This is a Dutch folk game I learnt from my friend Tomf. I really like it. Couldn't find a writeup of the rules online that didn't suck so here is mine:
Take an ordinary deck of playing cards, and a pile of counters to record points.
Remove all the 2,3,4,5,6 cards.
The order of cards is unusual: numbers are higher than face cards, so the order is (lowest to highest) J,Q,K,A,7,8,9,10.
The object of this game is to be the last player remaining. A player is eliminated when they get 15 points.
The dealer deals each player a hand of four cards. There will be four tricks, where each player plays one card.
Player to the left of dealer goes first. You can start with any card, but then other players must follow suit if able. The highest card in suit wins, and that player starts the next trick.
The goal each round is to win the last trick; the player who achieves this gets no points and each other player gets 1 point.
The dealer then passes to the left for the next round.
If that's all there was to the game it would be a very boring simple game! But there are two rules that make it interesting:
- At any point, whether it's your turn or not, you may knock on the table. The game immediately pauses, and each player in turn (starting from the left of the player who knocked) chooses to stay in the round or to fold. For players staying in, the number of points at stake goes up by 1; players who fold get the previous number of points.
You may knock more than once in the same round, but not if you were the player who knocked most recently in that round.
- If your hand consists of all face cards, you may mulligan it. Once the cards have been dealt, but before the first player has played a card*, place your hand face down in front of you and draw four new cards.
You might notice that I said face down. This means that it's possible to cheat, and mulligan a hand with number cards in! If another player suspects you of cheating, they can challenge you by turning the mulliganed hand face-up. If they correctly catch a cheat, the cheater gets a point. But if someone challenges incorrectly, they get a point themselves.
* Yes, this does imply that the first player can prevent others from mulliganing by playing very quickly.
Example of play:
four players in order: Stephen, Terry, Sophie, Michael.
* Stephen deals.
* Michael doesn't like his hand, so he places it face down and draws four more cards.
* Sophie suspects Michael of cheating, so she turns over his old hand: J,J,Q,7 - terrible, but there's a number card in it, so Michael gets one point. He still gets to keep his new hand though!
* Terry then knocks, because he thinks his hand is pretty great.
* Sophie folds, taking one point.
* Michael stays in.
* Stephen folds, taking one point.
* Terry plays 8 of Hearts. Michael has to play a Heart if he has one - he plays King of Hearts. Terry wins the trick.
* Terry plays 9 of Hearts. Michael plays 10 of Hearts, winning the trick.
* Michael then knocks, because he's confident now that he has the advantage.
* Terry stays in. The round is now worth 3 points!
* Michael plays 8 of Diamonds. Terry has no Diamonds, so he plays Queen of Clubs. Michael wins the trick.
* Michael plays 9 of Clubs. Terry plays 10 of Clubs, the only card in the game that could have won. Terry wins the last trick; Michael gets 3 points.
* Next round, Terry will deal.