Pan Poker Rules

pan-pokerHere are the rules of Pan Poker. The object of Pan poker is to be the 1st player to meld all 10 cards in their hand plus their last card drawn.

Pan Poker is played using 8 standard decks of playing cards with all spades ♠ removed from 1 of the decks and all 8′s, 9′s and 10′s are removed from all 8 decks, leaving 310 playing cards.

Cards rank in descending order: K, Q, J, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A. The J and 7 rank as if the 8, 9 or 10 cards did not exist.

Game Play

  1. In Pan Poker 10 cards are dealt to each player, 1 at a time.
  2. Play starts with the winner of the last hand.
  3. In turn, players take the top card from the discard pile or the stock.
  4. Cards may only be drawn from the discard pile if that card was drawn from the stock by the previous player. When a card is drawn from the stock, that card must be melded or discarded.

  5. After drawing and before discarding, you may meld by playing sets or adding existing melds. Your drawn card must be played as part of a meld before any other cards can be melded.
  6. You end your turn by discarding a single card from your hand.
  7. If a player plays all their cards, the hand is over.

Increasing

You may add cards to your melds if the meld character is maintained, i.e. Adding 1 card of the same rank to a suited or unsuited set. When increasing a meld you collect chips for additional Konditions met.

Splitting

A meld can be split if added cards allow the meld to split and maintain it’s character. i.e. J, 7, 6, 5 may be split by adding a Q and a 4. If splitting of a meld creates a new Kondition then chips are collected for that Kondition.

You may also take a card from a meld to complete a new meld, provided the original meld’s character remains. i.e.: 7, 6, 5, 4 the 7 or 4 may be borrowed to complete a new meld.

Forcing Cards

If a discard plays in your meld on your turn, you must draw and meld the card.

Going Out

When a player melds all 11 cards, they collect all their Konditions, plus 2 chips from each player, plus the pot.

Next Hand

The winner of the last hand is first to act.

Pan Poker Game: Konditions

Certain melds in Pan poker are called Konditions. When melding a Kondition chips are immediately collected from all other players.

All 3′s, 5′s, and 7′s are called valle cards.

Valle card Konditions (set of 3 same ranked cards):

  1. Different suites collect 1 chip from each player.
  2. Same suit collects 2 chips from each player, 4 chips if the suite is Spades.
  3. 1 additional chip is collected for each card beyond the initial 3 cards, 2 chips if the suit is spades.

Non-Valle card Konditions:

  1. A set of 3 cards of a single suit collects 1 chip, 2 chips if the suit is spades.
  2. Another chip is collected for every additional card of the same suit that you receive after the initial 3 cards. Two chips are collected if the suit is spades.
  3. A run of three that starts with an Ace or ends with a Kingz: Example – 3, 2, A or K, Q, J. You will collect one chip or two chips if the suit is spades.

Melds

Sequence

A run of any 3 or more cards of the same suit, For Example: Q♥J♥7♥ would be a valid “Sequence”.

Set

3 or more cards of the same rank that are of only one suit, or of at least three different suits. For Example: 4♥4♥4♥ or 4♦4♣4♠.

Aces and Kings are an exception to this rule in that you only need 3 of them regardless of suit.

Once a valid meld is played, you may add single cards to the meld.

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Spider Solitaire

Spider Solitaire became widely popular after Microsoft included it in their Windows 98 package. Spider is a particularly interesting version of solitaire because it involves the use of two decks of cards rather than the standard single deck common to many solitaire varieties.

Like most other solitaire games, the goal of Spider Solitaire is to remove all the cards out of the “tableau” by forming “runs” or sets of cards in a specific order.

How to Play Spider Solitaire

spider-solitaireTo play Spider Solitaire (without the aid of a computer) take two standard decks of 52 cards (Jokers removed) so that you have 104 cards in your stack. Deal a hand of Spider Solitaire by laying down ten rows of cards (the “tableau”) — the first four rows starting at the left side of the tableau contain six cards (each row has only the top card showing) and the last six rows contain five cards for a total of 104 cards (with ten showing “face up”). The other fifty cards become your “stock”.

Another reason for the popularity of Spider Solitaire is the player’s ability to change the game’s difficulty by changing the rules. Open ended games are always more fun and offer a more challenging pursuit for the player.
Because traditional Spider Solitaire is a difficult game (the number of cards increases the difficult considerably) the player has the option of playing with a limited number of suits. The standard suits to play Spider Solitaire with are Spades or Spades and Hearts together. This makes the game easier, though it requires more decks of cards to create the 104 card setup.

