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| 3 Card Brag
| Brag is a
predominently British gambling game and is much older than poker. The basic
game of three-card Brag was one of the games described by Hoyle and goes back
to the 18th Century or earlier. It is almost identical to the popular Indian
game Teen Pathi (meaning 3 cards).
The history of 3 Card Brag can be traced back to England in the
16th century with the game being a direct descendant of the Italian card game
Primero. 3 Card Brag is one of a number of vying or
bluffing card games which became popular during this time. Bluffing
or vying card games are games where you can win with a weaker hand by bluffing
your opponents off the pot after giving the impression that you have a stronger
hand. Other bluffing card games include; Teen Pathi An Indian game which
is similar to 3 Card Brag, Bouillotte A 19th century casino game which
originates from France, the hugely popular American game Poker and 3
Card Brags direct ancestor Primero.
standard 52 card pack without jokers is used. The cards in each suit rank in
the usual order from high to low: A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2. The number of
players can vary, but it is probably best for about 4 to 8 people.
Card Brag is a gambling game. Before starting it is essential that the players
agree on the stake and have a common understanding of the rules. It is
necessary to agree:
- the initial
stake or ante - which is the amount (if any) that everyone must put into the
pot before each deal
- the minimum and
maximum initial bet - the amount that the first player bets in order to stay in
- A hand of 21
points beats everything else except a Pontoon or Five Card Trick.
- the limit (if
any) on the amount by which the bet can be increased by each subsequent
- any variations
to the basic rules, such as use of wild cards.
Before each deal, each player must place the agreed initial stake
(ante) in the pot. Deal and play are clockwise, and the turn to deal passes to
the left after each hand. If it is the first deal of the session, the dealer
shuffles. For subsequent deals, the cards are only shuffled if the previous
hand was "seen" and won by a prial. Apart from that, the cards not normally
shuffled between hands. The cards from the previous hand are just added to the
bottom of the pack and the dealer deals the new hands from the top, without
shuffling. The dealer deals out the cards one at a time, face down to the
players, until everyone has three cards. Players may look at their own cards,
or may choose not to, if they wish to play "blind" - see below. Cards must at
never be shown to any player other than the person to whom they were dealt,
unless the betting ends with a "see". In that case the cards of the two players
involved (but none of the others) are exposed for everyone to see.
When the cards have been dealt, the betting
begins with the player to the left of the dealer. This person can 'fold' (throw
in their cards and take no further part in the hand) or can bet any amount from
the agreed minimum to the agreed maximum. If all the players except one fold,
the last remaining player takes all the money in the pot, and the next hand is
dealt. If any player bets, every player after that must either fold or bet at
least as much as the previous player who bet. A player may bet more than the
previous player, but there may be an agreed limit to the amount by which the
bet can be increased. The betting continues around the table as many times as
When there are only two players left in the game, all the
others having folded, a third option becomes available. Either player can see
the other. Seeing costs twice as much as the previous player's bet. When you
pay to see another player, they expose their three cards first. If your cards
are better than your opponent's, you expose your hand to prove this and win the
pot. If your cards are equal to your opponent's or worse, your opponent wins
the pot - you do not have to show your cards in this case. Note that if the
hands are equal, the player who paid to see loses.
Poker players should
notice that there is no concept of equalising the bets. At each turn, to stay
in you have to put into the pot at least as much new money as the previous
player put in.
Betting continues until either all players but one
have dropped out (folded) (in which case the remaining player obviously wins,
but does not show their cards), or two players are left and one player pays
double to see the other.
As each player folds, that player's cards are
added to the bottom of the pack ready for the next deal. At the end of the
betting the cards of the last player left in, or the cards of the two players
involved in the see, are added to the pack in the same way.
Experienced players usually allow the extra option of playing
blind. Any player may choose to play any hand blind. If you are playing blind
you do not look at your cards, but leave them face down on the table. You take
part in the betting in the normal way, except that all your bets are worth
double. In other words, at each stage you only have to put in half the amount
of money you would need to bet if you had looked at your cards.
have been playing blind, then at your turn to bet, you can choose to look at
your cards before deciding whether to bet or fold. From that moment on you are
no longer a blind player, and if you then want to stay in, you must revert to
the same betting amount as the 'non-blind' players. If you are playing blind
and all the other players fold - which would be surprising but I am assured
that it does happen - you do not win the pot. Instead, the pot is carried
forward to the next deal and you are allowed to retain your
The hand rankings are straight forward with
a few exceptions. Click
Hand Rankings to
open in a new window or click 3 Card
Brag Hand Rankings to open in this browser.
