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Game Rules

Winning against your friends at any card game was never so easy. Just select your favorite card game from the list below to learn about that game in depth. HOYLE provides you with the authentic rules of the game, key strategies and valuable tips & tricks.

3 Towers

Goal: Get the highest score possible by removing cards from the towers before time runs out. Get points for removing cards, for clearing an entire tower, and for making runs.

3 Towers has two rounds of play; each round lasts 60 seconds. Finishing the second round with more than 50,000 points earns a bonus round. Finishing the bonus round with 75,000 wins the game.

How to Play

One card is flipped from the stock pile; this is the upcard. Click a card in the tableau that is one higher or one lower than the upcard to move that card to the deck, then click another card one higher or lower than that upcard, and so on.

For example, if a 5 is on the deck, you could click these cards on the tableau, in order: 6, 7, 8, 9, 8, 7, 8, 9.

You can wrap from king to ace and from ace to king.

When you cannot find a card higher or lower than the upcard, click the stock pile to get a new card, and try again.

When you've played as much as you can, click the Take Score button. The game proceeds to the next round (or ends, if you're on the last round).


You get 100 points for each card you clear from the tableau. Clearing additional cards after the first card, without having to flip up a card, is a run. The number of current runs is shown on the screen. Each time you add a card to a run, you get 100 more points for that card. For example, if you have cleared 4 cards in a row, you get 100 for the first card, 200 for the second card, 300 for the third card, and 400 for the fourth card. As soon as your run ends (and you have to click the stock pile to get a new card), your number of runs is reset; the first card you clear is again worth 100, and additional cards in a run increase the score.

Each time you have to click the stock pile to get a new card, your score is decreased by 100 points.

Clearing a tower is worth 5,000 points. Clearing a second tower gives you 10,000 points, and clearing the third tower gives you 15,000 points.

Finishing a round quickly gives you a time bonus. You get 100 points for each second remaining on the clock when you click the Take Score button.


If possible, choose cards in the tableau that form long sequences, because you get more points that way. Otherwise, choose cards that maximize the number of other cards in the tableau that will become exposed.

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5 Card Draw

Players' hands consist of five cards dealt to each player, all face down. From these five cards, the player can choose to discard several cards (3 card maximum) and draw the same number of cards to replace them. A player wins by having the highest-ranking hand of five cards.

Each hand can start with eight players or less (if a player runs out of cash, or if you remove players before the deal).

Casino vs. Friday Night game rules

The rules for Casino 5 Card Draw and Friday Night 5 Card Draw are the same, except for the following:

Casino game
Structured betting.
First betting interval requires blind
open and blind raise (no ante).
Friday Night game
Limit betting.
Ante is required.

For more details on the differences between betting in Casino and Friday Night games, see Rules for betting in Hoyle Poker.

How play proceeds

Friday Night play begins with each player adding his or her ante to the pot. Each player then receives five cards face down, followed by the first betting interval. In Casino play, a blind open and blind raise are required from the players to the immediate left of the dealer button. In Friday Night play, the right to open passes to each player, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button. Players that stay in choose which (if any) of the five cards they want to discard (3 cards maximum).

The dealer then deals replacement cards to make each players' hand total five cards. The second (and final) betting interval takes place.

After the final betting interval, all players that are still in show their cards. The player with the highest-ranking hand of five cards wins. If hands tie, the pot is split.

In each betting interval, if more than two players are betting, there is a limit of three raises amongst all players. If only two players are in the game, there is no limit.

5 Card Draw strategies

Most of the strategies listed here apply to Draw poker games and their variations.

Pay attention to how players are betting and the number of cards they are drawing.

If a player draws three cards, the best he or she can have is a pair. If you want three as well, sometimes take two instead and use the third card to fake out the other players (even if you have no use for it).

If a player draws one card, he or she may be drawing for a straight or a flush, or may already have a good hand, so watch out!

If a player does not draw any cards (stands pat), you will probably want to have a really good hand to beat it. Of course, the other player may be bluffing.

With eight players at the table, you will usually need a minimum of Two Pair to win.

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How the Game Is Played

In Baccarat, no matter how many players are at the table, only two hands are dealt: the Player hand and the Banker hand. Players wager on the hand they predict will total closest to 9 (or they wager on a tie) by placing chips in the appropriate box on the table layout in front of their seat.


The act of placing a bet is the end of the player’s decision-making. The round is then played out according to a strict procedure involving no player choices. You could skip to Baccarat Payouts at this point and not be any worse off than someone who knows the Baccarat rules backwards and forwards. For the record, though, here is how a Baccarat hand plays out:


1.     Two cards are dealt face down to the Player hand, followed by two cards face down to the Banker hand. The dealer first reveals the Player hand, and then the Banker hand.

2.     The dealer assesses the current value of the hands. The value of a hand is determined as follows:


·          Tens and face cards count as zero.

·          Aces count as one.

·          Cards 2 through 9 count as their face value.

·          When a hand totals more than nine, the first digit is dropped: for example, a hand of a 9 and a 4 totals three, not 13. A hand of two 10s totals zero, not 20. This means that all hands have a value from 0 to 9.


3.     If either hand totals 8 or 9, it is called a natural, and the hand ends. If neither hand is a natural, the dealer then determines if either of the hands requires a third card based on the Baccarat drawing rules. No Baccarat hand ever has more than three cards.

4.     The dealer determines if the Player hand or Banker hand is closer to nine, or if they are tied. The dealer pays off winning bets according to Baccarat payout rules, and collects losing bets.


Baccarat Drawing Rules

The Baccarat drawing rules are a bit confusing, but the irony is that you don’t have to

know these rules to play the game! Essentially, though, the player hand hits on a total

of 5 or less, and the banker hand then hits or stands based on the value of the

player's third card. For the record, here are the details:



If either the Banker or Player hand is dealt an 8 or a 9 (a natural), the round ends. If not, the dealer first follows the rules on the Player Hand Drawing Chart, and then, if necessary, follows the Banker Hand Drawing Chart.


Player Hand Drawing Chart (No Naturals)

If the player total is…           …the player hand:               and the banker hand:

0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5                       draws a card.                         follows the Banker

 Hand Chart (below)


6 or 7                                       stands.                                  draws on 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 

5, stand on 6 or 7.

Round ends.


Banker Hand Drawing Rules (No Naturals)



If banker hand total is…      …the banker hand                …and the banker

draws when the                    hand stands when

player’s third card is:           the player’s third card is:


0, 1 or 2                                  …anything                             (never stands)

3                                              0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9             8

4                                              2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7                         0, 1, 8, 9

5                                               4, 5, 6, 7                                                 0, 1, 2, 3, 8, 9

6                                               6, 7                                         0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

7                                              (never draws)                        …anything



Payoffs in Baccarat


Once the hand has played out, the dealer announces whether Player or Banker is the winner, or whether it was a tie.


·          Winning Player bets are paid off at even money.

·          Winning Banker bets are paid off at even money, and the house takes a 5% commission.

·          Winning Tie bets are paid off at 8-1, and all Player and Banker bets are a push (they neither win nor lose).       


The Banker hand is a bit more likely to win than the player hand, which is why the house takes the 5% commission on winning Banker bets. Taking the commission into account, the house edge is 1.24% on Player wagers, 1.06% on Banker wagers, and 14.36% on Tie wagers. Obviously, the Tie wager is a sucker bet that should be avoided unless you are clairvoyant, in which case, skip Baccarat altogether and play the lottery instead.


As for Banker vs. Player, you may be thinking, if the house edge is lower on the Banker bet, I should bet it every time, right? While it is true that the numbers support the Banker wager as the statistically better bet, the difference is slight. If you sit down at a Baccarat table and bet Banker all night, you are trading the fun of going with your gut and mixing it up a bit in exchange for a very small statistical gain.


Placing a Bet in Baccarat

At the beginning of each hand, you have the option to place a bet. If you make a bet, it must meet the minimum bet requirement, but not exceed the maximum bet limit.


Chips appear in the bottom right corner of the screen. To view all values of chips available, click the left and right arrow symbols.


To place a bet:


1              Click on the chips to add to or subtract from your intended bet.


·          To add money to the bet, click the left mouse button on the chip or chips you want to add.

·          To subtract money from the bet, click the right mouse button on the chip or chips you want to subtract.

·          To clear the bet, click on the eraser.


2              When you are satisfied with the amount of your bet, click on the type of bet you want to place: Player, Banker, or Tie. You can place as many bets as you like. When you are finished betting, click Done, and play will begin.


The Baccarat Scorecard

Like most casinos, Hoyle Casino offers Baccarat players a scorecard for tracking the Player and Banker wins. Many Baccarat players swear by various methods of tracking Player-Banker patterns to predict future outcomes. Unfortunately, there is no statistical basis for the notion of finding predictable patterns in the chaos of well-shuffled cards. The fact that most casinos provide a Baccarat scorecard should be any gambler's first clue that there is no advantage to doing it.


However, keeping score does add to the fun of Baccarat, and in Hoyle Casino, we keep score for you! To view you scorecard, click the scorecard next to your character.


Scorecard Notation


·          Wins are recorded in red, and losses are recorded in black.

·          The number used to record each Player and Banker result represents how many times that hand has won in the current shoe. This gives you a running total of Player and Banker wins at a glance.

·          Ties are recorded as dashes through the Player and Banker spaces.

·          When you sit out the hand, Player and Banker results are recorded in black with a circle around them. Tie results when you sit out are not circled.


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Best 21

How to Play Best 21

The goal of Best 21 is to get the highest score possible by making five high scoring blackjack hands before time runs out.

Best 21 has three rounds of play; each round lasts 45 seconds. Finishing the third round with more than 120,000 points earns a bonus round. Finishing the bonus round with 160,000 or more points wins the game.

To play, move cards one at a time from the stock pile to one of the five blackjack hands, or to the reserve pile. The reserve pile can only hold one card each round.

Play cards to try to make hands that score 21 or close to 21, without going over 21.

Current hand totals are shown next to the hand. Jacks, queens, and kings are worth 10, aces are worth 1 or 11, and all other cards are worth their face value. Note that although aces are worth 1 or 11, only their "hard" value is shown. In other words, an ace and an 8 are shown as 19, not 9, although they can be worth either 9 or 19. You can hit these "hard" hands, if desired.

Busting any hand (going over 21) ends the round immediately.

When you've played as much as you can, click the Take Score button. The game proceeds to the next round (or ends, if you're on the last round).

Scoring in Best 21

You score 100 times the total of all your final blackjack hands. Getting 21 in any hand gives you a bonus of 10,000. Finishing a round quickly gives you a time bonus; you score 100 times the amount of seconds remaining on the clock when you finish the round.

For example, if you made hands of 21, 20, 20, 18, and 15, with 32 seconds left on the clock, you'd get this score:

9,400 points for your five hands (21 20 20 18 15 = 94 x 100=9400)
                        10,000 points for the hand of 21
                        3,200 point time bonus (32 seconds left x 100)
                        = 22,600 points total

Strategies for Best 21

Try to form piles of 11, since cards with the value 10 are the most common. Of course, you'll want to use your aces on piles of 10 or 20.

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Big Raise Hold 'Em

featuring head-to-head play against the dealer and a bonus bet, Big Raise has it all: aggressive

betting, bluffing, bad beats and miracle draws.


How To Play:

To play against the dealer, make the Ante bet. You may also make a Big Raise bet from 1x to 3x

your Ante. This is done before you receive any cards. To play against the Bonus paytable:

Make a bet in the marked area. This bet wins when your final hand is a pair of 8s or better.


In the Hole:

The dealer will then give you two hole cards, like in Texas Hold’em. The dealer receives

three cards—two face down and one face up. If the dealer’s up card is an Ace or a King, you must go all in,

risking both the Ante and Big Raise. Otherwise, you have a choice: risk the Ante bet or risk

the Big Raise bet. Indicate which bet you want to keep in action by tucking your cards underneath it.

If you have a pair, you may risk both. Snap your cards over and tell the dealer you’re all-in.



Winning & Losing:

The dealer then reveals his starting hand and the community cards. Note: If the dealer has an Ace up,

he uses all three of his cards to make the best 5 card hand. If your hand beats the dealer’s, you win

even money on the bet left in action. Ties push.


Automatic Bonuses:

The top hands in the game pay more than even money. If you receive a royal flush, your bet vs.

the dealer pays 50 to 1. If you have a straight flush, your bet vs. the dealer pays 40 to 1.


Sample Paytable:

Royal Flush                           50 to 1*

Straight Flush                        40 to 1*

Four-of-a-Kind                       30 to 1

Full House                              20 to 1

Flush                                      15 to 1

Straight                                   10 to 1

Three-of-a-Kin                       8 to 1

Two pair                                                 3 to 1

8’s or better                            1 to1


*Odds also paid on Ante/Big Raise wager(s)

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How the Game Is Played

Blackjack is played between a dealer and group of players. The object of the game is

to beat the dealer (not the other players) with a hand of cards that does not go over a

total of 21. Blackjack can be played with a single deck or multiple decks.


The value of the hand is the sum of its cards:


·          Face cards count as 10.

·          Aces count as either one or 11, player’s choice.

·          All other cards count as their face value.


Play begins with each player placing a bet. In games using three or more decks, the

dealer pulls cards from a plastic or wooden box called a shoe. Otherwise, he deals

from his hand.