Once you’ve decided what difficulty level you want to play at, gathered your cards, and built the initial tableau, you should start building runs. The runs in Spider Solitaire move downward starting with the King to Ace (Kings high, Aces low). Because there are 104 cards and the runs are made up of thirteen cards, there will naturally be eight “foundations” where you place the runs when you’ve completed them. The game is won when you’ve built all eight foundations running with a King down through Ace.

All foundation building really happens in the tableau itself, similar to traditional solitaire — this means that the eight “foundation spots” won’t really be a big part of the game until you’re ready to drop a run into its home. Once a card is “exposed” (meaning it is face up) you can move it off of the end of a tableau into another game space if and only if this move forms part of a run. Remember that runs in Spider Solitaire are in descending order, so you can play a two on a three, or a Jack on a Queen, etc.

Spider Solitaire players are also allowed to move particular run as a unit onto another tableau column — but only if the two runs are of the same suit. This is why to make the game of Spider Solitaire easier, all it takes is limiting the number of suits in play.

Computer versions of Spider Solitaire automatically move runs into the appropriate foundation spot — if you’re playing along at home, you’ll need to sweep these runs into their proper spot as you go. The resulting empty spaces in the tableau can be filled up with any card you’d like, or another “run” off of another tableau column. Eventually, you will run out of moves (no matter how easy of a game you’re playing) and you should pull ten cards out of your stock, dealing another card to each of the tableau columns.

Just to make the game even more infuriating, you are required to fill an empty spot in the tableau before you deal out of the stock — often this means breaking up a run in progress just to move forward.

Spider Solitaire Variations

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of variations in the game of Spider Solitaire. You can alter the number of decks used to play a longer game, or you can alter the suits in play for an easier or harder game. When you change the number of decks used, you’re playing either Gigantic Spider or some other superlative. When you alter the number of suits, you simply refer to these games by the number of suits in play — for instance, one suit, two suits, three suits, etc.

Spider Solitaire Strategy

A few strategy notes before you head off to play an exciting round of Spider Solitaire – don’t forget that moving a run off of the tableau into the foundation area will keep those cards completely out of play for the rest of the game. Also, when you have an empty space, you don’t have to instantly fill it with a card that you plan to use to build a run.

You can use that empty space to “cycle through” cards in the game in order to set yourself up for victory.
Spider Solitaire may have exploded in popularity after its inclusion in a version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, but you don’t have to be running Windows to play. Stock up on additional decks of cards and try out this very adaptable game of Solitaire today.

I had written about Spider Solitaire in one of my previous posts. You should read it if you would like to see some more of the most popular versions of solitaire.

More Two Player Card Games

There are lots of card games for multiple players–poker just isn’t as much fun with less than four people. Games like cribbage require a board, complex rules, and a large number of players. Games of dominoes can be played with two people (I’m thinking of Moon and other games that are light on rules) but require a set of dominoes and have a pretty high learning curve.

What card games are good for just two players? Here are three of my favorite two-person card games that require little or no setup and very few people to play.

Battle

Sometimes called “War” or any number of other regional nicknames, Battle is the most basic two player card game.

To play Battle, shuffle a standard deck of cards and deal the whole deck face down. One half of the cards is dealt to one player, and half goes to the other. Do not look at your cards.

battle-card-gameBoth players then turn the top card over, face up, in the center of the table. Be sure to do this at the exact same time, otherwise there’s no tension in the game and its less like a true “battle”.

Compare the two cards. The player with the higher card “wins” the battle and collects both cards. The object of the game is to get all the cards in your stack, leaving your opponent with none.

How do you know who has won the battle? Number cards are lowest, meaning that 2 is the lowest card in the game. Face cards are the most valuable, and their order is Jack, Queen, King, and finally Ace, the most powerful card in the game.

A little bit of intrigue–what happens when two player’s cards tie? If you and your opponent both reveal a “2″ for instance, this initiates a “war”. When a war starts, both players turn the top card from their stack, face down this time, and then turn another card face up. Whoever has the higher of this second set of revealed cards has won the war and takes the entire stack.

Repeat this until one player has the entire deck.

It is a simple game, but a great way to pass the time. You can play Battle mindlessly, waiting at the airport or during bad weather at a sporting event.

