Ruth's Waterfalls
of the Finger Lakes, Rochester, and Ithaca, NY.

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Oh Hell! rules


The name of this card game is "Oh Hell!" It is best with 4 or more players.

Every player draws for deal. The first highest card deals. Subsequently, the deal passes to the left.

On the first hand, deal seven cards to each player. On the next hand, deal six cards, then five, etc. On the seventh hand, deal one card to each player. Then work back up to seven cards for subsequent hands. The game is 13 hands. The left column of the score sheet shows the number of cards for each hand.

Alternatively start at 8, 9 or 10 cards and work down to one and back up.

When the cards have been dealt, turn up the top card and the suit of that card is trump for the hand. Players then bid and the scorekeeper records the bids.

For bidding alternative 1, set the spreadsheet option to "Dealer." Then, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player must in turn declare the number of tricks they intend to take. The dealer is the last to bid and is responsible for making the total of all bids be not equal to the total number of cards in the hand. For example, in a deal of five cards with four players, if the bids are 2, 0, and 1 (for a total of three), the dealer may NOT bid 2. With this variation, the dealer leads for the first trick.

For bidding alternative 2, set the option to "Everyone" rather than "Dealer." Then on the count of three, all players simultaneously declare their bids. With this alternative, following the bidding, the player to the left of the dealer leads any card.

Players must follow suit if possible, otherwise they may slough or trump. The highest card of the suit led or the highest trump wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads for the next trick. Aces are high.

Following the hand, each player in turn states the number of tricks taken. The scorekeeper records the number of tricks and awards points to each player as follows:

  • For scoring alternative 1, set the option to "Regular." Then, if the number of tricks taken is equal to the player's bid, the player receives points equal to the bid plus a bonus of 10 points.
  • For scoring alternative 2, set the option to "Squared." Then, if the number of tricks taken is equal to the player's bid, the player receives points equal to the square of the bid plus a bonus of 10 points.

For both alternatives, if the number of tricks taken is not equal to the bid, the player's score is reduced by the difference. For example, a player bidding 3 and taking 1 receives negative 2 points, as does a player bidding 1 and taking 3.

The highest score at the end of the game is the winner.

For more than 7 players, use two decks of cards. In case cards of equal rank and suit are played on a trick, the first played is the highest.

Roger Hopkins, February, 2005