How to Play Blackout

Blackout Card Game Blackout is an exciting card game that consists of bidding and playing tricks in some ways similar to contract bridge. This game is played under a variety of other names as well, some of which are quite colorful.

Blackout can be played by 2 to 7 players and is at its best with four players. Blackout is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The card ranking in Blackout is as follows, from highest to lowest: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

The first dealer is usually determined by spreading the deck face down on the table. Each player draws one card, with the player drawing the highest card being the first dealer and having first selection of seats. If two or more players tie for the highest card, the ranking of suits for this draw is as follows: clubs (♣), diamonds (), hearts (), spades (♠).

A game of blackout is played over a series of deals, with each deal consisting of one more card than the last. The number of deals is dependant on the number of players in the game. The first deal of a game of blackout will consist of exactly one card, the second deal two cards and so on until a certain maximum is reached. See the following chart for the specific number of deals in a game for a specific number of players:

Number of PlayersNumber of Deals per Game
218
315
413
510
68
77


Thus, for 5 players, the game would consist of 10 deals, with the last deal consisting of 10 cards per player.

Sample Layout for the game Blackout
As an example, in this deal there are five active players and it is the second round of the deal(thus two cards per player). Diamonds have been exposed as the trump suit for the hand.
The dealer begins each hand by dealing one card, face down, to each player in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to his immediate left. He continues this until each player has the number of cards needed for this particular deal (first deal one card, second deal two cards, etc).

After the requisite number of cards for the deal have been dealt, the players then pick up and examine their cards. Then, the dealer then turns the next card in the deck face up to determine the trump suit. This turning up of a trump suit is done on every hand except the last (which is the hand with the maximum number of cards per player), at which time the game is played at no trump (see below).

Bidding
After examining his cards the players, there is then one round of bidding. To start, the player to the dealers immediate left then makes a verbal bid of the EXACT number of tricks he expects to win on this deal. He may also bid zero or say "pass", which indicates a bid to win no tricks on this deal. This bidding continues in a clockwise direction, with each player declaring the exact number of tricks they are bidding to win on this particular hand. The dealer will be the last player to bid. There is only one round of bidding, thus each player will have just one opportunity to declare their bid. One of the players should be set as the designated scorekeeper for the game (this is usually the dealer). This scorekeeper should note the bids each player makes on each deal and add any scores for the hand, as appropriate for players who make their bid on the deal.

Blackout Trick
In this example trick where Diamonds is trump each player has played to the trick in order. As the Jack of Diamonds is the highest trump card played, the player who played this card wins this trick.
Play of the Hand
The player to the dealers immediate left begins by leading the first card to the first trick. He may play any card from his hand. Each player in a clockwise rotation then plays one card to the trick. A player must play a card of the suit led to the trick if they contain any cards of the suit led. If they do not have any cards of this suit, they may play any card to the trick, including a card of the trump suit.
The player playing the highest trump card to the suit wins the trick. If no trump cards were played to the trick, the player who played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick. The players continue playing tricks on the deal until all the players cards have been played. When playing the last deal of each game, the hand is played at no trump, thus no card is turned and only the highest card of the suit led will win these tricks.

Scoring
The object of each deal is to win exactly the number of tricks bid. If the player wins more or less tricks than what they bid, they gain no score for that deal. If they do manage to score the exact number bid, they score 5 points plus the number of cards dealt to each player in that deal. After all the deals for that game have been played, the winner is the player with the highest total score. If there are two players tied for the highest score, additional hands are again played (starting over with the one card hand and building up by one card per deal) until, at the end of a hand there is only one player with the highest score. All players may continue to play in these additional hands, and, in some cases may even defeat the tied players.


Variations

Alternate Scoring: There are various scoring schemes for Blackout in addition to the one given above. Another common scoring method is to award each successful bid 10 points plus the amount of their bid. As in the standard game, the player must still win the exact number of tricks bid in order to earn this score.

Reverse Deals: In this variation, the individual deals are played in reverse order. Thus, for the first deal, the maximum number of cards are dealt, and on each subsequent hand one less card is dealt until the last deal, which is the one card hand. The first, maximum card hand is played at no trump while the other deals use the standard turn-up card for determining the trump suit, as described above. In all other respects the game is played identically to the standard game.

Full Rotation: This variation is the same as the standard game, except for there are additional deals in each game. After the hand with the maximum deals is dealt, the next deal would consist of one less card and so on for each deal back down to the one card deal which is the last in the game.

Hook Rule: In this version, a player may not bid such that the TOTAL number of tricks bid so far (by all players combined in this deal) totals exactly the same as the number of tricks in the game. Thus, a player on his turn may not make a bid which would cause this total of all the bids to be over the possible total for the hand. This forces each hand to be either over or under bid Oftentimes, this may cause the dealer (the last bidder) to make a bid in which they would not normally want to make. In this version the deal rotates clockwise around the table to the next player after each completed deal.

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