Other playing rules vary so much that it is best to decide all of
them amongst the players before the start, there are no definitive playing
rules for this game.
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| In this game the
object is to form counting combinations that traditionally are scored by moving
pegs on a special Cribbage board. A cribbage board is used to keep score and
keep track of the progress of the game. The appeal of the game, usually played
by two but can be four or sometimes three, is evident from two facts: few
changes have been made in the original rules, and it remains one of the most
popular of all card games. In the U.K. from 1966 through 1969, the "Card
Corner" in the News of the World had more requests for information on
Cribbage than for any other game. In the United States, Cribbage is played by
more than 10 million people, principally across the northern states, from New
England to the Pacific, and the game has remained popular in Canada as
The game of Cribbage (earlier
spelled Cribbidge) was invented by the 17th-century English poet Sir John
Suckling. Although Cribbage quite clearly developed from Noddy, an older game
for which a special scoring board also was used, it appears to be the only
existing game in its family. Cribbage would quite likely have become the most
popular of all two-hand card games if so many descriptions had not called the
Cribbage board indispensable, which it is not.
Almost the only big
change from the original rules is that in modern two-hand Cribbage each player
is dealt six cards instead of five, as originally. See
Five-card Cribbage was the
original game. Each player discards two cards into the crib, remaining with
only three, plus starter. At the beginning of the initial hand nondealer pegs 3
to offset dealer's advantage. Game is 61.
Four-hand Cribbage is
played in partnerships of two on a side, partners seated across the table from
each other. The dealer gives each player five cards; each discards only one
into the crib. The score is usually slightly less in the showing, but the
average per side is about 9 points in the play. Game is always
Three-hand Cribbage has each player dealt five cards. Each
discards one into the crib, and a single card is dealt blind to complete the
crib, which belongs to the dealer. Each player scores for himself. Eldest hand
(the one to the left of the dealer) shows first.
Scoring is traditionally called pegging, because it
usually is done by moving pegs on a scoring device, the Cribbage board. This
Cribbage board is essentially a tablet with 60 counting holes (in two rows of
30) for each player, plus one game hole for each, and often extra holes for
holding pegs when not in play and for keeping track of games won. Game is 121
(twice around the board plus 1 for the game hole) or 61 in the less frequently
played game of Once Around. Each player has two pegs, and each scoring point is
marked by jumping the rearmost peg ahead of the other (thus showing at a glance
the number of points scored on a move as well as the total). Scores must be
pegged in order because the first player to reach 121 (or 61) or, in some
games, to pass it is the winner. Emphasis on the board as a scoring device
created the idea that the game could not be played without it, but the score
can be kept with pencil and paper or with chips or other counters; indeed,
keeping score by discarding counters (each player starting with 121 or 61) is
so efficient and simple a method that the enduring primacy of the board is
difficult to understand.
A full deck is used,
King is high, Ace is low. Face cards and tens count 10 each; other cards count
their index value (number of pips). The player cutting low card deals first,
the deal alternating with each hand. The dealer deals six cards, alternately,
to the nondealer and to himself. Each player then discards two cards, facedown,
to form the crib. In discarding to the crib, since it scores for the dealer,
the nondealer tries to lay away "balking" cards, those least likely to create
scoring combinations. After the discard, the undealt remainder of the pack is
cut by the nondealer; the top card of the lower packet is turned faceup on top
of the reunited deck and becomes the starter. If the starter is a Jack, dealer
immediately pegs (scores) 2, called "2 for his heels." If the starter is any
other card, the Jack of that suit--formerly called "knave noddy," an
unmistakable link with the earlier game--is worth 1 point to the holder for
"his nobs" but is not scored until later. This is followed by the two stages of
scoring, the play and the showing.
begins the play by laying faceup before him any card from his hand, announcing
its counting value. Dealer then plays a card (each adds cards to his own pile,
so that his original hand may be counted later in the showing) and announces
the total of the two cards. Play continues alternately, each player announcing
the new total, until the total reaches 31, or until one player cannot play
without increasing the total beyond 31. If either player cannot add a card
without exceeding 31, his opponent must play any card(s) in his hand that may
be added without exceeding 31. The last to play in each sequence scores a
"go"--2 points if he reaches exactly 31, or 1 for any lesser total. After a go,
count begins again at zero.
