OBJECTIVE OF JABBERWOCKY: Have the highest score at the end of the game

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 – 5 players


RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2 – Ace, Trump Suit 2 – Ace (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Jabberwocky is a variation of the game Oh Hell said to have originated in Hawaii.  Over the course of thirteen rounds, players will be dealt cards and asked to bid on how many tricks they think they can.  The aim of the game is to be as precise as possible with your bids because points are only earned for bidding correctly.  If a player missed their bid, they do not earn any points at all.  


 Jabberwocky uses a standard 52 card deck.  In this game, 2’s are low, and Aces are high.  The trump suited cards sit above the other three suits in rank. 

The game is played over thirteen rounds, and each round will see a different number of cards dealt.  For the first round, the dealer shuffles the deck and deals out 3 cards to each player.  The rest of the cards are put face down on the table, and the top card is flipped to determine the trump suit.

The deal for all thirteen rounds is as follows: 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-8-7-6-5-4-3.  The deal will pass left each round.


Each round consists of three phases: bidding, playing, and scoring.


Each player will bid on how many tricks they believe they can capture.  The player left of the dealer goes first, and says out loud how many tricks they will take.  The scorekeeper will need to keep track of the bids.  The dealer is not allowed to bid a number that brings the total bid count up to the number of tricks.

Example: The first round consists of three tricks.  The bid total is at 2 when it reaches the dealer.  The dealer CANNOT bid 1 because that would bring the total to zero.  The dealer must bid zero, 2, or 3.


Once each player has made their bid, the first trick can begin.  The same person that bid first leads the first trick.  They pick a card and play it face up.  A trump suited card CANNOTbe played to lead a trick until that suit is broken.  A suit is broken when a player cannot follow suit and plays a trump card instead.

Following players must match the lead suit if possible.  If they cannot, they can play any other suit they wish.  Again, once a trump suited card is played to a trick, the trump suit can be led.

The player with the highest card (either the highest card in the lead suit or the highest trump card) wins the trick.  The trick-winner leads next.  Play continues as described above until all cards are played.


Players that meet their bid earn 1 point.  Players that fail to meet their bid earn zero points.


At the completion of the final round, the player with the highest score wins.  Ties are left unbroken.


As a huge fan of Oh Hell and Wizard, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Jabberwocky while on one of my card game deep dives.  Unfortunately, I can only find one website that describes the game being created in Hawaii, and there was no source for the claim.  It matters not.  What does matter is how fun this particular game is.

Wizard requires absolute precision when it comes to bidding, and it heavily penalizes players who miss their bid.  Oh Hell is not quite as harsh as Wizard, but if players miss their bid they only earn 1 point for each trick over.  Zero points are earned for going under.  Jabberwocky keeps things a little friendly by only giving players who bid correctly 1 point.

Jabberwocky also changes things a bit by incorporating a rule that is familiar to any Hearts player.  Cards in the trump suit cannot be used to lead a trick until that suit is broken.  This is something that makes Jabberwocky quite different from Oh Hell. 

All in all, I think Jabberwocky has a lot to offer anyone who is a fan of trick taking games.

Mark Ball
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