TRIXTER basically combines the best ingredients of the closely related and vastly popular card games "Oh Hell", "Oh Sh*t", "Pshaw", "Blackout", "Romanian Whist", "La Podrida", and a few others. TRIXTER is actually, in this very form, an existing game that is known as "Stich Ansagen" in Central Europe. "Stich Ansagen" roughly paraphrased translates to "Predict Tricks" or "Call the Trick", meaning that it is the object of the game to predict (bid) how many tricks you will take, after examining your cards before each hand.
I have decided to put the rules of TRIXTER
online in an effort to unite the various worldwide players of "Oh Hell",
"Romanian Whist", and "La Podrida", AND of course, "Stich Ansagen", and
other related games, and to popularize the game as much as I can, since
I truly believe that TRIXTER is the best and most fun strategic card game
of all. I chose the name TRIXTER after some deliberation, since "Stich
Ansagen" or perhaps "Call the Trick" isn't exactly very catchy... so please,
humor me ;-) Besides, the name "TRIXTER" really paraphrases the spirit
of this game rather well!
TRIXTER is closely related to several other already immensely popular card games (besides its sibling games, it is also akin to SPADES), so it is easy to learn, although it takes "a lifetime to master" ;-)
You can play it with a regular set of cards (52 card deck; the cards in each suit rank (from high to low) A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2, and also three Jokers ONLY should there be 5 players, in which case the Jokers will act as dummies without value), so there is no need to buy any special card decks.
TRIXTER contains all the profound strategy of Bridge, but it eliminates the befuddling bidding process that can be frustrating to learn and master, and more importantly, it is played by the individual. Since each player plays for themselves, you no longer are dependent on your partner, and whether or not they mess up or save your own playing strategies. This all makes TRIXTER much more accessible and user friendly.
TRIXTER contains the same fun and similar elements as the super-popular SPADES, but again with the advantage that players are not dependent on their partners. Another advantage over SPADES is that it offers much more flexibility when it comes to choosing trump suits, and plotting strategy for your hand, especially when you get to bid first.
TRIXTER can be played by more than 4 players if necessary, since there is no partnership. Ideally, there will be 4 players. 5 is the next best choice. More are possible, but then considerations will need to be made for rearranging the card deck used (more on that below).
can join in a game even after it is in progress. It is not unusual
for a new player to play on, accumulating their own score, from, say, hand
6 or 7, and still having a good chance to catch up and win the game.
The rules of TRIXTER are simple: the object is for each player to bid the number of tricks they think they can take from each hand (which they will bid at the beginning of each hand), then to take exactly that many; no more and no fewer. Points are awarded only for making the bid exactly, and are deducted for missing the bid, either over or under what was bid.
Players pull random cards to determine the first dealer. After shuffling and cutting (which can be done by any player other than the dealer), the dealer first deals a card to themselves, then in clockwise direction.
Bidding and Trumps:
Dealer gets to bid FIRST, followed by the other players, again in clockwise direction. Player to the dealer's left will get to deal and call first next hand.
Dealer will announce the trump suit when bidding. The trump suit can be any suit to the dealer's liking. Choosing the trump suit is a definite advantage for the dealer/first bidder. Dealer will then announce the number of tricks he is bidding.
The other players will each bid in clockwise direction. There will be only one round of bids. Each bid is a number representing the number of tricks that player will try to take. Everyone must bid - it is not possible to pass, but you can bid zero, in which case your object is to take no tricks at all. A bid may be changed only if the next player to the left has not yet bid. Players simply bid the number of tricks, no suits or trumps. The trump is decided each hand anew by the dealer/first bidder.
More times than not, there will be a discrepancy between the total number of tricks bid by all players, and the number of tricks actually available in the hand... in that case, obviously *somebody* will be in trouble that hand. Sometimes the number of bids and available tricks are equal, but that does not necessarily mean that everybody will be a winner either! "Oh Hell" is played with a hook: there, the last person bidding must ensure that they bid so the total number of bids is different from the total number of available tricks, guaranteeing that there will be at least one player wrong that hand... this somewhat puts the last bidder at a disadvantage, since they may not be able to bid the exact number of tricks they expect to take; therefore, this element is missing in TRIXTER, giving each player an equal chance to bid as they wish. Keep in mind when bidding, that not all cards in the deck are in play in any hand, with the exception of the "peak hand" (see below). Trying to arrive at an accurate bid for your hand without knowing exactly which other cards are in the hand is a major attraction of TRIXTER, that has players relying on their skills of improvisation and flexibility. The greatest thing about TRIXTER is that it allows for great comebacks even if you should not get the trick(s) you counted on "for sure" - a bit of creative and clever play can go a long way!