In addition to go, the object is to peg for
certain combinations of cards played consecutively. These combinations score
whether the cards are played in strict alternation or in succession by one
player when his opponent cannot play. The score in every case is pegged by the
player whose card completes the combination. Any player who can add to a
combination, providing there has been no intervening card, can score the value
of the new combination. Combinations are scored for playing a card that makes
the count exactly 15 (score 2); for playing cards of the same rank to make a
pair (2), three of a kind (6), or four of a kind (12); and for playing a third
or later card to form a run, or sequence, regardless of suits and regardless of
the order in which the cards are played (1 for each card in the run).
The next stage of scoring is the showing. After all four cards are
played, the values in each hand are counted--the nondealer's hand first, then
the dealer's hand, then the crib, which scores for the dealer. The starter
counts as a fifth card in each of the three hands. Every combination of two or
more cards totalling 15 scores 2; each pair, 2; every sequence of three or more
cards, 1 for each card in the sequence; four cards of the same suit, 4, or 5 if
of the same suit as the starter (but only a five-card flush matching the
starter counts in the crib); and his nobs (jack of the same suit as the
starter), 1. Every possible different grouping of cards in the hand, plus
starter, counts separately, except that a sequence of four or five cards may be
counted only once, and not as two or more separate sequences of three.
As indicated above, the order of scoring on each hand is important and
is as follows: (1) scoring of starter, if it is a jack, (2) scoring in play for
various combinations, (3) scoring in play for go, (4) scoring of nondealer's
hand, (5) scoring of dealer's hand, and (6) scoring of crib. When either or
both players approach a score of 121 (or 61), whose turn it is to score becomes
important. The game ends immediately if either player is able to count out in
the play or the showing. If nondealer is able to count out in the showing, it
does not matter if the dealer, with or without counting his crib, could have
scored a higher total. The loser scores only what he has already pegged before
his opponent counts out, and if he has not already counted at least 61 (or 31),
he is "lurched" ("left in the lurch") and, if the play is for stakes, loses
doubly. (As sometimes played, the winner must be able to count out to exactly
121, just as, in playing for a go, he tries to reach 31 exactly. Thus, for
example, if a player's score is 120, he can count out only if he can score
exactly 1 point, as for his nobs or for go.) Some play that, if a player fails
to claim his full score on any turn, his opponent may call out "muggins" and
score for himself any points overlooked.
After each player has played
all four of his cards, and the showing has been completed, the cards are put
back in the deck and shuffled and dealt as before.
|Faro is one
of the oldest gambling games played with cards, supposedly named from the
picture of a pharaoh on French playing cards imported into Great Britain. A
favourite of highborn gamblers throughout Europe in the late 18th and early
19th centuries, Faro was the game at which the young count Rostov, in Leo
Tolstoy's War and Peace, lost a fortune. Faro was introduced to the United
States in New Orleans. Common in American gaming rooms, especially in the West,
until 1915, the game had all but vanished by 1925, except in a few Nevada
In the game the 13 cards of the spade suit, representing the
ranks of all suits, are enameled on a layout on which the bets are placed
against the house. A bet may be placed on any rank to win or (by coppering the
bet--i.e., placing a copper counter on the chips) to lose; or, by the manner in
which the chips are placed on the layout, a bet may cover several ranks. A
shuffled pack of playing cards is placed face up in a dealing box. The top card
is removed and not used. The next card taken from the box loses (the house pays
the coppered bets placed and takes in bets placed on the card to win). The card
left showing in the box wins, and the house pays the amount of any bet placed
on that rank to win. The two cards constitute a turn. The dealer then removes
the exposed card from the box, puts aside another card (which loses), and
leaves exposed another card (which wins). The game continues in this fashion
through the pack. The last card in the box does not count. When cards of the
same rank appear in the same turn and so both win and lose, the house takes
half of each bet on that rank, whether to win or to lose. This is called a
Stuss is a variant of the game in which the cards are dealt from
a pack held face down in the dealer's hand, not from a dealing box. When a
split occurs the house takes all the bets on that rank instead of
only half of
| Gin Rummy
|Gin is a member of
the Rummy-games family; introduced in New York in 1909, it became a nationwide
fad in the U.S. in the 1940s. Two play; each is dealt 10 cards face down, one
at a time, beginning with nondealer. The remainder of the pack, placed face
down, forms the stock, the top card of which is turned up beside it as the
first up card. Gin is a high stakes game and this led to it's popularity among
gamblers in the US looking for lots of action.
