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A fun, clean card game

Revenge, a.k.a. "Screw Your Neighbor"

This is a card game I used to play in Michigan when I was going to school, and it is best played with 5 or more players, though it can be played with 4.

Object of the game

Get rid of the cards in your hand and be the lowest scorer when someone reaches or exceeds 500 points.

The deck

4 decks of 52 cards with Jokers, with extra Jokers and deuces added as desired, more decks for larger groups of players.  Best to use Bridge cards instead of the wider Poker cards.  You will be holding a lot of cards at one time or another in your hand!

The Deal

Cut the deck to determine the first dealer.   Player with the lowest card rank deals.  Joker and ace are high cards, deuce is low.

Cards are dealt face-down, one at a time to each player.  The dealer shall deal at least 7 cards, but may deal as many as the traffic will bear.  If players have trouble holding many cards, it might be judicious to deal 15 cards or less.  More cards at the start increases the chances of playing without having to draw all the time, and increases the chances of going back and forth with "Back to you" cards or round and round with "Skip you" cards and with power cards.

One card is dealt face-up in the center of the table to start the discard pile, and the remainder is set face-down to form the draw pile.  As the discard pile builds up during play, all but the last cards played may be removed from the table and shuffled, then placed into the draw pile for re-use.  They may be mixed into the draw pile or added to the bottom of the draw pile, but no cards may be added to the top of the draw pile, unless it is empty.

The First Play

The normal rotation of play is to the first player on the Dealer's left, unless a King was the starting card, in which case the rotation is to the first player on the Dealer's right.  The King also sets the suit to be followed.  When Kings are played in subsequent turns, they reverse the direction of play, and may only be played either by following suit or on another King.

If an Eight is the starting card, the first player to the Dealer's left loses a turn and play resumes with the second player to the Dealer's left.  The Eight also sets the suit to be followed.  When an Eight is played during a player's turn, the next player in the order of play then in force loses a turn, and may only be played on another Eight or by following suit.

If a Jack is the starting card, the player to the Dealer's left is permitted to call the suit of his choice and play a card of his chosen suit.  Jacks are suit-changers, and the face value suit of the Jack means nothing.  During his turn, a player may play any suit Jack onto the Discard pile and call it the suit of his choice.  The next player must follow the called suit.

If a Deuce is the starting card, the player to the Dealer's left is obligated to pick up two cards and pass his turn, or to play a Deuce or a Joker.  There is no other legal play.  By playing a Deuce, the next player in turn is obligated to pick up four cards or continue with another Deuce or Joker.  The last Deuce played will dictate the Suit to be followed after someone picks up and passes his turn.

If a Joker is the starting card, the player to the Dealer's left is obligated to pick up five cards and pass his turn, or to play a Deuce or a Joker.  There is no other legal play.  By playing a Joker the next player in turn is obligated to pick up ten cards or continue with another Joker or Deuce.  The last Deuce played, if any, will dictate the suit to be followed after someone picks up and passes his turn.  If only Jokers are in the Discard pile after someone picks up, the next player calls his choice of suit and plays accordingly.

Any Other Starting Card will set the suit to be followed by the first player to the Dealer's left.

Player's Options during a turn

When your turn comes, which may on occasion be a few turns around the table before that happens, either because you were skipped with an Eight or had it reversed away from you with a King, you may play a card of the same suit or a card of the same rank, or any Jack to name suit, or a Deuce of the suit last played, or a Joker, or draw a card from the Draw pile.  If you drew, and the card plays, you may play it or pass.  If you drew and the card does not play, you must pass.  You cannot pass your turn without drawing.

If the player after you plays a King, it is back to you, and the two of you may play Kings back and forth if you wish.  It sometimes happens that the next player returned it to you with a King, you have no play, must draw, still have no play and must pass, only to have the next player on your other side return it to you again with the same suit King, forcing you to draw again.  (Four decks of cards contain four Kings of Spades!)

If the player before you has played an Eight, you lose a turn, but if the player before you plays a King, the rotation of play is going away from you, and you have to wait your turn.

If the player before you has picked up cards because he had a Joker played on him, the Joker is Dead, and you may play a Suit card that matches the last suit played under the Joker.  You may play a card of the same Rank as the last rank card under the Joker.  You may start another round of pick-ups by playing a Joker, or a Deuce.  However, the Deuce must either match the last Suit played or the last Rank played, if it is a Deuce.  The next player only is required to pick up the two or five cards called for by your play, not the cards the player before you already picked up.

If someone plays a Deuce or Joker, and each player adds one to the pile, and the player before you adds one more, and you cannot play any more Deuces or Jokers, you must draw two for every Deuce played and draw five for every Joker played during this round.  There was a time someone had to pick up 52 cards!

Lastly, if you play your last card and it is a Deuce or Joker, the play advances around the table until someone cannot play another one and must pick up.  If what goes around comes around, then you get to pick up and restock your empty hand, and play resumes with the next player in rotation.  it has happened that someone else ran out of cards during the round, and you got to do the pick-up, and the round of play is over; you get to count 'em up.

If you can play your last card and it is not a Deuce or Joker, the round is over.

Scoring

At the end of each round, each player counts his cards.  Jokers count 50, Deuces 20.  Aces count 15 and Ten through King count 10 each.  Three through Nine count 5 points each.  The total for the player's hand is added to his score, and the game is over when someone reaches 500 or whatever other figure is decided upon.  Lowest score wins.

Strategies

If you don't have any Power cards (Deuce or Joker), or very few, it might pay to draw two while it's small.  However, if someone is nearly out of cards you need to unload the high-point Jokers and Deuces.

Save the Power Cards for use later in the round, if you want to see it go round and round and hope it doesn't come round to you in the end!

Following a number of Deuces and Jokers being played, it is a good idea to insert them singly into the draw pile to break them up a bit.  You would hate to have someone pick up five cards and they are all Jokers and Deuces!  Someone plays a King to reverse the direction and then the player who drew makes you draw and draw and draw on every turn because he got all the power and you have none.

Try to nail the low scorer with the most cards either by skipping him every time with an Eight, turning it around with a King, playing a suit he does not have by either matching the Rank or by playing a Jack and calling it.  Save those Eights, Kings and Jacks for such emergencies!

If you are playing with more cards than you can hold in your hand, divide your hand into piles and pick up the pile containing high Diamonds when Diamonds are being played, or the pile containing Power and a few other things, so you may tip off the other players that it is all Power, even if it isn't.  And have a small pile with Jokers or other Power and a larger pile with more Power, so that you pretend to play your "last" Power card.

If an Ace is played, very oftentimes Aces will be played around the table if everyone has one.  Aces are useless cards, but they cost you 15 points in the end, so they are often the first cards played.  Similarly, Queens and Tens often follow one another.

You may have three or four Queens of Hearts in your hand, and you can keep forcing the next player to draw by playing one each time, when he doesn't have a Queen or a Heart.  'Course it's gotta come around in Hearts or Queens for you to play yet another Queen of Hearts.

If a Joker has come your way and you are forced to draw, you could play a King and say "Back to You!"  This theoretically would force the other player to draw, except it isn't a legal play, and in the end you have to keep your King and draw.