Each player and the dealer receive two cards. The first two player cards are dealt face

down for single-deck games and face up for multiple-deck games. In all games, the

dealer receives one card face down and the rest face up. The dealer’s first face-up

card is called the upcard. The dealer’s face-down card is known as the hole card.

After the initial deal, each player can hit (draw cards) until they want to stand (stop

drawing), or until the hand busts (goes over 21). Players can hit or stand on any card

total of 21 or below.


After the players have completed their turns, the dealer must draw cards as long as

his or her total is less than 16 and must stand when the total is 17 or more, unless the

game setting requiring the dealer to hit on a soft 17 (an ace and a 6) is turned on.



Winning and Losing

You win at Blackjack by beating the dealer’s hand.You must hold a hand equal to or

less than 21 that also beats the dealer’s hand. If the first two cards you receive are

Blackjack (total 21), and the dealer does not have Blackjack, you win immediately.

If you bust (go over 21) or the dealer has a hand of 21 or under that is greater than

yours , then you lose your bet. If you stand with any total under 21 and the dealer

busts, then you win your bet.

If you tie the dealer, it is called a push, and neither side wins.

Beating the dealer pays even money, except for Blackjack. If the player has Blackjack

and the dealer dos not, it pays 3 to 2.


Doubling Down

When you double down, you place a matching bet next to your original bet and receive

one and only one additional card, which completes your hand. This option makes it

possible for you to double your bet under favorable conditions.


When your hand is strong and the dealer’s is weak, you should take advantage of the

situation by doubling down. It is a vital method of offsetting the house advantage. For

example, when you’re dealt a 5 and 6 (totaling 11), it is usually desirable to double

down, since your odds of getting a 21 (by receiving a 10 or face card) are very good.

The strength shown by the dealer is also a factor in the decision to double down.

When dealer is weak (a 4 to 6 upcard), doubling down will be more advantageous.


Splitting Pairs

Splitting pairs is another key strategy for the Blackjack player.You can split when dealt

a pair of any kind (e.g., two aces). To split your pairs, you separate the identical cards,

leaving them face up, and place an amount of chips equal to your original bet in front

of your new hand.You then proceed to play each hand independently, requesting hits

or standing, as desired.You can win, lose, or bust with either or both hands.



If the dealer does not have Blackjack, players have the option to surrender, and lose

only half their original bets. Surrendering is only an option before a player has opted

for a hit, and it is an optional setting in Hoyle Casino.

When you surrender, the dealer will take your cards and half your original bet.

Although it’s not generally to your advantage to surrender, it can be useful when your

hand is weak (e.g., a 16), and the dealer is showing a powerful upcard (e.g., an ace).



When the dealer’s upcard is an ace, he or she will ask the players if they want to buy

insurance. Insurance is actually a type of secondary bet; you are betting that the

dealer has a Blackjack.


To take out insurance, place up to half your original bet in the “insurance” area marked

on the board. The dealer will then check the hole card to see if it’s a Blackjack. If the

dealer does indeed have a Blackjack, your are paid off at 2 to 1, however, you also

lose your original bet. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, you lose the insurance

bet. Play continues as normal.


Do not take insurance unless you are counting cards and know exactly when it is

favorable to do so.


Strategies for Winning Blackjack

Success at Blackjack is not the result of intuition, but of mathematics. Julian Braun, an

IBM computer expert, ran nine billion Blackjack card combinations based on one-to

eight-deck Blackjack games. The fundamental system strategy tables (see below) are

based on the data unearthed by Mr. Braun when four decks are in play. Making

decisions based on these findings is the foundation for good Blackjack play.


Players who apply the information found in these tables can reduce the house

advantage down to between one percent and two percent. Additionally, a simplified

card-counting method can actually give you the advantage over the house. Using

these methods properly only requires you remember a single number, rather than an

exact list of cards that have already been played.


Hitting or Standing

You may be tempted to hit or stand solely on the basis of the cards totals you are

holding, but you must always consider the dealer’s upcard when deciding to hit, double

down, split, or surrender. For example, it may seem obvious to hit a hand of 12. If the

dealer is showing a 4, 5, or 6, though, your odds of winning are better if you stand,

because the dealer must hit on 16, and has a good chance of busting.You can use

this rule to your advantage by knowing when to stand, even if your hand total is not

close to 21.


Winning at Blackjack is all about gauging your hand’s potential versus the degree of

threat posed by the dealer’s upcard.Your strategy for hitting should depend upon

these factors. The degree of threat posed by the dealer’s upcard is described here:


Dealer’s Upcard Potential Threat

Ace Extreme danger, a loss is likely.

10 to king Big trouble.You’ll be lucky to push.

9 You’re a little uptight and maybe in trouble.

7 to 8 Breathe a little easier. The dealer is beatable.

4 to 6 Looking good.You are in the driver’s seat.

2 to 3 Wait and see. Be cautious.


The threat posed by the dealer’s upcard is arrived at by simple arithmetic. The

prevalence of 10s and face cards (accounting for 16 out of every 52 cards) makes the

dealer highly vulnerable when showing an upcard of 4, 5, or 6. His hole card is likely

to put him in the 12 to 16 range, forcing a hit, probably resulting in a bust.You need to

know the degree of threat the dealer’s upcard represents, and it should impact your

decision whether to hit.


Hard Hand Strategy

If your hand totals 13 to 16, only hit if the dealer is strong (9 upcard or better) or

showing the 7 or 8. The 7 or 8 forces you to hit, because it is possible that the dealer

will end up with a low hand (totaling 17 or 18), which still beats your 13 to 16.

If your hand totals 12, you should always hit unless the dealer is very weak (showing a

4 to 6), and therefore likely to bust.


Soft Hand Strategy

Always stand when you have an ace and an 8 or better (i.e., any hand totaling 19 to

21). An ace and a 7 (totaling 18) is relatively weak if the dealer is showing strength (9

or better), and you should hit. Always hit when holding an ace and a 6 or less.


Normally you wouldn’t hit on 17 or 18. However, the flexibility of the ace in soft hands

allows you to hit when you wouldn’t with a hard hand of the same value.

Doubling a 9:You should double down a 9 only if the dealer is weak (3 to 6). Doubling

otherwise is a poor bet, because the dealer is not as likely to bust.


Doubling Down

Doubling down is a powerful play, because it allows you to increase your bet after

seeing favorable cards. It is one of the primary means of offsetting the house

advantage, but you must know when to do it.

When you can double down varies depending upon the game settings.You can set the

game to allow doubling down only on 11s, on 10s and 11s, or on any two-card



Hard Hand Doubling Strategy

Statistically, doubling down is wise when your hand totals 9 to 11, because a 10 or a

face card would give you 19 to 21.


Doubling an 11: The best hand to double down with is an 11, and you should do

so unless the dealer shows an ace.

Doubling a 10: If the dealer shows a 9 or less, double down. A dealer 9 is

strong, but you still have the statistical advantage.

Doubling a 9:You should double down a 9 only if the dealer is weak (3 to 6).

Doubling otherwise is a poor bet, because the dealer is not as likely to bust.


Soft-Hand Doubling Strategy

The main strategy here is to take advantage of a weak dealer upcard (4-6). When the

dealer is weak, it’s time to pounce! However, you don’t want to double down if you

have a hand totaling 19 or 20, because you may ruin your already strong hand.


Doubling an Ace, 8-9: Never hit on a hand this strong!

Doubling an Ace, 6-7: Double the bet and whenever the dealer is weak (4 to 6).


Additionally, doubling down against the dealer’s 3 is recommended. Although the

dealer is not as likely to bust with a 3 as with a 4 to 6, the odds are still in your favor.


Doubling an Ace, 4-5: Double down only if the dealer’s upcard is a 4 to 6. If the

dealer’s card is lower than 4, chances are they will not bust.


Doubling an Ace, 2-3: Double down only when the dealer has the highest

probability of busting, with a very weak upcard (5 to 6).


Splitting Pairs Strategy

Splitting pairs is critically important to your success at the Blackjack table. If you don’t

split when the cards warrant doing so, the house advantage rises dramatically.

In Hoyle Casino, you can split pairs as desired, but split aces can only be hit once.

What pairs should you split? For starters, never split 10s and face cards! The rules

allow you to split any cards with a 10 value, such as a jack and a queen, even though

they’re not technically a pair. This is because breaking up your 20 is a bad move, so

the house is happy to let you split all the 10s you want. All pairs are discussed below.


Splitting Aces: Always split! Your odds of getting two very high hands (maybe

two 21s) are tremendous.


Splitting 10s: Never split! Splitting 10s is always a no-no, unless you really want

to lose your bankroll to the house.


Splitting 9s: It is best to split 9s when the dealer is relatively weak (2 to 6

upcard) so that you can leverage the dealer’s vulnerability with an additional bet.

If the dealer has an 8 upcard, then you split 9s, because you might catch 10s

which would give you winners (19s over the dealer’s 18). If the dealer has a 9

upcard, then you split 9s because the dealer likely has 19, which beats your 18 if

you stand. Splitting against the dealer’s upcard of 7 is inadvisable because,

statistically, he or she is liable to end up standing pat with a 17, which you

already have beat with an 18.


Splitting 8s: Always split! With two 8s, it’s acceptable to split against the dealer

no matter what the dealer shows, even if the dealer shows an ace. Split 8s

against the dealer’s ace? Lose twice the money? At first this seems like a bitter

pill to swallow. The fact is, however, keeping the 8s leaves you with a lousy 16,

virtually a guaranteed loser hand. Splitting the 8s increases your chances of

winning just enough to make splitting it worthwhile.


Splitting 7s:You should split 7s if the dealer’s upcard is 7 or less. A total of 14 is

weak. Starting two new hands with 7s is likely to result in two 17s. If the dealer

has an 8 to ace upcard, then you want to stand because you’re better off losing

one bet (against the dealer’s likely 18 to 21 vs. your 14) than two bets (dealer’s

18 to 21 vs. your likely two 17s).


Splitting 6s: Split these hands if the dealer’s upcard is 6 or less. Splitting 6s is

risky, because you are likely to get two 16s. Therefore, you only do it when it

looks like the dealer will bust (dealer’s upcard a 2 to 6).


Splitting 5s: Never split! A pair of 5s combine for a strong 10. Separately, they

will likely catch a 10 and form two miserable hands and one or two probable

busts. Consider the 5s inseparable.


Splitting 4s: It is unwise to split 4s unless the dealer is showing a 5 or 6.

Splitting the 4s results in two weak hands (catching 10s will make them 14s).

Therefore, you only want to split the 4s if the dealer is in an even more

precarious situation than you are (i.e. he or she is holding a 5 or 6).


Splitting 2s and 3s: Split these hands when the dealer is relatively weak

(showing a 7 or less). Against a 7, your long-term winnings will be marginal.

However, against the other, weaker hands, consider a split mandatory.



The same strategies apply for re-splitting hands as for splitting hands. For example, if

you split a pair of aces, and are dealt a third ace, of course you should re-split again.

After all, if you had confidence enough to split the first time around, why change your

mind now? Don’t waffle, or you may end up confused. Re-splitting is a powerful tool for

evening the odds that normally favor the house.


Doubling After a Split

Depending on game settings, you may have the option of doubling down on one or

both hands following a split. All recommendations for doubling also apply following a



Surrendering Strategy

In a late surrender, the dealer first checks his or her hole card for Blackjack. In an

early surrender, you can turn in your hand before the dealer checks the hole card.

Early surrender is not an option in Hoyle Casino.

Surrender is only advisable when your chances of busting are very high, and the

dealer has a very strong upcard.


Surrender on a 16: If the dealer upcard is a 9 to ace, save half your bet and

surrender. The dealer likely has a strong hand (19 to 21) and you will likely bust if

you hit.


Surrender on a 15: If you’re holding a 15, only surrender if the dealer’s upcard is

a 10. If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, it’s better to hang in there and not

surrender. The dealer must reveal Blackjack (if they have it) before you surrender.

Therefore, if the dealer has an ace showing and they do not reveal Blackjack, you

already know they do not have a 10-value hole card.You can beat many of the

dealer’s possible hole cards, so don’t surrender.



Surrender on a 14: Avoid this. Despite the prevalence of 10- value cards, your

chances of drawing an 7 to ace are not bad.


Buying Insurance

When you buy insurance, you bet on the probability of the dealer having Blackjack.

You can only make this bet when the dealer’s upcard is an ace.You bet half of your

original bet that the dealer has Blackjack. If they do, the bet pays 2 to 1.

If an ace is the dealer’s first upcard, the dealer must ask each player if he or she

wants to buy insurance. After all insurance bets are made, the dealer checks the hole

card. If the hole card is a 10-value card, the dealer shows the Blackjack to all players

and pays off winning insurance bets. If the hole card does not make Blackjack, the

dealer collects losing insurance bets and continues play without showing the hole card.

Unless you have been counting cards (see section on counting cards) and know the

deck is extremely rich in 10-value cards, the odds are against you and you should not

make this bet.


Card-Counting Strategy

The strategies outlined so far assume a balanced deck. Card-counting is used to

make decisions based on the cards remaining in the deck or shoe. Card-counters

keep track of the cards as they are dealt, but they pay more attention to the ratios of

important cards rather than knowing exactly which cards are left in the deck. Cards

are usually counted in ratios of large cards to small cards.

