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GAMES FOR THREE PLAYERS

BLACK MARIA

BLACK MARIA, sometimes known as Black Lady and sometimes as Slippery7 Anne, is very similar to Hearts and its several variations.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS

Black Maria is best poker played by three players, but can be played by four or five as described later.

CARDS

The full pack is used minus the ♣ 2, making a pack of 51 cards.  Cards rank from Ace (high) to 2 (low).

Seventeen cards are dealt to each player.  The deal passes in rotation clockwise.  After a player has looked at his cards, he passes three of them to his right-hand opponent and receives three from his left-hand opponent and receives three from his left-hand opponent, which he must not look at before he has passed his three on.

THE PLAY

When the exchanges of cards have been made, the poker player on the left of the dealer leads to the first trick.  thereafter, the next.  A player must follow suit to the led card provided he can do so.  Otherwise he may discard any card he chooses.  There is no trump suit.

The object of the games is to avoid winning a poker trick which contains a penalty card.  These cards, and the penalties that go with them, are:
            All hearts                       1
            ♠ A                                7
            ♠ K                              10
            ♠ Q (Black Maria)        13

The game introduces two features: the discard and the play of the cards. The inexperienced player, if he is dealt a high spade, will assume that he cannot do better than pass it on to his right-hand opponent.  It is, however, not always the best play. 

Provided a number of low spades are held in support of the high ones, it is very often better to retain the high poker cards with a view to controlling the suit during the play of the hand.  Indeed, a player who has been dealt any spades or hearts lower than the Queen would be well advised to keep them in order to protect himself against any top cards in the suits that may be passed on to him. 

The main principle of discarding should be to try and set up either a void suit in order to get rid of penalty cards by discarding them during the play or at obtaining long suits, provided low cards in them are held. 

A player who has been dealt the hand illustrated above cannot do better than pass on the three diamonds.  The spades must be kept to protect against receiving a high card in the suit, the hearts are adequately protected, and there is nothing to fear in clubs.

An ability to count the cards is the first essential to success.  Towards the end of a deal an experienced player will know pretty well which cards are still left to be played, and he will be able to make a shrewd guess who holds them.  It is in the end-play, therefore, that opportunity comes for skillful poker play.

A three-card ending is illustrated at the bottom of page 72.  After 14 tricks the players should know who holds the remaining cards.

West is on lead and leads the ♠ 6, North plays the ♠ 2 and East, perforce, wins the ♠ K.  Now, if East returns the ♦ 5, West must win with the ♦ 7 and North saddles him with the ♠ Q (Black Maria).  If, however, East returns the ♣3, North will have to win with the ♣ 6 on which West will have played the ♠ A.

The Play

East’s play will be directed by the score, and whether it is more advantageous to him to saddle West or North with all 20 points.  The poker strategy is quite ethical so long as East puts his own interest first and is not moved by malice aforethought.

FOUR-HANDED BLACK MARIA

With four players the game is played in the same way as the parent game, except that no card is removed from the pack, and every player, therefore, receives 13 cards.  The players may play all against all, or two in partnership against the other two.

FIVE-HANDED BLACK MARIA

Five players can play in the same way as in the parent game, but the ♦ 2 as well as the ♣ 2 is removed from the pack.  Each player, therefore, is dealt ten cards.

 

 

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