Speed

Speed, also known as “spit”, is a deceptively simple game that requires speed and dexterity as well as a lot of yelling and general rough-housing. The fast game play and “cutthroat” tactics required for Speed make it a favorite among young teenagers and older gamers alike.

Shuffle the cards and divide them equally among the two players — 26 cards apiece. Each player makes five “stock piles” of cards in front of them in a row. Each pile has a different number of cards — the first has one, the second has two, etc., until fifteen cards are laid out in five piles. The top card of each pile is laid face-up, as in solitaire.

This leaves each player with 11 cards in a face-down stack in front of the piles. Do not touch them!
Once both players have arranged their playing area the way they want, they yell “Speed!” and play begins. Frantically.

Play starts by laying down the top card from each player’s stack of 11 cards side by side between the stock piles. These are the “speed piles” that most of the play will utilize.

Now both players play simultaneously, and as fast as they want. The object of the game is to get rid of all of the cards in your stock piles on top of your speed piles. Remember that you can only use one hand and move one card at a time — just wouldn’t be fair if you could use all your limbs.

Your play options are to either:

  1. Play the face up card from the top of your stock pile onto either of the speed piles (if it is next in numerical sequence either up or down)
  2. Move a face up card from the top of a stock pile onto a now empty stock pile space creating a new area of play
    Game play ends when one player gets rid of their entire stock pile or if play gets “jammed”, meaning neither player has a move they can make.

Sounds complicated, but give it a go — you’ll pick up the nuances really quick.

Two Man Solitaire

Solitaire is normally a game for one person — but with two person solitaire you can work with someone to “win”.

The basic game play looks and feels just like traditional solitaire but there’s a pretty crucial difference — once the aces are put up on the tableaux, either solitaire player can play on top of them or move down any cards they need. Remember that both players still have to get all their cards up on the tableaux to “win”.

With two standard decks of cards, the players should sit facing each other and deal out a traditional hand of solitaire in front of them.

The first big difference in two man solitaire comes when aces come into play — players should place their aces face up in the table space between the two separate games.

The object of the game is to get all the cards of each suit in order on these ace foundations — that’s a series of cards starting with aces and ending with kings. In two man solitaire, either person can play on any one of these foundations, or borrow a card if it is needed.

Too many kids these days depend on electronic games to stave off boredom. I don’t want to sound like an old fogey, but “back in my day” if we complained about boredom, our parents put us to work. Avoid doing yard chores by grabbing a deck of cards. Playing a game of cards doesn’t require a fancy setup or multiple players. Any time you have a standard deck of cards and a friend or two you can kill time the old-fashioned way — just you, your buddies, and a card game.

If you would like to see more 2 player card games, check out this previous post.

Spades Rules

Spades is a highly popular American card game invented in the 1930s. Rare outside of the United States until the mid-1990s, with the advent of the Internet and online gaming the popularity of Spades has spread worldwide. This is an excellent game for spending a night with a small group of friends.

Spades is a plain-trick based game where the suit of spades is always trump. One usually plays Spades with four partnered players, but there are also variations for two, three, and six players. Grab a deck of cards and some friends and follow these Spades rules for a guaranteed night of fun.

Spades for four players

Place the four players in partnerships of two. The partners should sit opposite of each other. Dealing and play both run clockwise. After establishing partnerships, all you need is a standard deck of 52 cards. The cards rank from highest to lowest with aces being high in each suit.

  1. First, deal – Choose the first dealer at random. You can use a roll of the dice to do this. The deal should then run clockwise. Shuffle the cards well and deal one card at a time, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, until you’ve dealt out all cards in the deck. Everyone should have 13 cards at this point.
  2. Then, bid – All four players in Spades must bid a number of tricks. Each team will combine together the bids of their two partners. The combined total of the two partners represents the number of tricks that team must win in order to score.

spadesBidding continues clockwise around the table until everyone has bid a number. Spades rules allow players to bid any number from zero to thirteen. Unlike other games, such as Poker, that also involve bidding, each bid is not required to be higher than the last, and players may pass if they wish.

There is only one round of bidding in Spades, and players cannot be change or take back their bids once they make them. A Nil bid is a bid of zero tricks. When a player bids Nil this announces that they will not win any tricks. The player will win an extra bonus for this if they succeed, but will also earn a penalty if they fail.

