Sheepshead has some vocabulary that is unique to the game. The following alphabetical list are some of the terms you will hear when playing the game.
big lady (AKA big queen) - The queen of clubs. This is the highest card in trump and will take any trick.
blind (AKA middle, kitty, crib) - These are the two cards (in 3 & 5 handed play) that are dealt face down at the initial deal. Players are given a choice to pick them up and once done, are known as the picker.
boss card (AKA high card) - The highest un-played trump still not seen by the players. Once played, a new trump card becomes the boss.
bury - The picker must discard the same number of cards they picked in the blind. What they bury becomes theirs to claim at the end of the game.
called ace - In five handed play, the picker may choose a partner by announcing one of the fail aces. The person holding that card then is his/her partner and they work together as a team.
called suit - Once the picker declares a fail ace as partner, that suit of failed is known as the called suit.
cut throat - Picker is playing alone against all other opponents.
counters (AKA money cards, pointers, pointer cards) - Aces and tens are collectively called counters because they have a high point value.
double on the bump - An aggressive variation of play where the stakes to the picker and partner are doubled should they lose.
doubler - A variation of play were everyone passes on the blind. The stakes to the next game are doubled and is known as a doubler.
fail - Any non-trump card. There are 18 fail cards (in three different fail suits with six cards per suit).
fail off - A situation where a suit is led but you don't have any card from that suit and play a card from a different fail suit. Typically this term is used when someone plays a fail card with no point value. You call it "schmearing" when you do the same with a card holding some point value.
fail suit - The game has three fail suits (Hearts, Spades, and Clubs) which consist of six cards in each suit. Within each suit, there is a power order Ace, Ten, King, 9, 8, and 7
follow suit - There are four suits in the game. Once a card is led, all players are obligated to play a card from that suit if available in their hand.
granny hand (AKA grandma hand) - A hand so good even an inexperienced player should be able to win with it.
hold card - If the picker calls a fail ace as partner, they are obligated to retain at least one card from that fail suit in their hand when play begins. This card is only played by the picker when any card from that suit is led. See under when the picker is unable to comply with this rule.
ladies (AKA ma's, two blacks, big ma's, black ladies) - The collective name for the top two trump which are the queen of clubs and the queen of spades.
lay down hand - Anytime the hand is so good, it can not be beat. This can occur if you have the perfect hand (top 6 trump) OR during play, your remaining cards can not be beat.
leaster - A variation of play where all players pass on the blind. The next game you try to take the least number of points. See the "scoring rules" page for details.
long suit - The suit you have the most cards in. Typically this refers to fail suits but not always. For example, the long suit of the picker is usually trump.
loner - In five handed play the picker my opt to play the game without a partner and is said to be playing alone. The game is known as a loner.
maurer - A derogatory term referring to a player who passes on the blind with a good hand with the hopes of "setting the picker".
no scheider - Not only losing but losing so badly that you don't even have (approximately) half the points needed to win. See the "scoring rules" page for specifics.
no tricker - One person or team wins all the tricks in the game.
once around - Announced when players are ready to end a session. The deal goes around the table to end the evening.
partner - In five handed play when the picker's hand is not strong enough to play alone they choose another player (partner) to work with them as a team. The partner is assigned by the "call an ace" rule or jack of diamonds rule.
picker - Starting with the person to the left of the dealer (and moving CW), players opt to pick or pass on the blind. The person picking up the blind is known as the picker. This is someone with a hand strong in trump.
schmear - Playing a counter (ace or ten) with the hopes or knowledge that one of your team mates will take the trick.
throw in hand - If you are dealt all no point fail cards, toss the hand in for a misdeal. This hand is also called - No Ace, No Face, No Trump, No Schmear.
trump - These are the power cards in sheepshead. This is a suit of 14 cards - queens, jacks, and diamonds ... all with a power order you will want to know (or just print the crib sheet page).
trump in - When a fail suit is led but you can not follow suit, you have the option to play a trump. We say you trumped the suit. This will take the trick unless another player "trumps in" with a higher power card.
under - This is a special situation where the picker needs a partner but can not follow the normal "hold card" rule. This can happen when the picker has all trump or (more typically) the ace in all their fail suits. The picker lays ANY card face down to act as the "hold card" which is never displayed during play and follows all the legal obligations that pertain to the normal "hold card". The picker then announces (for example), "Ace of Hearts, under" or "Ace of Heart, unknown".
under the gun - The person with the first lead in the game. This person sits to the left of the dealer and also has first choice whether to pick or pass on the blind.
unknown - When the picker is playing "under", they can also announce (for example), "Ace of Spades, unknown".
walk - This occurs when a fail card is led and everyone plays a card from that suit. We say the suit walked.
Now here is something I've always wondered about. You already know who the picker and partner are. I've never heard of a simple term that refers to the group of players they are competing against! I've heard them referred to as the NON- picker/partners or the players against the picker/partner. It seems to me there needs to be a simple term that instantly refers to the group that is playing against the picker. If you have heard of such a name, please let me know. My email is at the bottom of the home page. I have some suggestions. Since (in five handed play) it typically amounts to a group of three, some common groups of three are:
Amigos, Little Pigs, Musketeers, and Stooges! I like Amigos because The Three Amigos was one of my favorite movies. What do you think?