Mystery Hand is a unique and fun game created by the Cats themselves and exclusively found here at Cats at Cards.
Mystery hand can be played by 3 to 8 people and is at its best with 4 or 5. See the variations section below for a great version especially designed for two players. This game is played with the standard 52 card deck, consisting of four cards of each denomination Ace through King, one in each suit. Although in general the cards have no specific ranking in this game, there are circumstances where a player may specify a request (see below) for a series or run of cards. Thus, for the purpose of these runs, the standard deck ranking is used, as follows (high to low): Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Notice that the Ace can fall at the beginning or end of such a series, to be specified by the requester.
The first dealer can be determined in any manner, usually by having all participants cut for high card with the player receiving this high card having the right to be the first dealer. In the case of a tie for high card, the identically ranked cards could be further ranked by suit. In this case, the suit ranking is Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, from high to low.
Once the first dealer is thusly determined, he should first shuffle the cards and then offer them to the player to his right for cutting.
There are several variations of Mystery Hand that are sometimes played that dramatically change the dynamics of the game.
No Memory Sheet
: This variation is played identically to the standard version with one very important difference which can make this a very challenging variation. The players are not provided paper or memory sheets to notate or otherwise help remind themselves what cards they may have already discovered the whereabouts of. The players should not use any type of aid in helping to memorize the cards have they seen and the cards potentially in the mystery hand. This can be a very challenging version of this game as players must rely on their memory (and their own cards) to help them win the game.
: In this version, after the four card mystery hand is dealt to the center of the table, two jokers are shuffled in with the remainder of the deck. This deck is then dealt to the players as normal. Because there are two additional cards added to the deck, the number of cards dealt to each player may be slightly different from the parent game:
When this variation is played by 5 players the cards will divide out evenly. However, with 3, 4, 6 and 8 players there will be two extra cards dealt face up to the center of the table and with 7 players, there will be 1 card dealt face up to the center. Because of the method in which the Jokers are used, their addition would have no affect when played by two.
|Adding the sneak to the cards displayed can add confusion and uncertainty to some of the opponents.|
When a request is made of a particular player, he may include the Joker (called The Sneak) as one of the cards displayed to the requester. This would normally be done in an effort to keep other players from being certain of what cards might be displayed. The regular rule of a player receiving another play is still in affect (whether the cards displayed contain the Sneak or solely consist of other cards). If the same player happens to have both Jokers he could add both to the cards displayed to an opponents request. A player need not have any of the actual cards requested when showing the sneak, but if he does have any of the cards actually requested, those must be also be displayed to the requester.
Other than these differences, the remainder of the game is identical to the standard version.
Keep em Guessing
: In the standard version of this game described above, a player may never ask for a specific card or group of cards in which he holds all the requested cards. However in this version this restriction is relaxed.
This results in two changes to the requests a player can make which a player may use to confound his opponents.
First, when a player is asking for a specific card request, he may ask for a card that he does have in his hand. This might be done to cause other players to assume the asked for card was contained in the mystery hand.
Secondly, when a player makes a request to a specific player for a particular set or run of cards, he could ask for cards that he actually already has in his hand. Again, this might be done in an attempt to cause the other players to make inaccurate assumptions about the cards found in the mystery hand.
No Exact Card Requests:
Mystery Hand is sometimes played in a variation in which the Exact Card request type is removed. A player may never make a request for one specific card from all players. A player, on his turn, may make any of the other valid request types.
Mystery Hand For Two
: Although the standard version of Mystery Hand can be played by two, there is a version especially for two players. In this version, both players are first dealt a four card mystery hand in the normal manner. These hands are dealt out face down in front of each player. The players would then look at this hand (concealed from the other player) and specially notate the cards on their memory sheet. Once both players have done this, these hands are moved to the side, still in front of each player. After this, these hands should not be touched or viewed by the player until the end of the game.
After these hands are set aside, the dealer than would deal out the remainder of the deck face down to each player, one by one. Each player will receive 48 cards. Once the deck is fully dealt, the players would then examine their hands and notate their memory sheet as appropriate. Once complete, the non-dealer then makes the first play. Just as in the standard version, he would then make a request of the other player (in the normal manner). On his turn a player may make a request from the other player of a suited run or a four of a kind. In the two player version however, a player is never provided a second consecutive turn, no matter how many cards his opponent must expose to him based on his request. Since there are only two players, any cards exposed by either player can be displayed temporarily face up to the center of the table upon a request. In addition to the suited run and four of a kind, when a player believes he knows the exact composition of the mystery hand he may use his turn to make a declaration. When doing so, the player states the exact cards he believes will be found in the mystery hand by suit and rank. After doing so, the declarer exposes his opponents mystery hand. If he is correct about the exact card of the mystery hand he wins the hand. If even one of the cards is incorrect, however, his opponent is declared the winner of the hand.
A slight variation of the two player version is to deal out the entire deck out between the two players in the normal manner. After each player examines his hand, he selects four cards and sets them aside face down to create his mystery hand. Once set aside, the player may not look at or touch his mystery hand in any manner. The game then proceeds as in the normal two player version of Mystery Hand.
Another variation of the two player version of Mystery Hand can also be played. In this version, neither player views the contents or their own mystery hand either and simply places it face down in front of himself. Play continues as in the standard two handed version with the understanding that the identity of 10 cards are never seen by either player until a player is ready to make their declaration on their turn. On a players turn, when he is ready to make his declaration, will indicate this by turning his own Mystery Hand face up. He can then use the information from the cards displayed and his own observations through the game to make his declaration on what he thinks the opponents mystery hand contains. If he is correct he is immediately declared the winner, however, if he is incorrect the opponent wins the hand.
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