One common system, developed by a mathematician named Dr. Edward Thorpe,

assigns the following values to each card that is removed from play:


2, 3, 4, 5, 6 =

7, 8, 9 = 0 (neutral cards)

10, J, Q, K, A = -1


For example, after one hand in which a 10, 10, J, Q, A, A is played, the count will be - 6.

This is called the running count. This count reflects the balance of 10-value cards (and

aces) to low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) as they are dealt.


To accurately apply the running count, you must also factor in the number of card

decks being used. The result of this calculation is called the true count. The true count

is obtained by dividing the running count by the number of half decks (26 cards per

half deck) remaining to be dealt. The true count is often a more accurate indicator than

the running count, because it accounts for the number of decks used in a game.

The true count can be calculated at any time. For this reason, the running count is the

number you must remember each hand.


True Count Example

A single deck of cards is used for this example. The low cards to be counted are 2s,

3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s. The high cards to be counted are aces, 10s, and face cards. The

deck starts with sixteen (16) 10-value cards and sixteen low cards.

In a game with two players (and the dealer of course), at the end of the first round of

play, assume the running count is . The dealer has a 3, 4, and 10 (), the first

player has a 2, 6, and Q (), and the second player has a 7 and 9 (0). This adds up to

. This count indicates there are two more high cards than low cards left in the deck.

Eight cards were dealt, which means that four small cards and two 10-value cards

were played. The deck now holds 14 high cards and 12 small cards. The running count

() indicates a favorable count, but the deck still holds a high number of small cards.


Now assume 30 cards have been dealt and the running count is still . The deck now

holds 10 high cards and eight low cards. Though the running count is the same, the

deck is actually much more favorable to the player than when only eight cards had

been dealt.


The true count is determined by dividing the running count by the number of half

decks remaining to be dealt. After eight cards have been dealt, almost two half decks

remain. The running count divided by two equals . The running count after eight

cards is ; the true count is . The true count is already slightly more accurate in

weighing the higher number of small cards remaining in the deck.


After 30 cards have been dealt, the running count () is divided by 0.5 (half of a half

deck). The running count after 30 cards is ; the true count is now . In this game,

where the running count stays at , as more cards are dealt from the deck, the true

count shifts in favor of the player.


How to Read the Count

A higher count (any count with a plus [] sign) means more low cards than high cards

have been dealt, so the deck is loaded with high cards, which is more favorable to the

player. A deck rich in high cards favors the player, because the player has a better

chance of drawing Blackjack. This is important because Blackjack pays better to the

player (3 to 2) than for the dealer. Also, when the count is high the dealer is more

likely to bust, because they must draw on any hand below 17.


Conversely, a lower count means more high cards than low cards have been dealt, so

the deck is more favorable to the dealer. The dealer will bust less often with a lower count.

A neutral count is neither favorable or unfavorable.


Using the Count When Betting

You can use the true count to determine how much to raise or lower your bet.

Obviously, you want to be betting more when the count is higher to take advantage of

your increased probability of winning. Use the following table as a guideline for betting

based on the true count. Multiply the unit number by the amount of your minimum bet.


If the true count is: Bet this amount:

Any negative number . . . . . . . . . 1 unit

0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 unit

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 units

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 units

and above . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 units

(or maximum bet)


Counting Aces

It is also important to know whether the deck is ace-rich, ace-poor, or neutral. The

running count and true count include aces in the high-card count. However, it is also

useful to keep track of the number of aces left in the deck. A deck that is full of high

cards but also ace-poor yields few Blackjacks.


Because a deck holds four aces, normal distribution is two aces per half deck. If one

ace or zero aces are dealt in a half deck (on average), the remaining half deck is acerich.

If two or more aces are dealt in a half deck (on average), the deck is ace-poor.


When the true count is positive and the deck is ace-rich, you may want to add an extra

unit to your bet. Conversely, if the deck is ace-poor, you may want to subtract a unit

from the bet.


Counting cards is an effective way to get an edge while playing Blackjack in Hoyle

Casino, however, real casinos frown upon card counting, and will eject any card

counters they catch.


Blackjack Strategy Highlights

• Learn the fundamentals of hitting, standing, doubling down and splitting.You can

use the chart on page 24 as a reference while you play.


• General rule: be conservative about hitting when the dealer has a weak upcard

(3, 4, 5 or 6).


• General rule: be aggressive about hitting when the dealer has a strong upcard

(A, 10, 9 or 8).


• Raise your bet if you know the deck contains a high percentage of 10s and aces,

since the dealer will be more likely to bust.

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Bridge is the Chess of card games (and with that statement we will enrage millions of devoted Bridge players, who would argue that Chess is the Bridge of board games). Chess has a long history, and, as befits a game of similar depth and complexity, so does Bridge. Bridge begins with a game called Whist, in a country called England, in an era called "The Restoration."

How the Game Is Played

Contract Bridge is played by four people in two partnerships with a standard 52-card pack. The cards in each suit rank from ace (the highest) to the 2 (the lowest). The suits rank in this order: spades, hearts, diamonds, and then clubs.

Cards are dealt one at a time, face down, clockwise until each player has received 13 cards.

The bidding or auction stage comes next, beginning with the dealer. The various things you can do are known as calls:

Pass: You may pass rather than make a bid.

Bid: This is your declaration that you intend to win a certain number of odd tricks (odd meaning more tricks than six; the first six tricks are called the book). You must either name a trump suit or choose no-trump. The lowest possible bid is one, the highest is seven. (There are 13 tricks in all, but remember that the first six don’t count in this process.) For example, you might say "one diamond," "one no-trump," "four spades," and so on.

Your bid must overcall, or top the preceding bid (if any). This is also called making a sufficient bid. Overcalling a bid means you must name a higher number of odd-tricks and/or a higher-ranking denomination: no-trump (high), spades, hearts, diamonds, and then clubs. One spade will overcall one heart; two clubs will overcall one spade; two diamonds will overcall one no-trump; etc.

Double: You can double the last bid, so long as one of your opponents made that bid, and no one has yet called a double. What a double does is to double the value of tricks taken. However, if the bid doubled was for, say, three spades, any player in the rest of the bidding could overcall it with three no-trumps, four clubs, etc., thereby canceling the double. A particular bid can be doubled only once.

Redouble: A player may in turn redouble the last bid, if a) the bid was made by that player or by that player’s partner; b) if the bid has been doubled by an opponent; and c) if the bid hasn’t already been redoubled. This further increases the scoring values, but, like the double, it can be canceled by a higher bid. A particular bid can be redoubled only once.

The auction begins when any player makes a bid. If all four players pass the first time around, the cards are thrown in and the next dealer in turn deals. When a bid, double, or redouble is followed by three consecutive passes, the auction is closed. The suit named in the final bid is the trump suit for that hand (if the final bid was a no- trump, the hand will be played without trumps). The player who first bid the suit (or the no-trump) is the declarer. The number of odd- tricks named in the final bid is that player’s contract.

The player to the declarer’s left leads the first card. The declarer’s partner then places his or her hand face-up. This hand, and declarer’s partner, are called the "dummy." The declarer’s partner takes no further part in the hand. The declarer selects the cards to play from the dummy hand.

The object of play is to win tricks. A player is required to follow suit if possible. A trick is won by the highest trump, or, if no trumps come out, by the highest card of the suit led. The player that wins a trick leads the next. Play continues until all 13 tricks have been taken.

Keeping Score

Bridge score sheets are halved by a horizontal line. The trick score goes below the line; all other scores (usually called the honor score) go above the line. If the declarer fulfills the contract, winning as many or more odd-tricks than the contract called for, he or she scores below the line for every odd-trick named in the contract. Any trick won by the declarer in excess of his or her contract is called an overtrick and is scored above the line.

When a side has scored 100 or more points below the line (trick points), it has won a game. A game may require more than one hand to decide the outcome. The next game begins with both sides back to zero.

A side that has won a game is said to be vulnerable. A vulnerable side receives increased bonuses in some cases and is subject to higher penalties if it does not fulfill a contract.

Games are played best two out of three. When one side wins two games, they have won the rubber. All points scored by both sides, both above the line and below the line, are then added up. The side that has the greatest number of points wins the difference between its score and its opponents’ score.

The Contract Bridge Scoring System

Trick points (scored below the line by declarer)

Each odd-trick bid & made in ¢¼ or ¢¾


Each odd-trick bid & made in ♦ or ¢À


First odd-trick bid & made in NT


Subsequent odd-tricks, NT


If bid was doubled, multiply trick score by two.

If bid was redoubled multiply by four.


Overtrick points (scored above the line by declarer)

Each trick over contract in ¢¼ or ¢¾,undoubled


Each trick over contract in NT, ♦ , ¢À, undoubled




Each trick over contract in any suit:


100 (200 if vulnerable)


200 (400 if vulnerable)

Undertrick points (scored above the line by defenders)



Not vulnerable

First undertrick


First undertrick, doubled


First undertrick, redoubled


Second and third undertrick


Second and third undertrick, doubled


Second and third undertrick, redoubled


Each subsequent undertrick


Each subsequent undertrick, doubled


Each subsequent undertrick, redoubled




First undertrick


First undertrick, doubled


First undertrick, redoubled


Each subsequent undertrick


Each subsequent undertrick, doubled


Each subsequent undertrick, redoubled



Bonus points (scored above the line by declarer)

Making doubled contract


Making redoubled contract


Small Slam (6 odd-tricks bid & made)

(750 if vulnerable)

Grand Slam (7 odd-tricks bid & made)

(1,500 if vulnerable)

Rubber Bonus:

If the opponents won 1 game


if the opponents won no games


Honors points (scored above the line by either team)

Four trump honors in one hand


Five trump honors in one hand


Four aces in one hand (NT contract)




The importance of learning to bid effectively cannot be overemphasized. A proper bid provides substantial information to your partner, as his or her response should to you. Unfortunately, you are also conveying the same information to your opponents, just as their bidding provides some guide to you as to how you should play your hand to make the bid or defend against your opponents’ bid.

Effective bidding of necessity is based on an understanding of what "points" are. The two kinds of points are high-card points and distribution points.



High card points

Distribution points

Ace = Four points

Void in a suit = Three points

King = Three points

Singleton in a suit = Two points

Queen = Two points

Doubleton in a suit = One point

Jack = One point


In reaching your total points you cannot count both high-card points and distribution points for the same card

Opening Bids

The opening bid is a team’s first bid. The general rule in bridge is that if you have 13 points (combined high-card points and distribution points) and you want a happy partner, you should find a bid somewhere, even if it is in a four card minor suit. Opening bids are invariably on your longest suit. If suits are of equal length, bid the highest ranking suit.

Generally if it is the first (opening) round and your hand has only 11-12 points (combined high-card and distribution points) and you do not have a fairly strong biddable suit (for example, five or six cards headed by at least two face cards and a singleton or doubleton in the other suits) then the appropriate bid would be a pass.

Response to Opening Bid

If you’re a beginner, keep it simple. If you have some strength in a suit your partner has bid, always raise. Strength can be defined as at least six points in your hand and three cards in your partner’s suit.

This hand contains six points (A, J, J) and at least the minimum three cards in spades, hearts, and diamonds. If your partner bid one club, however, your hand is too weak, and you should pass.

Any suit of five or more cards is always biddable.

Bidding No-trump

A bid of no-trump is best when you have 15 high-card points, and your hand’s distribution is balanced, meaning a 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2 combination.You should also have all suits stopped, meaning you have the A, the K-Q, the Q-J-10, and/or the J-10-9-8 in each suit. These card combinations will prevent your opponents from taking a run of tricks in one suit. Most of the time, however, you’ll have to make do with "probable" stoppers, such as K-x, Q-J- x, Q-10-x, or even Q-x-x.

Your 5-3-3-2 suit combination gives you a balanced hand. You have guaranteed stoppers in diamonds and clubs, and probable stoppers in spades and hearts.




If you’re the defender and you can’t decide what to lead, here’s an old bit of Bridge lore: when in doubt, lead the fourth-best card from your longest suit. This is called leading from length. It’s considered the standard way to lead in a no-trump contract, and it’s a safe way to proceed in a suit contract.

Typically, an unbalanced hand is more suitable to play a trump contract. A balanced hand is good for a no-trump contract. Whenever a player has a balanced or an unbalanced hand, it is very common for more than one of the other hands to have a similar distribution, and it’s something to plan for in the play of the hand.

If you are defending (your team lost the bid) and have a six-card suit as shown, even though it contains the ace, there is a good probability that the ace will be trumped on the first round. The preponderance of diamonds in your hand makes it more likely some- one else has a void in diamonds. Likewise, if your hand is balanced, it is probable that other players also have balanced hands.

The partnership playing a trump contract should be in command of the trump suit. Decades of Bridge experience have demonstrated that the partners playing the contract should have at least eight trumps between them (the best distributions are 5-3, 4-4, and even 6-2).

The best lead is a card from a combination of top cards in any suit.

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The name Canasta means “basket” in Spanish, which probably derived from the basket holding the draw and discard piles; the discard pile is of paramount importance in this game.

Canasta was originally invented in Uruguay in the late 1940s, and soon became popular in Argentina and the rest of Latin America. In the late 1940s/early 1950s, Canasta reached the United States, where it became even more popular than Bridge for a few years; it was probably the most popular card game at any one time. It has since greatly declined in popularity, except for some holdout enthusiasts.

