Close But No Cigar……part 3


One reader commented that they would the like rules for a liars dice game that uses a cigar box.  Here is a great one called Pass the Trash. This  liars dice variation uses a cigar box instead of a cup to hide the dice from the other players.

Pass the Trash


2 or more


Set of five poker dice

Box with a lid to roll dice in and keep them concealed 

Score pad or counters 

How to play

The rank of poker dice hands are from highest to lowest

Five of a kind (aces down to nines)

Four of a kind ( aces down to nines)

Full house  ( aces down to nines)

Three of a kind ( aces down to nines)

Two pair ( aces down to nines)

Pair ( aces down to nines)

High die ( aces down to nines)

The first player rolls all five poker dice in the box so that no other player can see the result. He or she then makes a bid in the form of a poker dice hand as described above. The bid can be,  but does not have to be the actual poker dice hand rolled by the player. 

The player then passes the closed box to the next player.

The next player can either accept the previous bid, or reject it.

If accepting the bid, the player takes the box and, rolls any or all dice he or she chooses not to keep. The player then bids a poker hand which must be a greater rank than the hand bid by the previous player. A player may chose not to look at the dice and bid blind. After biding, the player passes the closed box to the next player who may accept or reject the bid.

If the player rejects the bid, he or she calls “liar”  before opening the box to expose the dice to all the players. If the dice are equal to or greater than the bid the player rejecting the bid loses a life. If the dice are a hand of lesser value than the bid, then player making the bid loses a life.

The player who lost a life that round starts the next round.

When a player loses three lives they are out of the game.

The last player with a life is the winner.


In the book Best of the worlds Best Dice Games by Gil Jacobs, I read about a variation called The Holy Grail. It is played as above except that a player can only save dice during his or her roll by placing them where the other players can see them. The player rolls the remaining dice in the box concealed from view. If the next player accepts the bid they may roll any or all of the dice including the ones saved by the last player and only expose the dice they chose to save rather than roll.

Two Player Pinochle 

Normally I post games that I am confident still have a strong following, but despite being an outstanding game, I have yet to meet anyone who still plays Two  Player Pinochle.  I  hope this post will help kickstart a Two Player Pinochle revival as well as find players who are already enjoying it.

Players 2

A single pinochle deck or two traditional decks with 2-8 removed

Paper and pencil for score keeping
How To Play

The cards are ranked highest to lowest as shown below, as is the values of the card when taken in a trick.

ace 11 points

Each ten 10 points

Each king 4 points

Each queen 3 points

Each jack 2 points

Nines 0 points

The last trick taken earns 10 points

The values of the melds are:

Class A

A, K, Q, J, 10 of the trump suit (flush, or sequence) 150 points

K, Q of trump (royal marriage) 40 points

K, Q of any other suit (marriage) 20 points

Dix (lowest trump; pronounced “deece”) 10 points

Class B

A♠, A♥, A♦, A♣ (100 aces) 100 points

K♠, K♥, K♦, K♣ (80 kings) 80 points

Q♠, Q♥, Q♦, Q♣ (60 queens) 60 points

J♠, J♥, J♦, J♣ (40 jacks) 40 points

Class C

Q♠, J♦ (pinochle) 40

(The dix is the nine of trumps)

The dealers Deals 12 cards to each player three or four cards at a time. The next card is turned up and placed on the table; it is the trump card and every card of that suit is a trump. The remainder of the pack forms the stock and is placed face down

Each trick consists of a lead and a play. The non-dealer leads the first trick , then the winner of each trick leads next. When a trump is led, it wins the trick unless the opponent plays a higher trump. When any other suit is led, the card led wins unless the opponent plays a higher card of the same suit or a trump. The leader may lead any card, and the opponent may play any card. It is not necessary to follow suit.

After each trick, the players draw a card from the top of the stock to restore their hand to 12 cards; the winner of the trick draws first.

