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How To Play The Card Game Up And Down

Updated on November 10, 2014

When I was in my twenties, a group of us would get together to play cards. One of the games we often played was a game that we called 'Up and Down'. The game was a variation of the card game 'Oh Hell', which also goes by the names 'Oh Pshaw', 'Oh Shit', and 'Up and Down the River'. I think the game we played could be called 'Oh Hell - Lite', or perhaps 'Minnesota Oh Hell' because, like 'Minnesota Whist', it is a simplified version of the original game.

'Up and Down' was a trick-taking game. The players each played a card, and the highest card of the suit that was lead took the trick. And it was a bidding game. Each player would bid how many tricks they thought they would take in each hand.

How to Play

The 'Up and Down' came from the number of cards dealt. At the beginning of a game, the number of cards dealt would increase from hand to hand. For the first hand, one card was dealt to each player. For the second hand, two cards were dealt to each player. And for the 13th hand, 13 cards were dealt to each player.

Then the number of cards started decreasing. For the 14th hand, 12 cards were dealt to each player. For the 15th hand, 11 cards were dealt to each player. And for the 25th hand, one card was dealt to each player.

The starting dealer was chosen at random at the beginning of the game. And for each new hand, the dealer was the player to the left of the last dealer.

For each hand, the dealer would deal the cards clockwise around the table one card at a time beginning with the player to his or her left and continuing until each player had the proper number of cards for that hand.

Then each player would look at her or his cards and bid the number of tricks the player thought that she or he would take in that hand. The player to the left of the dealer would bid first, and each player in turn moving clockwise around the table would make a bid. One player would write down all of the bids.

The last player to bid would be the dealer, and the total of all of the bids couldn't equal the total number of tricks in the hand. So the dealer was sometime stuck making a lower or higher bid than he or she wanted to.

Then the hand would start with the player to the left of the dealer leading the first card, and the rest of the players moving clockwise around the table each playing a card. Each player would have to play a card in the suit that was lead if possible. The player with the highest card of the suit that was lead took the trick and lead to the next trick.

After all of the tricks in a hand had been taken, the number of tricks taken by each player was compared to the bid the player had made. If a player managed to take the exact number of tricks she or he had bid, the player would score 1 point. Otherwise the player would score 0 points.

At the end of 25 hands, the player with the highest score won the game.

Comparison to Oh Hell

'Oh Hell' is a more complicated game. It is played with a trump card, and a more complex scoring system. There are numerous scoring systems for 'Oh Hell'. The most common seems to be scoring 1 point for each trick taken plus scoring 10 points for taking the exact number of tricks bid.

If I want to get a group of friends together for a game of cards and some snacking and conversation, a simple game like 'Up and Down' appeals to me.

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