The team then must win the number of tricks bid by the Nil bidder’s partner. If a player doesn’t want to try to win the Nil bonus (or avoid the Nil penalty) then they must bid an amount of at least one.

If you’re feeling especially confident, you might try for a bid of Blind Nil. A Blind Nil is bidding zero before you actually look at the cards in your hand. After everyone has made a bid, each player may then exchange two cards with their partner. This is done by having the player discard two cards face down in the center of the table.

Their partner then picks up the discarded cards and discards two of their own cards in exchange. House rules usually state that a Blind Nil is only biddable by a player when their team is losing by about 100 points.

A Double Blind Nil is possible if both team members bid a Blind Nil. If the team is successful at a Double Blind Nil, they win the game outright.

Next, play the hand

The player seated to the dealer’s left can lead with any card but a spade to the first trick. Then, going clockwise, each player must in turn follow suit if they can. If they are unable to follow suit, the player can then play a card of any suit.

The highest ranked spade played automatically wins any trick containing a spade. If no one plays a spade, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads to the next one. No player may lead with a spade until either a player has played a spade (on the lead of another suit), or the leader has nothing but spades left in their hand.

Keeping Score

Designate one of the players as the scorekeeper before beginning play. The scorekeeper should then write all the bids down, so that during play (and afterwards, when the score is tallied) all the information about bids is available to every player.

When the hand is finished, the scorekeeper should record each player’s score next to their bids. It’s advisable to keep a running tally of the scores as this allows players to easily see everyone’s total points earned.
The team that takes at least as many tricks as their bid called for receives a score equal to 10 times the initial bid. Additional tricks, called overtricks, or “bags,” are worth one extra point.

A team that, over several deals, gains ten or more bags will have 100 points deducted from their score. Any bags beyond those ten carry over to the next round of overtricks. Therefore, if a team reaches twenty overtricks they lose another 100 points.

If a team doesn’t successfully make their bid, they lose 10 points for each trick they bid.

If a bid of Nil is successful, then the Nil bidder’s team goes on to receive 100 points, in addition to the points won (or lost) by the partner of the Nil bidder for tricks made.

If a Nil bid fails and the bidder takes at least one trick, then the bidder’s team loses 100 points. The team, however, still gains the points earned for the partner’s bid. When a Nil bidder fails, the tricks won by the Nil bidder don’t count towards making the partner’s bid, but do count as bags for the team.

A Blind Nil bid, if successful, scores twice as many points for the team as an ordinary Nil. So, add 200 points if the bid is successful, but subtract 200 if the bid fails. This makes a Blind Nil bid a highly risky, yet exciting, undertaking.

The team who reaches 500 points first wins the game. If both teams reach 500 points in a single deal, the side with the higher score automatically wins.

Euchre Strategy

Euchre strategy is a complex subject because the game itself is complex and provides a number of different challenges through just five tricks. Also, because Euchre is such a complex game, there is no one sure Euchre strategy that will always guarantee victory.

Instead, you should understand your own personality and build your Euchre strategy based upon that. Ask yourself are you aggressive or passive? Do you go with your gut or are you are a thinker, calculating every hand? More than likely, you are somewhere in between, but it’s important that you know yourself.

With that being said, the game of Euchre breaks nicely down into phases: bidding with a card in the kitty up, bidding with the kitty card down, the first trick, and the rest of the game. Each of these phases has their own Euchre strategy challenges and how you face them will depend on your own style. However, here is some advice for challenging each phase.

Bidding With the Kitty

The bidding with the kitty phase of Euchre strategy refers to the first round of bidding when an undealt card is turned face up. (The kitty is a term for all those undealt cards, especially the ones that don’t get turned face up.) During this phase, any player can order up that revealed card and make it the trump.

On the face of things, the strategy here should be obvious. If you want that suit to be trump, order it up. If not, pass. However, there are times when it’s not so cut and dry. Sometimes that suit might help you, sometimes it might not but the minute you order it up, you are the maker.

How you handle this is largely up to you, but you have a decision to weigh. Normally, the team that is the maker is in the driver’s seat, and that’s a good place to be, but the penalties for being set are steep.

Ultimately, though, you want to leave the bidding phase in control if at all possible. The best way to be in control is by determining a trump that is beneficial to you. That means selecting a suit that plays to your strengths, so if you have a good feeling, order up the card and establish the trump suit. This is especially true if you or your partner are the dealer, because you are automatically given one trump.

