Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The game is popular in East Asia, especially Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is played both casually and as a gambling game. It is usually played with three or four players, the entire deck being dealt out in either case (or sometimes with only 13 cards per player). The object of the game is to be the first to get rid of all of your cards. As soon as one player does so, he scores points based on how many cards his opponents have left, and his opponents score negative points.
In the four player version, each player receives thirteen cards. In the three player variant, each player receives seventeen cards, and the remaining card goes to whoever claims having the 3 of Diamonds (and in the case where the remaining card is said 3, it goes to whoever has the 4 of Diamonds).
All the cards in the deck rank in a specific order:
Actual rank comes first, and cards rank (high to low) 2, A, K, Q, J, etc. down to 5, 4, 3. Within each rank of cards, the suits are valued (high to low) Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds. Thus the 3 of Diamonds is the lowest card, and the 2 of Spades is the highest. (In some regions, the order of suits may be different, and Jokers may be added, ranking as the two highest cards.)
At the beginning of each game, the player with the 3 of diamonds starts by making any valid play he can which includes it. A valid play can be one of four types: Single, Pair, 3 of a Kind, or 5-Card Hand. After a play has been made, each player in turn may make another play, with the same number of cards, on top of the previous one, provided their play is higher. For single cards, the ranking above is followed. For pairs, the highest card in the new pair must beat the highest card in the old one. For 3 of a kind, the highest triple wins.
There are 5 different valid 5-card hands, ranking (low to high): Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush. A 5-card hand may be played on a different type of 5-card hand, provided that the new one ranks higher in type.
- Straight: Any 5 cards in a sequence. When 2s are in straights, they ALWAYS count low, not high, but Aces may count either way. So the lowest straight is A-2-3-4-5 and the highest is 10-J-Q-K-A. (Some variations count A-2-3-4-5 as highest, or as second highest, ranking below 10-J-Q-K-A.) Between other straights, the higher is the one with the highest card.
- Flush: Any 5 cards of the same suit. Between 2 flushes, the higher is the one that is highest in the lexicographical ordering of flushes from 7-6-5-4-3 (low) to 2-A-K-Q-J (high) excluding straight flushes (not necessarily the one with the highest card!); suit only counts when suit is the only difference. So the lowest flush is 8-6-5-4-3, the second lowest is 8-7-5-4-3, the second highest is 2-A-K-Q-10, and the highest is the 2-A-K-Q-J.
- Full House: Any pair and a 3 of a kind. Between 2 Full Houses, the higher is the one with the highest 3 of a kind (not necessarily the one with the highest card!). So, for example, a 3-3-3-9-9 can be beaten by a 5-5-5-6-6, because the pair of 9s doesn't matter.
- 4 of a Kind: Any set of 4 cards of the same rank, plus any 5th card. (A 4 of a Kind cannot be played unless it is played as a 5-card hand!) Between 2 of these, the higher is the one with the higher 4 of a kind (not necessarily the one with the highest card!). So, for example, the four 3s with a King can be beaten by the four 4s with a 6, because the 4s are higher and the King doesn't matter.
- Straight Flush: A straight which is also a flush. See the notes above for straights. Bear in mind that since 2s can't be high in straights, a J-Q-K-A-2 of the same suit counts only as a Flush and not a Straight Flush.
Scoring varies from place to place. One of the more common versions is that each player with cards remaining scores -1 point for each, unless they have 10 or more remaining, in which they score -2 for each. If they didn't get to play any cards at all, they score -3 for each. Then the winner of the hand scores +1 for every -1 his opponents got. (So, for example, if North won, and East, West, and South respectively still had 3, 11, and 8 cards left, East would score -3, West would score -22, South would score -8, and North would score +33.)
- http://www.pagat.com/climbing/bigtwo.html - rules on several variants -- very comprehensive!
- http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~vyeh/big2.html - A different variant of the rules.
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