This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Crazy Cards

This was my favorite card game growing up.

My grandparents (paternal) played this often. I would watch for hours, as my mom and dad played by grandma and grandpa. Or anyone else in the family, teamed up in pairs.

I learned the rules and game play from just observing. And then I'd play the game, alone, as four players. As an only child, I learned to play games solo and I am a very fair player, since I am all of them. :)

So one day, I was able to play in the "big leagues" and was invited to sit at the table and join the fun. And I found I could play for hours, as much as my family could. I never wanted to pull away from the table.

My grandma and grandpa were wonderful players. My grandpa had a mean-streak card playing personality, which seemed appropriate to his personality. But my grandmother? My sweet, baking pies, creaming corn, home-made noodle making grandma was a mean player too. And she'd get so mad at my grandpa if he took any of her cards, which he would even if he didn't need them.

And I loved how she would peek at the card, when someone would buy one, before handing them their 'extra' card.

Playing crazy cards with my grandparents is one of my most cherished memories. I never really got to grow up with them, living overseas. But the last part of my life at home, we spent a lot of time visiting them and I got to know them better then.

They are both deceased now and I almost forgot about this favored card game of mine until recently.

The girls had pulled out a poker set that I had. I don't remember where I got it; I think it came from my dad. But the two decks of cards were out and I recalled the game because, in crazy cards, it requires two decks.

First about crazy cards: it's like contract fact, it's a variation - my grandparents' variation - of contract rummy. The game that I played with them has changed now, as my dad plays it now...and I remember being really pissed off that they claimed this was how the game was always played. I don't remember how they play it NOW because to me, that is not crazy cards.

THIS is crazy cards, taught to me by my grandparents:
Three to four people can play. If three, players play individually; if four, then players partner up with the person across from them.

Ten cards are dealt to each player, then one turned over. If you can cut the deck at exactly 41, or 31, depending on the number of players, 100 points are taken off your score (thus, lowest scorer wins).

There are four rounds:
Two Books and a Run
Two Runs and a Book
Three Books
Three Runs

In the first three rounds, each player can buy up to three cards (so each player will always have an even number of cards). Play goes clockwise and the first card up goes to the player to the left of the dealer. That card belongs to the player if they want it, otherwise they draw from the deck and then must discard that one, or another card in their hand.

If the player does not want the card, another player can buy it (and get one extra card for buying it). Seniority is also clockwise and can be part of a strategy: if the player to the right of you wants it, you can buy it to prevent them from having it.

The last hand, three runs, is the hardest and thus, four buys are allowed per person.

A person cannot lay down their cards until they meet the round, which means, until you have two books and a run, you cannot put your hand down (like, you have one book only...that cannot go down).

The person that wins the hand is the first person who uses up all their cards either by laying down all their cards, laying down cards and discarding, or laying down, playing on other cards that are down, and/or discarding.

Everyone else has to count the cards in their hands. If you lay down and haven't won the hand, only the cards in your hand are counted.

Points are as follows:
K, Q, J - 10 points each
Aces - 25 points each
Jokers (which are wild cards) - 50 points each
Everything else is face value

The first team or person to 500 points ends the game and the lowest number player/team wins.

A book is at least three cards of one value (K, Q, 2s, etc.). If using a Joker, there must be two of one kind with a joker (e.g. not 3 jokers, not 2 jokers and a two card; but two jokers with two cards is OK).

A run is at least four consecutive cards in one suit. If playing more than one run (e.g. two runs and a book), then the suit must be different (e.g. NOT 4, 5, 6, 7 in spades *and* A, K, Q, J in spades).

Once a player lays down, then can play on another players downed cards. You cannot play on another person's hand until you put down your cards.

So, a verbose summary of the game. More for me than for case I get Alzheimer's or something, I can reflect back and remember how to play...:)

So back to NOW...
the other day, I taught MiMi and CJ how to play. I truly didn't believe it would work out very well. I thought the rules would be too much for them to handle. But they fared very well and we made it through a round.

Last night, I decided to see how much they truly enjoyed playing and asked if anyone was interested in a game of crazy cards.

Tim played with my grandparents and I before, so he remembered a bit about he was up for it. We played one round with me and MiMi as partners, and Tim and CJ as partners.

Me and MiMi lost pretty quickly and badly. We didn't even make it to the fourth round. But MiMi didn't seem to particularly care for it, so the next game was played with three of us for individual points.

And guess what? CJ is a very good player! She managed to 'strategize' her own hand and didn't need any help. A quick learner and darn right good player! I was so proud of her!

And Tim, well, he has some strain of luck because he was whipping our asses. And on top of that, got 100 points off on one of his lucky deals. But we haven't finished and today, CJ asked when we could play cards again.

I'm not going to hope for too much: I'm glad CJ is enjoying the game and I hope it continues...then I can make new memories of passing something along that I have enjoyed and loved so much in my younger years.

And you know, it's kind of hard to keep playing when your mom (or your wife, Tim), kicks your ass all the time because she's the best crazy card player in town.


  1. I have to make a few corrections on the crazy card

    here are the hands.....

    2 books
    1 book and 1 run
    2 runs
    3 books
    2 books and 1 run
    2 runs and 1 book
    3 runs and no discard

    10 cards are dealt to each player for the first 3 hands and then 12 cards are dealt to each player for the remaining hands.

    you get 2 buys for all the hands except for the last hand and then you get 3 buys.

    the winner or winners is the one(s) with the lowest score after all the hands have been played.....not just to 500.

    happy crazy card playing......Love, Peggy

  2. That's how you all play it now but when I was living at home, this is what I played with grandma and grandpa...the rules you have listed are basically contract rummy and I wonder if someone consulted these rules over the years (because they forgot? wanted to play a different version?) and that became the game you all play now...