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Thirty-one (game)

Thirty-one is a card game played by between two and seven people inclusive. The game is usually best played with at least four players. The object of Thirty-one is to obtain a hand with a point value closer to 31 than the hands of one's opponents.

Details of play

Thirty-one uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Aces are high, counting 11, face cards count 10, and all other cards count face value. Each player gets three cards in his or her hand. The rest of the pack is set in the middle of the table to act as the stock for the game, and the top card of the stock is turned over to begin the discard.

After the hands in the first round are dealt out, each player receives a previously-chosen number of tokens, or, most commonly, coins. Play proceeds as in Gin rummy, with each player, starting with the player to the immediate left of the dealer and going clockwise around the table, taking the top card of either the stock or the discard and subsequently discarding a card. Play continues clockwise around the table until any player knocks or obtains a blitz.

When it is one player's turn, and that player believes his or her hand is high enough to beat those of his or her opponents individually, he or she knocks on the table in lieu of drawing and discarding. All other players, going clockwise from the player who knocked, have one more turn to draw from the stock and discard, or they have the option of keeping all three cards in their hands, known as standing. The round ends when the player to the right of the player who knocked has had his or her final turn. If no one knocks by the time a player exhausts the stock, the round ends in a draw.

At the end of the round, each player shows his or her hand and totals it up. The player whose hand scored the lowest is declared the loser, and must subsequently place one of his or her tokens or coins in the centre of the table.

If, at any time in the round, a player acquires a hand made up of an Ace, King and Ten of the same suit, known as a blitz, he or she immediately shows it, the round immediately ends, and all other players each place one token or coin on the centre of the table.

When a player has lost all of his or her tokens or coins, he or she continues to play "on the bus" until that player loses again; at that time, he or she must leave the game. The last player to stay in the game wins all of the tokens or coins on the table.

Common variations of Thirty-one

Banking version

The play is the same as the regular version of Thirty-one described above, but with the following changes. Before each round, each player has to ante one token or coin onto the centre of the table. While dealing, after each player has received one card, the dealer puts one card face down on the table to form a pile of three cards known as the widow. A player may use his or her turn to exchange one or more cards in his hand with an equivalent number of cards in the widow, leaving the cards he or she put in the widow face up. At the end of the round, the player with the highest-valued hand takes all the tokens or coins on the table. If any player acquires a blitz in his or her hand, he or she immediately shows it, the round ends, all other players place one token or coin on the table, and the player who blitzed takes all of the tokens or coins on the table.

Variations on play