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Blackout, or Oh Well!, may be played by any number from three to seven, but is considered best as poker game for five.

The full 52-card pack is used, but in order that every player starts with the same number of cards, if three players take part in the game a card is removed from the pack, if five two cards, if six four cards, and if seven three cards.  These cards should not be seen by the players, and, after playing a deal, the cards are returned to the pack, which is then shuffled and fresh cards removed before the next deal.The cards are deal face downwards to the players, and the last card is turned face upwards to denote the trump suit.The player on the left of the dealer announces how many tricks he thinks he will win; if he thinks that he will not be able to take a trick he announces ‘None’. The player on his left then announces how many tricks he thinks he will be able to win, and so on, round the table in a clockwise direction.  These declarations should be recorded by a scorer (appointed before the game begins) who will also be held responsible for recording the scores of the players at the end of each deal.

          The player on the left of the dealer leads to the first trick.  A player must follow suit to the card led if he can, otherwise he may either discard or trump.  The winner of a trick leads to the next.  When the cards have been played out, the tricks won by the players are counted, and any player who has made the exact number of tricks that he has contracted to win scores a poker bonus of 10 points, and 1 point for every trick won.

  A player who has declared ‘None’ scores a bonus of 10 points if he has not won a trick.  Any player who scores more or less tricks than he contracted  for does not score the bonus of 10 points but only 1 point for every trick that he  has won.The deal passes round the table clockwise, and the game ends when one of the players reaches a total of 100 points.

At any time during the play a player has a right to ask how many tricks a player has announced he will win and how many he has already won; and it is a rule of honour that if at any time a player realizes that he cannot possibly fulfill his declaration he must not communicate the fact to the other poker players.Skill is shown largely by judging from their bids and plays what cards the other players hold.Nothing is to be gained by announcing ‘None’ with the intention of scoring the bonus of 10 points by not winning a trick the opponents will combine to force you to win one. In the same way, if a player has made the number of tricks he has declared, the opponents will do their best to force him to win another and so deprive him of the 10-points bonus.


Brag is almost certainly the ancestor of poker and itself probably derived from the Spanish game of primer, the popular card game of Tudor England and, so far as we can trace, the first card game to be played scientifically in this country. The game is played with the full 52-card pack, and by any number of players from five to eight.  The general principle of the game is quite simple. The player’s stake on the respective merits of their cards, and the best hand is determined by certain arbitrary rules.  Bluffing is an important feature of the game.  The Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Clubs and 9 of Diamonds are known as braggers, and rank as Jokers or wild cards.

In SINGLE-STAKE BRAG the dealer puts up a stake to the agreed limit, and deals three cards face downwards to each player.  In turn, beginning with the player on the left of the dealer, each player must either drop out of the game for the round in progress, or put up a stake at least equal to that of the dealer’s.

A class of brag hands, the highest at the top.  If he chooses he may raise the stake, in which event, any player coming into the game, or already in the game, must raise his bet to as much as the highest individual stake, or drop out of the poker game and lose what he has already staked.  If no-one meets the dealer’s stake he withdraws it, and receives an agreed amount from the other players.  The deal then passes to the next player.Unlike at poker, there is no discarding and drawing more cards.  When all those who wish to play have raised their bets to an equal amount, the cards are shown and the player with the best hand collects all the stakes.

Flushes and sequences are of no value.  The best hand is a Pair-Royal; it consists of three cards of equal  rank (the Aces high the 2s low) and a hand of three natural cards takes precedence over one with braggers.   The next best hand is a Pair, with a preference for a natural pair over one with a bragger, and if two players have equal pairs the one with the higher third card wins.  If no player holds either a Pair-Royal or a Pair, the player with the highest single card wins and if two players hold exactly equal hand the winner is he who was first to stake.

In THREE-CARD BRAG the game begins by each player putting up three separate stakes; the dealer then deals two cards face downwards and one card face upwards to each player.The first stake is won by the player who is dealt the highest face-upwards card.  For this round of the game the braggers take their normal position in the pack, and if two or more players are dealt cards of equal rank, precedence is determined as in the single-stake game.

The hand is next played as in single-stake, and the winner takes the second stake. If no-one bets, the hands are exposed and the highest hand wins.Finally, the players expose their cards and the third stake is won by the player whose cards most nearly total 31 (over or under) the Aces counting 11, the court cards 10 each and the other cards at their pip values.  A player whose poker hand totals less than 31 may draw a card from the remainder of the pack, but if his total then exceeds 31 he automatically loses the game.

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