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Oh Hell Basics

Also known as Oh Pshaw, Blackout, Bust, or Blob (among other names), Oh Hell is an individual trick-taking game where players bid the number of tricks they expect to take. A bonus is awarded for taking exactly that number of tricks. Trump is set randomly by turning up the first undealt card.

The most unique aspect of Oh Hell is the changing number of cards dealt per hand. Games are a set number of hands long. At the end of the hands, the player with the highest score wins.

Trickster Oh Hell offers four common hand patterns: 10..1..10, 1..10..1, 10..1, and 1..10. More on these patterns in The Deal, below.

The Deck

Oh Hell is played with a standard 52-card deck. However, not all cards are dealt on any given hand. In fact, the most cards dealt per hand with our current options is 40 (10 cards to each of 4 players). That leaves 12 cards out of play. In the extreme case when the hand consists of only 1 trick, only 4 cards are dealt – 48 cards are out of play!

The Deal

The number of cards dealt per player varies each hand going up one or down one from the previous hand. The starting and ending number of cards depend on the deal pattern selected (see Options, below). After dealing cards to all four players, the next card is turned face-up in front of the dealer. The suit of this card establishes trump.

Using the 10..1..10 deal pattern, 10 cards are dealt per player on the first hand for 10 total tricks. On the second hand, 9 cards are dealt per player, then 8, then 7, and so on down to 1 card per player. After the 1-card hand, the number of cards dealt increases to 2, then 3, then 4 up to 10 cards per player again. The game ends after that last 10-card hand.

Bidding

Following the deal and starting with the player left of the dealer, each player bids the number of tricks he or she believes they will take that hand. Allowed bids range from zero to the number of cards dealt. You are awarded a 10-point bonus for exactly making your bid so accurate bidding is valuable.

If playing with “the hook,” the dealer is restricted from bidding a value that causes the sum of the bids around the table to equal the number of cards dealt. For example, with 10 cards dealt and previous bids of 2, 3 and 1, the dealer is prohibited from bidding 4 as that would mean the sum of the bids would equal 10 (2 + 3 + 1 + 4 = 10). The hook is most troublesome on hands with a small number of cards.

You may create a game without the hook (see Options, below).

Play

The player left of the dealer leads the first trick.

Play continues clockwise following the led suit, if possible, or playing any other card if not. When all four players have played, the trick is taken by the player who played the highest trump, if any, or the player who played the highest card of the led suit.

The player who takes the trick leads the next trick.

Scoring

Each player receives 1 point for each trick taken. If the number of tricks taken exactly matches the player’s bid, he or she is awarded a 10-point bonus. For example, if the player’s bid is 2 and he or she takes 2 tricks, 12 points are awarded. However, if he or she takes 3 tricks only 3 points are credited.

The game ends after all the hands have been played according to the deal pattern. At that point, the player with the highest score wins.

Oh Hell House Rules Options

When:

“Now” creates a new game that starts immediately. Other options schedule a game for a time in the next 24 hours. Compete and Join games only.

Winnings:

Three levels of winnings based on the buy-in level—30, 110, 275 or 550 Trickster Chips. Compete games only.

Players:

Sets the number of seats for players to “2”, “3”, “4”, “5”, or “6”.

Deal pattern:

Sets the number of cards and the deal pattern. This affects game length. Choices are organized by the most cards dealt in a single hand. Four patterns are offered for each number of cards.

For example, in the 10 Cards section, “10..1..10” starts with 10 cards dealt, ramps down to a 1-card hand, then ramps back to 10. “1..10..1” starts with 1, ramps to 10, then back down to 1. “10..1” ramps from 10 to 1. “1..10” ramps from 1 to 10.

“Custom Deal Pattern” allows you to define patterns not included here. See below.

Custom Deal Pattern

Start # cards:

Sets the number of cards dealt on the first hand.

Switch # cards:

Sets the number of cards dealt on the hand with the most or least number of cards.

End # cards:

Sets the number of cards dealt on the last hand. To create a one-way ramp, set “Switch # cards” and “End # cards” to the same value.

Play

Bid:

“In Order” means players bid around the table starting to the left of the dealer. “At Same Time” means players bid simultaneously. Players who have bid are indicated by the word “Bid” to the right of their player name. Card play begins when all players have bid.

Play with hook:

“Yes” requires the sum of the bids to not equal the number of cards dealt. The dealer is restricted from making a bid that would violate this. “No” allows the dealer to bid normally.

Lead trump:

Controls when trump may be first led. “After broken” means trump may not be led until trump is dumped on a trick or you have no cards except trump. “After first trick” means trump may be led anytime except the first trick. “Anytime” means trump may be led anytime.

Scoring

Trick points:

The number of points per trick added to 10 for successfully making your bid.

Failed bids score:

“Zero” scores 0 points per trick when the bid was not made on-the-nose. “Tricks” scores 1 point for each trick taken.

Limits

Must be invited:

“Yes” hides this game from other players until they’ve been explicitly invited using the “Invite Friends” form. “No” allows all friends of players in this game to see it. Join games only.

Allow suggestions:

“Yes” to allow players to see bid and card play suggestions, depending on their personal setting. “No” prevents all players from seeing suggestions. Always “Yes” in Play games; “No” in Compete games.

Show all hands:

“Yes” shows all players’ hands face up during the game. “No” keeps other players’ hands face down. Join and Practice games only.

Allow watching:

“No” prevents anyone from watching the game. “Face Down” allows up to 10 additional players to watch the game with all players’ hands face down. “Face Up” allows watching with players’ hands face up. Join games only.

Chat during game:

“None” disables all chat during the game. “Preset” allows only the built-in chat messages to be used. “Text” allows full chat. Full chat is also always available before and after games.

Time to bid:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to bid. “Off” means there are no time limits on bidding. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to bid of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.

Time to play:

Specifies an optional time limit for a player to play a card. “Off” means there are no time limits on card play. “7s,” “15s,”, “30s” & “60s” sets a limit to play a card of 7, 15, 30 or 60 seconds, respectively. Automatically set in Play games.