Bidding With the Kitty Card Down

If you just couldn’t order up the card, or if doing so would have given the other team a particularly high trump, and everyone else passes, there is a second round of bidding. During this round, bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and goes around the table with someone choosing a trump suit.

Again, the goal is to come out of this phase in control of the game. The good news is that in this phase, you have much greater flexibility over which suit could potentially be trump. In fact, any of the three suits not revealed during the first phase are eligible.

In some cases, when it is your turn to bid, you may have an easy or a difficult choice to make. Sometimes when you get the chance to select a trump, you have a strong enough hand in one suit that there really is no decision. Other times, your hand is so weak you have to pass, but a lot of times your hand falls somewhere in the middle. Sometimes you could choose a suit or pass.

Again, you have to know yourself, but in many cases its best to pick a suit and live with your choice. If you pick the suit, then you can play to the strengths of your hand, but more importantly, you are preventing your opponents the ability to play the strength of their hand. That is often worth making a risky bid.

The First Card of the First Trick

euchre-strategyThe first card of the first trick may not be the most important of the entire game, but a lot rides on what card gets played. Euchre is far too short of a game for you not to come out trying to take every trick possible, which means that you should lead with your strength.

However, what is your strength? Is it your highest trump card? Is it a trump card at all? Maybe an ace or king of a non-trump suit? A lot of it depends on what else is in your hand. If you have five trump in your hand, go ahead and lead with a powerful trump card in an attempt to draw them out. If not, keep in mind that if you lead with a trump, your partner has to play a trump, which means you’ve used up two of your team’s trumps in one trick. That’s not great.

More then not, when you are leading that first card, go with something high like the ace or king and trust your partner to support you in a way to will eventually win the trick. Then, be ready to do the same when your partner leads off next time.

The Game

After that first trick, you have the rest of the game to worry about. This is where your own personality can start to dominate. However, there are a few things to keep in mind, even if you are the type of player who likes to sit back and let the game come to him, Euchre is a fast and furious set of five tricks. If you wait too long to make your move, you may never get your chance.

With that said, your Euchre strategy should focus on getting to three tricks as quickly as possible. Getting five is nice, but you earn your points as long as you get to three so work on that as a goal. Also, the rules for leading with trump become much muddier after the first trick is taken.

As the game progresses, you will start to know who has trump and who does not. The more convinced you are that you have more trump in your hand, the safer you can feel about leading with a trump and the more confident you can feel about winning the trick.

Best Card Games for Five or More Players

In my experience, it is rare to have five or more players interested in a card game. If you have a group of five or more card-game friendly players, try one of these popular multi-player card games.

Grocery Store

This is a poker game popular in Hessen, Germany, where I was an intern. In that country its known as “Supermarkt,” the Anglicized name they use for grocery stores.Best Card Games for Five or More Players

Supermarkt is basically a split-pot game of seven-card stud with some rule variations. The points in the game come from the points in the center of each playing card. Aces, fives, sevens, and nines have one point, twos, eights and tens have two points, threes have three points, and fours, sixes and all picture cards have zero points. The game’s pot gets split up between the highest five-card hand and the player whose seven cards have the most points.

Each player antes, and the dealer lays out two hole cards and one card face up to each player, just like in a standard game of seven-card stud. There’s a betting round followed by the dealer laying out his grocery store: a row of three face-up cards on the table. The first card costs one point, the second card costs two points, and the third card costs three points.  Once the store is set out, each player about to be dealt a card can choose instead to “buy” a card from the store using his chips or pennies or whatever you’re playing with.

Once all players have four up-cards the remaining store is taken down. The rest of the game acts just like seven-card stud.

Abyssinia

Another game popular in Europe, Abyssinia is a variation of five-card stud high-low. In Abyssinia, players start without any cards and have to buy cards to build the best possible hand.

After antes are placed, the game’s dealer turns up two cards, one on each side of the face down stockpile. The player to dealer’s left starts, choosing either to buy either of the face up cards or the unknown top card of the stockpile.

Card’s prices in Abysinnia depend on the value of the card. Generally, 2-5 costs 2 pennies, 6-K costs 1 penny, and an ace costs 4 pennies.

After each player buys their first card, a betting round commences. Then you repeat this same process four times, until all players have a poker hand of five cards. The best and worst hands split the pot.