Original card games by David Parlett  
Joker
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ABSTRAC

A dead simple game - for two dead simpletons

Players 2   Cards 24   Type Collecting card combinations
Parachute down
Down
  What could be simpler than a game of perfect information where you deal the cards out in a row and then pick them up one by one? (Or two, or three, as the case may be.) Simple? There's more to it than meets the eye.  
 
Cards
Use a 24-card pack consisting of A-K-Q-J-10-9 in each suit.
Start
Shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal them all out, face up, with just enough overlap to enable each card to be identified. For example:

Sample layout

Object
To take cards that form scoring combinations (sets and sequences, as in Rummy) but without taking more cards than absolutely necessary.
Play
Non-dealer examines the layout and decides whether to play first or second. If second, dealer must play first.
    You each in turn draw either one, two or three consecutive cards from the top end of the row until none remain. (The top end is the one with the fully exposed card - Ace of spadesA in the illustration.)
    You must place the cards you take face up on the table before you, clearly arranged by suit and rank, so your opponent can always see what you have taken so far.
Score
The scoring combinations are sets of three or more cards of the same rank and sequences of three or more cards of the same suit. Any individual card may, if possible, be counted twice, once in a set and once in a sequence. Your score for the deal consists of two part-scores multiplied together.
    First, for combinations, score as follows:
    sets: three of a kind 2 points, four of a kind = 8 points
    suit-sequences: of three 3, four 4, five 6, six 12 points
    Next, total your score for combinations and multiply this by the total number of cards drawn by your opponent. This gives you your score for the deal.
Misère
Theoretically, if you don't make any combination at all you score nothing, since one of the multipliers is zero. In this case, however, the scores are reversed. The player who took no combination scores whatever the other one makes, and the other one scores nothing.
Example
Given the layout illustrated above, non-dealer went first, and the number taken at each pair of turns was: 2-2, 2-3, 1-1, 2-3, 1-3, 2-2.
    Non-dealer therefore took : (S)A9 (H)AQ (C)A (D)AKQJ9, scoring 8 for four Aces, plus 4 for the diamond sequence, times 14 cards taken by dealer, total 168.
    The dealer took : (S)KQJ10 (H)KJ109 (C)KQJ109 (D)10, scoring 8 for four Tens, plus 4 for the Kings and Jacks, plus 4 for the spade sequence, plus 3 for the heart sequence, plus 6 for the clubs, total 25, times 10 cards taken by non-dealer, total 250.

It's interesting to see what the results would be if the same layout were played in various different ways. Assuming that non-dealer chose to go first, then
(a) if each player always took one card, dealer would win by 96 to 60;
(b) if they each always took two, non-dealer would win by 144 to 120; and
(c) if they each always took three, non-dealer would win by 96 to 84.

 
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