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Coon Can

In the U.S.A. Coon Can is known as Double Rum.  It is no bad name for it because it is a variation of rummy played with two packs of cards shuffled together with two Jokers. 
            The game may be played by any number of players up to eight; each plays for himself.
            Ten cards are dealt face downwards to each player.  The rest of the pack (the stock) is placed face downwards in the in the center of the table, and the top card of it is turned face upwards and placed alongside it to start the discard pile.

            The object of the game is to get rid of all the cards held, by melding them face upwards on the table, either in sets of three or more of the same rank, or in sequences of three or more of the same suit, the Ace either high or low but not round-the-corner.  A Joker may be used to represent any card that the holder chooses.
            Each player, beginning with the one on the left of the dealer, plays in turn.  He is under no obligation to meld, but he must take into his hand either the top card of the stock or the top card of the discard pile, and discard a card to reduce his hand to ten cards.  If he chooses to meld he must do so between drawing a card and discarding one, and as well as melding, at the same time, he may add cards to melds that he has already made, and to those of his opponents.

            A joker may be moved from one end of a meld to the other, provided the player has the natural card to replace it.  If, for example, a sequence is: 6♠ 7♠ 8♠ Joker, a player who holds a 9♠ may play it in poker room of the Joker and transfer the Joker to represent the 5♠.  Once moved, however, a Joker cannot be moved a second time and a player who holds a 5♠ cannot play it in room of the Joker and place the Joker elsewhere.  Nor can a Joker be moved if it is in the interior of sequence, as in 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ Joker 8♠.  The Joker cannot replaced by a 7♠.  When a Joker cannot be moved it is customary to place it crosswise, as a reminder to the other players.
            The game is won by the player who is first to meld all his cards.  The remaining players pay him the same number of units as the pip value of the unmelded cards left in their hands-a Joker counting 15, an Ace 11, the court cards 10 each, and all other cards their pip values.
            Rarely it happens that the stock will be exhausted before the game has been won.  In this event the game continues and the players draw cards from the discard pile, discarding a different card to that drawn.  If this proves insufficient to finish the game, the pip values of the hands are counted and placed into a pool to be scored by the winner of the next hand.


The modern player may be forgiven if he mistakes the meaning of the name which has been attacked to this game.  In fact it is a truncation of the now obsolete lanterloo,  from the French lanturlu a word best translated by our succinct, if vulgar, fiddlesticks.
            There are several variations of the poker game, but all are played with the full 52-card pack and are suitable for any reasonable number of players, though six or seven, each playing for himself, is best.

In THREE-CARD LOO the first player to deal puts into a pool an agreed number of units.  It may be any number, but it must be one that is divisible by three.  Three cards are then dealt, one card at a time, to each player, and to an extra hand that is known as miss.  The top card of the remainder of the pack is turned up to denote the trump suit.
            The dealer offers the player on his immediate left the choice of refusing to play, playing with the cards dealt to him, or exchanging his cards for miss and playing with those.  In turn, each player is offered the same choice, though, of course, once a player has chosen to exchange his hand for miss, a subsequent player is reduced to choosing between playing with the cards dealt to him or not playing the hand.  Once a player has made a decision he must stand by it, and if he has chosen not to play he throws his cards face downwards towards the center of the table.
            The player who first chose to play leads to the first trick.  Thereafter the player who wins a trick leads to the next.  The play is governed by the following rules:

  1. A player must follow suit if he can, and must head the trick if he can.
  2. If a player cannot follow suit he must trump if he can, and if the trick has already been trumped he must overtrump if he can.
  3. If the player on lead holds the Ace of trumps (or the King if the Ace has been turned up) he must lead it.
  4. If the player on lead holds two or more trumps he must lead one of them, and if there are only two players in the game he must lead the highest.

A player who fails to comply with any of these rules, when able to do so, is deemed to have revoked; the pool is divided among the non-offenders, and the offender pays the full amount back to the pool.
            When the poker hand has been played those who have won tricks divide the pool between them: one-third of the amount in it to the winner of each trick.
            Those who have not won a trick are looked, and must put into the pool as many units as there were in it at the beginning of the deal. Unlimited look, however, can come very expensive, and in practice it is essential for the players to agree upon limiting the losses of looked players.
            If no player is looked, the next dealer replenishes the pool as at the beginning of the game.
            If every player chooses to play the dealer must come into the game against him, but if he holds a weak hand, he may protect himself against loss by announcing that he will play for the pool.  In this event the he is not looked if he fails to win a trick, and, in return for the concession, he leaves in the pool any amount to which he may be entitled by reason of his having won tricks.

