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Poke (game)

Poke is a two-player card game invented by Sid Sackson and discussed in his book A Gamut of Games. It combines strong elements of Poker with trick-taking games like Boure or Spades, and adds scoring reminiscent of Bridge.

Like bridge, score is kept on a pad split down the centre both across and down; points "above the line" count for the final total, whereas points "below the line" are intermediate. The game is also played until a rubber, or best of three games, is completed.

A hand of Poke is played in two phases; in the first phase, players draw cards to better their Poker hand, and in the second phase the players proceed to take "tricks" with their hand. Points from the first phase go above the line; points from the second go below the line, with some exceptions. Once a player has twenty points below the line (which may take more than one deal), the game is over, bonus points are added, and the points above the line are tallied to determine the winner of that particular game.

Play is as follows:

This ends the first phase. Next comes the trick-taking phase.

After all five cards have been played in tricks, points below the line are determined. Each player gets one point below the line for every trick they take if their opponent did not double or redouble; they get two points for every trick if their opponent doubled but did not redouble, and four points for every trick if their opponent redoubled.

If a player took all five cards in tricks, they have performed a sweep, and receive a bonus of 250 points above the line.

Next, both player's hands are considered as Poker hands. The player with the highest Poker hand received points above the line as follows:

Deal then passes, and a new hand is dealt. However, if either player reached 20 points, that game is over, unless there is a tie in the number of points below the line, in which case a tiebreaker hand is played. Once a clear winner has been determined, that player gets a bonus of 100 points above the line, and all of their opponent's points below the line are cancelled. (This is particularly unclear; unless both players reset their scores below the line, one player would constantly have more than 20 points; it may be that at some point there were large numbers of points below the line, which were transferred above the line at this point. In Bridge and its derivatives, at this point the score below the line is set to zero for both players; one can assume the same occurs here.) When a player has won their second game, they receive the 100 point bonus mentioned above, plus 750 points above the line if their opponent did not win a game in the rubber, or 500 points above the line if their opponent won one. At this stage, the points above the line are tallied, and the person with the most points above the line wins the game.

A sample game would be nice, as Poke is not as intuitively obvious as its predecessors.