How To Play Lemon


Let's play Lemon Lemon is a unique and entertaining matching card game which is fun for players of all ages. The objective is to be the first player to form all his hands into groups of four of a kind first. Lemon is normally played by two to four players.

The game uses one standard 52 card deck. The number of cards dealt to each player during a hand will be directly dependent on the number of players in the game.

The selection of seating positions and first dealer can be done in a number of ways, with drawing from a shuffled deck a common method.

Two Player Layout for the card game Lemon
Two Player example layout for the card game Lemon
Three Player Layout for the card game Lemon
Three Player example layout for the card game Lemon
Four Player Layout for the card game Lemon
Four Player example layout for the card game Lemon
Once all players have been seated and the first dealer chosen, the first dealer then thoroughly shuffles the deck. After doing so, he then begins the deal, in a clockwise rotation, starting with the player to his immediate left. The deal consists of dealing packets consisting of four cards to each player. Each packet should be separated from other such four card packets dealt to the player and are dealt face down in front of each player. The number of such packets dealt to each player is directly dependent on the number of participating in the game. The following chart summarizes the number of cards dealt based on the number of participants in the game:
PlayersTotal Cards to Each PlayerFour Card Packets Per Player
2246
3164
4123


Each packet dealt to the player is a separate hand and should be kept in a separate face down pile from his other such packets. After each player has the requisite four card packets dealt, the dealer then places the last four cards in the deck in a row, face up in the center of the table.

No player should pick up any of the cards dealt to him until the start of play. As soon as the dealer finishes the deal, he announces "Start" and play begins. A player initially picks up his choice of one of the four card packets initially dealt to him and may only be playing from one such hand at a time. He may, at any time, put one of his four card hands down in front of him and switch to another of his own hands for play.

There are no actual turns in this game, with all players playing simultaneously. A play consists of laying up to four cards from his currently held hand face up on the table and then immediately taking an equal number of cards from the center of the table as replacements. A players should always have four cards in his hand and the center of the table should always contain four face-up cards except for the brief moment in which a player has placed one or more cards on the table and is about to take other cards as replacements. Each of the players four card packets is a separate hand, so he may only have one held in his hand at a time from which he may exchange cards with the center. He may, at any time place the current hand down and pick up another of his own hands to play from it.

As soon as a player manages to form any of his individual hands into four cards of the exact same rank, he places that pile back in front of himself, this time face up to indicate that hand is complete. This frantic card exchange continues until one player has managed to form all his four card packets into groups of four cards of the same rank. Immediately upon performing this feat, he shouts "Lemon" and is designated as the winner of the hand. The winner of each hand is set as the dealer for the next hand.
       


Lemon Variations and Optional Rules


Team Lemon: Team Lemon is a fun variant of Lemon designed for four players playing in two teams of two players each. Unlike most other partnership based games, in Team Lemon both members of the partnership should sit next to each other during the hand as they will be sharing the same set of packets. Each player still receives 12 cards in 3 sets, however each partnership is the joint owner of all 6 piles set in front of the player and his partner. Thus, either member of the team may pick up any of these 12 piles for use in exchanging cards with the center. The first partnership to get all of their combined piles into matched sets of four of a kind is the winner. In all other respects this version is played the same as the standard game as described above.

Double Deck Lemon: Lemon can also be played using two standard decks shuffled together with the addition of four total Jokers. Due to the larger number of cards used in the game, the number of four card hands each player will receive will be increased from the basic game as will the number of cards placed in the center of the table. In addition, this version can accommodate a larger number of players. The following chart shows the cards distributed by the dealer when playing the double-deck variant:
PlayersTotal Cards to Each PlayerFour Card Packets Per PlayerCards in Center
2481212
332812
424612
52058
616412
712324
812312
      Layout for the Double Deck variation of Lemon
In order to be considered a valid four of a kind, the hand must consist of one card in each suit, all of the same denomination (i.e. four Kings). In addition, a Joker may only be matched with three other Jokers. All other rules as for the standard game Lemon apply when playing this variant.

Stress: Stress is a fun game that is played very similarly to Lemon. It uses one standard 52 card deck with the object of each player to form all his hands into sets of four cards of the same rank.

In order to ensure that the deck will divide evenly amongst the number of players, this game may only be played by 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 individuals. As in Lemon, each player is dealt some number of four card packets. The number dealt to each player is directly dependent on the number of players, as shown in the following chart:
PlayersTotal Cards to Each PlayerFour Card Packets Per Player
2246
3164
4123
682
1241


After dealing out the requisite number of four card face down packets to each player, the dealer then deals the last four cards in the deck face up in a line at the center of the table. The players should not pick up any of their piles until the dealer has fully finished dealing and announces "Start", at which time play begins.

As in Lemon, there are no actual turns with everyone making their plays as willing. As a player manages to form each of his four card packets into a group of four cards of the same rank, he places that pile face up to indicate this. When a player manages to get all of his four card packets into individual groups of four of a king, he shouts "Stress" to indicate this.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is played identically to Stress with the only difference being the statement made when a player has formed all his packets into valid groups of four of a kind. The first player to do this would shout "Hong Kong" and drop from the game. The game still continues, however, amongst the remaining players. The next player to run out must shout "Beijing" and also drops from the game. The third player to form his cards into valid groups of four of a kind would shout "Shanghai" and the fourth "Tokyo". This can be continued with each player shouting out some previously agreed on phrase until all players but one have matched all of their four card packets into valid four of a kinds.

 
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