Scoring Rules

And the Winner is.....!!??!?

Once all the cards have been played and all the tricks have been taken, each side counts its points to determine who won and by how much.

Scoring is done by awarding (game) points to the winners and deducting (game) points from the losers. Please don't confuse these (game) points with the point values associated with each card.

  • The picker receives one point from each losing player if the picker accumulates at least 61 points (including the points he/she had buried).

  • The picker receives two points from each losing player if he/she accumulates at least 91 points. This means that the losing team (the team against the picker) collected less than 30 points. When this happens, the losers are said to have gotten No Schneider.

  • If the picker has taken all of the tricks, it is called a No Tricker and the picker receives three points from each loser.

  • Of course, the picker may lose, in which case he/she pays (loses):

    • One point to each opponent if he/she fails to accumulate at least 61 points.

    • Two points to each opponent if he/she fails to get 31 points (No Schneider).

    • Three points to each opponent if he/she is "no tricked", in which case, the picker receives no credit for any points in his/her "bury".

  • In 5 handed play, the picker usually has a partner. Points are then won or lost on a 2 to 1 ratio between the two players (the greater share going to the picker).

    • The only exception is if the picker (or their partner) fails to take any tricks. In this case, the picker pays the winners, and the partner pays nothing.

  • In a friendly game, a single point is worth a nickel. Since you can typically win (or lose) 1, 2, or 3 points in a hand, a game staked at a nickel a point is called "5-10-15". If a point is worth a dime, the game is called "10-20-30", and a game staked at a quarter a point is called "25-50-75".

  • Some players like to play double on the bump which means that, if the picker loses, the stakes are doubled (i.e. "5-10-15, double on the bump"). Such play is less friendly and can lead to a situation where a more timid player with a good hand will tend to pass on the blind. Such a person is derogatorily referred to as a maurer.

  • Often, no one elects to take the blind. There are two common ways to handle this situation, and all players must agree upon which way to handle it before play begins.

    • One method is to double the stakes of the next game. That next game is then called a doubler.

    • Instead, the group may opt to play leasters. Playing a "leaster" means that each player is on his/her own and tries to avoid points. At the conclusion of the game, the person with the least number of points receives one point from each player.

      • In a 3 or 5 handed leaster the blind goes to the person taking the first trick (or last trick...or you can even split it up so that the first and last trick get one card each...depending on the group decision). In a 4 handed leaster, 2 cards of the blind go to the person taking the first trick, and the other 2 go to the person taking the last trick.

      • In a 5 handed leaster, in order to qualify to win, you must take at least one trick (this rule is waved in 3 & 4 handed leasters). If two players achieve the identical low score, it is a draw. We say "two tie, all tie".

  • Game progress is recorded by someone designated as the score keeper. The score keeper records the names of each player and keeps track of the game by allocating "plus" points to the winners and "minus" points to the losers. A typical score sheet may look like this:

Tom Renee Jan Jim Mandy

+2 -1 + 1 -1 -1

+4 -3 -1 +3 -3

+3 -4 -2 +7 -4

+4 -3 -3 +8 -6

In this example, four games of 5 handed were played at 5-10-15, no double on the bump. Each line represents a game played.

  • Game 1...Tom picked; Jan was the partner; they won with 70 points.

  • Game 2...Jim picked; Tom was the partner; they won with 95 points (losers did not get Schneider)

  • Game 3...Jim picked; played it alone; and won with 61 points

  • Game 4...Mandy picked; Jan was the partner; they lost with 45 points.

Note:. The score keeper must, on occasion, check that the balance on any given line sums to zero.

If time is a restraint, players may choose to keep score by passing coins (as if they were poker chips). In which case, a score keeper is not needed.

  • After a hand has been played and the scores recorded, the deal shifts to the left of the previous dealer and the next game is played.

Special Scoring Rules

Thanks to some readers, I've included some "special" scoring rules (some of which I've never heard of before). To learn more or add some rules of your own, please see my Input from Readers link. As usual, all players must agree to these formats before play begins.

  • Crack: Any person with a good picking hand may "Crack" if the blind are picked ahead of him/her. This will automatically double the stakes of the game and gives the picker (or the partner…which reveals his identity to the players) a chance to Re-Crack. In which case, the point value is quadrupled. Once a "re-crack" is issued, opponents may again "crack" …then "re-crack"…etc. This can lead to pretty high stakes and has won (and lost) me lots of beer money in my days in Madison as a student.

  • Blitzing: Blitzing will automatically double the stakes if the picker holds the two black queens (Blitz), two red queens (Indian Blitz), or 3 Jacks (Johnny Blitz). The picker must declare this option and display the cards to all other players prior to picking.

  • Blitz Cracking: Similar to a "crack" except the opponent has either the two black or two red queens. The opponent must declare this option and display the queens to the group (prior to play) and the point value is quadrupled. The picker (or partner) may re-crack and double the stakes again.

  • Sheepshead: You need all four queens (picker must declare this option and displayed to the group prior to play) and it quadruples the stakes. Also the picker must take in all the tricks or he/she loses.

  • Dunedin leaster rule: If anyone wins a 5 handed leaster with zero points (remember you need to take at least one trick to qualify), the winner gets triple the normal stakes. Same deal if anyone takes all the tricks.