How did Canasta get so popular? It may have been because it has elements of Mah Jongg, another enormously successful game, and as a partnership game, it is easier to learn than Bridge. (Canasta can be played with two, three, or five people, but the most popular version worldwide is the partnership game.)

Derivations of Canasta include Bolivia, Samba, Cuban Canasta and Bolivian Canasta.

How the Game Is Played

Canasta uses two regular decks of cards, including the jokers (two from each deck). Each player is dealt eleven cards. Players across from each other are partners and play cards to a common area, so each partner can take advantage of the other’s play. Canasta is usually played over several hands; the first team to reach 5000 points wins.

Jokers and 2s are wild cards and can be used to represent other cards. Black and red 3s have special properties.

Rules Summary

On your turn, you either draw a card from the draw pile or take the entire discard pile (there are special rules for picking up the discard pile; see “Picking Up the Discard Pile” later in this chapter). You can then play melds and canastas. At the end of your turn, you must discard a card to the discard pile.

Either you or your partner must make an initial meld for your team. Once your team has made its initial meld, both of you can play as many melds and canastas as you want on your turns.

If your team has made at least one canasta, either you or your partner can go out if you can play all the cards in your hand

Making Melds and Canastas

Teams score points by making melds and canastas.

A meld is three or more cards of the same rank such as 4-4-4, 6-6-6-6-6, or Q-Q-Q-Q-Q. Wild cards (2s and jokers) can substitute for any card, if needed (the only exception is a meld of black 3s, which can’t include any wild cards). For instance, you could have a meld of 8-8-2. A meld must contain at least two natural cards, and cannot contain more than three wild cards.

Black 3s can only be melded as your very last play of a hand before going out.

A canasta is a meld which has seven or more cards of the same rank such as 8-8-8-8-8-8-8. Your team must make at least one canasta to win a hand. A canasta can contain up to three wild cards. If the canasta contains only natural cards, it is worth more points.

Making the Initial Meld

The first play your team must make to the table is your initial meld. Either you or your partner must play to the table, in one turn, one or more melds whose point value is equal to or greater than the initial meld value.

Your game score at the end of a hand dictates how many points you need for the initial meld in the next hand. At the beginning of a game, both teams always have an initial meld requirement of 50.



Meld Requirement





3000 or more


Negative score



This system gives the losing team a better chance of a comeback, since they can potentially play to the table earlier and “go out” earlier. A team with 1600 points must make an initial meld of 90, while the second-place team, with a score of 1250 points, only needs an initial meld of 50.

To figure out whether you can make an initial meld, add up the point values of any cards that you meld:



Point Value

4, 5, 6, 7, and black 3

5 points

8, 9, 10, J, Q, K

10 points

A and 2

20 points


50 points


Picking Up the Discard Pile

At the beginning of your turn, you can pick up the entire discard pile in certain situations. To pick up the discard pile, you must be able to immediately use the upcard (the top card of the pile) in a meld (either adding it to an existing meld or making a new meld with it using cards already in your hand). You do not get to take the other cards in the pile until you use the upcard in a meld.


Normally, you can pick up the discard pile if you can use the upcard in an existing meld or in a new meld; to use the upcard in a new meld you must combine it with at least two natural cards from your hand or with at least one natural card and one wild card from your hand.

However, if someone has discarded a 2 or joker to the pile, the pile is considered frozen. When the discard pile is frozen, you can only pick it up if you can use the upcard in a meld using at least two natural cards in your hand.

A pile stays frozen until someone picks it up.

Important: Before your team has made your initial meld, the pile is not shown as frozen, but you can only pick it up with two natural cards. You can never pick up a pile if the top card is a joker, 2, or black 3.

Going Out

Your team is qualified to go out (ending the current hand) if you have at least one canasta on the table. To go out, either you or your partner must play all of the cards in your hand to the table. The last card in your hand can either be melded or discarded; this is the only time in the game you are not required to discard at the end of your turn.

When you are ready to go out, you may, if you wish, ask your partner permission to go out. This gives you a way to find out whether your partner wants you to go out, or whether your partner still has a lot of points in his or her hand (that might be used to make canastas) and wants to continue to play. Asking for permission is optional, but your partner’s answer is binding; you can only go out on that turn if your partner gives you permission.

Note: It is possible to go out without previously having placed any melds on the table. This is known as going out concealed and is worth extra points. You must be able to immediately play all of the cards in your hand to the table, making your initial meld and at least one canasta. You can discard one card to the discard pile if necessary. Going out concealed is very difficult to do, because you don’t get any help from your partner.

How the Game Is Played

At the beginning of the game, one card is flipped to the discard pile. If that card is a 2, joker, or red 3, another card is flipped on top of it and the pile is frozen. Before play begins, any red 3s in players’ hands are automatically played to the 3 pile on the board and replaced with new cards.

On your turn, you either draw a card from the draw pile or pick up the discard pile. See “Picking Up the Discard Pile” earlier in this chapter. If you pick up the discard pile, the top card of the pile is automatically played to the appropriate card pile. If the pile was frozen, you must then also play two natural cards to that pile; if you don’t, you won’t be able to take the pile.

Next, meld cards to the table, if you want to. (The first play your team can make is the initial meld.) You may be able to undo melds, if you need to; see the in-game help for details. At the end of your turn, discard a card by dragging it to the discard pile. You must always keep at least one card in your hand at the end of a turn, unless you are going out.

Play proceeds with the player on your left. Continue playing until one team goes out or the deck runs out. If you’re ready to go out, you can go out by laying down all your cards (one card can be discarded, if desired.) If you wish, you can ask your partner for permission before you go out. You can ask for permission after you draw cards but before you play them.

If a player draws the last card in the deck, special conditions apply. If the next player cannot take the discard pile, the hand ends immediately. However, if that player can play the top card of the discard pile to one of his or her team’s melds, the player must take the discard pile and play that card. If the player can take the discard pile with a card in his or her hand, he or she can choose to either take the pile or end the hand. In any of these cases, the hand ends, and neither team gets points for going out.


Each card you play to the table is worth a certain number of points. These points count towards your initial meld requirement, and are scored at the end of the game. (Note: Any red 3s on the table don’t count towards the initial meld points.)

Scoring occurs at the end of a hand, after one team has gone out, or if the deck runs out of cards and someone ends the hand. The team that went out gets points for going out, and each team scores points for all the cards they’ve melded to the table (including the cards in canastas) and any bonus points (points for any red 3s and any mixed or natural canastas). Then, any cards remaining in team members’ hands (including the partner of the person who went out) are subtracted from each team’s score.

Card values

4, 5, 6, 7, and black 3

5 points

8, 9, 10, J, Q, K

10 points

A and 2

20 points


50 points

Red 3*

100 points each


Other scoring

Mixed canasta

300 points each

Natural canasta**

500 points each

Going out

100 points

Going out concealed***

200 points

Going out before the other team has melded:

varies, see below


The other team loses 100 points per red 3 owned by the team, or 800 points if the team owns all four red 3s.

* A canasta made with all natural cards (no wild cards)** (800 if your team has all 4 red 3s)** Going out without having made an initial meld on a previous turn.


The main reason for making melds is to work with your partner to make canastas. Canastas are worth a lot more points, so focus on making them instead of a number of small melds.

Be careful not to meld too many cards. Having a small hand is a big disadvantage, because you are less likely to be able to pick up the discard pile. However, if your partner has already laid down a meld, it is usually a good idea to play any cards you can to it, so that you can get closer to having a canasta. If you can make a canasta, you should always do it.

Except when making the initial meld and taking the discard pile, avoid adding wild cards to piles (unless you want to finish a canasta). Wild cards are stronger in your hand, since they can be used to make canastas and freeze the pile.

If you have more than three cards you can meld, try just melding three of the cards, holding the others back. This gives your partner a chance to play cards to that meld, but leaves cards in your hand that can potentially pick up the discard pile. It also may let you make a surprise canasta!

Keep track of the discarded cards. If the other team takes the pile, you will want to remember what cards were in it so you can discard safely. Keeping track of discards also gives you an indication which cards the other team are short of.

If you have no choice but to discard a card that lets the other team take the discard pile, stick to low cards (4, 5, 6, 7) whenever possible, since these give the other team less points, and leave more points in your hand for melds.

Strategies for Taking the Discard Pile

A key strategy to Canasta is getting the discard pile and preventing your opponents from getting it, whenever possible. But consider how many cards are in the pile. It is often not worth showing the other team what cards you want by taking a small pile with four or less cards.

Black 3s are valuable discards, since they protect the discard pile. Hold on to them until the discard pile is large or something you particularly want to defend.

When the discard pile is not frozen and is full of cards the other team wants, try making safe discards, such as cards that your team already has a large meld of (since you know the other team probably can’t meld them). Or discard cards you’ve already seen the other team discard, or discards they have passed up before.

If the other team has more melds on the table, consider freezing the discard pile, so that you can safely discard cards that your opponents have large melds of.

If the discard pile gets really big, restrain yourself from melding, so that you have more chances to get the pile.

If you’re holding cards that the opponents can meld (and you can’t), try to discard them when the discard pile is frozen, or when it is small.

Strategies for Going Out

If you’re in a weak position—the other team has melded most of the card ranks, so there are no safe discards, for example—consider going out to minimize your losses.

Asking your partner to go out is sometimes a good way to find out whether your partner can make more canastas. But don’t forget that your partner’s answer is binding!

If you ask your partner to go out and your partner tells you no, play as many naturals on your turn as possible, holding on to wild cards and at least one safe discard. This gives your partner more opportunities to play cards and make canastas. Holding on to the wild cards means that you are more likely to be able to go out next turn.

If your partner asks you to go out, and you say no (because you have cards left to play), be sure to play as many wild cards as you can on your next turn, and any natural cards that you can use to make canastas (or large melds which your partner could potentially make into canastas). Be sure to keep one card that you can discard safely on your next turn (so that the player to your left can’t go out before your partner)!

If all other things are equal, and the other team has three red 3s and the fourth red 3 hasn’t been drawn, consider going out as soon as possible. If that team gets the last red 3, they’ll get 500 more points! Likewise, if your team has three red 3s, and the fourth red 3 hasn’t been drawn, consider postponing going out until you get that last red 3.

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Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker is a card game that pits players against a casino dealer. The object of the game is to beat the dealer's five-card hand according to the ranking of cards used in Poker.


Players make an Ante wager to get into the game and then a Bet wager if they want to stay in the game and compete against the dealer. No one can compete against the dealer, however, unless the dealer's hand qualifies with an ace and a king or higher. If the dealer's hand does not qualify, all Ante wagers still in play receive even money, no matter how bad the hands may be. And all Bet wagers are returned without payoff, no matter how good the hands may be.


For some players, the greatest attraction of Caribbean Stud Poker is the optional wager on the bonus jackpot. For just a $1 side bet, a player stands to win thousands of dollars. Before betting on the bonus jackpot, however, consider the odds. The top payoff, for a royal flush, is $200,000, but the odds of getting a royal flush are 1 in 649,739!


How the Game Is Played

Caribbean Stud Poker is played on a customized blackjack table, using a single deck of cards. In front of each player are betting areas marked "Ante" and "Bet." There’s also a small unmarked drop slot for the bonus jackpot.


Before any cards are dealt, players place their mandatory Ante wagers in their Ante

areas. If you intend to bet on the bonus jackpot, now is the time for that, too: put a $1

coin or chip into the slot in front of you.


When all bets are in, the dealer deals each player five cards face down. The dealer

takes five cards and turns one of them face up.


Look at your cards and compare them to the customary ranking of Poker hands:

• Straight flush

• Four of a kind

• Full house

• Flush

• Straight

• Three of a kind

• Two pair

• Pair of 10s or better


Considering your own cards and the dealer’s upturned card, you have this choice: fold,

or stay in the game by doubling your Ante.


Fold if you have no hope of beating the dealer’s hand. By laying your cards face down

on the table, you automatically lose your Ante bet.

Stay in the game if you think you can beat the dealer’s hand. Place chips equal to twice

your Ante bet in the Bet area. If your Ante was $5, for example, make a Bet wager of

$10. (Your total wager for the hand is now $15, excluding the bonus jackpot bet.)

All of the dealer’s cards are now revealed, and play is over.


How Payoffs Are Made on Ante and Bet Wagers

What happens to your Ante and Bet wagers depends on the dealer’s hand and

whether it “qualifies.” To qualify, the dealer’s hand must include at least an ace and a

king, a pair, or better. For example, a dealer’s hand containing A-K-3-7-10 or 3-3-7-9-2

qualifies whereas a hand containing A-Q-2-4-8 does not. Remember, too, your hand

competes only with the dealer’s hand, not with the hands of the other players.

What happens to each player’s Ante and Bet is summarized in the following table:


Dealer’s hand is better: Dealer’s hand does

not qualify: No


Dealer’s hand Player loses both the matter which hand

is better: Ante and the Bet. is better, player


Player’s hand Player wins even money wins even money

is better: on the Ante and wins on on the Ante, and

the Bet according to the the Bet is returned

Bet payoff schedule without payoff.


Hands tie: Both the Ante and the Bet

are returned without payoff.


Playoffs made on Ante wagers are always even money. Payoffs on Bet wagers are

made according to the following schedule.


