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January 30, 2008

The official and likely incomplete rules to my family's version of "Thirty-One"

First of all, the website Wikipedia has an entire entry on the card game Thirty-One if you desire to become the world's premiere authority on this card game. But we just play for fun and quarters.

This is how my family plays the card game Thirty-One:

Each person starts with three quarters (and once you lose all three quarters, which happened to me multiple times this weekend, you play on your "honor" and if you lose that... well. You are probably me.)

Dealer shuffles, using a standard 52-card deck with jokers removed. In my family we have enough jokers already!

Deal three cards to each player, place the deck in the middle of the table and turn one card up. (Here is a tip: If you are playing this game while wine is involved, be sure to have a little item -- we use a toy monkey -- to hand to the dealer along with the card deck. This way you always know who's turn it is to deal, even when Cabernet comes to town.)

So, dealer gives each player three cards, sets the deck on the table, turns one card face up in what will become the discard pile. The first player to go can choose the card that was turned up or draw from the deck. At all times you have three cards (you must discard one card after each draw.)

The object of the game is to get to 31, or to have a high enough hand that you knock on the table and hope the other players have less in card value than you do.

Winning Strategy Numero Uno: Getting 31
Each ACE card counts as 11 points. All face cards (king, queen and jack) count as 10 points. All other cards are their numerical value (a two is two points, a five is five points.) ALL CARDS IN YOUR HAND MUST BE THE SAME SUIT TO COUNT. You want to get an ace and two face cards or an ace, a ten and a face card to make 31. If you draw 31 at any time during the game, you automatically show your cards and win on the spot.

*** When a hand of cards is won by drawing 31, each of the other players puts one of their quarters in the pot.

Winning Strategy Numero Dos: Getting more points than the other folks and knocking
To win in this way, you hope to collect enough high cards in the same suit faster than anyone else and knock when you think you have more in your hand than at least one of your opponents.

For example, let's say I have an ace of hearts, a ten of hearts and a two of spades. Then the next card I draw is an eight of hearts (discard the loathsome two of spades.) That leaves me with 29 points in my hand, so the next time it's my turn... instead of picking up a card from the draw pile, I knock. Each of the other players gets one last chance to draw before we show our cards (you see why this is risky -- what if one of the other players has two great cards and draws an ace or something? Risky! Fun!)

Then you all show your hands. If you get beaten numerically by the other players, you have to put in two quarters! But if at least one player is a bigger loser than you are, that person puts in their quarter.

I once had a five of spades, a four of spades and a six of hearts. Therefore, when my dad knocked (THANKS A LOT DAD) I had a rockin' nine points. It was so so sad ... for me.

- - -

Each hand of cards goes really fast, which I like because the games don't drag out. I LOVE this game! It is so much fun, and winner takes all the quarters! You keep playing hands until it's down to just two players, and whoever wins gets the moolah and all the HONOR!


Posted by laurie at January 30, 2008 8:51 AM