All fours rules


All Fours is a card game that is played with one standard deck of 52 cards. 
Each card in the deck is ranked, with the Ace having the highest rank. This is followed by the “face cards” [King, Queen, Jack] in that order and the numbered cards in descending order [10, 9, 8, …, 2 ], with 2 being the lowest rank. 
The game is typically played with four players sitting around a table with partners seated opposite to each other: 

A player has to be selected to be the first Dealer. There are few common ways of randomly selecting who that should be but one method is to shuffle the cards and then, in an anticlockwise direction, keep placing one card face up in front of each player until a Jack of any suit turns up. The player who receives the Jack will be the first Dealer.

Dealing

The Dealer shuffles the deck and deals a total of 6 cards, face-down,  to each player. Deal to the player on your right, and continue in an anti-clockwise direction such that they deal to yourself last.

In some variations of the game the player on the Dealer’s left must first cut the deck before the dealer can proceed to share the cards.

Cards can be dealt 1 at-a-time or 3 at-a-time. But whichever method you choose, make sure to stick to that for the rest of the round. Just deal consistently until each player has been handed six cards face down.

Kicking

Once each player has a 6-card hand, the Dealer places the remaining deck on the table, lifts one more card from the deck and places it face up on the table. This is known as kicking, and the kicked card can potentially score some extra points for the dealer’s team as follows:

CardKick Value
Ace1
Six2
Jack3

Additionally the suit of the kicked card is called trump. As you will see in the Playing phase, trump cards outrank any non-trump cards. 

Begging

So now, each player is holding 6 cards and the dealer has kicked a card that signifies trump. At this point the dealer and the player to the dealer’s right (who I will call the Beggar) are the only two players that can look at their cards. The Beggar must make the choice of begging or standing. 
Typically the Beggar looks at the strength of his hand (the rank and quantity of trump cards, face-cards and tens) and uses that information to decide whether to stand, by accepting the current trump and playing a card without begging, or to beg the dealer for a new trump by saying: “I beg”.

Playing a card will always mean placing a card face up on the table

If the player stands, the round continues as described in Playing, otherwise control moves back over to the dealer as described in “Running the Pack”.

Running the Pack

If the Begger begs, the dealer can decide to either:

  • Tell the Beggar to “take one”, which rewards the begging team by adding 1 point to their score. Dealers might decide to do this if they think their hand is strong with trump for example.
  • Or run the pack by following these steps:
    1. Here the Dealer discards the current trump card by placing it at the bottom of the deck and deals 3 more cards to each player using the same approach as described in Dealing. The Dealer similarly kicks a new trump card. 
    2. If the new trump is the same suit as the old, the dealer must deal an additional 3 cards to each player and kick again.  
    3. If the trump suit still remains the same then the dealer simply kicks one last time.
    4. If the same trump suit turns up again, the dealer must collect all the cards and repeat the process starting from the Dealing phase.

Each time the Dealer kicks a new trump card, the kick value (if any) must be added to their score and they retain this score even if they deplete the deck and must re-deal.

After the Beggar stands or the dealer has run the pack and kicked a different suit of trump, the Beggar becomes the initial Leader in the Playing  phase.

Playing (Trick-taking)

The playing process is started by the Leader playing the first card (which I will call the leading card) face-up on the table. Then, in the same counter-clockwise direction that the cards were dealt, each player after the Leader takes their turn to play one card from their hand. Some restrictions apply in that the card they play must either:

  1. Match the suit of the leading card, or
  2. Match the suit of trump.

If a player doesn’t have a card with the same suit as the leading card then they are allowed to play any other suit.

Once the fourth player places their card on the table, the player who wins is decided by checking who played the highest ranking trump card, or who played the highest ranking card in the leading card’s suit, when no trump was played. The winner gets to collect the four cards played and becomes the new Leader.

The set of cards won is known as a trick which is why this game is also known as a trick-taking game. The value of these tricks is used when each team is checking for game.

The new Leader starts a new trick by placing any card from their hand on the table, and so the trick-taking is repeated. This process continues until all players are out of cards, after which the score for the round can be tallied.

Scoring

When all players have played all the cards in their hand and the last trick has been collected, the teams get points added to their score as follows:

  1. (High) Team with highest ranked trump gets 1 point 
  2. (Low) Team with the lowest ranked trump gets 1 point 
  3. (Jack) The team that takes the Jack of trump:
    1. Gets 1 point if that team was originally holding the jack in their hand ( We say their Jack got away)
    2. Gets 3 points if the opposing team was originally holding the jack in their hand  (We say their Jack got hanged )
  4. (Game) The team that counts the highest number of “game points” in their tricks gets 1 point ( see checking for game )

Checking for game

The value of each team’s tricks is tallied as follows:

  • Aces – 4 points each
  • Kings – 3 points each
  • Queens – 2 points each
  • Jack – 1 point each
  • Ten – 10 points each

The team with the highest number of these “game points” wins game for that round and is awarded 1 point toward their score.

If the check results in a tie then no team gets the game point.


Winning

The team who is first to reach a score of 14 wins and the game ends. 

If no team reaches 14 after a scoring, the player to the right of the current Dealer becomes the new Dealer and the game continues by starting from the Dealing phase once again.

Points are allocated towards a team’s score in the order listed in Scoring. So when TeamA has 13 points and TeamB has 12 points, if TeamB manages to win both HIGH and LOW, TeamB will be the winner because the points for HIGH and LOW are allocated first.

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