Hand Payoff

Royal flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 to 1

Straight flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 to 1

Four of a kind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 to 1

Full house . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 to 1

Flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 to 1

Straight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 to 1

Three of a kind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 to 1

Two pair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 to 1

Pair of 10s or better . . . . . . . . . . . even money


How Payoffs Are Made on Bonus Jackpot Bets

By placing a $1 chip into the slot for the bonus jackpot at the beginning of the hand,

you are wagering that you will get a flush or better in your hand, regardless of whether

or not the dealer qualifies.


If you end up with a flush or better, you win. The amount of your payoff depends on

the size of the bonus jackpot pool. In Hoyle Casino, this is always $200,000. In real

casinos, the jackpot increases as people play, and resets to a base amount when

someone wins the top prize.


Hoyle Casino Payoffs on the Bonus Jackpot

Hand Payoff

Royal flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100% of jackpot

Straight flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10% of jackpot

Four of a kind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $500

Full house . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10

Flush . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $50



Basic Strategy for Winning at Caribbean Stud Poker

The only critical decision in Caribbean Stud Poker comes when you decide whether to

make the Bet wager or fold and forfeit your Ante wager. It’s a simple decision for which

experts offer many strategies, some of them complex. As different as these strategies

may be, however, they all agree on one point:


• Make a Bet wager when your hand includes a pair or better. This strategy is

good, but there are times when you should make Bet wagers even when you hold

cards that rank below a pair. Unfortunately, experts do not agree on a single

strategy to cover these possibilities.


Probably the easiest comprehensive strategy is advanced by Andrew Brisman in

American Mensa Guide to Casino Gambling: Winning Ways. This is Brisman’s



• Make the Bet wager with a hand of A-K-J-8-3 or better. Fold otherwise.

Following this strategy, you would make a Bet wager whenever you have cards such

as A-K-Q-8-3 or A-K-J-9-3, and you would fold with cards such as A-Q-J-8-3 or A-K-J-

6-3. Of course, you would still wager on a hand with a pair or better.

Other strategies concentrate on hands with an ace and a king. On the Web site

www.smartgaming.com, for example, Henry Tamburin advocates a Bet wager

whenever you have a hand with an ace and a king and one of your other cards is of

the same rank as the dealer’s revealed card.You would also wager with a pair or

better, of course, but fold with anything less than ace-king.


Almost any book on Caribbean Stud Poker puts the house edge at an unfavorable

5.224%. On his Wizard of Odds Web site (www.thewizardofodds.com), however,

mathematician Michael Shackleford argues that house edge is not a fair way to

measure Caribbean Stud Poker.


Instead of house edge, which compares lost money only to Ante wagers, Shackleford

compares lost money to all wagers, Bet as well as Ante. This ratio, which he calls

“element of risk,” is a more respectable 2.56% and compares favorably with the

element of risk for Let It Ride (2.85%) and Three Card Poker (2.01%).


A Strategy for the Bonus Jackpot

Many of the same experts who disagree on the fine points of making Bet wagers are

completely in agreement on a strategy for the bonus jackpot: Don’t.

With odds like 1 in 649,739 for a royal flush and a house edge that can hover at 20%

and higher, it’s not hard to understand this opposition to the bonus jackpot. “Sucker

bet,” says Shackleford. “Yes, it beats the lottery, but not by a whole lot,” advises the

Game Master Online Web site (www.gamemasteronline.com).


If you can’t resist the temptation, understand that the size of the jackpot affects the

house edge for the bonus jackpot bet. In Hoyle Casino, the payoffs are $500 for four of

a kind, $100 for a full house, and $50 for a flush. According to Shackleford’s

calculations, the break even point for Hoyle Casino would be a jackpot of $218,047.

Since Hoyle Casino’s jackpot is always $200,000, the odds are slightly against you in

the long run.


Caribbean Stud Poker Strategy Highlights

• Make the Bet wager with a hand of A-K-J-8-3 or better. Fold otherwise.

• The bonus jackpot bet doesn’t have very good odds, and is not recommended.

Back to Top


How the Game Is Played

Craps is a fast and exciting game with lots of action–you can win (and lose) large

amounts of money in a very short period of time. Craps also offers very favorable odds

to the player. If you bet wisely, the house has no more than between a 0.6 percent and

0.8 percent advantage.


You can bet with or against the dice, and you can make continuous bets with each roll.

When you bet with the dice (right betting) and win, you are almost always paid off at

better than even money.


Of course, the higher the payoff, the less likely it is that you will win. Players stand

around a large table (with high sides to catch the dice), where the shooter rolls two

dice. All bets are placed against the house. The Stickman handles the dice, passing

them to the players; two Dealers handle the bets; and the Boxman watches over the

casino’s bankroll.


Bets are placed on different parts of the layout (depending on the bet and the roll).

Players bet amongst themselves, either with the shooter (right betting) or against the

shooter (wrong betting).

Only one player has control of the dice at one time. The numbers thrown by the

shooter determine all bet payoffs. In Hoyle Casino, the turn of the shoot moves around

the table clockwise.

Before the first roll, the shooter usually makes a line bet. The two possible line bets are:


1. Pass (Front Line).

2. Don’t Pass (Back Line).


When you bet on the Pass Line, you are betting with the dice (or the shooter) to win

with a natural (a 7 or 11 on the first throw), or to make the point before sevening out.

When you bet with the dice, it is referred to as right betting. The casino has a 1.4

percent advantage on a Pass-Line bet.


When you bet the Don’t Pass Line, you bet against the dice (wrong betting). To collect

this bet, the shooter must roll a 2 or 3 on the first roll (12 is barred by the house to

prevent your advantage over the casino), or seven out before rolling the point. By

barring the 12, the casino gains a 1.4 percent advantage over a Don’t-Pass bettor.

After placing the line bet, the shooter rolls the dice.


The Come-Out Roll

The first roll of a turn is called the come-out roll. If the shooter bet the Pass Line and

rolls a natural (a 7 or 11) on the first roll, he or she and all of the players that bet the

Pass Line win. If the shooter rolls a Craps (a 2, 3, or 12) on the first roll, the shooter

and all other right bettors lose.


If the shooter rolls any other number (i.e., a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10) on the first roll, then

that number is set as the point number. When the point is established, a black-andwhite

disk is placed white side up (marked “on”) in the box containing that number.


At this point, players can bet free-odds on the Line bets. Assuming right betting, the

shooter then continues to try to roll that point number before rolling a 7 to win. If the

shooter rolls the 7 before the point, the shooter sevens out (loses). As long as the

shooter continues to roll for the point, players can make and collect on a variety of

bets up to when the point is won, or the shooter sevens out.

A come-out roll can occur in any of these situations:


1. After the previous shooter sevens out; a new roller is coming out.

2. After a shooter rolls a 7 or 11 on a previous come-out roll (immediate win for

    Pass Line bettors); the same roller is coming out.

3. After a shooter rolls Craps (2, 3, or 12) on a previous come-out roll; the same

    roller is coming out.

4. After a shooter makes the point by repeating it before rolling a 7; the same roller

    is coming out.


Betting in Craps

You need to know the different bets on the Craps layout to be able to play the game.

The bet you make must meet the minimum bet requirement for the table. The following

bets are available on the Craps layout:


• Pass Line /Don’t Pass

• Free-odds bets on Line bets

• Come/Don’t Come

• Free-odds bets on Come bets

• Place Numbers

• Buy bets

• Lay bets

• Field Numbers

• Big 6 or Big 8

• Center or Proposition bets


Pass/Don’t-Pass Bets

Players bet with or against the shooter as to whether or not the point will be made.

These bets pay even money.You can place a Pass bet on the come-out roll, or after a

point is established, but you cannot remove the bet after placing it.You can only make

a Don’t Pass bet on the come-out roll.


Here are a few examples that show how the Pass/Don’t Pass bets works:

1. You place a $5 bet on the Pass Line. The shooter rolls a 6 on the come-out. This

establishes 6 as the point. This roll has no effect on your bet. The shooter then

rolls a 5, 8, 6 in succession.You win on the 6 and are paid $5 (even money).


2. You place a $10 bet on the Pass Line. The shooter rolls a 9 (making 9 the point)

on the come-out. The shooter then rolls a 7, and you lose the bet.


3. You place a $10 bet on the Don’t Pass Line. The shooter rolls a 9 on the comeout

to set the point. The shooter then rolls a 7, and you win $10 (even money) for

your Don’t Pass bet.


4. With $5 on the Pass Line, the shooter throws a natural (7) on the come-out roll.

You win $5.


Pass-Line Bets and Don’t-Pass with Free-Odds

A Pass Line or Don’t Pass with free-odds bet is a wager that can be made in addition

to your original Pass or Don’t-Pass bet. Winning or losing a free-odds bet is dependent

upon the success of your Pass or Don’t-Pass bet. Free-odds bets are not marked on

the layout, but they are a legal bet and a very important factor in helping the player

decrease the casino’s advantage.


You can make free-odds bets after the point has been established on the come-out

roll. The free-odds Pass-Line bet can equal the amount you originally bet on the Pass

Line, or it can be a multiple of the original Pass-Line bet, depending on rules settings.

The free-odds Don’t-Pass bet equals the amount of the payoff for the original Don’t-

Pass bet, or can be a multiple of the payoff for the original Don’t-Pass bet. Most

casinos allow 2x (double) free-odds which allows the player to make a free-odds bet

equal to twice the amount of a Pass-Line bet.


You place a free-odds Pass-Line bet on the area behind your original Pass-Line bet

(just outside the layout line).You place a free-odds Don’t-Pass bet just to the side of

the original Don’t-Pass bet.


A Pass-Line/Don’t-Pass bet pays at even money (house: 1.4 percent advantage). A

free-odds bet is paid at true odds (casino: 0 percent advantage). By combining a

Pass-Line bet with a free-odds bet, the casino’s advantage is lowered to approximately

0.6 percent (it is lowered even more if higher multiples are allowed such as 3x, 5x,

etc.). These are among the best odds you will find in Hoyle Casino, just short of

counting cards at Blackjack.


The payoff ratios for free-odds bets are:

Pass with Free-Odds House Payoff

4 or 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-1

5 or 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-2

6 or 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6-5

Don’t Pass with Free-Odds House Payoff

4 or 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-2

5 or 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3

6 or 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-6


You must lay odds when making Don’t-Pass bets. This means you are paid at less

than even money. The payoffs are low on Don’t-Pass because the odds favor the

shooter sevening out, making this bet a probable win.

Here are two examples of Pass/Don’t-Pass bets with free-odds (assume double [2x]



1. You bet $5 on the Pass Line. The shooter rolls a 4 on the come-out, setting the

point.You then place $10 behind your original bet for a Pass-Line bet with freeodds.

A point of 4 gives you 2 to 1 odds. The shooter rolls a 6; your bet is

unaffected. The shooter rolls a 4.You win $5 (1 to 1) for your Pass-Line bet, and

$20 (2 to 1) for your free-odds bet.


2. After betting $15 on Don’t Pass, the shooter rolls a 5.You place $30 for free-odds

to the side of your Don’t-Pass bet. The shooter rolls a 4, 12, and 7 in succession.

Since the shooter sevened out before rolling the point, you win this bet.Your

Don’t-Pass bet wins $15, and your free-odds bet on a 5 pays off at 2 to 3; you

win $20 for this bet for a total of $35.


Come/Don’t-Come Bets

The Come bet has the same characteristics as the Pass-Line bet, but it can only be

made after the come-out roll. As with the Pass-Line, Come bets are paid at even

money. Players bet on whether or not the dice will come right (win) or come wrong

(lose) beginning with the next roll.You can continue making new Come bets with each

roll of the dice.


As in a Pass/Don’t-Pass bet, the first roll after a Come bet wins on a 7 or 11, and

loses on a 2, 3, or 12. A point is set for the Come bet (called a come point ) on any

other result (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10), and the Come bet wins if the point is made on a

subsequent roll before a 7 appears.


Conversely, to collect on a Don’t-Come bet, the shooter must roll Craps (a 2 or 3 on

the next roll; 12 is barred by the house to prevent your advantage over the casino) or 7

out before rolling the come-point again.


The betting can be complicated if you make Pass bets and Come bets simultaneously.

It’s possible, for example, to lose your Pass-Line bet on a roll of 7, yet win your Come

bet with the same roll.


Come/Don’t-Come Bets with Free-Odds

A Come/Don’t-Come free-odds bet is a wager that can be made in addition to your

original Come/Don’t-Come bet. The success of the free-odds bet (win/loss) is

dependent upon the success of your Come/Don’t-Come bet. For example, you win the

free-odds Come bet if you win the original Come bet.


Except for the fact these bets modify a Come/Don’t-Come bet, they function identically

to Pass/Don’t-Pass bets with free-odds.


They also pay exactly the same, at true odds, thus reducing the casino’s edge to

approximately 0.6 percent.


You place a free-odds Come or Don’t-Come bet just to the right of the original Come

or Don’t-Come-bet chips (after they have been moved to the Place Number of the

point). These bets are not marked on the layout.

Free-odds bets on Come bets are not in effect on subsequent come-out rolls. If you

lose the original Come bet, the house does not take the free-odds bet. Free-odds bets

on Don’t-Come bets are always working.

Examples of free-odds Come bets:


1. The Pass-Line point is 6.You make a Come bet of $5. The shooter rolls a 5 to

establish the come point.You then make a free-odds Come bet of $10.


