BACK ALLEY




OBJECTIVE OF BACK ALLEY: The objective of Back Alley is to win as many tricks as you bid.


NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  4 players


MATERIALS: One 52-card deck with 2 jokers included, and a flat surface.


TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game


AUDIENCE: Any


OVERVIEW OF BACK ALLEY

Back Alley is a partnership trick-taking game. Two teams of 2 will bid on how many tricks they believe they can win. The goal of the game is to achieve this number to score points at the end of the round. 

SETUP

To set up a deck of 52 cards and the two jokers (these should be visually different in some way) will be shuffled by the dealer. The dealer should be determined randomly and then passed clockwise with each new round. Each round the deal varies slightly. There will be a total of 25 deals in the game. 

The first deal will have each player with 13 cards for a hand. This decreases by one each deal until hand sizes reach 1 card each, then it increases by one again until 13 cards for a hand is reached again. 

After hands are dealt the top card of the undealt portion is flipped to reveal the trump suit for the round. If a joker is revealed there will be no trump suit this round and the holder of the other joker, if applicable, will need to discard their card and draw the top card of the remaining deck. 

Card Rankings 

There are two rankings for trump and non-trump suits, but they are very similar. Jokers are always part of the trump suit and should be marked or remembered as one being Big Blooper and Little Blooper. 

The non-trump ranking is Ace(high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2(low). 

The trump ranking is the same except both jokers are higher trumps. The ranking for the trump suit is Big Blooper(high), Little Blooper, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2(low). 

BIDDING

After the cards have been dealt then the bidding will begin. Each player bids only once and partnerships add each player’s bid for a total of tricks to win. There are three options for a bid. A player may pass, meaning there is no bid and zero tricks added to their total. A player may bid a number of tricks, this number may be as high as the number of cards in hand minus one. So, for thirteen cards a maximum bid of 12 may be made. Players can also claim board, this means they will win all tricks with the help of their partner. Their partner’s bid no longer matters.

Player bids do not have to be higher than the previous player’s bid. If all players pass, then hands are reshuffled and dealt again by the next dealer. Also, if multiple players claim board the second claim is called double board, then triple board, and finally quadruple board.  

GAMEPLAY

Once bidding is over the player who bid the highest starts the game. If there is a tie the highest numerical value bid first is the first player. In the case of board ties the last player to bid boards goes first. 

They may play any card but a trump from hand to lead the first trick. All the following players must follow suit if able. If not able to follow suit players may play any card they wish, including trumps. 

The trick is won by the highest trump, but if not applicable, then by the highest card of the original suit led. The winner of the trick leads the next trick. 

A player cannot play a trump to lead a trick unless a trump has been played to a previous trick, or you claimed a bid of a board. 

If the Big Blooper is used to lead a trick all players must play their highest trump. If the Little Blooper is used to lead a trick all players must play their lowest trump. 

SCORING

Teams that complete their bids win 5 points for each bid trick and 1 point for each trick after that. If they fail to meet their bid, they lose 5 points per trick bid. 

Teams that bid board and are successful win 10 points for each trick. For failure to complete a board, these points are lost instead. For double through quadruple boards points are multiplied by their respective numeric counterpart. Double boards are multiplied by 2, triple by 3, and quadruple by 4. 

END OF GAME

The game is played over 25 hands. The players with the most points at the end of the game wins.

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