How to Play California Jack

California Jack Card Game California Jack is an exciting game for two players descended from the game All Fours and some of it's variants. This game is also referred to as Callie Jacks. This game is played with the standard 52 card deck. The cards in the deck have the following ranking, from high to low; Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

The first dealer can be determined by both players cutting from a shuffled deck. Player who draws the highest card would be the first to shuffle and deal, while his opponent would cut the deck. If both players draw identically ranked cards, they would each cut a card from the deck again until there was a clear higher card. After the first dealer is determined, the dealer would then begin distributing cards face down, one by one starting with his opponent. He would continue in this manner until each player has six cards. He would then flip the deck face up in the center of the table to make the draw pile. This pile should be squared up such that only the topmost card of the pile is visible to both players. The suit of this top exposed card indicates the trump suit for the hand.

The dealers opponent makes the first play, which consists of any card from his hand. The dealer then plays a card of his own to the trick. He must play a card of the same suit as led to the trick if he has one. If he also has a card of the trump suit he may also play it to the trick. If he has no cards of the same suit as that led and cannot or chooses not to trump he may play any card from his hand. This and every trick thereafter is won by the highest card of the trump suit found in the two-card trick. If neither participant played a trump card to the trick, the trick is won by he highest card of the suit first played to the trick. The winner of each trick then takes the top, exposed card of the stock pile. His opponent then takes the second card after both players have had a moment to note its exposed face. After this draw, the winner of the previous trick leads the first card to the next trick. The previous trick should be set aside, face down by the winner to help determine scoring after all tricks in the hand have been played. Whenever a card is taken from the stock pile, care should be taken to ensure none other than the current top card of the stock pile can be seen by either player.

When the stock is completely exhausted, the players continue to play, using the last remaining cards in their hands to play to tricks. After all tricks have been played, the players then examine their cards won in tricks to determine any points gained from the hand.
Scoring categories in California Jack - In is example Spades as trump           
The players score as follows at the completion of each hand: The first player to score 10 or more points over several hands is declared the winner. If both players manage to reach or exceed 10 in the same hand, the points are scored for the hand in the following very specific order: High, Low, Jack and lastly Game. The winner of the game deals the first hand for the next game.


Modified Dealing Procedure: At some card tables, instead of dealing the cards individually to each player, the dealer distributes them in packets of three cards in two dealing rounds. Other than this minor change in the dealing the game is played identically as described above.

Shasta Sam: Shasta Sam is a game played very similar to California Jack with one major difference. Whereas in California Jack the remainder of the deck is placed face up to allow the top card to always be visible to both players, in Shasta Sam the deck is instead placed face down between the two players. Thus, the cards drawn are not revealed to the opponent. After the shuffle and before dealing each hand, the dealer cuts a card from the middle of the deck and exposes it. The suit of this card identifies the trump suit to be used during the hand. This card is then replaced in the same place it was cut from and the hand begins. In all other respects Shasta Sam is played identically to California Jack.

Captured fives are worth five points each in All Fives California Fives: Another game which is very similar to California Jack is sometimes called California Fives. This game is played exactly as California Jack, with a few differences:
Each five captured in tricks is worth five points to the player capturing it at the end of the hand. Due to the much higher opportunities for scoring in this game the winning game total is played to 61 points. For convenience, this game is usually scored on a cribbage board with the first player to go fully once around (61 peg holes) being declared the winner.
The order of the scoring, if both players happen to reach or exceed 61 points in the same hand is as follows: High, Low, Jack, 5 Spades, 5 Hearts, 5 Diamonds, 5 Clubs and then Game.

This version is also sometimes played by four players in two partnerships consisting of two players each. The partners sit opposite each other at the table, with all four playing to the same trick. The regular rules for winning the trick applies, with the player winning the trick leading to the next trick. The two players in each partnership combine scores at the end of each hand, and the partnership first reaching 61 points is the winner of the game.

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