OBJECTIVE OF OH HELL: Successfully bid the number of tricks they think they can take from each hand by taking that exact amount of tricks- no more and no less.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4-7 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52 card deck
RANK OF CARDS: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking
INTRODUCTION TO OH HELL
Oh Hell! is a trick-taking game in which the goal is the bid for the exact number of tricks one believes they will make. Taking more or fewer tricks is a loss. The name of the game offended some and so it is also known as Oh Pshaw! or Oh Well!. Some players also refer to the game as Blackout or Blob, this is most likely a reference to the practice of obliterating a player’s score sheet with a black ink blob if they fail to take the exact number of tricks they predicted.
PLAYERS & HANDS
The game can be played with 3 or more players but, 4 to 6 is optimal.
Oh Hell! is played with a series of hands. The amount of cards played with in the first hand depends on the number of players:
- 3-5 Players, 10 cards each
- 6 Players, 8 cards each
- 7 Players, 7 cards each
Each hand is played with one less card than the previous one until there is a one card hand. Cards are then added one at a time until the card amount of the initial hand is met. For example, in a hand of 8 cards, the series is as follows: 8 cards, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. This gives a total of 15 hands per game.
To determine the initial dealer have each player draw a card from the deck, the player with the highest ranking card deals first. The deal passes clockwise.
After, the cards are shuffled, and dealt to each player one at a time until each has the appropriate amount according to the number of players. The following card is flipped face-up, the suit of that card is the trump suit for that hand. This suit will beat all others. The remaining cards are left in a stack with the trump card on top.
Bidding occurs before the tricks begin.
Each hands bidding starts with the player to the left of the dealer and moves clockwise back to the dealer, who bids last. Each player bids a number which indicates the number of tricks they predicate they will take with that hand. All players must bid, however, players may bid zero. If a player bids zero the plan to take zero tricks. Players may change their bid if the opponent to their left has not yet bid. There is a hook, the dealer is not allowed to bid the number that would cause the total amount of tricks bid to be equal to the number of total tricks available. A hand shall always be and over or under bid. The dealer can change their bid until the first card is played.
The game begins with the player directly to the dealer’s left, this player leads the initial suit. This can be any suit, including the trump suit. Play passes clockwise. Each player must play a card. If they can, they must follow the suit, if they cannot, they can play any card including trump. If there is no trump card played, the highest value card of the leading suit wins the trick. The winner of a trick leads the next one. This continues until all tricks have been played, then the next hand is dealt until all hands have been dealt and all tricks won.
A player or a third party is designated as scorekeeper prior to the start of the deal. If the scorekeeper is a player they have an advantage and must be monitored so that they do not error or cheat. There are several ways to score in Oh Hell!
The simplest method of scoring states that a player who wins the exact number of tricks that they bid gets a score of 10 + # of tricks bid. So if they won and bid 5, their score would total 15 for that hand. The scorer inks out unsuccessful bids and adds a ‘1’ in front of successful ones.
The most common method of scoring is that each player earns 1 point for tricks won + 10 points who win the exact number of tricks bid.
- The hand sequences my end after a single card hand. With groups of 3 or 4 players, one may play with more hands- up to 17.
- Some players only play down from and up to 7 cards, regardless of the number of players.
- Trumps may be determined by a fixed paradigm. This may or may not include No Trumps.
- Hook rule is optional, the dealer may bid so each player wins.
- Dealer leads the first trick.
- Only 5 points earned for a successful zero bid.