OBJECTIVE OF NINE CARD DON: The objective of Nine Card Don is for your team to score either 91 or 121 points first.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 Players
MATERIALS: A 52-card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game
OVERVIEW OF NINE CARD DON
Nine Card Don is a game played by 4 players in 2 fixed partnerships. Partners will sit across from each other. The goal of the game is to reach an agreed-upon score total of either 91 or 121 points. It is similar to another game called Big Three. To score points players will try to win certain cards which will be scored at the end of the round.
A couple of things will need to be determined before the first deal can begin. One player from each team should draw a card off the top of the shuffled deck. The player with the higher card will be the pitch player. The pitcher will be able to determine trumps and which player will lead the first trick. They will then declare if they or their partner will lead the first trick.
The player to the pitch player’s right will be the dealer. This will change every round moving clockwise. The new pitch player will always be to the dealer’s left.
The dealer will shuffle the cards and have the player to their right cut the deck. Then each player will receive a nine-card hand, one card at a time. The remaining 16 cards will not be used in this round and can be put aside, facedown.
All players except the player to the dealer’s right can look at their hands, this is to prevent illegal signaling before trumps are called.
Card Rankings and Values
The suits are all ranked Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 (low). Some cards have values associated with them and these will determine points for scoring. There are two types of values, ones that are score as soon as they are acquired, and ones that are accumulated for later.
The values for immediately scored cards are as follows. The ace of trump is worth 4 points. The king of trump is worth 3 points. The queen of trumps is worth 2 points. The jack of trumps is worth 1 point. The 9 of trumps is worth 9 points. The 5 of trumps is worth 10 points, and each non-trump 5 is worth 5 points.
The accumulative values are scored at the end of a round and the team with the higher total of value will score 8 points. If there is a tie, neither team will score the 8 points. The values for this are as follows. All aces are worth 4 points. All kings are worth 3 points. All queens are worth 2 points. All jacks are worth 1 point. All 10s are worth 10 points.
The pitcher leads the first trick and the first card they lead will determine trump for the round. After this card is played the remaining player who has not seen their hand may pick up their cards.
Players following must always follow suit if able, but if not able, they may play any card, including trumps. The trick is won by the highest trump or, if not applicable, the highest card of the led suit. The winner of the previous trick will lead the next.
Scores are kept throughout the game as players win certain cards, but at the end of the round, accumulative scores are compared to see which, if either team, scores the 8 points.
END OF GAME
The game is played until a team reaches 91 or 121 (whichever was agreed upon) first. These players are the winner.