Nondealer may take the up
card or refuse it; if he refuses, dealer has the same option. If both refuse,
nondealer draws the top card of the stock. Thereafter, each player in turn
takes either the up card or the top card of the stock, then discards one card
face up on the up-card pile.
Object of play is to form melds as in
Rummy--either sequences of three or more cards of the same suit or sets of
three or more cards of the same rank. After drawing, a player may knock (go
down) if his unmatched cards (less one discard) total 10 or less. Face cards
count 10, aces 1, other cards their number value. Upon knocking, a player faces
his 10 cards arranged in sets and with unmatched cards to one side, then
discards his 11th card. If all his cards are matched, he is gin.
opponent of the knocker may lay off any of his unmatched cards upon the
knocker's sets, thereby reducing his count. If the knocker has the lower count
of unmatched cards, he wins the difference. Should his opponent have an equal
or lesser count, he has undercut the knocker and receives the difference (if
any) plus a bonus of 25 points. The knocker cannot be undercut if he has gone
gin--he receives, in addition to the total points of his opponent's unmatched
cards, a bonus of 25 points.
First to reach 100 points wins the game and
receives a 100-point bonus. Each player then adds to his score 25 points for
each hand he has won, called a box. If the loser has failed to score, the game
is a shutout, or schneider, and the winner's total score is doubled. Gin Rummy
is frequently played with several variations and as a gambling game,
often for a small amount of money per point.
| This game is also
known as Boodle, Stops or (in Britain) Newmarket and is suitable for about 3 to
8 players. It is a fairly simple stops game in which the aim is to get
rid of your cards first, and to win stakes by playing particular
You need two packs of cards to play. Take the jack of spades,
queen of diamonds, king of clubs and ace of hearts out of one and place them in
the middle of the table. These are known as the "boodle" cards.
player places the agreed stake in the kitty, plus an additional stake on each
boodle card. (Experiment to see what works for you, but I'd recommend a kitty
stake of between one and four times the boodle stake.)
Ace is high.
Dealer deals the entire second pack out between the players, plus an extra
"dummy" hand. (If there are five players, the four to dealer's left get nine
cards each, the dealer and the dummy eight.)
Whoever holds the two of
diamonds announces and plays it. If no one has it, call for the three, and so
on. Play now proceeds with whoever holds the next highest card in the suit. So
the holder of the four plays that, then the holder of the five ...
would be dire sport indeed were it not for the dummy hand, the cards in which,
of course, prevent these runs from being completed. If you play the last card
in a sequence, you must begin a new run with your lowest card in a suit of
another colour. The first person to empty her hand completely takes the pot;
and if at any time someone plays
collects the money on that card. (If any boodle money remains uncollected when
someone goes out, it carries over to the next game.)
More than most
games, newmarket admits of myriad variations. Some use four kings instead of
the cards above. Some allow the dealer the opportunity to switch his hand with
the dummy hand; if he refuses, that opportunity passes to the next player. Some
require any player switching hands to pay extra for the privilege. Some permit
players to divide their boodle money as they wish across the four cards. And
some say that if a player completes a run, she need only change suit, not
colour. (Since the choices offered by the game are already somewhat limited,
I'd definitely suggest adopting this last one.)
In fact, if you add
enough of these embellishments, newmarket can actually be quite
|Pontoon is the British version of the
internationally popular banking game Twenty-one, best known as Blackjack.
