re: Poker & Ambition Card Game
These aren't from the technical rules document, Rules of Ambition
, that I'm preparing as PDF. Those include other details such as variants, history of the game, and the mechanics of trick-taking, as my assumption, in the rules document, is that the reader may not be familiar with trick-taking games at all, or may be familiar with the concept but not the English word trick
in the card context (which translates nonliterally across languages).
This as a somewhat abbreviated, but complete, version of the rules, intended for people already familar with trick-taking games such as Spades, Oh Hell, and Hearts. If you're familiar with trick-taking games, this post contains all you need to play.
An old version of this game can be found here (http://www.pagat.com/invented/ambition.html), but the rules aren't up to date. I do reserve copyright control over Ambition, but only with regard to commercial use. You're free and encouraged to make any noncommercial use of the game you wish (including small-stakes, convivial gambling; using it in a for-profit casino, without my permission, would not be OK).
Ambition's a four-player game using one deck of 52 cards. Collusive arrangements among players are verboten
; everyone plays for him- or herself. (However, at least in informal games, table-talk such as "don't let him Slam" or "he always tries to void diamonds" is normally OK.)
Trick play, and high/low 2
Ambition is a trick-taking game, always played at no trump: winner of a trick is the highest card of the suit led, and players must follow suit if able. The ranking is A(high)-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 (low), and the A, K, Q, and J are called honor
cards; 10 through 2 are spot
The 2, however, has a unique high/low property: in the led suit, it becomes high (outranking all) when an honor card of the same suit is present in the trick (order of play matters not). To show three example tricks:
The first trick would be won by the 10♥
-- highest card of the led suit. The second would be won by the 2♥
, as the king activates the 2's high/low property. The third would be won by the 7♥
; the off-suit king does not
trigger the 2.
Point values for cards
Like Hearts, Ambition is a point-trick game where each card is assigned a point value. The point values are:
: 13 points
: 6 points
J-A♠: 5 points
2-10♠: 2 points
: 2 points
: 1 point
: 0 points
So you would score the trick:
at 13 + 1 + 0 + 5 = 19 points. There are 91 points in the deck; however, the person taking the last trick has the option to subtract 6 points from his/her score, making the total of players' scores 85. You want to avoid getting the most, so you're safe up to 21.
There are up to 10 rounds in a game of Ambition, and five "phases" in a round of Ambition:
The player designated as dealer deals each player a 13-card hand.
3-card player-to-player pass. (Inherited from Hearts.) The pass schedule is L-R-A-H-S-H-A-R-L-S, where
eft (1, 9) means three cards are passed to the player at left.
ight (2, 8) means three cards are passed to the player at right.
cross (3, 7) means three cards are passed across the table.
old (4, 6) rounds involve no passing, and
catter (5, 10) rounds mean that each player passes one card to, and recieves one card from, each player.
Of course, as in Hearts, players don't look at what has been passed to them until they themselves have passed.
After the pass, the 3♦
is always led to the first trick. Trick-play continues, the winner of each trick leading to the next, until all the cards have been played.
Because Ambition is rather rich in computation, players announce the trick's value when they take it to all players. (So if you won the trick K♣
-A♠-K♠, you would say, "Twenty-nine".)
Running counts of players' totals are to be common knowledge-- the game plays better when this is done. In my experience, the best way to keep counts is with poker chips. I put 15 5-point red chips, and 16 1-point white chips, in the center of the table. As players take tricks, they move an according number of chips over to their area (and, if they have more than 5 white chips, trade 5 whites for a red). Red chips are stacked in fours (20) and whites in fives (5), to keep the chips organized so the relevant info. is in plain view. The cards played in tricks are not to be kept in plain view, but are turned over once the trick is over (and all players have had a chance to see it).
This is the phase where you verify the counts according to the chips, especially if there are any weird discrepancies or if it's a close round. You make sure the totals sum to 91. The player taking the last trick chooses whether or not to exercise the -6 option.
This is the only complicated part of Ambition: here's how you determine your score for the round:
- If you have 57 or more points (Slam) you get a flat 36-point bonus. This is tough to do; it's 5/8 of the points.
- If you have 56 or less, and take the most of any player, you get 0 points for the round, and a penalty called a strike. ("Overstrike".)
- If you don't take the most, and get at least 11 points, you score your points-taken for the round.
- If you take 1-10 points, you get a strike for the round, unless you already have 2 strikes: you cannot get a 3rd strike (strike-out) in this way. You still score your points for the round. ("Understrike".)
- If you take 0 points (Nil) you get no strike and a 24-point bonus. However, if two players make Nil, they only get 16 points.
Also, there's the ultra-rare Grand Slam where someone takes every trick; usually, this is played either at 50, or 36 and the Grand-Slammer gets -1 strike.
Scoring is written S/P, where S is the number of strikes, and P is the number of points. So, if you got 25 points in your first round, which split 30-25-19-11, you would be at 0/25 (a very good round). If the next round split 25-25-21-14, and you were either of the 25s, you would get a strike (X) and go to 1/25. If you got a Nil in the next round, you'd go up to 1/49. Getting only 6 in the next round (understrike) would put you to 2/55; getting 6 again in the round after that would put you to 2/61, since you can't strike out on an understrike.
After you add in the scores, you check for game-end conditions and play another round.
There are two game-ending conditions:
1. Someone "strikes out", or gets 3 strikes.
The person with 3 strikes loses. Among the remaining players, the winner is the person with the highest point total; strikes are irrelevant unless one has 3 of them.
2. Ten rounds pass
. I've never seen a case where I needed this rule (it would require two Slams in the game, along with other weirdnesses). However, if no one has struck out after 10 rounds, the person with the most points wins. This rule is there just so I can console new players that the game has a definite length.
I'm pretty sure that's all. If you have any questions about this, let me know.