Determining Partnerships in Games of Cards

Many card games involve partnerships, in which two or more players team together in an effort to defeat one or more other such partnerships. In some groups of card players these partnerships may be pre-arranged or cycled in a regular manner. However, in most instances, these partnerships are determined right before the players sit down to begin play.

Methods of Determining Partners for two partnerships:
In most instances the selection of the partnerships is a simple and straightforward process. There are several similar methods that are most often used when determining the partnerships for a hand or game. These methods are as follows:
Red and Black cards for drawing for partnerships

Determining partnerships consisting of three or more players:
The methods for determining the partnerships in games in which each partnership consists of more than two players is quite similar to those given above with a few differences. Red and Black cards for drawing for partnerships As in the first two methods above, each player would either draw or cut for a card from the deck and expose the card in front of himself. The players holding the specific number of highest cards corresponding to the number of players in each partnership would become partners against the same number of players who drew the three lowest ranked cards (i.e. for a game with two partnerships of three players each, the three highest ranked cards would play as a partnership against the players drawing the three lowest ranked cards). The specific numerical ranking and suit ranking (if needed) would be the same as for the cutting and drawing methods above. If the black and red method is used, simply add the appropriate number of additional cards of each color to the cards which the players would select from.

As an example, consider the illustration to the right in which two partnerships are to be drawn for, each partnership consisting of three players. The first partnership would consist of the players drawing the 5, 6 and 10 (of clubs) which are the three lowest ranked cards drawn, while their opposing partnership would be the three players who drew the Ace, Queen and 10 (of diamonds) which are the three highest cards in the draw.

As with games for partnerships containing two players per partnership, the final seating arrangement should be such that players from each partnership alternate around the table. Thus, during the play of the hand, the turn as it rotates around the table would alternate between players from each partnership.

Note that oftentimes in games in which there are varying numbers of players in a partnership, the game itself has specific rules for determining the partnerships (such as the holder of a specific card during the play of the hand) and these partnerships may change from hand to hand. This will usually be detailed in a games specific description, as this is very much a part of the nuances of that particular game.

Determining partners for more than two partnerships:
In some games there may be three or more partnerships involved in the play of the hand or game. The method to do this is also similar to the first two methods above (if using the red black method, this can be extended to adding a specific number of cards of specific suits instead of by individual color), however it would extend to the appropriate and necessary number of partnerships. Thus each player would either draw or be dealt a card from the shuffled deck. The two players drawing the two highest ranked cards would become the first partnership. The players drawing the next two highest ranking cards would be the next partnership, and so on down to the two players drawing the two lowest ranked cards becoming the final partnership.

Partnership Changes:
Once determined the specific partnerships would generally remain the same for the entirety of the game. At the completion of the game, if another such game is to be played, these same rules for determining initial partnerships would generally be followed to re-select partnerships for the new game. Alternatively, and often in tournament settings, the partnerships would be required to change in some predetermined manner, so that each player would have a different partner than in the previous game or hand. There are a number of methods used for this partner rotation including, clockwise player rotation, counterclockwise rotation and other similar methods. The basic idea is for each player to have a different partner than in the previous hand and, if possible, play with a different partner each time, with, in the ideal setting each player playing as a partner with and as an opponent against every other active player. This allows for the greatest degree of fairness and variety in the play of the games.

Supplemental Information:
Many games provide specific rules for determination of partnerships in a game. In the case where the game does include specific rules for determination of partnerships, those instructions should have precedence and be adopted rather than any general instructions given here.
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