Doubles

Number of players. Two to seven.

Equipment. A standard 52-card deck and a pair of six-sided dice.

Setup. The dealer deals seven cards face down to each player. (Try five for a shorter game.) Players may look at their cards but should not reveal them to other players. The player to the dealer's left is the first roller and therefore initially takes the dice.

Objective. Try to have the highest score at the end of the game.

Play. Players take turns as the roller, with the dice being passed to the left at the end of each turn. A turn starts with the roller rolling the dice so that all players can see the result. The number rolled (from 2 to 12) becomes the initial stakes for that turn. On each turn, the players compete for the stakes in a winner-take-all fashion, the winner adding the stakes to his score.

To determine who wins the stakes, each player, starting with the roller, has the option of challenging, which just means playing a card, or passing. Except for the first challenge, a card may only be played if its rank is higher than that of the previous cards played, with aces being high. The opportunity to challenge rotates to the left until a player challenges and every other player subsequently passes. The last challenger wins the stakes, and the roller's turn then ends. At the end of each turn, all cards played are placed face down in a discard pile.

If the roller rolls doubles, then he must immediately challenge, unless he has no cards, in which case the first player to his left with cards must immediately challenge.

If, after rolling, the roller passes and all other players subsequently pass, then the roller has two options. First, he may end his turn and win or "pocket" the stakes. Second, he may roll again. In the latter case, the stakes are increased by the new number rolled and every player, starting with the roller, gets a new opportunity to challenge. Until there is a challenge, the roller may roll as many times as desired.

Play continues until all cards dealt have been played. (Note that a player's turn to roll is never skipped, even if he has no cards.)

Optional rules. 1) To shorten the game, to accomodate more players, or to increase uncertainty, fewer than seven cards may be dealt to each player. 2) Players may play multiple games until some player's cumulative score reaches a threshold of, for example, 500 points. 3) Players may form teams, with each player trying to have his team's total score highest at the game's end.

-Dave Milovich, 11/13/2004