Contributed by Colin Martin

This game is for 2 to 4 players, using a standard 52-card pack. See also the new variant Royal Whiplash.

A dealer is chosen and deals in turn to the players (including them self) four cards each. The dealer then places the pack face down on the table and turns over the top card placing it next to the pack.

The object of the game is to get a matching set of three or four cards beating in value all the other players hands. The player who wins the highest number of hands within an agreed time period is the overall winner. Alternatively players may agree that the first to win 21 hands is the overall winner.

Starting from the left of the dealer, and in turn, each player takes a card, either from the top of the visible upturned pile or the top one from the pack. They examine their cards and discard one face up to the top of the upturned pile, thus keeping a set of four cards.

After the player has placed the discarded card on the pile, it is the next player's turn to take a card. If they have the required cards, players can call when it is their turn, but only after the first complete turn of all players. They must discard their fifth card as they call, and present to all players their hand of four cards.

A player can only "CALL" when he or she has at least three cards of the same value, for example diamondQ, spadeQ, clubQ spadeJ is three queens and counts as three of one kind. Aces are highest, followed by kings, queens, jacks, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

For the purposes of scoring, but not for calling, Aces can be used to copy any card in the hand that is of the same suit as the ace. For example heartQ, diamondQ, heartA, diamondA counts as four queens in the scoring. spadeQ, heartQ, diamondA, heartA counts as only three of a kind for scoring: the heart ace copies the heart queen, but the diamond ace cannot copy anything, since you have no other card of the same suit.

Any three cards of the same rank can be beaten by a higher set of three or any set or four. Example: three fives are beaten by three sixes or three aces, and three aces are beaten by four of anything, e.g. four two's, which beat three aces or three kings. A set of two kings and two aces from the same suits cannot be beaten as you have two of the only aces in the pack, so no four-ace hand is available to beat you.

If the face down stock is exhausted and no one has called, the discard pile is simply turned over and the last card turned up as usual: players can continue to exchange cards

Rarely, two players will both collect the same set - for example two aces and two kings. In this case neither can call, and in the two player game it soon becomes evident what hands each player holds as there are no kings or aces left in the pack. To avoid a stalemate in this situation, a player who holds two kings and two aces including the ace of spades is allowed to call.

Also, to avoid a tie, if two players have equal highest hands and one of them holds the ace of spades, the holder of the ace of spades wins.

[Editor's note. Hypothetically, there could be other configurations of cards that result in a stalemate or a tie, but the inventor of the game assures us that with rational play these situations never occur. JMM]

Notes on tactics

Near the start of the game anyone can win quickly by collecting three low numbers, usually cards that are being discarded by someone looking for those sought after aces and kings. You will "CALL" when you have three of a kind. For example, club7, heart4, diamond4, club4 will beat clubA, diamondA, heart5 spade5 as the hand with the two aces has no cards of the same suit, and can only count as two matching cards. Often people get two aces of different suits from the other matching pair that they are hoping to use.

You can hold out and get an ace or another card of a matching suit to make a set of three or four cards only beatable by another higher set. You can change and pick up higher value cards as they become available each turn but the faster you get a CALLable set and "CALL" the better your chance of winning.

The game requires observation skills as the cards picked up from the discard pile as visible to all, and as in a two player game what you put down is very likely to be just what your opponent wants, so collecting false high cards and running a set of low cards might get you an early win. (This should suit poker players.)

In a three or four player game the discarded cards can get buried before the player that requires them gets their turn. This will lead to the tactic of discarding cards that another player further round the table wants and storing the cards that you fear might help the player to your left.

Why the name "whiplash"? Well, when you get three queens and "CALL" only to be beaten by someone who has two aces and two two's in the same suits but who couldn't CALL, that's the whiplash!

Royal Whiplash

This is a variant created in 2023, in which if your last card picked up gives you a set of 5 matching cards you can call with your set of 5 and even beat a top scoring set of four cards.

Note that when a player calls, the set of three or four cards used to justify a call must be the set used for scoring. This can be an issue in Royal Whiplash if a player for who holds for example two aces and two matching jacks (unable to call) picks up a third ace. The player can then call with the three aces, but cannot count this hand as a set of five jacks. If another player turns out to hold (for example) a hand of four sevens that for some reason they have not already called, the four sevens will beat the three aces. On the other hand if the player with the four sevens had called on the previous turn, the player with the aces and jacks would have won with four jacks. Note also that if the holder of the two aces and two matching aces picks up a third jack (rather than an ace), they can call with 5 jacks which will always win.

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Last updated: 28th July 2023