Oh, hell

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Oh Well

Oh Hell[1] (also known as Up the River, Hell Yeah!, Stinky Fingers, Get Fred, Gary's Game, Diminishing Bridge, Shit On Your Neighbor, Kari's Lane, German Bridge in Hong Kong, and many variations of "Oh Hell" with euphemisms and other swearwords) is a trick-taking card game in which the object is to take exactly the number of tricks bid, unlike contract bridge and spades: taking more tricks than bid is a loss. Its first appearance dates to the early 1930s and is sometimes credited to Geoffrey Mott-Smith.



The game of Oh, Hell explores the idea of taking an exact number of tricks specified by a bid before the hand, and differs from other trick-taking games in that players play a fixed number of hands. The game uses trump, often decided by a cut of the deck after the hand's cards have been distributed. It is known to be a favorite game of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.[2]

Like many popular social card games, Oh, Hell has many local variants, in both rules and names.


There are many variations to this game; a common set of regulations is given here.

Oh hell can be played with almost any number of players (3+) although 4-7 is considered optimal. The game is played using a standard 52-card deck, with ace (A) being the highest rank, two (2) the lowest. With six or more players, the game can be played with two decks combined or with a 63-card deck from six-player 500.

• In the oh, hell variation (aka the You Bid variation), the first hand is played with one card dealt to each player. On each succeeding deal one more card is dealt out to each player, until there aren't enough cards for another round. After this, the number of cards per player decreases by one every round. The game is complete when the last round (with one card per player) has been played. For example, a four-player match of Oh hell consists of twenty-three deals, from hand size 1 up to 12 (forty-eight cards dealt and one turned face up for trump; 13 cards cannot be dealt, as there would be no card remaining to declare trump) and back down to 1. Three-player and double-deck variants go up to a maximum hand size of 15 cards. In one common variant, exactly thirteen hands are played -- the final hand, in which each player is dealt 13 cards, is played without a trump suit (or by cutting the deck to determine trump). When an ace or king is played of the trump the queen is said to sweat. When someone trumps a high trump, they pull a Cunningham. One variation is to make the maximum number of rounds on the way up no greater than 7,8, or 9 rounds (thus, even with four players, the players could opt to have the pattern of cards be 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, as playing 12 or 13 rounds up and then down again might be too lengthy for some). A sub-variation for a small number of players (three or four), uses a step in the jump, such that for three players, they might opt for the pattern to be:1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15-13-11-9-7-5-3-1.

• In the Devil's Bridge variation when one reaches the final 1 card hand, rather than look at one's own card to determine one's bid, each player must hold their card on their forehead, so each player can see all the other player's cards but not their own and base their final bid off of that card.

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