How to Play Six-Bid Solo


Six Bid Solo is an exciting variation of the German game Skat. The rules resemble standard Skat in many forms, but have enough integral differences to have its own individual write-up. Although somewhat simpler than the parent game, Six Bid Solo nonetheless makes for a highly strategic and action packed game of cards.

Players and Deck

Six Bid Solo is a trick taking card game designed to be played by 3 players. The game uses a 36 card deck, consisting of the standard deck stripped of all cards lower than six. The ranking of the cards in Six Bid Solo are as follows, from highest to lowest: Ace, 10, King, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, 7, 6. This ranking is the same for all suits, including a trump suit if one is selected during a hand.

Dealing

There are a number of methods to determine the first dealer in this game, with cutting for low card often used. When doing this, if multiple cards of the same rank are cut, the cards are further ranked by suit, with the suits ranked (from high to low) for this cut as follows: Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds.

Cards are dealt in packets to each player Once the initial dealer is determined he then shuffles the deck and offers it to the player to his right for the cut. After the cut, the dealer then begins dealing the cards to each player, in small face down packets, in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to his immediate left. This dealing occurs in a number of rounds until each player has the requisite 11 cards needed for the hand. The dealer starts with a packet of 4 to each player. He then distributes a packet of 3 to each player and then deals a three card widow hand, face down to the middle of the table. Lastly he delivers a 4 card packet to each player to complete the deal for the hand.

Although pen and paper scoring can be done in Six Bid Solo, the traditional method is to use chips or tokens to indicate a players score. Thus, at the start of the game each player should be provided an equal number of identical such chips (say 250).

The Bidding

Once each player has their cards, they may then pick up their hands for examination. The player to the dealers left has the first opportunity to bid. He may pass or name one of the six games listed below. If he chooses to make a bid, the next player in a clockwise rotation also has an opportunity to make a bid. He must either pass or make a higher bid (by naming a higher ranked "game" in the list of games). The first bidding player then has the opportunity to increase the bid again. This continues between these two players until one of them passes. The dealer meanwhile, must wait until this occurs before himself having the opportunity to enter the bidding. Once one of these two players does pass, however, the dealer than must name a bid higher than the previous high bid or he must pass. If he names a higher bid, the bidding continues between these two remaining players until one passes. The player naming the highest current bid, who did not pass, becomes the Bidder for the hand. If the first player passes, bidding automatically advances between the middle player and the dealer. If first and second player pass, the third player must name a game or may also pass. If he also passes then the cards are shuffled together and a new deal is performed by the next dealer in turn. When a high bidder is determined, this high bid by that player then becomes the "contract" for him and he must fulfill the specifications of the bid to win the hand and score appropriately.

Card Point Values

Each of the bids the bidder will attempt to fulfill requires that he capture a certain number of card-points (with the exceptions of Misere and Spread Misere). Thus, after all tricks in the hand have been played, the bidder checks all the cards won in tricks to determine if he was able to capture the card points necessary to fulfill his bid. For this purpose, the following high cards (regardless of suit) have the following point values:

CardPoint Value
Each Ace11
Each 1010
Each King4
Each Queen3
Each Jack2
9, 8, 7, 60
                     Card Point Values

The Widow Hand

Similar to the game of Skat from which this game was derived, Six Bid Solo includes a three card widow hand dealt to the center of the table. However, dissimilar to Skat, the widow hand in this game is never added to the Players hand. Instead, in certain of the declarable games (see game descriptions below) these cards are added to the final cards captured in tricks by the Bidder during the hand, which will be used to determine if the player was able to fulfill his declared bid.

The Games

The following are the list of "games" which the bidder may name when declaring his bid. These are listed in ascending order, such that a "game" listed further down the list is considered a higher ranking bid and overcalls a bid previous in the list.
  1. Simple Solo:
  2. When declaring a Simple Solo, the Player declares he will play the hand with Spades, Clubs or Diamonds as the trump suit. The bidder does not look at nor use the widow during the hand although any point scoring cards found in it are added to the bidders total. The bidder does not need to announce the trump suit he plans to use for the hand until after he is found to be the highest bidder. For each card point the bidder captures above 60, he collects two chips from each opponent. Similarly, for each point below 60 that his total card points equals, he must pay two chips to every other player. If the bidder manages to collect exactly 60 card-points during the hand, there is no score or penalty for the hand.