After winning a trick, but before drawing from the stock, a player may meld any one of the combinations that have value, as described above. A player makes a meld by placing the cards face up on the table, where they remain until the player wishes to play them, or until the stock is exhausted.

Melding is subject to the following restrictions:
1) Only one meld may be made in a turn.
2) For each meld, at least one card must be taken from the hand and placed on the table.
3) A card once melded may be melded again, only in a different class, or in a higher-scoring meld of the same class.

Once a card has been melded and placed on the table, it may be played to a trick as though it were in the holder’s hand; however, after it has been played, it may no longer be used to form a new meld.

Melding the dix. If the dealer turns a dix (pronounced “deece”) as the trump card, they score 10 points immediately. Thereafter, a player holding a dix may count it merely by showing it upon winning a trick. They may count the dix and make another meld in the same turn. The holder of the dix has the right to exchange it, upon winning a trick, for the trump card.

When the stock is exhausted the rules for playing tricks changes. The winner of the twelfth trick may meld if possible, and then must draw the last face-down card of the stock. They show this card to their opponent, who draws the trump card (or the dix, if the exchange has been made). The winner of the preceding trick now leads, and the rules of the play are as follows: each player must follow suit to the card led if possible, and must try to win when a trump is led (by playing a higher trump). A player who cannot follow suit must trump if they have a trump. In this manner the last 12 tricks are played, after which the players count and score the points they have won in their tricks and melds.

When keeping score melds are scored when they are made. Scores for cards taken in tricks are added after the play is complete and the cards are counted.

A game can be played to 1,000 points, playing a series of deals. When one player has scored 1,000 or more, and the other player less than 1,000, the former wins the game. If at the end of the play of any hand each player has 1,000 or more, play continues for a game of 1,250, even if one player has, for example, 1,130, while the other has only 1,000. If both players go over 1,250 at the end of the hand, the play continues for a 1,500-point game, and so on.

Declaring Out. At any time during the play, a player may “declare out.” At that point, play stops and his tricks are counted. If, in fact, the player has 1000 points or more, he wins the game – even if the opponent has more. If the claimant has fewer than 1,000 points, he loses the game. If the game has been increased to 1,250 points, 1,500 points, or a higher score, a player may declare out at that figure.

Some players play every deal is a single game. The player who scores the most points wins.

Chess in the Park, Denver

Looking for an al fresco chess spot in Denver, Colorado?  Then come to the 16th Street Mall, between Arapahoe Street and Curtis Street.  Artists Doug Eichelberger and Susan Wick  created this group of tables with two ceramic tiled chess boards separated by a mosaic sculpture. It’s a great spot to find a pick up game and do some people watching.

Game Cafe in Qubec City

While visiting Québec City I found La Ravanche,  a great place to play games. On 585 Boulevard Charest E. La Revanche  is not just a game cafe, but a game pub complete with draft beers and cocktails. 

Players can sip the beverage of their choice and choose a game from an impressive collection of games–mostly in French. If your French is a little rusty, the staff clad in bright yellow t-shirts will teach you the rules of the games you picked.

Bonne chance!


A Great Deal For A Wedding Reception


Concerned that guests at your wedding reception will just be staring at their cellphone screens instead of interacting? Consider trying what  this couple did at their reception. On each table was a deck of cards for the guests to play with, complete with the rules to a card game popular with the bride’s family and one popular with the groom’s family. 

In large social gatherings a simple deck of cards can be a catalyst for mingling and conversation.  Family members can catch up with each other as they play.  Guests who do not know each other can play  a hand or two without the awkwardness of struggling to make small talk. A deck of cards encourages people to share favorite games and memories of playing with friends and family.

What I Found At the Used Book Store

This deck of of cards and accompanying booklet was found while browsing one of my favorite used book stores. The booklet has the rules to the game spades and the deck has tips on how to bid and win tricks  printed on the cards.  I am interested in ideas on how to make homemade playing and strategy aids. If you have ideas please share them in the comments.