Golf (card game)
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A player's grid of cards, in six card golf
|Alternative names||Polish Polka, Polish Poker, Turtle|
|Type||Draw and discard|
|Cards||Single deck of 52 or double deck of 104|
|Playing time||10 minutes|
Golf (also known as Polish Polka, Polish Poker, Turtle, Hara Kiri or Crazy Nines) is a card game where players try to earn the lowest number of points (as in golf, the sport) over the course of nine deals (or "holes").
The game has little in common with its solitaire cousin of the same name.
Two or three players use a standard 52-card deck. If played with four or more, a double-deck of 104 cards can be used.
Each player is dealt six cards face down from the deck, the remainder is placed face down and the top card is turned up to start the discard pile beside it. Players arrange their cards in two rows of three in front of them, and turn any two of these cards face up. This arrangement is maintained throughout the game and players always have six cards in front of them.
The object is for players to reduce the value of the cards in front of them by swapping them for lesser value cards and trying to get the lowest score. The highest score loses the game and the lowest score wins the game.
Beginning at dealer's left, players take turns drawing single cards from either the stock or discard piles. The drawn card may either be swapped for one of that player's six cards, or discarded. If the card is swapped for one of the face down cards, the card swapped in remains face up. If the card drawn is discarded, the player can then either flip a card or choose to make no move.
The round ends when a player has six face-up cards. Scoring is:
- Each Jack or Queen scores 10 points
- Each King scores zero points
- Each numeral card scores its face value
During play, it is not legal for a player to pick up a card from the discard pile and return it to the discard pile without playing it, to allow another player to retrieve the card. A card picked up from the discard pile must be swapped with one of the current player's cards.
Game is nine or eighteen "holes" (deals), and the player with the lowest total score is designated winner.
The variants in multiplayer golf are endless. Some common ones include:
For two to four players. Rules are the same as in double-pack golf. Sometimes, jokers are not used.
It can be played single or double pack. Each player receives four cards face down in a 2×2 grid and looks at two (without showing their opponent) before play begins. Thereafter, players do not look at their face-down cards; however, there is a house rule that players may take a stroke (gain one point) to look at one of these cards again. Play proceeds as in six-card golf.
Golf can be played so that instead of ending the game automatically, a player must choose to "knock" instead of taking their turn. Remaining players then have one turn to draw a card to improve their hands and then scores are totaled and recorded on a running score sheet. This rule is more common for four-card golf.
Two packs, with each player laying out a 3x3 grid and facing 3 cards at the outset. Pairs do not count, but 3-of-a-kind in a row, column or diagonal scores zero, and a 2x2 block of 4 equal cards scores -25. Player turns over 1 card
There are many variants for point values of cards, including:
- Jokers are added to the deck and score -5.
- Queens score 12, 13 or 20 points each.
- Queen of spades scores 40 points, other Queens 10 each, and Eights are zero points.
- One-eyed jacks are wild and automatically form a pair with an adjacent card (or complete a triplet in 9-card golf).
- Jacks score zero, Queens 12, Kings 13.
- Jacks are worth 20 points each and when a Jack is discarded, the following player loses a turn.
- Twos are minus 2 instead of plus 2 (usually played in games without jokers)
- Jokers are minus 1, minus 2, minus 3 or minus 5 points each.
- Jokers are +15 individually, or minus 5 as a pair
- Four of a kind wins all nine game automatically (usually played in 4-card golf).
- A player who has a 9 card straight scores -12. This hand is considered a "hole in 1". If player does not obtain correct number of cards for a straight, then all points are added as usual.
- A player may "shoot the moon" by getting the maximum 60 points. He or she gets 0 points for the round, and all other players get 60 points.
- When playing 8-card, 4x2, four kings on one side = -16 points.
- In "Cutthroat Golf" the kings are worth 15 points and if drawn from the deck can be traded for any other players up card. The card they receive must then be placed in their hand.
In some versions, making a pair or triple of cards of equal rank (sometimes vertically, sometimes horizontally and sometimes diagonally) reduces those cards' scores to zero.
Variants known as Cambio, Pablo or Cactus include "power cards". When a power card is drawn from the stock, it can either be used for its normal value or discarded to activate its power. (If a power card is drawn from the discards, it must be played as its number.) A simple version of the game played in Malaysia has the following power cards:
- A Jack allows a player to look at one of their own cards (without their opponent seeing it)
- A Queen allows a player to look at one of their opponent's cards (again without their opponent seeing)
- A King allows a player to swap one of their own cards with that of their opponent
- A joker allows a player to shuffle their opponent's cards around so that they no longer know what is where
John McLeod of Pagat.com speculates that these variants are Spanish in origin, as the game is recorded as being played by students in Spain, and many of its variant names are Spanish words (cambio meaning "exchange"). The game had a commercial release as Cabo in 2010 and is similar to the 1996 Mensa Select winner Rat-a-Tat Cat.
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"Powers" is an escalated version of Cambio where every card is given some sort of additional ability. The game can only end after knocking, and all cards stay face down unless a power dictates one should be turned up. You start the game with 6 cards, and can look at any two of them, with the rest staying hidden until you swap them or look at them with a power.
On your turn, you take the top card, and put it into your deck without looking at the card with which you want to swap it, and discard. Or, you can discard the card you have drawn straight away, and instead use the power of the card instead.
The abilities are as follows:
|Red King||Scores -1|
|Black King||Cancels knock if turned over from the opponent's hand or drawn from the pile|
|Jack||Peek at one of your cards|
|10||Peek at one of your opponent's cards|
|9||Can swap any card in your opponent's deck for the 9|
|8||Take the next two cards from the draw pile and put either one (or the 8 if you choose) into your deck|
|7||Swap a row/column with another one in your opponent's set (disorienting them)|
|6||Swap any one of your cards of for one of your opponent's|
|5||Shield (Kept off to the side face-up, and used to block an opponents attacks)|
|4||Turn one of your opponent's cards face up/Turn one of your cards face down|
|3||Completely shuffle your opponent's 6 cards|
|2||Can use any combination (without repeats) of two powers from 3 - Black King|
|Ace||Add one card to your opponent's set/remove one card from your set|
The Black King is the only card which can have its power applied when in a player's set.
Knocker's penalties and bonuses
Some play Golf and its variations such that that a player who knocks (turns over all cards first) but doesn't end with the lowest score is penalized:
- Knocker adds a penalty of 10 or 20 points, or...
- Knocker's score for the hand is doubled with 5 points added, or...
- The knocker takes a score equal to the highest scoring player for that hand, or...
- Knocker adds twice the number of people playing.
If the knocker's score is lowest, some play with a bonus:
- Knocker scores zero instead of a positive score, or...
- Knocker's score is reduced by the number of people playing.
- "Rules of Card Games: Golf". Pagat.com. 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Parlett, David (2004), The A–Z of card games (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, pp. 169f, ISBN 978-0-19-860870-7.