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Oh, Hell Card Game: Rules & How to Play?

Oh Hell, also known as Oh Well, was a very popular card game in 1930s New York. It was even associated with high society for some time! But how does the game work, and is it worth playing? Well, let’s find out, shall we?

What is the Oh Hell Card Game?

Oh, Hell is a trick-taking card game, so if you enjoy games like Spades or Pinochle, then you’ll likely enjoy this one. Between three to seven people can play Oh Hell, and all you need is a good deck of cards.

While it might not be a traditional pub game, you can easily play it with drinks. Although if you do, we recommend some waterproof playing cards. To win the game, you need to win the exact number of tricks you bid.

If three to five people are playing, each person gets ten cards. If six people are playing, each player receives eight cards; for seven-player games, each person instead receives seven cards. The remaining cards become the stockpile, and the top card is flipped to decide the trump suit for the round.

Each player (starting with the dealer’s left) must then bid on the number of tricks they think they’ll take. Every player must make a bid; however, you can bid zero tricks if you like.

The player to the dealer’s left goes first, and the play continues clockwise. If possible, players must follow the lead suit, and the highest card played will win the trick. After all, the cards have been played; the scores are tallied up.

Remember, you aren’t aiming to win every trick; you want to win the exact number of tricks you bid. This means it could be in your best interest to try to avoid winning if you can. Oh, Hell is an easy game to play but a challenging game to win!

So, if you’re looking for something a little different and getting bored of games like Poker, then you’ll likely enjoy a game of Oh Hell. But before you get some friends together and start playing, let’s look at what you’ll need to play.

What You’ll Need To Play?

One of the great things about the Oh Hell card game is that you need to play a simple deck of cards. However, you can also use an automatic card shuffler if you like. Any playing cards will do, but we recommend some high-quality ones.

Once you’ve got all your cards, you are ready to start playing. So, let’s take a look at how you set up a game and examine the rules you need to know. Cards like these Bicycle Standard Face Playing Cards would make a fine choice.

Bicycle Standard Playing Cards

Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The aim of Oh Hell is to take tricks; you need to bid on how many tricks you’ll take before the game starts. You aim to take precisely that number of tricks; you’ll win points if you do. More than one person can win a game at the same time too.

Oh, Hell is an easy game to play but more complicated than you think to win. You could quickly end up taking a trick you didn’t want and then end up losing because of it. But, like many trick-taking card games, the gameplay loop is fun and addictive. Let’s look at how to play Oh Hell in more detail.

The Set-Up

Setting up a game of Oh Hell is relatively easy. First, shuffle the deck and then let each player take a card. The player with the highest card becomes the dealer for the round. In Oh Hell, cards follow the standard order, with Aces the highest and the two cards the lowest.

Once the dealer is chosen, the deck should be shuffled, and the cards should be dealt. Remember, the number of cards dealt will vary depending on the number of players. Follow the guide below to see how many cards should be dealt.

  • Three – Five Players – 10 Cards
  • Six Players – 8 Cards
  • Seven Players – 7 Cards

Once the cards are dealt, the remaining cards should be left in a pile to become the stockpile. The dealer should then turn the top card over, becoming the trump suit for the round. Once this is done, you can start playing.

The Rules

Once the cards are dealt, the bidding phase begins, starting with the player to the dealer’s left. Each player will bid on the number of tricks they think they can take. Players can’t pass on the bidding phase, but they can bid zero tricks if they like.

Once each player has bid, the game begins. Each player plays one card and must follow the lead suit if possible. The highest card put down will win the trick. Once all cards have been played, the scores are tallied up.

Any player who wins the exact number of tricks bid will score 10 points. Plus the number of tricks bid, so if you bid three and won three, you will score 13 points. Players who scored over or under their bid win no points.

After the round is over, the player becomes the new dealer to the dealer’s left. The game is over when every player has had a turn as the dealer. When this is done, the scores for each round are tallied up, and the winner is decided.

Oh Hell – A Classic Trick-Taking Card Game

Oh, Hell is the perfect card game for bigger groups. The gameplay loop is easy to learn but challenging to master, and knowing what to bid isn’t always easy. If you’re a fan of trick-taking card games, you’ll be sure to enjoy Oh Hell.

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