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Skarney Singles

Double-Deck Skarney Singles is just like skarney four-handed partnership except that everyone plays for himself. You can use all your knowledge in Skarney Four-Handed Partnership to good advantage except that the partnership factor is missing. Yet it is different enough to create novel and exciting situations that could never arise in partnership play. The official rules for Skarney Four-Handed Partnership apply with the following, exceptions and additional rules:

  1. Two, three, or four players, each playing for himself.
  2. Each player is required to fulfill his initial contract meld.
  3. A player at each turn of play may swap (if possible) a wild card (deuce or joker) from one or more melds of each and every opponent.
  4. A player is only permitted to layoff cards on his own melds. To emphasize, a player is not permitted to layoff cards on opponent's melds.
  5. When a singles player goes Skarney by putting down his contract meld, he receives the Skarney shutout bonus only if each and every opponent has failed to put down a contract meld.

Skarney Strategy

The following are the 20 basic points of Skarney strategy:

  1. Learn the rules of the game so that you can recall them at a moment's notice.
  2. Pick up your 11 dealt cards one at a time.
  3. Take time out to arrange your hand in ranks and suits.
  4. Don't give the strength of your hand away by saying you have a weak hand, or no wild cards, or a strong hand and many wild cards.
  5. When putting down a contract meld, do not expend vulnerable wild cards in mixed melds too freely when no great urgency presses.
  6. Think twice before offering a stop card (ace, deuce, or joker) to your left-hand opponent especially when he holds only a few cards.
  7. When holding a weak hand, accept all matching potential discards. When holding a strong hand, think twice before accepting a nonmatching potential discard.
  8. Before melding and laying off, study your opponent's mixed melds for possible
  9. Study your natural and mixed melds and your partner's for possible layoffs and lock- ups.
  10. When melding and laying off, try to keep one wild card in your hand to help a possible skarney gin doubles hand.
  11. The safest potential discard to offer your opponents is a card of the same rank they have previously refused.
  12. Remember the potential discards taken by your partner and try to feed him the like or hold same for possible layoffs on partner's melds.
  13. Try not to leave yourself with just one wildcard as your last card.
  14. Wild cards without natural pairs near the end of a hand are expendable too many may be a handicap
  15. Try to put down your mixed meld so that the wild card will be as safe as possible.
  16. It's mathematically best to meld groups rather than sequences, better for laying off cards.
  17. Think twice before saying "No" to the question, "May I go Skarney?"
  18. You should play for Skarney whenever it appears that the prolongation of the hand will benefit your opponents more than yourselves.
  19. Don't discuss or criticize your partner's play during the play of the hand.
  20. Study the score at the end of each hand.

Probabilities in a starney hand.  In Skarney, as in all card games of skill, there is a mathematical basis for many correct plays.  But mathematics plays only a minor part of Skarney strategy.  You do not have to be a mathematician to play well, nor do you have to memorize mathematical rules laid down by anyone.  There are, of course, some probability factors in Skarney, which are apparent even to the beginner.  It should be obvious that you have a better chance of making a 3-card natural group meld than a 3-card natural sequence meld when you hold a pair of kings than if you hold a king and queen of spades.  In fact the odds are 3 to 2 in favor of the natural group.  The reason, there are only four cards (two aces of spades and two jacks of spades) to draw from to make a 3-card natural sequence.

            The number of ways that 11 cards can be dealt to a player out of a total of 108 cards   is a figure with 15 digits approximately 344,985,000,000,000.  But this does not represent the number of different Skarney hands because a ten of hearts, for instance, in a group meld is not different from a ten of diamonds or a wild card.  The number of significantly  different hands that can be dealt in skarney poker rule is very much smaller approximately 3,500,000.
            On the average, you will be dealt one or more wild cards per hand (11 cards) and you are better than a 3 to 1 favorite to be dealt at least one wild card.   Your whole hand, on hand, on the average, in approximate figures will be:

            Wild cards                    1 (plus)
            Aces                            1 (minus)
            High cards                     3 (plus)
            Low cards                     6 (minus)
                        total                  11 cards

            Your hand will have two natural  pairs (or longer sets) and will for example be: deuce, ace, 3-3, queen-queen, jack, 9,8,6 and 5.  The most disconnected hand in Skarney is one containing no matched cards and no wild cards, but you will be dealt a hand of this type about once in 3,000 deals.

