POCH



OBJECTIVE:  Be the last player remaining in the game with chips

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 3 – 6 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 36 or 52 play cards

RANK OF CARDS: (low) 7 – Ace (high), (low) 2 – Ace (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Casino

AUDIENCE: Adults


INTRODUCTION OF POCH

Poch is a casino style gambling game that dates clear back to 1441.  Unlike Newmarket or Pope Joan, Poch is played over three phases during each round, and it includes elements of poker that allow for bluffing to occur.  

THE CARDS & THE DEAL

If playing with three or four people, use a 32 card deck composed of 7’s up through Aces.  If playing with five or six players, use a full 52 card deck.

You will also need to create a Poch board.  The best way to do this would be to grab nine paper bowls or cups.  Each cup will be labeled as follows: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Marriage, Sequence, Poch.  The ninth bowl is called the Pinke.  

Finally, you will need a large supply of chips or tokens.

To decide who will be the first dealer and the banker for the game, have each player take a card from the deck.  The player with the lowest card is the banker and deals first.  The banker is responsible for doling out chips and preparing the Poch board.   Make sure each player begins the game with ten chips.   

To prepare the Poch board for the round, the banker should place one chip into each bowl.  The Pinke remains empty.  

The dealer should shuffle the cards thoroughly and deal five to each player one at a time.  Flip the top card of the remaining deck over to determine the trump suit for the round.  Now place the remaining deck with the trump card showing to the side.

THE PLAY

A round of Poch consists of three phases: melding, poker, and shedding.

MELDING

During this phase, players begin to win chips from the Poch board.

The player who is holding the trump suited Ace should announce it, reveal the card, and take the chips from that bowl.  The same is done for the trump suited King, Queen, Jack and Ten.  

If a player has both the King and the Queen, they also take the chips from the Marriage bowl.  

The player who has the highest run of three same suited cards wins the chips from the Sequence bowl.  Trump suited runs beat normal suited runs.  In the event of a tie between two normal suited runs, the player closest to the left of the dealer wins the Sequence chips.

If a bowl is not emptied due to the required cards being in the draw pile, the chips stay in that bowl for the next round.

Players keep all of their cards during this phase.

POKER

It is in the Poker phase that a little betting and bluffing can take place.  In this phase, player’s are betting on who has the best set of cards.  A set must contain 2, 3, or 4 cards of the same rank.  A four card set beats a three card set and so on.  In the event of a tie, the player who has the trump suited card in their set wins.  If no one has a set, the player with the highest card wins.  A tie between high cards is broken by the next highest card in each player’s hand.  

The dealer begins the phase by asking, “who is betting?”

Beginning with the player on the left side of the dealer, that player may either add chips to the Pinke or say pass.  Passing is the same as folding.  Players who fold still keep their cards.

Once chips are bet and added to the Pinke, the next player may either check, raise, or fold.  Check by adding the same amount of chips to the Pinke.  Raise by meeting the previous bet and adding more.  Fold by saying pass.  The Poker phase continues around the table until no one else wants to raise.  

If there are two or more players remaining in the Poker phase, they reveal their sets.  The player with the highest ranked set wins the chips from the Pinke and the Poch bowl.  If only one person remains because everyone else has folded, that player wins and does not have to reveal their hand.

Players keep their cards during this phase.

SHEDDING

This is the final phase of the game in which players are trying to get rid of their cards.  Beginning with the player on the left side of the dealer, they choose one card from their hand and play it to the center of the table.  Whoever has the next highest card in the same suit plays it.  This continues until the Ace of that suit is played or no one else can add to the pile.  Once the run of cards has been stopped, the last player to lay a card gets to begin a new run by choosing any card from their hand and playing it.  This continues until one of the player’s at the table has emptied their hand.  The first player to empty their hand wins.  The remaining players pay the winner one chip for each card remaining in their hand.

After the Shedding phase is complete, the cards are collected and deal passes to the next player.  The banker must replenish the bowls with chips.  Any bowl that was not emptied will start with more chips than the other ones.

Once a player has run out of chips, they are out of the game.

WINNING

The last player with any chips wins the game.

For a shorter game, play one round for each player. For example, if there are four players, play four rounds.  At the end of the final round, whoever has the most chips wins.

Mark Ball
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