Long ago, I used to have this book called Official Rules of Card Games. I don't remember where I got it, or what happened to it. Probably it got lost in a move somewhere along the way. At any rate, back in college, it provided my friends and me with endless hours of free entertainment. So I was really excited when I found another copy of this book at Decatur Estate for 49 cents!
Flipping through the book, I found the rules for California Jack and suddenly recalled how a bunch of us in my dorm got hooked on that game and played it constantly (Christy will remember this). So I re-familiarized myself with California Jack, introduced Adverb to it, and now? We can't. stop. playing. it. We play it at night. We play it over breakfast. Maybe it should be called California Crack.
If you like card games, give this one a try. It only needs two people, so it's great for couples or roommates or siblings or whatever. Just don't say I didn't warn you--it's addictive.
Using a standard deck of 52 cards, deal six cards to each of the two players. Place the rest of the deck squared and turned face up in the center of the table. This pile is the stock. The suit of the top card will be the trump suit for that deal.
The person who did not deal goes first. Play a card next to the stock. This card wins unless the other player lays down a higher card (Aces are highest, Twos are lowest) of the same suit or any trump card. The winner of the trick takes the two cards played, and sets them aside to be scored later. The winner of each trick draws the top card of the stock pile and adds it to their hand, and the loser takes the next card and adds it to their hand. The winner of the trick leads the next trick.
Play continues in this way until the stock is gone. Then, play the last six cards in each player's hand until all cards have been played.
To score, each player sorts through the cards they have won in tricks throughout the game. Each player adds up the value of all their cards: 2-10 are worth face value; Jacks are worth one; Queens are worth two; Kings, three; Aces, four. After adding up all of these values, whoever has the most gets one point for Game. Then, whoever has the Ace of Trumps gets one point; Two of Trumps gets one point; Jack of Trumps gets one point. So, a total of four points is available at the end of each deal.
The first player to reach 10 points wins the game. If both players reach 10 points in the same hand, whichever one of them has the Ace of Trumps wins.
The game is part luck, part strategy. Since the top card of the stock is the only one exposed at any given time, the players might try to win that trick to get that card, or they might try to lose the trick in hopes of getting a better card underneath the top one. Also, the importance of some cards will be different at various times in the game. For example, a Queen is a pretty high card, so it will help you win tricks, but during scoring it is only worth two points.
I hope these instructions are clear. If not, let me know and I'll clarify. HAVE FUN!