has 2 tricks of clubs, 1 of hearts, 1 of spades, and 1 of diamonds. Out of all suits, she won the most clubs. Therefore, her score is 2 minus 3 = -1.

2] The player won 3 clubs, 3 spades, and 1 diamond. She got a tie between clubs and spades; but for scoring, it doesnt matter which you choose. So, her score would be 3 minus 4 = -1.

The suit that a player won the most tricks of is called the points suit of that player.

How to Play

Take out all the twos before starting the game; the entire deck is dealt out evenly to all 3 players [to give each player 16 cards]. Before [or while] cards are being dealt, a random 2 is chosen to determine trump.

The person who starts the first trick is chosen in a special way, explained later.

Trump may not be played until trump has been broken [as in Hearts, except in that game, the rule is hearts may not be played until hearts has been broken]. That is, a person may not lead a trick with a trump card, until a player has [in a previous trick] played a trump card because she could not follow suit. The exception, off course, is if it is your turn to lead, and you have nothing but trump cards in your hand [in that case, you play a trump card, and trump is then considered to be broken].

When a player wins a trick, she gathers the three cards neatly, and displays it clearly in front of her, so everyone can see what tricks she has already won.

The Bonus System

The bonus system actually makes up a good deal of strategy of Fools Gold.

When a player wins a trick, she chooses one card in that trick that is of the same suit as the card that led the trick. [ie, if everyone followed suit, there will be three cards to choose from. If no one followed suit, there is only one card to choose from: the card that led the trick].

The player turns the other two cards face down, and places the chosen card face up. She then neatly squares off the trick, and displays it clearly in front of her.

Thus, at the end of the game, theres a face up card representing each trick. The suit of this face up card represents the suit associated with the trick. At the end of a game, a player will have a number of face up cards in front of her.

If a player has a triplet or quad, she will get a bonus to her score. That is, suppose a player, at the end of the game, won tricks with the following face up cards: 2H 2S 2D 3D. She has a triplet of 2s, and will get a bonus added to her score.

The following chart outlines how many points are added to a players score at the end of the game. [Ignore the numbers after the Ps for now; they are referred to in the commentary].

A triplet of A quadruplet of
Aces add +2 points [P1] add +5 points [P3]
non Aces add +4 points [P3] Add +8 points [P6]


The Ps serve as a reminder that, although you may get, say, 5 more points for getting a quadruplet of Aces, you really make a profit of 3 points, because by getting a quad, you get three tricks of suits that you dont want [three tricks that are different your points suit].


1] At the end of the game, youve won three tricks: 2H 2C 2S. Your points suit could be any of these three suits, since you won an equal number of each of them. Your score, before bonuses, is 1 2 = -1. After the bonus is added, its 1 + 4 = 3. So, really, you made a profit of three.

2] If you win a triplet, but your points suit isnt in that triplet, then /all/ three cards in that triplet are hurting your score! Suppose you win 2H 2C 2S 3D 5D 7D. Your points suit is diamonds. Your score, then, is 3 3 = 0, plus the bonus of 4, = 4.

3] Youve won 2H 2C 2S 2D. Your score is 1 3 = -2, plus 8, = 6.

Deciding who goes first

After the cards have been dealt, who goes first is determined. The idea is that the person with the most trump cards in her hand goes first, but without explicitly revealing how many trump each player has in their hand. [Its considered a disadvantage to start].

There are a total of 12 trump cards.

summary of this section

1. If you have 7 or more trumps in your hand, you start.

2. Otherwise, if you have 4 or fewer trumps in your hand, you say its not me.

- If two people say that, the other person starts.

- If three people say that, the person with the Ace of trump starts.

3. If only one person says its not me, then all players state how many trump they have. In a tie, the person with the highest trump card in that tie starts.

expanded commentary

If you have 7 or more cards in your hand, then you are guaranteed to have more trump cards than anyone else. In this case, you immediately say its me, after which, it is understood that you start. If someone says its me, the other two players remain silent.

If no one says its me, then if you have four or fewer trump cards in your hand, you say its not me. If only two people say its not me, then the person who didnt has the most trump cards, and she starts. If all three people say its not me, then its a tie of 4 trump each; in this case, the person with the Ace of trump starts.

If only one person says its not me, then there are only three possibilities:

1] 0 6 6

2] 1 5 6

3] 2 5 5

If only one person says its not me, then all players state how many trump cards they have in their hand. In scenario 2, the person with 6 trumps start.