            Techniques in Playing for Skarney.  The principle of mobility is a general principle common to most card games of skill.  In Skarney to keep your hand fluid and to be prepared for most contingencies is of utmost importance.  In playing for Skarney, the desired flexibility can be maintained by forming as many two-way melds incorporating the same cards in both groups and sequences as you possibly can.  For instance, among your cards you hold three three-card sequences, the seven, eight, nine of diamonds; seven, eights, nine of spades; and the seven, eight, nine of clubs.  These same three three-card sequence melds can be switched to three three-card groups, such as 3 sevens, 3 eights ,and 3 nines.  It becomes quite a problem to some players when holding twenty or more cards to segregate the melds in their proper manner.  I have seen many players   holding a Skarney hand but unaware of it and never going Skarney  simply because the hand was not arranged properly.  This is especially true when a few wild cards are among the large number of cards a player is holding.  The best advice that can be given is to take your time when sorting our melds in your hand, because who knows, a simple rearrangement of melds may spell Skarney for you.
            Tactics When you need a Contract Meld.  A contract meld of three three-card groups or three three-card sequences is fairly easy to obtain.  Possession of one or two wild cards, for instance, practically assures it.  But don't rush to put down mixed melds (melds possessing a wild card) unless they are fairly safe from being stolen (swapped for a natural card) by your opponents.  Otherwise it is best to wait even several rounds in order to put down natural melds or closed mixed melds.  That is, providing your opponents have not as yet put down their contract meld.
            If your opponents have fulfilled their contract meld and your side has not, by all means get down on the board (if possible).  It is best to gamble a stolen wild card (deuce or joker) than to be caught with a 50-or 100- point penalty card in your hand.  as play progresses, the urgency for putting down a contract meld increases to the point where its desirability can no longer be weighed too delicately.
            A contract meld of either four three-card groups or four three-card sequences is difficult to get unless you happen to be dealt two or three wild cards.  With no wild cards, it is really tough.  The general principles as to when you should put down your four three card contract melds are simple.  You should almost always go down as soon as you can.  Only very seldom may you indulge in the luxury of waiting for a more desirable con tract meld. Always remember Skamey Four- Handed Partnership is a partnership online poker game and partners must cooperate in putting down a contract meld. Some players holding a contract meld wait for their partners to meld, hoping to go Skamey after their partners fulfill the contract meld. Skarney Partnership, like Contract Bridge, is a partnership game and to win at Skamey, as at bridge, partnership cooperation is required. So when you have an opportunity to fulfill a four three-card contract meld in the early part of a hand, do so and try for a big scoring hand. The 200, 300, 400, 500, 900, or 700 points for Skamey bonus is big but so are the penalty cards your opponents may be caught with.

Getting your contract meld down has obvious advantages. It is your race toward going Skarney. It gives your partner a chance to meld groups and sequences, plus laying off on your melds, and vice versa. It also relieves your partner of the pressure of trying to attain the contract meld. Last but not least, it puts the pressure on your opponents, and at times causes them to put down mixed melds with vulnerable wild cards. But as you may already have discovered, it may be to your disadvantage to put down either a natural or mixed contract meld during the early stages of the hand. It makes it easier for your opponents to choose safe potential discards and reduces the flexibility of your own hand. Therefore, you will have to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages such as being left with four or five disconnected cards in your hand, after fulfilling your contract meld.