Scenario (a): The come point is 5. The roller throws a 6, and the Pass-Line gets

paid. The next come out roll is a 7.You lose your $5 Come bet, but your $10 freeodds

bet is returned to you.


Scenario (b): The come point is 5. The shooter rolls a 7.You lose both your

Come bet ($5) and your free-odds bet ($10) for a total loss of $15.


Scenario (c): The come point is 5. The shooter rolls another 5.You win both the Come

bet ($5) and the Come bet free-odds ($15 paid at 3 to 2) for a total gain of $20.


Free-Odds-Bet Special Allowances

Under certain situations, Hoyle Casino allows players to bet more than the strict

multiplier allowed for Pass/Come free-odds bets. These bet exceptions are beneficial

to the player. There are two types of single-odds-bet exceptions.

First, Hoyle Casino will allow a $6 free-odds bet (on a 5 or 9 point) on a $5

Pass/Come bet. Hoyle Casino will allow you to round up (by as much as $5) to

accommodate an easy 3 to 2 pay-off.


The first exception is as follows:

Point Pass/Come Bet Single-Odds-Bet


5 or 9 (3 to 2 payoff) $5 $6

5 or 9 $25 $30

5 or 9 $35 $40

5 or 9 etc. etc.

Second, if you bet any multiple of three as your Pass/Come bet, then you can make a

free-odds bet (on a 6 or 8 point) that is 5/3 times the value of the original Pass/Come bet.

This is known as a three-unit-bet special allowance for single-odds bet on the 6 or 8 point.

The second exception is shown here:


Point Pass/Come Bet Single Odds

(three-unit-bet exception)

6 or 8 (6 to 5 payoff) $3 $5

6 or 8 $15 $25

6 or 8 $30 $50

6 or 8 bet (divisible by 3) (5/3 x bet)

There is one type of double-odds-bets exception on points of 6 or 8. If you bet any

multiple of two as you Pass/Come bet, then you can make a free-odds bet (on a 6 or 8

point) that is 5/2 times the amount of the original Pass/Come bet.

This is known as a two-unit-bet special allowance for double-odds bets on the 6 or 8

point and is shown here:


Point Pass/Come Bet Double Odds (two-unitbet


6 or 8 (6 to 5 payoff) $2 $5

6 or 8 $10 $25

6 or 8 $20 $50

6 or 8 bet (divisible by 2) (5/2 x bet)



Place-Numbers Bets

With this bet, you are betting that a particular number will appear before a 7.You can

make a place bet after the come-out roll.You can place a bet on each or every place

number .You can remove, reduce, or add to a place bet at any time prior to the next

roll. Place bets are working (valid) on all rolls except the come-out roll.

Place-Numbers bets are placed in the rectangles just below the Place-Numbers boxes.

Payoffs for place bets are shown here:


Number House Payoff Recommended Bet


4 and 10 9-5 multiples of $5

5 and 9 7-5 multiples of $5

6 and 8 7-6 multiples of $6


Buy Bets

Buying a bet is similar to making a Place-Numbers bet; you bet that the number will be

made before a 7. But this bet is made slightly differently, and the casino’s advantage is

different as well.You must pay the casino 5 percent of the amount of the bet you

place. The house commission is taken directly from your bankroll and is not

reimbursed if you remove the bet.


Buy bets are placed in the upper-third portion of the Place-Numbers boxes. Buy bets

pay off at true odds.You cannot make a Buy bet on a come-out roll. After you place a

Buy bet, it is working on all rolls except subsequent come-out rolls.


Lay Bets

Making a Lay bet is similar to making a Don’t-Place-Numbers bet. For example, if you

think the next roll will be a 7, you could make Lay bets against all numbers instead of

making a Don’t-Come bet. To make this bet, you must pay a 5 percent commission to

the house based on the payoff. The house commission is taken directly from your

bankroll and is not reimbursed if you remove the bet.


Lay bets are placed in the upper-third portion of the rectangles the farthest above the

Place-Numbers boxes, at the top of the lay-out. Lay bets pay off at true odds.You

cannot make a Lay bet on a come-out roll. After you place a Lay bet, it is always

working except on subsequent come-out rolls.


Field Bets

A Field bet is a bet on the number 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, or 12 being rolled, regardless of

what the point is. (This bet is always working, even on the come-out roll.) The next roll

of the dice immediately determines whether this bet wins or loses.


Big 6 and Big 8

For Big 6 or Big 8, the shooter must roll a 6 or 8 before sevening out (Fig. 6). This bet

is always working and can be placed at any time. It pays at even money.


Center or Proposition Bets

Proposition bets (sometimes called Center bets) are located at the center of the

layout. They are made by giving chips to the dealer who will pass them to the

stickman, or, as with the Hardway bet, tossing them to the stickman directly. Center

bets are always working. In most cases, the next roll determines the outcome of the

bet (exception: Hardway bets).


A Hardway bet is a bet that a Hardway roll (a specific number made with doubles) will

occur before the bet is lost. Unlike the other Center bets, a Hardway bet continues

working until the same number comes up easy (without doubles), the shooter sevens

out, or the shooter rolls the hard 4, 6, 8, or 10 (and collects this bet).


Center Bet House Payoff

Any 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 to 1

Any Craps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 to 1

2 or 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 to 1

3 or 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 to 1

Hardway 4 or 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 to 1

Hardway 6 or 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 to 1


Combining Center Bets (Horn and C&E Bets)

Individual Center bets can be combined to form the Horn bet and the C&E bet. The

Horn bet is a four-way bet combining the 2, 3, 11, and 12 Center bets. It requires four

chips to make this bet (or multiples of four). The casino pays the winning number and

subtracts the other chips from the payoff.

The C&E bet is a combination of the Any-Craps bet and the 11-bet. It requires two

chips (or multiples of two). The casino pays the winning number and subtracts the

other chip from the payoff.


Craps Statistics

Thirty-six combinations are possible with two six-sided dice:

Roll Dice Combinations

2 1:1

3 2:1, 1:2

4 3:1, 1:3, 2:2

5 4:1, 1:4, 3:2, 2:3

6 5:1, 1:5, 4:2, 2:4, 3:3

7 6:1, 1:6, 5:2, 2:5, 4:3, 3:4

8 6:2, 2:6, 5:3, 3:5, 4:4

9 6:3, 3:6, 5:4, 4:5

10 6:4, 4:6, 5:5

11 6:5, 5:6

12 6:6


You can easily tell from this chart the numbers that occur most frequently. For

example, 7s occur more frequently than any other number, with six possible dice

combinations (6:1, 1:6, 5:2, 2:5, 4:3, and 3:4) out of 36. These combinations translate

into the following odds:


Roll Odds

2 or 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 to 1

3 or 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 to 1

4 or 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 to 1

5 or 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 to 1

6 or 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 to 1

7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 to 1

 These are the true odds for the various dice rolls in Craps. The house does not always

pay out at the true odds. For example, the Center bet on a 7 pays at 4 to 1. It this bet

paid at true odds, it would pay 5 to 1. By paying at 4 to 1, the casino obtains a 16.67

percent edge. Ergo, if you make Center bets on a 7, you can lose a lot of money



You need to know when the house is paying at these true odds and when it’s not.

Odds and recommendations for the various Craps bets are listed here.


Pass / Come and Don’t-Pass / Don’t-Come Bets

With Pass / Come bets, your chances of winning on the come-out roll are greater than

your chances of losing. However, after you’ve made a point, the odds decline

drastically. The true odds against repeating the roll of a point before rolling a 7 are:


2 to 1 against making the point 4 or 10.

3 to 2 against making the point 5 or 9.

6 to 5 against making the point 6 or 8.


The overall casino advantage on these bets is 1.41 percent. The casino would

normally be at a disadvantage on Don’t-Pass / Don’t-Come bets, but maintains its

advantage by barring the 12. The end result is an almost identical 1.4 percent edge on

Don’t-Pass / Don’t-Come bets.


Pass / Come and Don’t Pass / Don’t Come with Free-Odds Bets

The free-odds bet is the only bet in Craps where the house does not have an

advantage over you. Bet as much as you can on free-odds. Naturally, casinos would

be uninterested in wagers paying true odds outright. However, the free-odds bet is

“married” the to the Pass / Come bet (you can’t make one without the other).


Pass / Come and Don’t-Pass / Don’t-Come bets with single odds gives the casino a

0.8 percent advantage. If you make this bet with double odds, it gives the casino a 0.6

percent advantage.


Once you make the free-odds bet, don’t remove it! You won’t find a better bet at the

Craps table.


Place-Numbers Bets

If you want to make Place-Numbers bets, bet on 6 and 8 (for better odds). It is still

better to take free-odds on Come bets for 6 and 8, since they pay off at true odds.


Number House Payoff True Odds House Advantage

4 and 10 9-5 2-1 6.67%

5 and 9 7-5 3-2 4.0%

6 and 8 7-6 6-5 1.52%


Field Bets

Field bets have higher odds and are less favorable to players. The house has a 5.5

percent advantage on these wagers.


Big 6 / Big 8

Big 6 or Big 8 is not a good bet to take. The house has a 9.09 percent advantage on

this wager.


Center or Proposition Bets

All of these are terrible bets and clearly favor the house. More experienced Craps

players avoid these bets.


Any Seven: The house pays 4 to 1 (the true odds are 5 to 1). The house

advantage is 16.67 percent.


Any Craps: The house pays 7 to 1 (the true odds are 8 to 1). The house

advantage is 11.1 percent.


2 or 12: The house pays 30 to 1 (the true odds are 35 to 1). The house

advantage is 13.89 percent.


3 or 11: The house pays 15 to 1 (the true odds are 17 to 1). The house

advantage is 11.1 percent.


Hardway 4 and 10: The house pays 7 to 1 (though the true odds are 8 to 1). The

house advantage is 11.1 percent.


Hardway 6 and 8: The house pays 9 to 1 (though the true odds are 10 to 1). The

house advantage is 9.09 percent.


Strategies for Winning at Craps

Most of the skill involved in Craps is in knowing the odds for the various table bets and

not placing a bet when the odds are unfavorable. In Craps, there are bets that give the

house a 16.67 percent advantage (Any 7, for example). However, a player can limit the

house advantage to approximately 0.6 percent by adhering to Pass, Come, and freeodds



Craps Strategy Highlights

• Always bet the Pass-Line on the come-out roll. Payoff: even money. House

advantage: 1.4 percent.

• Bet the Come bet. Payoff: even money. House advantage: 1.4 percent.

• Always take maximum free-odds bets on your Pass-Line and Come bets. The

house has no advantage on free-odds bets.

• Don’t waste money on bets with unfavorable odds (most of the other bets on the


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Cribbage pops up in recorded literature early in the 17th century. Frederic Grunfeld in Games of the World traced it to an English card game called Noddy. (No one knows how Noddy was played, but in the 1600s, the word meant a “fumbling, inept person,” so the reader is welcome to draw a conclusion from that.) Noddy was the only card game of that era that used a board for scoring, and, as there are no other contestants for the title, we can say with some assurance that this long-forgotten card game probably inspired Cribbage.

How the Game Is Played

Cribbage is a game for two to four players; since Hoyle Card Games uses the two-player version, we’ll confine ourselves to that. The game uses the standard 52-card pack. The cards in each suit rank from the king (the highest) down to the ace (the lowest). In counting or numerical value, the king, queen, jack, and 10 each count for 10 (and so are called tenth cards), the ace counts as one, and the other cards are face value.

The game operates on the principle of matching combinations of cards: pairs, three or more of a kind, flushes, runs (sequences), and groups of cards that add up to 15. Players score points for matching both during and after play (after play, points are totaled for combinations in hand). The first person to score 121 points is the winner.

Cribbage also uses a “cribbage board,” a rectangular panel with rows of holes that form a sort of track. At one end, or in the center, you’ll find three additional holes, called game holes. Each player has two pegs, which are placed at the start in the game holes. After each hand, the player advances a peg an appropriate number of holes (one hole per point) away from the start (assuming that that player scored any points). The player’s second score is recorded by placing the second peg an appropriate distance ahead of the first. For each subsequent score, the peg in back jumps over the peg in front. The distance between the two pegs always shows the amount of the last score. This method holds math mistakes to a minimum.

Each player receives six cards, dealt one at a time. After looking over the hand, each player lays away two cards face-down. The four cards laid away, placed in one pile, form the crib. The crib, also called the kitty, counts for the dealer (the dealer always has an advantage in this game). The non-dealer therefore tries to lay away balking cards— cards that are least likely to create a score in the crib.

To begin play (called pegging), the dealer turns up the top card of the stock. This card is called one for the starter. If this card is a jack, the dealer immediately pegs two (advances his peg two spaces), traditionally called two for his heels.

The non-dealer begins the play by laying a card from his or her hand face-up on the table, announcing its value. The dealer does the same (each player discards to his or her own pile). Play continues in the same way, by alternate exposures of the cards, each player announcing the new total count. The total may not be carried past 31. If a player adds a card that brings the total exactly to 31, he or she pegs two. If a player is unable to play another card with - out exceeding 31, he or she says “Go,” and the second player must play as many cards as possible up to but not more than 31. The player who plays the last card under 31 scores a point. The discard process begins again from zero.

After the hands have been emptied, the totals of any matches in the discards (including the starter card) are counted and added to each player’s score. The non-dealer scores first. The dealer then scores and also scores the crib. Any jack of the same suit as the starter card scores one point (for nobs).