FIVE-CARD LOO is a variation of the parent game that differs from  it in the following five particulars:

  1. Every player is dealt five cards, and as there are five tricks to be won the number of units paid into the pool must be divisible by five.
  2. There is no miss.
  3. A player may exchange cards by drawing them from the stock.  He may exchange any number of cards that he chooses, and once he has exchanged a card he must enter the game.
  4. The highest card in the pack is the Jack of Clubs.  It is known as Pam (‘Even mighty Pam that kings and queens overthrew, and mowed down armies in the fights of Lu.*) It ranks as a trump and takes precedence even over the Ace; if, however, a poker player leads the Ace of trumps and announces ‘Pam be civil’ the holder of Pam is debarred from playing it to the trick.
  5. If a player holds five cards of a suit, or four cards of a suit and Pam, he is said to hold a flush and must expose his hand at once.  He wins the pool and all the other players, except those who may hold flushes or Pam, are looked. If two or more players hold flushes, one in the trump suit wins over one in a plain suit, and as between two or more in plain suits are exactly equal the pool is divided.

IRSIH LOO is a combination of the three-card and five-card games, and is considered by competent players to be the best of the several variations.
            Every player is dealt three cards, there is no Pam and no miss, but a player is allowed to exchange cards by drawing from the stock.  The game is played in the same way as the parent game, with the added novelty that if Clubs are trumps everyone must enter the game.  It is known as Club Law and makes it imperative that the penalty for being looked must be limited to a reasonable amount.
            Loo, in all its variations, is so bound up by hard and fast rules of play, already mentioned, that there is very little to be said about the play of the cards.  At best one can only say that the most successful player is not he who knows how to play, but he who knows when to elect and when to refuse to play.
            The most important point to note is that, apart from Pam at 5-card look, there are only three certain poker tricks, namely the Ace, the King-Queen combination and the Queen-Jack-10 combination of the trump suit.  Usually the player who holds the Q J 9 of trumps will win a trick, but it is by no means certain that he will, and he may be looked if he is in an unfavorable position at the table.  It is the same if a player hold K 3 of the trump suit.  He will certainly win a trick if the suit is led and he is the last to play, but if he is not, he may not win a trick, because if the 4 is played he is compelled to play the King and a later player may win with the Ace.  It leaves him only with the remote possibility of winning a trick with the lone 3 of trumps.

            Perhaps in practice the picture is not so depressing as it appears in theory, because, even if there are seven players in the game, a large number of cards remain in the  stock.  Some of the high cards, therefore, may not be active and a combination such as J 10 9 of trumps, or even J 10 and a card in a plain suit, may win a trick.

            In general a player is advised not to be too cautious about electing to play if he holds a weak hand, but he is advised to be careful.  In proactive he should keep a close watch on number of units in the pool and weigh up the possible loss against the possible gain.  If, for example, there are 15 units in the pool  at a 5-card look and the cost of being looked is 10 units it is not worth while entering the play with a weak hand because, look at it which way you like, the cost of being looked is three times more than the possible gain that will accrue by winning one trick.  It is not a good bet.


Napoleon, usually called Nap, is one of the simplest of all card games.  It is played with the full pack of fifty-two cards, by any number of players up to six each playing for himself.
            Each players is dealt five cards, and, beginning with the player on the left of the dealer, every player in turn must either pass or declare to win a specified number of tricks in the ascending order:  Two, Three, Four and Nap ( a declaration to win all five tricks).
            The player who has contracted to win most tricks leads to the first trick and the card that he leads determines the trump suit.  Play follows the usual routine of trick-taking games: a player must follow suit if he can, otherwise he may discard or trump, and the player who wins a trick leads to the next.
            Stakes are paid only on the number of tricks contracted for.  Those won above, or lost below, the number contracted for are ignored.  The usual method of settlement is by means of a level-money transaction:

Declaration                 Declarer wins              Declarer losesTwo                             2 units                          2 units
Three                           3 units                          3 units
Four                             4 units                          4 units
Nap                             10 units                        5 units

            Payment is made to, and received from, all players at the table. 
            Nap(oleon) is such an elementary game that in some circles interest is added to it by introducing a number of extraordinary declarations:

            Misery is a declaration to lose every trick.  It ranks between the declaration of Three and Four, and though normally it is played without a trump suit, some play it with a trump suit, determined as in the parent game by the opening lead.  It pays and wins 3 units.

            Wellingtonis declaration to win all five tricks at double stakes.  It cannot be declared, however, except over a declaration of Wellington.
            Peep Nap sanction the player who has declared Nap (or Wellington or Blucher if these declarations are permitted) to exchange the top card of the pack for a card in his own hand.

            Purchase Nap sanctions each player before declaring to exchange any number of cards in his hand for fresh cards, by paying into a pool 1 unit for every card exchanged.  The pool is carried forward from deal to deal and taken by the first player to win Nap (or Wellington or Blucher if these declarations are permitted).

SEVEN CARD NAPOLEON is a poker variation of the parent game in which seven cards are dealt to each player, and a player cannot contract to win less than three tricks.  There is no Wellington and no Blucher.  Misery is optional and, if permitted, ranks between Nap and Six.
            Apart from these amendments, the game is played in the same way as the parent game.

            Settlement is made as follows:

Declaration                 Declarer wins              Declarer loses
Three                           3 units                          3 units
Four                             4 units                          4 units
Nap (five tricks)             10 units                        5 units
Misery (if played)           10 units                        5 units
Six                               18 units                        9 units
Seven                           28 units’                       14 units

Payment is made to, and received from, all players at the table.


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