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Pips: Original Playing Card and Dice Games


Players:  2 or more
Average Duration: 25-35 minutes
with 2 players - 1 deck of cards
with 3-4 players - 2 decks of cards
with 5-6 players - 3 decks of cards
with 7-8 players - 4 decks of cards
and 2 dice
Object: To score the most points by playing cards whose numerical values are added or subtracted to match dice rolls.

The Play

The cards are all shuffled together and placed in a pile, face down, in the middle of the table. Each player rolls two dice to determine who goes first; the player with the highest roll wins.

On a player's turn, he rolls both dice. Then he draws as many cards as are shown on one of the two dice. For example, if a player rolls a 3 and a 5, he can draw either three or five cards from the stock pile. If the player is unsure how many cards he wishes to draw, he can draw the first three, then choose whether to draw two more or not.

After the cards are drawn, the player must lay down stacks of cards that equal the sum of the dice. Each stack will count one point in the end, so players will want to make as many stacks as possible. In the prior example of rolling a 3 and a 5, the player would be "making eights" and therefore play as many stacks of eight as he can (and wishes to), and then his turn is over.

A card with a rank of eight makes an eight and may be laid down by itself as a stack. Two or more cards that add up to the dice value may be laid down together as a stack. For example, a six and a two make an eight and may therefore be laid down together in a single stack.

Subtraction may also be used. A ten and a two, for example, can make eight by subtraction (or twelve by addition). Aces count one, so a ten and two aces can also make eight (or twelve by addition). But addition and subtraction cannot be used in the same stack: for example, a ten, a five, and a four cannot make eleven (10 + 5 - 4) because both addition and subtraction are used in the same stack.

Jacks count 11 and queens count 12. So a queen and a five could make seven by subtraction.

Kings do not have a numerical value. Instead, they can either double or halve. For example, a six and a king can make a twelve, because the king doubles the six. They can also make a three, because the king can halve the six instead. A queen, eight, and two kings can make a five, because a queen and eight make twenty; cutting twenty in half twice makes five. Kings can only be applied after all other cards have been applied. For example, an eight, king, and three (8 cut in half, plus three) cannot make seven, because the three is applied after the king.

Just as addition and subtraction may not be used in the same stack, multiple kings cannot double and halve in the same stack.

On a player's turn, he may form as many stacks as he can (and wishes to) that make up the sum of the two dice. When he is done, he keeps all unused cards in his hand for his next turn. Play passes to the player on the left.

There are two ways to get extra points. A player gets an extra point if he runs out of cards in his hand. In such an event, he turns up the next card on the stock pile and places it face up before him as one of his stacks. (It does not matter what this card is.) Then he rolls the dice again and takes a second turn, first drawing as many cards as one of the dice show on the new roll, then making stacks of the sum of the dice.

The other way to score an extra point is by making a stack consisting of two cards that exactly match the values of both dice. For example, if the player rolls a two and a four, and the player makes a six with the two of clubs and the four of diamonds, this is a special stack that counts as two points. This is denoted by placing the two of clubs and the four of diamonds in separate stacks, so that they will be counted as two points in the end.

If there are not enough cards for the last player to draw all the cards he is permitted, he merely draws what cards are left and takes his turn. When there are no remaining cards in the stock pile, the game is over. At that point, each player calculates his score: one point for each stack he has played, minus one point for each card left in his hand. The winner is the player with the most points.


The game can be made longer or shorter by varying the total number of decks that are shuffled together in the beginning. A comfortable average game length can be achieved by using one deck per two players, but there's no reason fewer decks can't be used to shorten the game, or more decks used to lengthen it.

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