One of my favorite pastimes is playing poker with friends. Quite often someone will teach us a new game, we’ll have a great time playing it, then we’ll forget all the rules before we play again. In posting these rules I hope to keep track of some of these games.

Also known as Cuckoo, Screw Your Neighbor is not really poker, but this is a great game, especially with a big group. The game is played in rounds and the deal rotates. The objective is to not have the lowest card at the end of each round. You don’t need to have the highest card, you just don’t want the lowest.

3 to 10 (or more) players. More players will make for longer games.

How to play:

Each player places two equal stakes directly in front of them. The stake can be a quarter, dollar, chip, or whatever folks are comfortable with.

The dealer deals one card face down to each player (starting with the person to their left, as usual.)

Each player looks at their card. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player in turn can either keep their card or trade with the person immediately to their left in hopes of getting a higher card. Aces are always low in this game.

If a player is asked to trade they must, unless they hold a king, at which point they can show the king and block the trade. If a trade is blocked, the player who wanted the trade must keep the card they are holding.

The dealer has the final option trade but must trade against the deck if they decide to.

After the dealer trades the round is done. Everyone must show their card and the player, or players with the lowest ranking cards (aces are always low and suits don’t matter) must place one of their stakes into the pot.

After a player looses twice and has no stakes in front of them they are said to be “on their face.” A player who is on their face can continue to play (and even win) until they loose one more time.

The next round begins with the next player to the left, dealing as above. Play continues until only one player is left in the game. They win, and collect the pot.

Hints: Don’t forget you can block a trade if you’re holding a king.
If you are holding a low card (say a 2) and someone trades with you for a higher card (say a 3) you can rest easy and keep the higher card since you know you don’t have the lowest card on the table.

Variations: If playing with a large number of people (7 or more) we usually do not allow a player to continue after loosing both stakes. This keeps the games a little bit shorter.

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