Every player's bid and the trump suit announced by the dealer are recorded on paper at the time of bidding, so there are no arguments and/or fistycuffs later! ;-)
Sequence of Hands:
The game consists of a series of hands. The first hand is played with ONE card, the second with TWO cards, the third with THREE, etc., up to the maximum number (assuming 4 players) of 13 cards for the 13th hand ("peak hand"). From hand 14 on, the cards dealt to each player will decrease by one each time, so the 14th hand deals 12 cards, the 15th hand 11 cards, etc., until you once again reach 1 card at the last hand (the 25th). Going from 1 to 13 and back down to 1 in my opinion works very well, and better than some of the other variants which play 13-1-13, simply because as the game gets to the later stages, it has a tendency to get faster rather than slower, with each hand taking less time than the one before, which can be important to maintain attention, and keep motivation high. Thus, the game gains momentum at the end, instead of getting bogged down and more drawn out.
NOTE: if there are 5 players, use a 52-card deck, and add the 3 Jokers or blank cards to make it 55. The game starts out the same way, with 1 card each, but it will only go up to the maximum of 11 cards (in the 11th hand - "peak hand"), before returning to 1 again in the 21st hand. The Jokers act as dummies and have no trump or numerical value, and can be played anytime a player does not have the lead suit played.
After the appropriate number of cards has been dealt for each hand, the remaining undealt cards (unless it is "peak hand") are placed in a face down stack, well visible to all players. Players can not draw cards from the remaining stack, or substitute any of their cards. Should there be an error in dealing, or an accidental revealing of cards, or any other inconsistency, all cards must be reshuffled, recut, and dealt properly once again, by the same dealer.
All players must follow suit led, if they can. If not, they may play any other card in their hand, including trump. The player who has played the highest trump card, or if no trump was played, the highest card of the suit led, wins the trick. That player then leads to the next trick. Continue until all tricks have been played and won. There is no obligation to trump or to trick at any time. If Jokers are in play (5 players or more), they always count as the "lowest" card. Jokers can never win a trick. Jokers may only be played if the player has no card of the suit led. Players can only lead a Joker/blank if they have no other cards left. In that case, whatever suit the second player choses, is considered the "lead suit" for that hand.
Trump suits MAY be played as leads in any hand
by any player - this is another important strategic element, especially
when a player bids high.
One player keeps score for all. Scoring is as follows: each player who correctly predicted their number of tricks taken receives 10 points, plus the number of tricks taken (if you bid 3 tricks and "make it", you get 13 points, for example). Players who bid zero, and actually made zero tricks get the 10 points only. The single point per trick rewards a player who is willing to play more aggressively, but it does not take away from the importance of achieving your bid, even if it is low or even zero, which is after all the prime objective of the game. Some of the variants of the related games put too much emphasis on the high number of tricks taken, and not on "making" your bid. Each player who missed their bids, no matter whether they were over or under will receive -5 points (i.e. subtract 5 points from their score). With this system, once you should already know that you failed in "making" your bid, you can aim to "mess up" the bids of the other players, and thus "minimize the damage" for yourself. The worst you can do is -5 per hand. Other variants subtract more points if you miss by more, but that eliminates the possibility of "revenge" on your fellow competitors. ;-)
This scoring system makes it possible for a
player to join after a few hands have been played, and still have a chance
to win with flawless play. It also allows for a sensible rating system
should TRIXTER ever become an internet-based multiplayer card game:
players would simply be rated by points per hand - so even if a player
did not play an entire game, but only a few hands, this will still count
towards their ratings. I would imagine that a rating over 10.000
points per hand would be rather impressive.
Obviously, like its sister games, TRIXTER can be played with variations, but I feel the version described above has the most integrity and is the best fun with the most strategic elements. An obvious adaptation would be to allow more than 5 players, in which case the deck should be manipulated with Jokers and/or blanks in such a way that the "peak hand" always includes ALL cards, whatever the number per player may be (this you can back into), so the "peak hand" never leaves potentially important cards undealt. When it is all said and done, I still believe that the purest form of TRIXTER is the game for four players. It consistently yields the best overall playing fun and experiences.
My real hope with this page is that TRIXTER might attract the attentions of one or more of the big online gaming sites that offer free card games such as Spades, Bridge, Hearts, Pinochle, Schafskopf, and many others already. I know TRIXTER would be a big success and additional draw to online card players, and could perhaps even stand on its own, on a game server that offers only TRIXTER. The standardization of the number of players to four, the scoring, and the sequence of hands lends itself perfectly to putting this game online.
If you are interested in implementing a TRIXTER international games server, or integrating TRIXTER into an existing online gaming service, please contact me! I would love nothing more than to be able to enjoy my favorite game with friends all over the world, and share my passion for this game with card playing enthusiasts all over!
Oh, one more thing: if you notice any gross
blunders or blatant mess-ups on this page, please let
Hell! Rules Page