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Welcome to the Matrix.
Oh Hell is a simple but fun trick taking game. It's also known under the names Oh Pshaw, Oh Well, Oh Shit, Elevator, Up and Down the River, Contract Whist, Bid Whist, Bust and probably others as well! Like a lot of card games it has many names and many variations that you can play, but we try to stick to the most common rules in our game.
The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The first dealer is chosen at random and then the deal moves clockwise around the table. Here on CardGames.io we always play with four players, but in real life the game can be played with 3-7 players. The players do not play in teams, every player is playing only for themselves. In the first round the dealer deals 10 cards to each player. In the second round each player gets 9 cards, then 8 cards in the third round and all the way down to 1 card in the 10th round. The number of cards then goes back up, 2 cards in the eleventh round, 3 cards in the twelfth round, and all the way back up to 10 cards in the nineteenth and final round. It's a lot of rounds but since some of them have very few cards they don't take very long.
Once the cards for the hand have been dealt the top card of the remaining deck is turned up and the suit of the top card becomes the trump suit for the hand. After players see the trump it's time for them to bid, to say how many tricks they think they will take in the round. A player's objective is then to take the exact number of tricks they said they would take.
One extra twist that makes the bidding a bit more interesting is that when it's the last player's turn to bid, they cannot make a bid that would make it possible for everyone to make their bids. For example: In a round with 10 cards per player, if the first 3 players have all bid 3, then the final player cannot bid 1, since that would make the combined bids 3+3+3+1=10, the same number of tricks that are available in the round. By forbidding the last player to bid 1 the rules makes sure that at least one player will always fail their bid!
After bidding is finished the player to the left of the dealer starts. He leads a card and the other players have to follow suit if they can. The player with the highest ranking card of the suit led wins the trick, or if a player was out of the suit that was led and plays a trump card then the player with the highest ranking trump card wins. It's allowed to lead trump cards right from the start, trumps don't have to be broken like they do in for example Hearts and Spades.
Once a hand is finished a player gets 1 point for each trick they took, and a bonus of 10 points if they hit their bid exactly. For example, if a player bids 3, and then takes 3 tricks then they would get 3 points for the tricks and 10 for hitting the bid, or 13 points in total. If a player takes fewer or more tricks than their bid then they get no bonus, only 1 point per trick taken.
The game is played for 19 hands, from 10 cards per player, down to 1 and then back up to 10. Once the 19th round is finished the player with the most points wins the game. It's possible for two or more players to win if they end up with the same score, there is no sudden death round or anything like that.
Oh Hell! is the first trick taking game I've made in a long time! But trick taking games are always among the most popular games on our site, and I liked the fact that Oh Hell! is not played in teams, and is relatively simple but still has an interesting twist, so I decided to make it 🙂. I hope you like it, and especially the Spades players, I hope you appreciate the fact that you don't have to play in a team with Bill 😀.
Any comments, questions, ideas for other games or anything else can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is version 2896 of Oh Hell!.