One game option is called Muggins, which means that if your opponent forgets to claim any points, you’re allowed to yell “Muggins!” and claim the points for yourself. (The knowledge of who or what a Muggins is has long been lost to us. The word is also used in a form of Dominoes, though with a different meaning.)

These are the most usual point scores:

In Play

In Play

Total of 15




Three of a kind


Four of a kind


Run of three or more

1 per card

Turned-up jack




Total of 31



In Hand           

Total of 15




Three of a kind


Four of a kind


Run of three or more

1 per card

Flush (four cards)


Flush (five cards)




Double Run of Three*


Double Run of Four*


Triple Run*


Quadruple Run*


*A Run is a sequence of cards such as 6-5-4. A Double Run of Three means one duplication in a sequence of four: 6-6-5-4. A Double Run of Four is one duplication in five cards: 7-6-6-5-4. A Triple Run is one triplication in a sequence of five: 8-7-6-6-6. A Quadruple Run is two duplications in a sequence of five: 8-8-7-7-6.


If you’re just beginning at Cribbage and you’re not sure what to discard, here’s a prescription for improving your play—focus first on building your hand. Begin by looking for combinations of 15. 5s are especially prized because a third of the deck is made up of cards with a value of ten (10s and face cards), making lots of easy 15s. Any sequential cards are good (runs are easy to get and score relatively well). Combinations of 7 and 8 are very powerful, because in addition to scoring potential on runs, they also add up to 15. Pairs score easy points and are often (not always) worth keeping.

After considering the hand you’d like to keep, turn your attention to the crib. If it’s your crib (i.e., you dealt), see if you have two good cards that can’t be easily joined to the rest of your hand. If you do, discard them.

If it’s your opponent’s crib, be cautious about giving away cards that could be easily turned into big points. Avoid giving any 5s or any of the card combinations already mentioned (15s, sequences, and pairs).

Advanced Strategies

Since the highest points are obtained when scoring the hands, it is easy to think that pegging one or two points at a time during play is small potatoes. However, all other things being equal, a good pegger will usually win at Cribbage. It’s a case of the tortoise and the hare—slogging it out for the little points really adds up.

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Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild

Some Deuces Wild machines offer great winning potential. Naturally, with four wild

cards, the minimum winning hand is going to change; expect Deuces Wild machines to display three of a kind as a minimum hand. Expect a roller coaster ride of great

winning streaks sandwiched between losing streaks.


When playing Deuces Wild machines, make sure you never discard your 2s; it’s easy to forget how valuable they are.


1. Wild Country. Payoff: below 94 percent.


2. Born To Be Wild. Payoff: below 95 percent.

These machines, characterized by a low return on the full house, seldom produce

winners. The exception is the progressive machines, which have a variable Jackpot

(for the royal flush) that can get very high, and may have a return over 100 percent.


3. Wild Thing. Payoff: below 96 percent.

This machine offers 1,000 credits for the four deuces, which will push up the

payoff to approximately 97 percent.


4. Wild Party. Payoff: 99 percent. In addition to the four deuces, a wild joker is also

included with this game.


At a 99 percent return rate, you can expect to do fairly well at Wild Party. Not many

other games offer better odds.

The correct strategies for deuces wild machines change depending on the payoff

scale, but following are the hand rankings for the Wild Party machine, the “wild” Video


Poker machine with the highest return in Hoyle Casino:


Non-Wild Card Hands

1. Royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight (pat hand)

2. Four cards to a royal flush

3. Four of a kind

4. Three of a kind

5. Four cards to a straight flush

6. Three cards to a royal flush

7. Four cards to a flush

8. Two pairs

9. Three cards to a straight flush

10. One pair

11. Four cards to a straight

12. All other hands: draw five new cards


Wild Card Hands

1. Royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight (pat hand)

2. Four deuces

3. Three deuces and a joker

4. Three deuces with no other help

5. Two deuces and a joker with no other help

6. Four of a kind with one or two wild cards

7. Four cards to a royal flush with one or two wild cards

8. Two deuces with no other help

9. One deuce and the joker with no other help

10. Four cards to a straight flush with one wild card

11. Three of a kind with one wild card

12. Three cards to a royal flush with one wild card

13. Four cards to a straight with one wild card

14. Four cards to a flush with one wild card

15. Three cards to a straight flush with one wild card

16. One wild card with no other help


You need big hands in Deuces Wild. Discard all five cards if you get anything that does not appear on the above list. For example, don’t bother keeping four cards to an inside straight; due to the prevalence of wild cards, you’re usually be better off taking five new cards. Likewise, three cards to a straight and three cards to a flush is not worth keeping. Discard all five in this situation.

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Euchre was once to the United States what Whist was to Great Britain. Merilyn Simonds Mohr estimates in The Games Treasury that by the country’s centennial, two-thirds of all Americans knew how to play Euchre. Bridge eventually swept Whist aside, though, while Euchre still enjoys a loyal following.

How the Game Is Played

Four people play in two partnerships. Euchre uses the standard 52-card pack, but with 28 cards removed (everything below the 9). Hoyle Card Games does not use the joker.

The rank of cards in each non-trump suit: ace (the highest), king, queen, jack, 10, 9 (the lowest).

The rank of cards in trumps: the jack of the trump suit (the Right Bower) followed by the jack of the same color (the Left Bower). For example, if hearts are trumps, they would rank as follows: the jack of hearts, jack of diamonds, and then the rest of the hearts. The trump suit always has seven cards; the next suit (same color as the trump suit) has five; and the cross suits (opposite color as the trump) each have six.

Five cards are dealt to each player. The pack is placed face-down, with the top card turned face-up. This card determines the trump suit for the deal.

The first player may either pass or accept the turned-up card as trumps. If the first player passes, the next player faces the same decision, and so on. As soon as a player accepts the turned-up card as trumps, the dealer discards a card. The discard is placed cross- wise under the undealt cards. The turned-up card belongs to the dealer in place of the discard.

If all players pass, the first player then has the right to name the trump suit, or to pass. (If the first player passes, the next player has an opportunity to name a trump suit, and so on.) The suit of the rejected card cannot be used for trumps. If all players pass a second time around, the cards are thrown in for a new deal.

The player who declares the trump suit has the right to play alone. The partner of this lone wolf lays his or her cards face-down and does not participate in the hand.

In play, players must follow suit of whatever card is lead (if able). A trick is won by the highest trump or by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads the next card.

The object is to win at least three tricks (of a possible five). If the side that called trumps fails this, it is euchred. The winning of all five tricks is called march.

In the traditional scoring, the side that called trumps wins one point for making three or four tricks; for making five tricks or march, they score two points. For the person playing alone: three or four tricks gain one point; march nets four points. If the side

that called trumps is euchred, their opponents win two points. Four-hand euchre is usually played for a game of five points.



Don’t be in a hurry to become the declarer and order up trump. While ordering up trump is a huge advantage, remember that if you can’t take three tricks, your opponents gets two points (that’s what you call a big troll lurking under the bridge). Euchre is supposed to be a fun game, right? Do you really want to sweat that hard for your third trick? If you only think you can take two tricks, consider passing. Give your opponents an opportunity to do the sweating instead.

So when is your hand good enough to order up trump? Easy answers are a little scarce, but here’s a couple of ideas: your partner will take one trick on average. That means you want an assurance of at least two tricks yourself—and three is better. Takers (winning cards) are aces and the higher trumps (Bowers, ace, king).

Be sure you have an unbeatable hand before opting to play alone. Otherwise, let your partner help you out. Your odds of gaining extra points (for winning five tricks) is much greater with a partner.

Three trumps of any rank form a very powerful hand. You can quickly force out all the highest trumps and subsequently win a couple of tricks.

It’s war when play begins. Fight for every trick as if your life depended on it. If you think you can take a trick, do so.

If you play a garbage card, you will lose the trick and may never get the lead back. Your ace of hearts is the best option. It’s like firing your derringer—you’ve only got one shot. If you play it now, you can force out all the hearts and (if you’re not trumped) win the trick.

In the Old West, the fastest gun was always the most feared. The first to trump will often win a given trick. Because there are only five cards in each player’s hand, you won’t have much time to void your suits, so absolutely do not pass up any early trumping opportunities.

Advanced Strategies

When weighing trump, always keep in mind which player is the dealer along with a couple of trumps. It’s a can’t-fail proposition. You and your partner may even take five tricks.

Consider how drastically this situation changes if your opponent on the left is dealer. If you order it up in this case, you may still take some tricks, but you won’t take five. By giving up the Right Bower, you’re also giving up at least one trick.

Your kings and aces are better with a backer. A backer is a lower card of the same suit

If your partner calls trump, play your Bowers right away (unless you’d be trumping your teammate’s ace!). This will allow your partner to strategize better and possibly win all five tricks.

As in other trick-taking games, always remember the highest unplayed card of each suit.

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Fast 21

How to Play Fast 21

The goal of Fast 21 is to get the highest score possible before time runs out. You get points for making high blackjack hands, and for making 21s and 5-card Charlies (5 cards under 21). You also get points for each card you’re able to use in a hand.

Fast 21 has three rounds of play; each round lasts 90 seconds. Finishing the third round with more than 30,000 points earns a bonus round. Finishing the bonus round with 40,000 or more points wins the game.

To play, move cards one at a time from the stock pile to one of the four blackjack hands or to the reserve pile. The reserve pile can hold three cards each round.

Play cards to try to make hands that score 21 or close to 21, without going over 21.

Making a hand of 21 or a 5-card Charlie (5 cards under 21) in a hand clears that hand so you can play on it again (and gives you bonus points).

Current hand totals are shown next to the hand. Jacks, queens, and kings are worth 10, aces are worth 1 or 11, and all other cards are worth their face value. Note that although aces are worth 1 or 11, only their “hard” value is shown. In other words, an ace and an 8 are shown as 19, not 9, although they can be worth either 9 or 19. You can hit these “hard” hands, if desired.

If you play a card that busts a hand (makes it go over 21), that card is returned to the stock pile and your score is reduced by 100 points. You can then play that card to another pile or to the reserve pile (or end the round if you can’t play it).

When you’ve played as much as you can, click the Take Score button. The game proceeds to the next round (or ends, if you’re on the last round).


Scoring in Fast 21

You score 1,000 points for each 21 you get in a round, and 750 points for each 5-card Charlie. Busting a hand reduces your score by 100 points. You also score 100 points for each card you played to a blackjack hand in the round, and you score the total of all other hands you make. (You score points for each card as you play it, but if you make 21 or a Charlie in a hand you only get points for the 21 or Charlie.)

Playing all 52 cards to the blackjack hands (without passing any cards) scores you a bonus 10,000 points.

For example, if you got three 21s and one 5-card Charlie, with 22 cards played to the blackjack hands, and final hands of 20, 20, 18, and 17, you’d get this score:

3,750 points for the three 21s and one Charlie

                        2,200 points for playing 22 cards

                        75 points for your four hands (20???=75)

                        = 6,025 points total


Strategies for Fast 21

Use the same strategies as in Best 21. Also, if you don’t have a good place to put low cards, keep them in a separate hand to try to form 5-card Charlies.

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Fortune Pai Gow Poker

Fortune Pai Gow Poker is a variant and is played the same way Pai Gow Poker is with the following exceptions.


To begin each round, players make their standard Pai Gow wagers and the Fortune bonus wager. If a player wagers at least $5 on the Fortune bonus, the dealer places an "Envy" button next to it.


The dealer then follows house procedures for Pai Gow poker. While reconciling the standard pai gow poker wagers, the dealer also reconciles Fortune bonus bets. If the player's hand qualifies for payouts, the dealer pays him according to the posted paytable. If the player's hand does not qualify for payouts, the dealer takes his Fortune wager.


The dealer pays any Envy Bonuses at the end of the round. If at least one player has a four-of-a-kind or higher, all players with envy buttons win according to the posted paytable. In the event more than one player has at least four-of-a-kind, all players with envy buttons win multiple payouts.



Hand`                                                     Pays                                        Envy

7 card straight flush                            5,000 to 1                                 $1,000

Royal Flush Royal Match                  1,000 to 1                                 $250

7 card straight Flush with Joker          750 to 1                                    $100

Five Aces                                            250 to 1                                    $50

Royal Flush                                           100 to 1                                   $25

Straight Flush                                        50 to 1                                     $10

Four-of-a-Kind                                       20 to 1                                     $5

Full House                                              5 to 1

Flush                                                      4 to 1

Three-of-a-Kind                                     3 to 1

Straight                                                   2 to 1

Three Pair                                              Push

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Four Card Poker

Four Card Poker features head-to-head play against the dealer and an optional bonus bet. It is similar to Three Card Poker®, but with one major difference. In Three Card, the Play wager must equal the Ante; in Four Card, players may bet up to three times their Ante when staying in the game.


How To Play:

All players first make an Ante bet to compete with the dealer and have the option to also make an Aces Up bet to play against the paytable.


Each player receives five cards to make four-card poker hands. Four-card straights are straights, four-card flushes are flushes.


The Dealer’s Hand:

The dealer gets six cards to make his four-card hand. One of the dealer's cards is dealt



Stay or Fold?

After seeing your hand, you may fold or stay in the game by making a Play wager. You may bet one to three times your Ante if you choose to stay in the game.


