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Pips: Original Playing Card and Dice Games


Players:  2-5 (best with 3-4)
Average Duration:
25-30 minutes - 2 players
40-50 minutes - 3 players
60-70 minutes - 4 players
Equipment: 1 deck of cards, including two jokers
Object: To be the first to score 300 points by bidding on the number of tricks you will take, taking those tricks, and by taking tricks with key cards in them.

The Game

The game consists of multiple rounds, as many as it takes until one person reaches or exceeds 300 points; this player is declared the winner.

The Deal

At the beginning of each round, ten cards are dealt to each player. The remainder of the deck is set aside.

The Auction

Each player, starting with the person to the left of the dealer, either passes or bids the number of tricks he thinks he can take. If he makes a bid, he must also name the suit he would like to be declared trumps, should he win the auction. The minimum opening bid is four with 2 players, three with 3 players, and two with 4 or 5 players. Successive bids must be for at least one trick higher than the previous bid. For example, if one player bids "5 hearts" then the next player cannot make a bid for less than 6, although, of course, he can still pass. The dealer always bids last, and if all other players pass, the dealer is obliged to bid.

The Play

After the dealer bids or passes, the player with the highest bid wins the auction. The suit declared by that player in his winning bid becomes trumps, and he leads to the first trick.

The lead card to a trick can be any card. The other players, in turn, play a card from their hands, following suit if possible, until each player has played one card to the trick. If a player holds no cards of the lead suit, any card may be played. If a joker is led, there are no restrictions on what the other players can play to the trick.

If any trumps are present in the trick, the player who played the highest ranking trump wins the trick. Aces rank high.

If there are no trumps in the trick, but there is at least one joker, then the player who played the highest ranking card takes the trick; jokers rank above a 9 but below a 10. If there is a tie for the highest ranking card in the trick (for example, if two aces were played) then the last of the tied cards to have been played wins the trick.

If there are neither trumps nor jokers in the trick, then the highest ranking card of the lead suit takes it.

The winner of the trick takes all the cards in the trick and places it face down in front of him. This player leads to the next trick.

When all ten tricks have been played, the round is over.

The Scoring

If the winner of the bid has taken at least the number of tricks in his bid, he scores five points per trick for each trick that he bid, and two points for each trick beyond that. For example, if the winning bid was for seven tricks, and that player ended up taking eight, he would score five points for the first seven tricks (totalling 35) and two additional points for the eighth trick (making a grand total of 37). If the bidder makes his bid, no other players score anything for the tricks they took.

If the bidder bids and makes an eight bid, a bonus of 10 points is scored. Bidding and making a nine bid counts for a bonus of 30 points, and bidding and making a ten bid counts for a bonus of 50 points.

If the winner of the bid has not taken as many tricks as he bid, all other players score five points for each trick they took.

After these trick points are counted and scored, a winner is declared if someone has reached or exceeded 300 points. If not, or if two or more players are tied at 300 or above, the cards are turned face-up, and all players score for individual cards that were taken.

Each 5 taken in a trick counts five points. Tens count 10 points; jacks count 1; queens count 2; kings count 3; aces count 4; jokers count 15. The lowest card of trumps in play counts 15.

After these points are counted and scored, a winner is declared if someone has reached or exceeded 300 points. If not, or two or more players are tied at 300 or above, the cards are passed to the person to the left of the dealer, who becomes the dealer for the next round.

Improvement With Four Players

When playing with 4 players, a more dynamic game can be achieved by playing with partners. Basically, you and the person sitting across from you are a team. Rather than taking tricks and scoring points as individuals, players take tricks and score points as a team -- so tricks taken by each partner in a team are mixed together and scored together. Note that during the auction, players bid separately, according to the standard rules, but the winning bid applies to both members of the team.

This variant causes some interesting gameplay situations. If someone leads an ace, for example, his partner might purposely play a valuable low card in order to secure those points for the team.

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