The necessity for making such decisions arises frequently in Skamey, and the player who consistently uses good judgment will win many more games than his opponents.
To succeed in blitzing, some luck and considerable psychological bluffing on your part and your partner's are required. You both must keep poker faces and play it cool so as not to alert your opponents to the fact that you are attempting a blitz. And, always re- member: When you have a good reason to fear that your opponents may go Skamey quickly it is wise for you, if possible, to unload put down all your melds and layoffs be they natural or mixed melds.
The Subtle Art of Potential Discarding. Skarney is a game of deduction and counter deduction. (1) You must try to figure out what cards each opponent is holding in his hand so that (a) you won't give them any useful cards and (b) you won't be holding cards for an impossible or unlikely meld. (2) You must try to figure out what cards your partner is holding in his hand so that (a) you'll be holding cards you can layoff on his possible melds and (b) you'll be offering potential discards that are useful to your partner. Therefore, good potential discarding is both offensive and defensive. Offensively, you want to build up or maintain a hand that will give you a contract meld and a fair chance to go Skamey. Defensively, you want to make the attainment of these objectives as difficult as possible for your opponents.
At the very beginning of the hand the question of what is and what is not a safe potential discard is not too important. On the first few rounds any potential discard is usually accepted by one of your opponents or partner. You should not worry at this point because more often than not some one will take almost every card coming his way, if he needs it or not. Such a player is referred to as a "garbage picker." What you should do at the beginning of the hand is to concentrate on building your own hand and keeping your opponents in the dark regarding the strength of your omaha poker hand. However, during the middle of the hand, prior to your opponents' fulfillment of their contract meld, you cannot do better than to match your opponents' previous potential discard with a similar rank card. If one of your opponents offers a five, you should retaliate and offer a five if you have one and can spare it. The presumption is that he does not have a pair left in a rank that he has offered so early. Sometimes you will be wrong, but more often you will be right.

If you hold a lone ace (stop card) it is usually wise to offer it to your left-hand opponent. Again the presumption is that he will not accept it for fear of losing a pick from the top of the stock. Think twice, however, before offering an ace or a wild card in the later phase of the hand.
The foregoing advice on potential discards is intended to apply in any situation where the two partnerships are on equal or near equal terms. The partnership trailing by several hundred points is bound to accept nearly every potential discard that might come its way hoping to net hundreds of points more than you could make by going Skamey quickly.
Once your opponents have put down their contract meld, each of your potential discard plays must be thoroughly analyzed, more so if one of your opponents holds his last card. You must be ultrasafe in offering a potential discard. Study your opponents' and your own melds (if any) very carefully and then think twice before making the play. Owing to the luck (chance) aspect of Skarney, the most skillful potential discarding cannot guarantee success every time.
Acceptance and Refusal of Potential Discards. Prior to either side having fulfilled its contract meld, there is no need to consider taking a potential discard when it matches a card in your hand or gives you a meld: just take it with a feeling of gratitude to the giver. But, when the offered card does not give you a match or a meld, the problem of taking it poses a dilemma. It frequently happens that an opponent tries to pass his partner a card of the same rank as previously taken. When such a condition prevails, it may be good tactics to take it even though it doesn't help your hand. You can always offer it back later on if you must.

An important question that often arises at the beginning of a hand is whether to try for a big score and take almost every card that comes your way or to accept fewer valuable cards and try for Skarney. However, not every hand is suitable for a big score. Often a player is dealt 11 cards which are better adapted for a fast contract meld and a quick Skarney providing the player gets an assist from his partner. Such a decision depends on the score sheet . If your partnership is far ahead, you should play for Skarney, only accepting a potential discard that gives you a meld or extends a meld. If your partnership is far behind and all other things being even try for the big score. The necessity for making such decisions arises frequently in Skarney and the player who consistently uses good judgment will be the winner. Should you be offered an ace (stop card) in the early stages of the game and you are bent on trying for a big score accept it when first offered. It very often is part of the opponent's meld or matched aces and he is offering it as bluff card so as not to break up any of his other matched sets or melds. If you have what you consider a possible Skarney hand, don't take it, because a disconnected ace is a difficult card to get rid of when your opponents have put down their contract meld.
When both partnerships are down with melds, you should be extra cautious in accepting an opponent's potential discard. Take a careful look before accepting or offering a potential discard. Observe all melds on the table. At this stage, it is fairly easy to tell what card is good or bad for your side or your opponents'.

