Original Card Games by David Parlett
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Players 3-6 (5 best)   Cards 2 packs   Type Tricks & melds
This is a sort of Rummy game with a trick-like mechanism that I think is more interesting than the boring old draw-and-discard method of play. It first appeared in the book version of Original Card Games as a game designed for five, but it also pretty good for four or six. The three-player adaptation doesn't work as well as I thought and may need further adjustment. Suggestions welcome.
Shuffle together two stripped packs and a number of Jokers, as follows:
  • Six players: two 36-card packs (AKQJ109876) plus one Deuce of each suit and two Jokers, total 78.
  • Five: two 32-card packs (AKQJ10987) plus 1 Joker, total 65.
  • Four: two 24-card packs (AKQJ109) plus 4 Jokers, total 52.
  • Three: two 24-card packs (AKQJ109) plus 3 Jokers, total 51.
Deal 13 cards to each player, or 17 if three play.
To play out all your cards by melding them in sets of three or more of the same rank. (Sequences don't count). The game ends when one player goes out, and the others are penalised for cards left in hand.
Each in turn, starting with the player at dealer's left, plays to the table any card they don't particularly want. This continues till someone plays a card that matches the suit of any preceding card. Matching suit automatically causes you to win the 'trick' (as it might as well be called), and winning a trick entitles you to make one or more melds. If you intend to meld, you should turn the trick-winning card face down to prevent the next in turn from playing prematurely. If not, leave it face up.
Having won a trick, you take all its cards except the one you took it with, add them to your hand, and may then make one or more melds. A meld consists of three or more cards of the same rank. They must be laid face down on the table so that other players can't be certain how many of each rank remain in play. Once a meld has been made it must be left face down for the rest of the deal and can't be added to. You may at any time privately peek at your own melds, but not at anyone else's. Having melded, turn your trick-winning card face up as the lead to the next trick.
The advantage of winning a trick is that it entitles you to meld, as this is the only time you can do so.
The advantage of winning a trick but not melding is that, because you cannot increase melds once they are made, you may be able to build those in your hand into longer ones before melding them. A longer meld scores much more than a shorter, so it is better make a single meld of six than two separate melds of three.
The advantage of not winning a trick is that it helps you get rid of unwanted cards. At some point it may also enable you to go out, thereby ending the deal with no penalties in hand.
A Joker when played to a trick belongs to a quasi-suit of Jokers. It matches no previous suit except another Joker. It is therefore possible for a trick to contain up to five cards before being inevitably taken by the next player.
Jokers are not wild - that is, they can't be used to represent other cards - but three of them (not all four) may be melded together in the three- and four-player games. This is not possible in the five- and six-player versions, which don't have three Jokers.
In the six-player game, Deuces are natural. When played to a trick they match or duck suit as appropriate, and three of them (not all four) may be melded together.
Going out
You can go out either by winning a trick and melding all your remaining cards, or by playing your last card to a trick and thereby ducking suit. As soon as one player goes out the round ends immediately. Any card or cards left on the table in mid-trick remain out of play.
At end of play everyone turns up their melds and scores for each one according to the number of cards it contains as follows:
  • Three  60
  • Four 100
  • Five 150
  • Six 210
  • Seven 280
  • Eight 360
If you go out by melding all your cards, having previously not melded any, you add a bonus of 500 points.
Penalties As to cards remaining in hand, any meld of three or more counts zero, scoring neither for nor against. The remainder are penalties, and count a number of minus points according to how many there are, following the same schedule as above but with these extras:
One = 10, two = 30, nine = 450, more than nine = 50 per card.
In addition, any unmelded Joker (and, in the six-player game, unmelded Deuce) not only counts as one of the penalty cards but also incurs an additional penalty of 100 points.
No melds made?
If you haven't made any melds on the table when someone else goes out, you score 10 for each meldable card in your hand and minus 10 for each unmeldable card. There is no extra penalty for Jokers (or Deuces).
The turn to deal passes to the left and a game consists of as many rounds as there are players.