Winning & Losing:

The dealer reveals his hand and compares it to each player’s hand. If a player beats (or ties) the dealer, his Play and Ante bets win even money. If the dealer beats the player, the Play and Ante bets lose. Note: The dealer always qualifies.


Automatic Bonuses:

Premium hands—three-of-a-kind and higher—receive automatic payouts. These are paid on the Ante wager. Automatic Bonuses always win, even if the player loses to the dealer.


Aces Up:

The Aces Up side bet wins when the player has a pair of Aces or better.


Ranking of Hands:

Four-of-a-Kind, Straight Flush, Three-of-a-Kind, Flush, Straight, Two Pair, Pair



Automatic Bonus                   Aces Up

Four-of-a-Kind                       25 to 1                                     50 to 1    

Straight Flush                        20 to 1                                     40 to 1

Three-of-a-Kind                     2 to 1                                       9 to1

Flush                                                                                      6 to 1

Straight                                                                                   4 to 1

Two Pair                                                                                 2 to 1

Pair of Aces                                                                            1 to 1


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Gin Rummy

In 1950, the United States Playing Card Co. conducted a survey of American cardplayers and discovered that the Rummy family of card games was our favorite family game. And why not? As David Parlett wrote in The Penguin Book of Card Games, “Rummy is deservedly popular because it is easy to learn, fast to play, suitable for all ages, playable by any number, and as suitable for gamblers as for missionaries—though perhaps not both at once.” Gin Rummy is the most sophisticated member of the oldest branch of the Rummy family tree—the one in which the object is to be the first to “go out.”

How the Game Is Played

Gin Rummy is played by two people with the standard 52-card pack. The cards in each suit rank from the king (the highest) down to the ace (the lowest). Each face card counts as 10, each ace counts as one, and the other cards are their stated values.

Each player receives 10 cards in the deal. The first card always goes to the non-dealer. The rest of the pack is placed faced-down; this is the stock. The top card of the stock is turned up and placed beside the stock. This is the upcard.

The non-dealer begins play by taking the first upcard or refusing it; if the non-dealer refuses the upcard, the option of taking it or refusing it passes to the dealer. If the dealer also refuses, the non-dealer draws the top card of the stock.

From there, each player in turn draws a card, either the upcard or the top card of the stock, and then discards one card (the new upcard) face up on the previous discards.

The object of all this taking and discarding is to form your hand into matched sets (three or four cards of the same rank) or sequences (three or more cards in sequence in the same suit).

After drawing, and before discarding, a player may knock if his or her unmatched cards count 10 or less. The player who knocks lays down 10 cards, arranged in sets and with the unmatched cards segregated, then discards the eleventh card. If all 10 cards are matched, the player’s count is zero, and he or she is said to go gin.

If neither player has knocked by the time the 50th card has been drawn (and a following discard made), there is no score for either player for that particular deal.

The opponent of the player who knocked may lay off any of his or her unmatched cards that fit on the knocker’s matched sets, thereby reducing his or her own count of unmatched cards.

If the knocker has the lower count in unmatched cards, he or she wins the difference between the two players’ counts. Should the opponent have an equal or lesser count, the opponent is said to have undercut the knocker. The opponent then scores the difference (if any) in the counts, plus a bonus of 25 points. The knocker cannot be undercut if he or she has gone gin. A player who goes gin scores the opponent’s count of unmatched cards, if any, plus a bonus of 25.


The first player to accumulate 100 points wins the game. A 100-point bonus is added to the winner’s score. Then each player adds 25 points to his or her total score for each hand won; this is called a box or line bonus. The winner wins the difference in total scores. If the loser did not score a point, this difference is doubled. A game like that is called a shutout or a schneider, and the loser has been skunked.


Although gaining three sets almost always assures you a knock, the clock is ticking fast, and the hand may end before you’re ready. The important thing is that you beat your opponent to the punch, knock first and take the points derived from the other player’s deadwood. Make it your overall goal to form two sets and retain a mix of lower cards (adding up to 10 or less). This is the fastest means of knocking first. However, to get to this point, you should understand the difference between the early and late phases of the game and the different strategies required during each.

You have the option here of taking the 3 of spades. This may appear to be a good choice as it gives you a combination pair, and it’s a low card (low cards are better when counting deadwood). However, getting good combinations doesn’t help that much because forming sets wins games of Gin Rummy. You should almost always draw from the stock, unless you can form a set or extend an existing set by taking the discard. In this case, you decide to draw, pulling an 8 of clubs.

The 8 of clubs doesn’t help your hand at all, and you discard it. In this situation, it’s obvious that keeping your jacks, queens, and kings is better than hanging onto the 8, because you have a pair of each. Even if you only had one king, you should probably keep that over the 8. Discarded face cards are very common, and your chances of matching a king via the discard pile are very high. For example, in this case your opponent is not likely to have a pair of kings (since you have two) and will probably discard a single king, so it doesn’t end up as deadwood in his or her hand.

Your opponent takes the 8 and, not unexpectedly, discards a face card—the jack of diamonds.

You snap it up to form a set of three jacks. Now, your discard is more difficult. You have four very low cards and may want to hang onto them. However, with your low cards there is only one card that can complete a set, the 3 of clubs. Since it will be much easier for you to form a set with higher cards, you throw away the 4 of clubs.

Your opponent discards the 10 of spades. This card wouldn’t form a set, so you ignore it. You draw from the stock, taking up the 2 of diamonds.

Now that the game has progressed several turns, you decide the time is right to rid your hand of kings and queens. Waiting up to six turns before getting rid of higher-ranking cards is normally an acceptable strategy, but with the 2 of diamonds added to your hand, all your lower ranking cards are forming combinations, so you don’t want to lose them. You dissolve your pair of kings by discarding the king of diamonds.

Your opponent discards another jack, which you take into your hand, adding to your set. Your discard this turn is more obvious, and your useless king goes into the discard pile. As an unmatched higher-ranking card, the king is now an encumbrance, and you should rid yourself of this excess baggage.

Advanced Strategies

The sharper Gin Rummy players can track the discards to help them avoid discarding good cards to their opponents. It also enables them to hold onto the best card combinations Jack = One point.

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Go Fish

How the Game Is Played

Each player gets five cards. If you are dealt a four of a kind, or get four of a kind during game play, those cards are removed from your hand, and you get a point.

Moving clockwise, players take turns asking a specific player for a given rank of card. If someone asks you for a rank that you have, the cards are taken from your hand. if you do not have any cards of that rank, your opponent must go fish, taking one new card from the pile of cards.

When it’s your turn, select a player you think might have a needed card. Pick one card from your hand of the desired rank. If the player has the desired card, he or she must pass it over. If not, you must go fish. If you get the card you asked for, you get to go again.

If you run out of cards and there are still cards left, you get five free cards.

Play continues until all hands are empty and there are no more cards to draw from. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game.


Winning at Go Fish takes luck, a decent memory, and a good sense of timing. The luck part we can’t help you with. Ditto for a decent memory (actually, you can read the strategies section in Memory Match for some mnemonic aids). Try to remember what people have asked for in previous turns. This is especially important if someone has captured two cards of a specific rank. If you have the opportunity to ask for that rank, make sure you take it— you’ll get a warm feeling when you lay down four cards.

This hand contains six points (A, J, J) and at least the minimum three cards in spades, hearts, and diamonds. If your partner bid one club, however, your hand is too weak, and you should pass.

Any suit of five or more cards is always biddable.

Bidding No-trump

A bid of no-trump is best when you have 15 high-card points, and your hand’s distribution is balanced, meaning a 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2 combination. You should also have all suits stopped, meaning you have the A, the K-Q, the Q-J-10, and/or the J-10-9-8 in each suit. These card combinations will prevent your opponents from taking a run of tricks in one suit. Most of the time, however, you’ll have to make do with “probable” stoppers, such as K-x, Q-J- x, Q-10-x, or even Q-x-x.


If you’re the defender and you can’t decide what to lead, here’s an old bit of Bridge lore: when in doubt, lead the fourth-best card from your longest suit. This is called leading from length. It’s considered the standard way to lead in a no-trump contract, and it’s a safe way to proceed in a suit contract.

Typically, an unbalanced hand is more suitable to play a trump contract. A balanced hand is good for a no-trump contract. Whenever a player has a balanced or an unbalanced hand, it is very common for more than one of the other hands to have a similar distribution, and it’s something to plan for in the play of the hand.

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Goal: Move all the cards to the Foundation. In Golf, you score based on the number of cards left in the columns. As in real golf, the lower the score, the better.


Setup: The game begins with one Foundation and seven Tableau columns, each containing five cards.


How to play:


First, choose any card from any column and move it to start the Foundation.


            Move cards from the Tableau columns to the Foundation, building the Foundation pile up or down, regardless of suit. Ace is low and King is high. You cannot wrap from King to Ace or from Ace to King. Cards cannot be moved between columns.


            When play comes to a standstill, click the Stock pile to flip a card onto the Foundation and continue play. Keep playing until no cards remain in the Stock pile.


Game actions and options


Right-click a card (Ctrl? on the Mac) to move it automatically, if possible.


To make the game more difficult, choose the options for Six Columns (play begins with six Tableau columns, each containing six cards) or Can't Play On Kings (no cards can be placed on Kings, neither Aces nor Queens—Kings are "the end of the line") in the game settings (click Settings on the Game menu).

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The concept of turning games around and letting the losers win and the winners lose has been applied to most of the card-game families. It seems to work best with the family of trick-taking games. Hearts (also known as Omnibus Hearts, Black Maria, and Black Lady) is the most successful example of a trick-avoidance game. Merilyn Simonds Mohr noted its international reputation—the only game of its type to ascend to those heights. The United States Playing Card Co. reports that Hearts is the second-favorite card game among American college students (Spades is number one).

How the Game Is Played

The usual number of Hearts players is four (three, five, and six may also play, but we won’t consider those variants here). It’s every man (or woman) for himself. Hearts uses the standard 52-card pack. The cards in each suit rank from the ace (the highest) to the 2 (the lowest). There are no trumps.

The deal rotates clockwise, as does the play of the cards. The entire pack is dealt, one card at a time. Players may discard three cards by passing them to the player on their left. (You must pass these cards before you can look at the ones you’ll be receiving.) The player with the 2 of clubs opens the game. In Hoyle Card Games, passing can rotate or be dispensed with, and the player to the dealer’s left can open.

Whichever card is led first, the other players must try to follow suit. A trick is won by the highest card in the suit led. The winner of a trick makes the next lead.

The object of play is to avoid taking hearts in tricks, as each heart counts as one point against the player taking it. The queen of spades (the Black Lady or Black Maria) counts as 13. However, you could try to take all the hearts and the Black Lady. This is called Shooting the Moon, and, if you pull it off, you hand your opponents a whopping 26 points each.

Hearts cannot be led until they’ve been broken, that is, thrown into a previous trick by a player who couldn’t follow suit. When a player equals or breaks 100 points, the game is over, and the player with the lowest score at that time is the winner.


The queen of spades rules the game of Hearts. To ignore the queen is to court humiliation and risk defeat. Consideration of the queen should begin before play starts, during the passing phase. Any high spades (Q, K, A) are dangerous if they are not protected by several lower spades.

However, it can be fatal to be short on low cards in a particular suit, especially later in the game. Using the last example, say a few hands have passed, and you still have the 8, 10, queen, and king of clubs. After the ace and 9 are played, you happily throw down your queen, and the top player takes the trick with the ace.

However, the player to your right threw down the jack of clubs. You now have the three highest clubs (8, 10, K). What happens after that could be destructive. Players will be running out of clubs, and next time someone leads in clubs, they’ll paint you with hearts or stick you with the queen of spades.

Guarded high-cards should be saved until later in the game, especially if they are hearts. This will help to prevent someone from successfully Shooting the Moon. If the player who receives your discards likes to Shoot the Moon, you may wish to pass them a low heart. This may discourage them from making the attempt in the first place.

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Horse Racing

Horse Racing in Hoyle Casino

The electronic horse racing machine in Hoyle Casino is like a slot or video poker

machine, only you are betting on mechanical horses racing around a track.You insert

your money in the machine and place a bet on a horse. If your horse “comes in,” you’re

paid off according to the odds for the horse for that race.


You have three basic betting choices in Horse Racing: win, place, or show. Win simply

means that you are betting that your horse will come in first.You will see the longest

odds and the biggest payouts for win bets.


Place means that you are betting that your horse will come in either first or second.

The odds are slightly better than for win bets.


Show means that you are betting that your horse will come in either first, second, or

third. The odds tend to be much better for show bets. How much you get paid for your

bet depends on the odds for that horse to win, place, or show.


Understanding the Odds

The odds on a horse tell you how much money you get back for the amount you bet. If

a horse’s odds are 10-1 to win, and he wins, you get $10 for each $1 you bet. So if

you bet the minimum $2 bet, you’d win $20.


Win Place Show


Mellow Yellow

9-1 4-1 2-1


Redneck Red

12-1 6-1 4-1


Purple Prancer

3-1 2-1 3-2


Bye Bye Blue

6-1 4-1 2-1


Giddy-Up Green

5-1 2-1 3-2


When a horse sports odds like 2-1 or 3-2, he’s a favorite.You won’t win as much on

this horse, but you can bet he’s likely to show up in one of the front spots! When a

horse has odds like 17-1 or 23-1, he’s a long shot. This horse is a risky bet, but pays

off big!


Strategies for Winning at Horse Racing