Pontoon can be played by any number of players from two upwards - it
works well with 5 to 8 players - using a standard 52 card pack. The cards have
normal values but the Ace can be 1 or 11.One player is designated as the
banker. The banker has an advantage, so the first banker is chosen at random
(whoever cuts the highest card). In each hand, each of the other players bets
on having a better hand than the banker.
If the banker and
a player have equal valued hands, then the banker wins..
- The best hand of
all is a Pontoon, which is an Ace and a 10 or picture.
- Next best after
a Pontoon is a Five Card Trick, which is a hand of five cards totaling 21 or
- A hand of 21
points beats everything else except a Pontoon or Five Card Trick.
- Hands with 20 or
fewer points rank in order of their point value.
- Hands with more
than 21 points are bust and are worthless.
deals one card face down to each player, starting with the player to dealer's
left, going round the table and ending with the dealer. All the players except
the banker may look at their card. Starting again with the player to dealer's
left and going around clockwise, the players other than the banker place their
initial bets in front of them. A minimum and maximum for initial bets must be
agreed before the start of the game, and each player may bet any amount within
The dealer now deals a second card face down to each
player, and all the players look at their two cards. If the banker has a
Pontoon this is immediately exposed, and the banker collects double the amount
staked from each of the players.
If the banker
does not have a pontoon then, beginning with the player to dealer's left and
continuing clockwise, the players each have a turn to try to improve their hand
if they wish by acquiring extra cards. When it is your turn, you have the
If your total is
more than 21 you are bust; you must immediately throw in your hand face up, and
the banker takes your stake and adds your cards to the bottom of the
- Declare a Pontoon If your two cards are an
ace and a ten point card, you declare it by putting them on the table with the
ten point card face down and the ace face up on top of it.
- Split your cards If your two cards are
equal in rank, you may split them into two hands by putting them face up on the
table and placing another bet equal to your initial bet. The banker immediately
deals another card face down to each of your hands, and you then play the hands
one at a time, as separate hands with separate stakes. If either of the new
cards dealt is equal to the first two you may choose to split again, creating
three or even four separate hands, each with its own stake. You cannot split
two ten point cards unless they are actually equal.
- Buy a card If the total value of your
cards is less than 21, you may say "Buy a card". You must increase your stake
by adding an amount at least equal to and not more than twice your initial
stake. The dealer then deals you another card face down. If your total is still
less than 21 you may buy a fourth card; this time you may add to your stake any
amount between your initial stake and the amount you added previously. If your
four cards still total less than 21 you may buy a fifth card in the same
- Twist If the total value of your cards is
less than 21 you may say "Twist". Your stake is unaffected, and the dealer
deals you one card face up to add to your hand. If your total remains below 21
you may ask for a fourth card to be twisted and then a fifth, in the same
- Stick If the total value of your cards is
at least 15 you may say "stick".
You can begin by buying one or more cards and continue by
twisting, but once you have asked for a card to be twisted you can no longer
When your hand reaches five cards without going over 21 you
have a Five Card Trick. You are not allowed any more cards.
When all the players except the banker have had their turns the
banker's two cards are turned face up. The banker may add more cards by dealing
them face up one at a time. When satisfied with the hand the banker can
"stick". Possible outcomes are:
- The dealer
goes bust If the dealer goes over 21, the dealer loses and pays out all
stakes, paying a double to any Pontoon or Five Card Trick.
- The dealer
stays on 21 or less, with four or fewer cards The dealer pays stakes to
any player who has a higher value hand, and collects from those who have equal
or less. Pontoons and Five Card Tricks are paid double.
- The dealer
makes a Five Card Trick The dealer pays Pontoons only and pays double.
All other players lose double their stake.
If no one had a Pontoon, the dealer adds all the used cards to the
bottom of the pack and without shuffling deals a new hand. This makes it
possible to improve one's chances by remembering which cards are out of play.
If there was a Pontoon, the cards are shuffled and cut before the next
If a player other than the banker achieves a Pontoon without
splitting their hand, and the banker did not have a Pontoon, then that player
becomes the new banker from the next deal. If there are two or more such
players, the one nearest to the dealer's left takes over the bank.
bank can also change hands after any hand if the existing banker wishes to sell
the bank to another player for an agreed price.