Between a tie, the person with the highest trump card in their hand starts. So, in scenario 1, the person with the Ace of trump starts.

In scenario 3, if a person with 5 trumps has the Ace of trump, she starts. If neither of the two people do, if either of them have the King, she starts. If neither of them has the Ace or King, the person with the Queen starts. To make things clearer, if the person with 2 trumps has an Ace, or both the Ace and King, she should state that she does.


Pure Fools Gold: Take out the bonus scoring rule.

Liberated Fools Gold: Take out the rule of trump cannot be broken until trump has been played.

Summary of Rules

0. Because of the scoring, youre trying to get many tricks of one single suit, and few tricks of other suits.

1. Take out the 2s; choose one to determine trump.

2. Each trick has a suit associated with it.

3. When a trick is won, choose a card in that trick that is of the same suit of the card that led the trick, and put it face up.

4. There are bonuses for getting a triple or quad.

5. Trump may not be led until trump has been broken.

Strategy and Commentary

[This will be updated as I think of more things to say; also, any strategy sent in by players may also be included here].

Typical Scoring

Most people get between 3 to 3 points in a game, so achieving a bonus can really help. A score of 0 actually isnt all that bad of a score.

Bonus of Aces?

The reason why a triplet or quad of Aces is worth so few points is because they can be very easy to get. Suppose you got dealt three Aces. If you play all of them immediately, it is likely that youll win all three of them as tricks. The only way to stop you from winning them is if someone doesnt have that suit, and trumps it; however, if you play them early enough in the game, this is unlikely.

Ace of Trump?

If you have the Ace of trump, you are guaranteed to win the trick you play that in. However, realize that you wont necessarily win a trick of trump. You might be able to use that Ace to trump a non-trump trick.

Going for a Bonus

Bonuses are usually intentionally gotten, and it takes planning early on in the game. Bonuses of Aces, Kings, and Queens are the ones that are most often successful. If you get dealt three Aces, you are almost guaranteed to be able to get a triple of Aces, if you wish. However, if you get dealt three Kings, it isnt as easy. The person with the Aces might play that in the same trick you play your King, and may snatch it away from you.

A strategy that might be useful for getting certain cards is to win them by trump. If you purposely try to get rid of cards of a suit from your hand, you have the ability to use your trump cards.

If you have a card that someone else may want to snatch, a useful technique is to throw it away, by playing it when you cant follow suit. Even if the person going after that card gets that trick, they cant choose it as the card to put face up on that trick, because it isnt of the suit led.

The Trump Trap

Having lots of trump is not always a good thing!

Suppose its late in the game, and you have a lot of trump, and 2 medium-to-high ranking clubs. If you play all your trump first, and then your clubs, youll likely end up winning those two tricks of clubs, too, since no one will have trump in their hand anymore. If you play those clubs first, you may still win those useless tricks [and then, probably, the rest of your trump as well].

Suppose its late in the game, and you only have a few trump cards in your hand, but your points suit isn't trump. You might be forced to play those trump cards, and win the ensuing tricks.

How to Get Rid of Cards?

Especially in the Liberated Fools Gold variation, youre struck with a concern: you may be dealt 5 or 6 card of a suit, which might become your points suit, and a whole lot of other cards of a different suit. You dont want to win tricks of suits of these other cards, which you might do if you lead with them, so what do you do?

You can try throwing them away by not being able to follow suit. If you keep the high cards in your hand to do this, you might try playing the lower cards, and hoping you dont win the trick with them.

You can also try using the trump cards in your hand to win non-trump tricks.

Naturally, though, youll likely end up wining tricks of different suits, especially if you have high cards. Try to minimize the damage!

Finally, winning tricks of various suits might turn out to your advantage, if you can somehow get a bonus with them.

Pledging Loyalty

It is often not a good idea to try to win tricks in the beginning of the game, and to pledge loyalty to a certain suit, with the intention of making that your points suit. If you do, you may find you will be forced to win too many other suits later on in the game.

A possible strategy might be to lose most tricks at the beginning of the game. Later on in the game, you have an idea of what cards are still left to be played, and thus have a better chance at knowing what suit you should go for. There will be fewer tricks in the future to be played, which means a possibly lower chance of winning too many unwanted tricks.

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Last updated: 14th September 2003