Card Games: Stops Group

In this group of Matching Games, the cards have to be played in ascending sequence, usually in suit. The turn to play does not rotate; whoever holds the next card plays it. The aim is to get rid of all your cards, and often also to play particular cards. The "stops" are cards which are out of play, meaning that the sequence cannot be continued. Games of this type are Comet, Pope Joan / Yellow Dwarf, Newmarket, Michigan, Boodle.

NB. Some card game authors have adopted a much wider definition of a stops game, meaning any game in which the objective is to get rid of your cards. I prefer the more precise meaning explained above.

The game Snip Snap Snorum, in which the length of sequences is limited, clearly belongs in this group. The variants where equal cards rather than sequences are played, including Earl of Coventry and Nobble, can also be included here though their relationship to traditional stops games is more distant.

Poch group

This important subgroup of the Stops Group originated in Europe in the 15th century or earlier. These are compendium games, originally consisting of three successive games played with the same hands: in the first stage you just win stakes for holding specific cards; the second stage is a showdown, often with vying, won by whoever has the best set of cards; the final stage is a stops game.

As explained on the Poker History page, it is quite likely that Poker developed from a form of Poch in which the first and third stages were dropped, and that the rest of the Stops Group derives from a version of Poch where only the third stage is played. In modern Poch games, often the first stage is left out (since it requires no skill) and instead there is a payout for playing specific cards or sequences during the final stage.

  • Pochspiel - the direct descendant of the 15th century game, still played in Germany
  • Púkk is an Icelandic Poch game.
  • Three in One is a modern American descendant.
This page is maintained by John McLeod (   © John McLeod, 1999, 2003. Last updated: 23rd December 2013