  3. Heart Solo:
  4. This game is similar to a Simple Solo, however the player indicates the hand will be played with Hearts as trump. The widow cards are not used in the hand, but any point scoring cards found in it are added to the players card point total for the hand. For each card point captured above 60 the Player collects three chips from each other player or for each point below 60 he must pay each other player the same. If the bidder captures exactly 60 points during the hand, there is no score for the hand, either positive or negative.

  5. Misere:
  6. The player declaring this game is indicating they will play with no trump suit and will attempt to lose every trick in the hand. The widow cards are not used in the hand and any points in it are not added to any the Player captures. If the bidder wins just one trick he must instantly pay 30 chips to each other player. If however, he manages to play the hand without winning even one trick, he collects thirty chips from each other player.

  7. Guarantee Solo:
  8. With this game declaration, the bidder first indicates what suit will be trump suit for the hand. If he selects Hearts to be trump he must win 74 or more card points during the hand. If he selects one of the other three suits as trump, he must win at least 80 card points during the hand. If he is able to do so, he collects 40 points from each other player. However, if he is unable to collect the designated number of card points from won tricks during the hand, he must pay each other player the requisite 40.

  9. Spread Misere:
  10. This game is similar to standard Misere, however the bidder must turn his entire hand face up on the table before the first trick. If the bidder manages to lose every trick during the hand he collects 60 chips from each player, but if he wins even one trick, he must pay each opponent 60. Although in all other declared games, the player to the left of the dealer usually makes the opening lead, when playing this "game" the bidders left hand opponent plays the first card to the first trick. The high bidder then faces his hand after that first lead. The widow hand is not used or counted during this "game".

    High Bidder can call for any missing card from his hand
  11. Call Solo:
  12. In Call Solo, the bidder must capture all 120 card points during the hand. Before the opening lead of the hand, the bidder must also declare the trump suit to use for the hand. Also before the first lead (and before specifying the trump suit the hand will be played at), the bidder may ask for any card he does not already hold in his hand (for example, the King of Clubs). Whichever other player holds that card must give the card to the bidder, who then gives that player any card of his choice from his hand, face down. However, it may come about that neither of the other players holds the requested card (it being in the widow), and thus no exchange is made. After the last trick, the widow cards are also taken in by the bidder for calculating his card points. The number of chips the player collects or must pay is dependant on which suit he selected as trump. If Hearts was set as trump he wins or loses 150 chips to each opponent. If any other suit was selected as trump by the bidder, he wins or loses 100 chips per opponent.

Playing the Hand

Once the high bid has been called the actual play of the hand begins. Normally the opening lead to the first trick is done by the player to the immediate left of the dealer. However, if the high bid game was Spread Misere, this opening lead is played by the opponent to the immediate left of the Bidder.

Once the first card is led to the trick, each other player must play a card of the same suit led to the trick (including trump). If the player does not have in his current hand a card of the led suit, he must play a card of the trump suit if he has one. However, there is no compulsion to play a higher card (trump or otherwise) to the suit if the player does not want to. If the player has neither a card of the suit led or card of the trump suit in his hand, he may play any card in his hand. The trick is won by the highest ranking trump card in the trick, and if there are no trump cards in the trick it is won by the highest card of the suit led to the trick. Once the trick is won, the player winning the trick should set the trick aside (face down) near him for later use in counting any card points found in it. The winner of the trick leads the first card to the next trick.

