A game for 2-5 players by George Hottensen
Object of the Game
To score points by laying down 3 sets of 3 of a kind and correctly identifying one or both of the face down center cards.
From a standard deck of 52 playing cards two players use 28 cards (without 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's and 7's), three players 36 cards (without 2's, 3's, 4's and 5's), four players 44 cards (without 2's and 3's) and five players the whole deck.
Each player should draw one card from the shuffled deck. The player with the highest card becomes the dealer. In the event of a tie, draw another card. The dealer should now reshuffle the deck and deal 8 cards to each player face down and 12 cards face down to the center of the table in a 4×3 pattern as shown below.
The two cards in the center remain hidden from all players until a player ends the game by trying to guess what one or both of them are. The ten outer cards that surround them are used during the play.
How to Play
All players now pick up their cards. The player to the left of the dealer goes first and turns one of the ten outer cards of the layout face up for all players to see. Be careful not to turn over either of the two face down center cards underlined in the diagram above. The first player must now take the card that they just turned over into their hand.
If the first player has any sets of three of a kind (Ace, Ace, Ace; 9, 9, 9; etc…) in their hand they may now lay down as many such sets as they choose or wait for a more strategic time in the game. Each three of a kind set is worth 6 points.
To end their turn, the player replaces the card taken from the layout with a different card from their hand, placed face up. Note: a player should normally have 8, 5 or 2 cards left in their hand at the end of their turn. The only exception is when the player lays down their third three of a kind, using up all their cards. In this case no card is returned to the layout and the end of the game is triggered - see below.
Play continues clockwise around the table. At the start of each turn, a player may either take one of the face up cards from the layout or turn over a new outer card and take that. If a player turns over a new card, the new card must be taken. The player then lays down any threes of a kind they wish to and finally, if they have not laid down all their cards, places a card face up in the layout in place of the card taken.
Ending the Game
When a player lays down their third three of a kind set, they must also make a guess about the identity of one or both center cards.
The player guesses the denomination or suit or both of one or both cards. It is not necessary to guess which card is which, but if guessing a denomination and a suit the player must make clear whether these apply to the same card or different cards. So examples of possible guesses would be:
- One of the center cards is a Spade.
- One of the center cards is a Diamond and the other is a Heart.
- One of the center cards is the Six of Clubs.
- One center card is a Six and the other is a Club.
- One center card is the King of Hearts and the other is a Spade.
Having announced the guess, the player looks at both cards without showing them to the other players. If either card was guessed completely correctly - denomination and suit - this card is placed face up for all to see. Any card that was not correctly guessed or not completely guessed is returned to the center face down.
The player then gains or loses points as follows:
- For each suit guess: +3 points if correct, -3 points if incorrect.
- For each denomination guess: +6 points if correct, -6 points if incorrect.
Note. Since a player who lays down their third three of a kind is obliged to make a guess, it may be in a player's interest to delay laying down the third three of a kind until he or she is confident to guess at least the suit or denomination of one center card.
- Guess: One card is the Ace of Diamonds and the other is a Spade. The center cards are actually an Ace of Spades and a Jack of Diamonds. The player can score 6 Points for correctly identifying the Ace but, must also deduct 3 Points for incorrectly identifying the Suit for the Ace. Another 3 Points must also be deducted for incorrectly identifying the Suit of the other card. Alternatively the player could score 3 points each for Spade and Diamond but lose 6 because the Diamond is not the Ace. Either way, the player receives 0 points and neither card is exposed.
- Guess: One card is a Club. The center cards are the King and Ten of clubs. The player scores 3 points only for one correct guess and neither card is exposed.
The player must announce the total number of points scored by the guess, but must not reveal how the total was arrived at. So for example if the player guesses Queen and Ten and scores 0, the other players will not know which denomination was right and which was wrong.
So long as both cards have not been identified correctly and exposed, the other players must take their turns. They take a card from the layout as usual, may lay down threes of a kind if they have them, discard a card to the layout if they have fewer than three threes of a kind, and must then make a guess about the center cards. The rules and scoring for guesses are the same as for the first player who guessed, except that a center card that has been completely identified and exposed cannot be guessed again.
Note that it may be possible for players to make correct guesses based entirely on the first player's result. For example if the first player guesses that one card is the King of Spades and scores 3 points, subsequent players can safely score 6 points by just guessing that it is a King, which must be true. However, given that the first player has already scored 21 points, this will not be enough to win unless the subsequent player also has three sets of three of a kind.
The game ends immediately if both center cards are completely identified or exposed. If this does not happen, the game ends in any case when all players have had a turn to guess the center cards. No points are deducted for cards left in a player's hand.
The player with the highest point total is the winner. The maximum number of points a player can receive is 36. In the event of a tie, the first player to correctly identify the Suit and Denomination of one center card is the winner. If no center card is turned over, then the first player to reach the high score is the winner.