The Basics of Tripoley

-Number of players: 2-9 players, ideally 4-7

-Cards: A standard deck of 52 cards. Ace high

Additional Requirements

-Chips for betting

-Stakes Board: a chalkboard or labeled piece of paper for writing down the stakes. There are special stakes boards available to buy for Tripoley, but it is also easy to create one. Separate the stakes board into sections labeled: Ace of Hearts, King of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Jack of Hearts, Ten of Hearts, King-Queen of Hearts, 8-9-10, Kitty, and Pot.


Object of the Game

The object of the Tripoley game is to make high-scoring card combinations by discarding and picking up new cards and making bids during the play. The first player to discard all his cards wins all the chips in the kitty.


How to Play Tripoley

Each player begins the game by positioning nine chips on each of the labeled segments on the stakes board. Then the dealer deals out the deck, one card at a time, to each player, in a clockwise direction. The dealer also deals out a spare hand (as if there’s an invisible player), which does not belong to any player.

By the end of the deal, certain players will have one more card than other players. After viewing his hand, the dealer can choose to exchange his hand for the spare hand but is not permitted to look at the spare hand before determining to make the swap. When the exchange is made, the dealer’s hand is positioned face down and the dealer’s old hand becomes the spare hand. The two hands cannot be combined.

If the dealer wants, he can offer the UNSEEN spare hand for sale to the highest bidder. The bidding is made in chips and the buyer of the hand must give the amount bid (in chips) to the dealer. The victor of the bid takes the spare hand and places his old hand face down in the center. If the dealer proposes the spare up to the auction block and no one bids, he can still elect to swap his hand for the spare hand.

Not only does the dealer have the privilege to swap his hand for the unseen hand, but even once he’s made the exchange, he can offer his old hand on the auction block. Though, when he makes the swap for the unseen hand, he has to keep that hand; he cannot swap it back for his old hand.

If a player has any of the following cards in his hand, he takes the chips from that corresponding spot on the stakes board: Ace of Hearts, King of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Jack of Hearts, 10 of Hearts.

If a player has both the King and Queen of Hearts, he can take the chips from the King and Queen spaces as well as from the King-Queen space.

A player can remove chips from the 8-9-10 space if he has the 8,9, and 10 cards in one suit. The suit does not have to be Hearts. If more than one player has an 8,9, and 10 in one suit, those players have to share the chips that are in the 8-9-10 space. But, the chips must be distributed equally, so if there are two players who can take chips from that space and there are nine chips in the space, they each take four and leave the extra chip for the next winner of that sequence. It is not uncommon to have leftover chips on the stakes board.

The Play Begins with a Round of Poker.

Each player selects five cards from their hand that they think will be appropriate for a poker hand. The rest of the cards can be momentarily put aside. It is important to note that a player doesn’t have to play his finest poker hand because he may have cards he wants to retain for later in the game.

A player positions his poker bets in the space marked “pots” on the stakes board and the play commences to the left of the dealer. This player places a bet, or checks (passes or bets nothing). If this first player checks, then the next player can bet or check, and this persists in a clockwise direction. When all the players have checked, all the hands must be exposed and the player with the best hand (highest hand) wins the pot.

Players should decide at the start of the game how high everyone will permit the betting to go. If the limit is 20, then no one may make an initial bet of more than 20. This means that they also may not raise the bet by more than 20 chips in order to match the previous bet or raise.

The betting lasts until all the players (except one) fold. The player who doesn’t fold wins the chips in the pot. No cards need to be exposed. The player who wins the pot could actually have a worse hand than the other players, but if he is the only one who doesn’t fold, then he takes all the chips in the pot. In other words, in this case, it doesn’t matter who has the best hand.

The betting can also continue until all the players who do not fold have equal stakes. So, after a bet or raise, and all other players either fold or call, a showdown occurs between the remaining players. Everyone reveals his hand, and the player with the best hand wins the pot. This means that the players who folded, even if they actually had a better hand, are out of luck. They cannot win the pot and they lose all the chips they contributed to the pot.

The players who folded do not have to reveal their hands. There’s no point; they lost the round. If two players have an equal hand as revealed during the showdown, they must split the chips in the pot equally (even split—so if there are 21 chips in the pot, the two winning players get 10 each and the one remaining chip is left there for future rounds.)

If a player cannot lead after placing an Ace, or stop card (more on this later), because his cards are of the same suit previously played, then he will have to pass his turn to the player on the left. If that player can’t play either, then he passes to the player on his left. If no one can play, then each player must place chips into the kitty. The chips placed into the kitty, in this situation, should be equal to the number of cards left in hand. These chips will stay there until someone wins. It is not unusual to have chips left over on the stakes board by the end of the game—usually in the King-Queen and 8-9-10 spaces. Most people prefer, rather than to divide up the chips among the players, to play an extra round of Poker for the chips. Just move the chips over to the pot and play for what’s left. But don’t add any more chips to the board.

Once the Poker hand is over and the winnings are collected, the players put their Poker cards back into their original hand. The winner of the Poker pot begins the next round of the game, which is similar to the Michigan Rummy game. The Poker winner plays by putting down a card, faceup, in the center. (If there is a tie in the poker round, the player closest to the left of the dealer begins the next round.)

The card can be of any suit but should be the lowest card that he holds in that suit. The player with the next-highest card in that same suit places a card down next, and so on. This continues until the Ace of that suit is placed down or until a player reaches a “stop card.” Example of a stop card: if a 9 of Hearts is placed down and no one can place the 10 of Hearts because it is either in the spare hand or was previously played, then the 9 of Hearts is the stop card.

Whoever places that final Ace or the stop card makes the next play. They can put down any suit except the one just played. Again, they can play the lowest card they have in that suit. The play continues just like it did in the previous round until one player has used up his cards. The player to play all his cards wins all the chips in the “kitty.” In addition to the kitty, the winner also collects chips from each player equal to the number of cards they have left in their hands.