Scoring and Winning the Game

Scores are kept in Six Bid Solo using chips Once the last card of the hand is played to a trick, the widow hand is then added to the cards the bidder captured in tricks during the hand. The bidder then looks through all these cards and adds the total in card points he managed to capture during the hand to help determine if he was able to fulfill his contract. In the "games" that required the bidder to lose all tricks (Misere and Spread Misere) the player must win no tricks in order to fulfill his contract. As indicated previously, the traditional method of scoring in Six Bid Solo is to use chips, with the player earning chips from each other player or losing chips to each other player, depending on if he is able to fulfill his bid contract. After a set number of deals, the game usually ends, with the player having the most chips considered the winner. Also, if any player pays his last chip, the game also ends, with the remaining player with the most chips considered the winner.

Variations of Six Bid Solo


There are a number of exciting variations of this game which are played, some directly related to the parent game and others only distantly.

Contract Variations:
Sometimes, slightly different criteria are used to determine if a player managed to fulfill his contract at Misere and Spread Misere. In the parent game, the player undertakes to win no tricks whatsoever, another variation is sometimes played which is somewhat easier to achieve. In this version, the requirement for both Misere and Spread Misere is that the player win no card-point scoring cards. Thus, if the player does win a trick, but the captured cards are all 9 or lower, he still fulfills his bid contract and scores as indicated.

Rules for Additional Players:
Although Six Bid Solo is a game designed for three players, sometimes additional players may want to participate in the game. Obviously, if there is an even multiple of three, they can simply set up multiple games of Six Bid Solo at additional tables. In this case, at the end of a playing session, the player from all tables with the most points or chips would be declared the winner of the entire session. If there are four or five players all the players would sit down at the card table, however, one or more people may not receive cards on every hand. In this case, the participants should all select seats around the table as normal and perform the normal proceedings for determining the first dealer. All players at the table should be distributed the same number of chips before play begins. Once the first dealer is established, the deal rotates around the table to each player as normal. When there are 4 players, the dealer himself does not receive any cards on the hand. However, the dealer still pays or receives chips dependant on if the bidder makes his bid on the hand. When the deal rotates to the next player in turn, the new dealer will then not receive any cards on the hand, while the previous dealer would receive a hand. With 5 players, both the dealer and the second player to dealers left (in a clockwise rotation around the table) would not receive cards on the hand. Both of the players not receiving cards in the hand, however, would still take part in any chip settlements of the bidder. The only exception to this rule is if the bidder succeeds in making his bid of Simple Solo or Heart Solo, he would only collect from the two active players, but if he is unable to fulfill this bid, he must still pay all players.

Frog:
This game is played almost identically to Six Bid Solo, described above. However, there are a few differences used when playing Frog. These include use of the widow hand, several scoring differences and the use of only three biddable "games". Thus, the following are the three games which may be bid, in ascending order from low to high:
  1. Frog:
  2. When Frog is declared, the suit of Hearts is always trump for the hand. The bidder takes the three card widow into his hand and must then discard any three cards from his hand face down to the table. Any card points found in the three discarded cards are added to the bidders total at the end of the hand. If the bidder manages to capture 60 or more card points during the hand, he collects 1 chip from each opponent for each point above 60 he manages to capture. However, if he is unable to capture at least 60 card points, he is penalized one chip to each player for each point below 60 he did manage capture. If the bidder captures exactly 60 points no chips are exchanged.
Frog earns one chip per point over 60
  1. Chico:
  2. This "game" is similar to Frog, but the bidder must name a trump suit of Spades, Clubs or Diamonds. The bidder does not look at the widow hand, take the widow cards into his hand or make any discards. However any point scoring cards found in the widow hand are added to those the bidder captures. For each card point the bidder captures above 60, he collects two chips from each other player. For each card point below 60 his total is, he must pay two chips to each other player. For capturing exactly 60 card points, the bidder does not lose or collect any chips.
Chico earns two chips per point over 60
  1. Grand:
  2. When playing Grand, Hearts is always the trump suit used for the hand. The bidder does not look at or take the widow cards into his hand, but any high card points found in it are added to his card points earned during the hand. For each card point the player is able to capture above 60, he earns 4 chips from each other player. For each point his total captured card points is below 60 however, he must pay 4 chips to each opponent. A card point total of exactly 60 results in no chips being lost or collected.
Grand earns four chips per point over 60
In every other respect, Frog is played the same as Six Bid Solo.
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