Friday, April 13, 2007

Sheepshead

At work during lunch we have been playing Sheepshead. It is an interesting card game that most of us learned while growing up playing with out parents and grandparents.

Sheepshead is a trick taking game, played with a 32 card Deck. The cards are all suits 7 through Ace. Although there are many variations to the game the most common way to play is five handed with Jack of diamonds as the pickers partner.

What makes Sheepshead so fun is the game strategy. Know what cards to play and when to play them. In most trick games, the idae is to take tricks, but in Sheepshead the idea is to get points. To win a hand the picker and partner needs 61 points out of 120 total points. Points are won by winning tricks with the following cards:
Aces = 11
tens = 10
Kings = 4
queens = 3
Jacks = 2
every other card = 0.
What makes this more complex is cards that tend to have power to take tricks, usually are lower in points. for example, the most powerful card in the game is the Queen of Clubs, but it is worth only three points.
there are 4 suits in the game, Trump, Clubs, Spades, and Hearts.
There are 14 trump cards, and 6 cards of the other suits. The power cards are the trump cards and suits are all about the same. So the rankings are as follows:
QC, QS, QH, QD, JC, JS, JH, JD, AD, 10D, KD, 9D, 8D, 7D
For all other suits it goes...
A, 10, K, 9, 8, 7
Fail cards rank in power by type only, suit does not play a part in fail card rankings.

So the play goes as follows, each player is dealt 6 cards, with 2 cards going in the blind. The cards can be dealt anyway the dealer chooses as long as the bottom cards are not dealt to the blind. Usually cards are dealt two, or three at a time. Once the deal is complete, the person on to the left of the dealer gets first choice at the blind. If that person does not pick the next person has the chance. This goes on until the cards are picked or the dealer passes the pick. If this happens them commonly a leaster is played. I will not discuss leasters in this post. So once the cards are picked, the person who picks must now win 61 points to win the hand. Also the player holding the Jack of Diamonds is the pickers partner. At the start of the game no one knows who the picker's partner is. Once this is done the player to the left of the dealer leads. Everyone else must follow suit unless they don't hold that suit. The player who wins the trick always leads the next trick. The game is played until all tricks are won. Then the points of tricks are added up to determine if the picker won.

If the picker and partner got 61+ points the picker is awarded 2 point to his score, and the partner is awarded 1 point. All the other players will be minus 1 point. If the picker and partner does not get 61 points then the picker is minus 2 points, the partner is minus 1 point and all other players are plus one point.

If the picker and partner get 91+ points then they schneidered the opposition. If this happens all points won and lost are doubled. If the picker and partner no trick the opposition then points won and lost are tripled. This work in reverse also, so if the picker and partner does not get 30+ points then they lose double, and if no tricked they lose triple.

So as I said the game is easy it is the strategy that is tough. I will from time to time discuss hand strategy that comes up while playing at sheepshed.
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