Designed by Charles Pierce,
The dealer deals five cards face down to each player, and a row of cards face down in the center of the table. The number of cards in the row should be one fewer than the number of players (for example with 7 players a row of 6 cards on the table).
Immediately after the deal each player may discard up to 3 cards and receive an equal number of new cards from the dealer.
Each player then places the agreed ante (for example 10 cents or more). One ante is placed on top of each of the table cards and the last player's ante is placed on the table at the end of the row with no card under it.
Now the play begins. Beginning with the player to dealer's left, each player in turn may do one or more of the following:
- Play a single card or a set of equal cards face up on the table. If a player does, any subsequent players who use this option in the same round must beat the previous play, either by playing a greater number of cards, or by playing an equal number of cards of higher rank. The cards rank from high to low A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. Twos are wild and can represent a card of any rank from Ace down to 4. For example if a player plays 8-8 a subsequent player can beat this with J-2 (the wild 2 representing a second Jack), and a third player could beat this with 5-5-5 (any set of three cards beats any set of two cards).
- Play a single three face up on the table. The threes are ranked by suit: hearts highest, then diamonds, the spades and clubs lowest.
- Discard up to three cards, which will be replayed by new cards at the end of the round.
So for example a player can just play a set (option 1), or play a set and a 3 (options 1 and 2), or play a set and discard some cards (1 and 3) or play a set and a 3 and discard (all three options) any other combination. A player who does not wish to do any of these things may simply pass and keep the same hand of cards for the next round.
When the everyone has had a chance to play the round ends, the round winner is determined and players are dealt replacement cards as necessary. Then a new round is begun by the player to the left of the player who began the previous round. The total number of rounds played is equal to the total number of players, so that duting one game each player has one opportunity to start a round and one opportunity to end a round.
Winning rounds: The player who plays the best face-up set of cards (option 1) wins. If no threes (option 2) were played, the winner picks up the next available ante and the card under the ante is added to the winner's hand. This increases the winner's hand size by one, initially from 5 to 6 cards, later maybe to 7, 8 or more. (In the last round there is no the ante to be won - no card is needed as there are no more rounds to play.)
If anyone played a three, then the rewards are shared between the winner and the person who played the highest suited three. The winner chooses whether to take either the ante or the card under it, and the player of the best 3 takes whichever remains. If the player who won also played the highest 3 in that round there is no sharing - the winner takes both the ante and the card. In the last round, when there is no card to take, the ante is shared equally between the winner and the player of the highest 3.
After the winnings have been collected, the dealer deals new cards to the players to replace all cards played or discarded. So everyone once again has their full hand size, which is five cards plus the number of extra cards they have won by winning rounds or playing threes. If the cards run out during the process of replenishment, the dealer gathers all the discarded cards and the played cards other than threes and shuffles them to make a new deck to deal from. Note: threes that have been played (option 2) are never recycled in this way. After determining the winner any threes that were played are set aside for the rest of the game.
Notes on strategy:
Every player gets to start a round and finish a round. The last player in a round has the advantage of knowing what all other players have played this round, but if you cannot beat what is on the table you must save your cards and improve your hand for following rounds.
A good hand is difficult to play if you are not the last player in a round. You may try to save your good cards until the end, trying to build a powerful hand with which you can get your ante back. But this conservative strategy can lose if other players are trying to do the same thing, so sometimes it pays to be more aggressive in the early rounds, especially as increasing your hand size is most valuable early in the game.