Most beginners at this stage of the game are tempted to accept an opponent's potential discard merely to extend one of their own melds. By all means, do not accept an opponent's potential discard that he cannot get rid of by laying it off on one of his own melds.
Should you have no quick chance of going Skarney, and your partner holds very few cards in his hand, accept all potential discards frorn your partner, thereby giving hirn the opportunity to go Skarney. And last but not least, think twice before offering or accepting an ace or wild card when both partnerships are down to their last few cards.
Defense Against Opponents Who Have many Cards. Going Skarney? Should the opponent be the ones who are holding big hands of 20 or more cards by taking every potential discard that comes their way, your best defense is, of course, to go Skarney and catch them with a boodle of penalty cards. Partners should co-operate in this situation. For instance, it may easily be that both partners would be in good position to go Skarney if their side puts down its contract meld. In this situation, one of the two partners may have to injure his own skarney hand by using a couple of wild cards to fulfill his partnership's contract meld. The question arises, which partner should it be? Obviously the one who can best spare the wild cards but how can one tell? One good indication that the partner has an excellent chance to go Skarney and is merely waiting for his partner to put down the initial meld is that he is not trying to further build up his hand and is refusing most potential discards, and usually offering the drawn card as his potential discard. Consequently, this player's partner should be the one to make the sacrifice and put down the contract meld.

Protecting Your Jokers and Deuces. One of the most important factors in skillful Skarney playing is the use of a wild card. Do you hold it in your hand and wait until you can deploy it in a safe (locked) mixed meld but by so doing take a chance of getting caught with it in your hand? Or do you meld it in an open mixed meld and hope your opponents don't steal it? I can't help you on this one because there are billions of possible hands in Skarney and each requires a different strategy, so you'll have to use your best judgment on how to deploy the wild card. But, whenever you are faced with a decision on whether to use a joker or a deuce in a locked (safe) mixed meld, consider the fact that the joker counts 50 points and the deuce 25. The penalty against you if you are caught with a joker in your hand is 100 points, a deuce 50 points. Hence, there are times when you should use a joker in an open mixed meld, other times a deuce. It all depends on whether your opponents are trying for a contract meld or going for Skarney. Also to be taken into consideration are the opponents' chances of stealing (swapping) the wild card. At times, too many wild cards pose a question. For instance, you hold three jokers. If melded as a joker spread they count 300 points. You wonder if the 300 points are better than a try at the Skarney bonus by using the jokers in mixed melds where they are worth only 150 points, plus the chance of being caught with them in your hand for a disaster penalty of 300 points. Such decisions can only be appraised at the time of happening. There is no cut and dried rule that fits wild cards.
Asking Permission to Go Skarney. When you are ready to go Skarney, you may, ac- cording to the rules, ask permission of your partner. But, remember you are not obliged to ask that question. Ask it only if there is a reason for you to do so.

You should not ask permission whenever your hand clearly indicates what to do. Ex-ample: If you are able to go Skarney on the seventh hand and win the game at the same time, you should not ask the question. Your partner does not know your hand and it is conceivable that he may give a negative reply. Neither should you ask permission if you are sure that you shouldn't go Skarney because you don't want to risk the possibility of an affirmative reply.
You should ask permission of your partner any time you are really interested in his opinion. For instance, you suspect that the handful of cards your partner is holding contains a number of wild cards whose penalty point values could possibly reduce your hand score to a minus score, but of course you cannot be sure about it. By putting the question to him, you are giving him the opportunity to say "No," if he actually has the hand you suspect. In that case, he will put down all possible melds at his next turn and you may or may not go Skarney on the next round.  But, if his is not the type of hand you expected, he will say "Yes."
Expert Skarney players will also sometimes ask permission with the definite expectation of getting a negative reply. For instance, if a partner has just stolen a joker or two from his opponent's melds and has a great many cards in his hand and has not melded any cards as yet, it is obvious that he does not want the hand to end at this stage. By asking him, you simply advise him of the strength of your own hand. He will surely answer "No," and will have acquired the knowledge that as soon as he puts down his melds you will try to go Skarney. If he judges, however, that prolongation of the hand would be more profit-able, or by chance he cannot meld as he would wish, he will still not meld, and at your next turn, you should ask again, etc.
For more detailed information and strategy of winning poker play for all 30 Skarney variants, read Skarney, a 145-page book which I wrote several years ago.



Pinochle many Variations

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CAD found
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Other Members of the Bezique Family

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The big euchre family
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The Heart Group

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CHEMIN DE PER must play
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Skarney® and How It Is Played

Skarney® and How It Is Played
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Cheating at Card Games

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Dice and their Many Games

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Follow The Arrow

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Glossary of Game Terms


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