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Two Way Street

Version 2.1 - in transition to Version 2.2

a game for 2 or more players

Copyright 2000 Galen Kaup

1. Before you play.

1a. Description

Two Way Street is a game for two or more players with 10 minutes or more time available. I first created the game because of the high luck factor in some related games such as Hearts and Spades, by letting the players choose whether they wanted to capture "tricks" or avoid them. While some Whist games, such as Bridge, have even lower luck factors, Bridge requires partners. Two Way Street does not.

1b. Equipment

To pay a 2-4 player game, you need a single deck of cards, with up to 2 Jokers. With 5 players, you may use either a single or a double deck. For 6 or more players, you will need a double deck. (You can make a double deck of cards by shuffling two normal decks together.) If you want to play with more than 8 players, you should probably have more than a single game. If each deck contains two Jokers, and they differ in appearance, name one Joker the Red Joker and the other Black before play begins. If you have time to play more than a single hand, you should have a sheet of paper and a pencil/pen to keep track of each player's score.

2. Play of the Game

2a. Deal

If the players have played before, make the highest rated player the "first declarer." If none of the players have played before, or two players tie for highest rating, or nobody knows their current rating, then choose the first declarer at random. The first declarer deals out 10 cards to each player, dealing first 1 card to every player, starting with themselves and rotating left, then 2, 3 and finally 4 cards at once. After each hand ends, the player one seat to the left of the first declarer for the hand just finished becomes the first declarer for the next hand.

2b. Declarations

I. Two players

Duels use a more complicated bidding system. See section 4.

II. Three or more players

Starting with the declarer and rotating left, each player declares whether they want to try to take tricks, saying "high," or avoid taking tricks, saying "low." If, at any time, more than half of the total players have declared high, this "forces" all the players who have not yet declared to go "low." If, at any time, more than half of the total players have declared low, this "forces" all the remaining players to go "high." Whenever a player declares their direction, that player puts two cards from their hand on the bottom of the deck and then draws two cards from the top of the deck. Similarly, when a player is "forced" into a direction, they discard two and draw two in the same manner, when their turn comes to declare. Note on the scoresheet either a HD (High Declared), LD (Low Declared), HF (High Forced), or LF (Low Forced) for each player.

2c. Play

The First Declarer leads the first trick, by putting any card from their hand into play face up. Then, each other player, rotating left, then puts a card of their choice from their hand into play face up. Whenever a player plays a card when another card is already in play, if that player has at least one card of the suit led* in his hand, they must either play a card of the suit led, a Joker of the same color as the suit led if the deck contains two differently-marked Jokers, or any Joker if the deck contains only one Joker or both Jokers look the same. If a player has no cards of the suit led they may play any card from their hand. After each player has laid down a card, the player who set down the "highest card" takes the trick. Highest card is determined as follows.

1. The Red Joker takes any trick.

2. Any non-red Joker takes the trick if the trick does not contain a Red Joker.

3. If the trick contains no Jokers, the highest card, Ace high, of the suit led takes the trick.

4. In the event of duplicate copies of the highest card, either from a game with two decks or a deck with two identical Jokers, the one played earlier takes the trick.

The winning player takes the trick and sets it aside. For the next trick, the player one seat to the left of the player who led the trick just finished leads the trick.

* - If the first player to play a card leads a Joker, then the "suit led" could be either suit of the same color as the Joker. The next player who has any card belonging to either suit of that color in their hand must choose the "suit led" from either suit in the matching color. If the deck contains only one kind of Joker, the next player with a non-Joker card in hand must either choose the suit led from any suit present in their hand before they play their card, or play another Joker. In the last case, the first Joker played takes the trick.

3. Scoring

3a. Keeping Track of points

After each hand of ten tricks ends, every player will have taken some number of tricks. If they declared "high" then their Raw Score for the hand equals the number of tricks they took. If they declared "low", then their Raw Score equals N - t, where t is the number of tricks they took and N is a constant depending on the number of players:

2 players : N = 10, but see section 4, Duels.

3 players : N = 8

4 players : N = 6

5 players : N = 5

6 players : N = 4

7 players : N = 3

8 players : N = 3

9 players : N = 2

10 players : N = 2

11+ players : N = 1, but games this large have a very large luck element!

Here is how to find the "penalty":

A. If the second highest Raw Score doesn't equal either the highest or third highest Raw Score:

Then the "penalty" equals the third place score.

B. If the second highest Raw Score equals the third highest Raw Score, but not the fourth highest Raw Score:

Then the "penalty" equals the fourth place score.

C. If the second, third, and fourth highest Raw Scores all tie each other, but not the highest:

Then the "penalty" is the second place score. Any players in this tie who were forced have a final score of 1 instead of 0, though.

D. If the four highest Raw Scores are all the same:

Then the "penalty" is the highest Raw Score not equal to the first four Raw Scores if such a score exists, or the highest Raw Score if no such score exists.

Next, obtain each player's "refined score" by subtracting the penalty from that player's Raw Score. Increase negative results to zero.

Finally, to obtain each player's "final score," multiply that player's refined score by two, if that player declared high or low, or by three, if that player was forced into their direction. If you are playing multiple hands, add this to the previous total to get the total score for that player.

3b. Winning the game

At the start of a game, players should determine some number of points to play to. When any player reaches the predetermined number, the player with the most points wins.

3c. Ratings

If you play a game to at least 12 points, then take down the date, time, players, and final scores and send them to me. In addition, if the game was to at least 19 or 25 points, you may note that. In that case the game will have a greater effect on player ratings. The ratings let me keep track of how many people play the game, and it helps people find an opponent of about the same skill level.

Email: (preferred)

Snail Mail: Galen Kaup

133 Leroy Street

Potsdam, NY 13676

Note: the Snail Mail address will only last a few more months! I will update the rules page when I finish moving.

If you tell me your return email, I'll send you the rating changes, although they will appear on the webpage anyway. You can also view the "Explanation of the Rating System" if you're curious about how I determine ratings. An average player's rating fluctuates up and down around the general area of 1000. A good player will eventually make it up to at least 1100 if they play long enough, and I generally fluctuate around the 1200 area.

4. Duels

4a. Declarations

For space reasons, I assume that the reader covers the multiplayer sections first. You can learn how to duel first, but you'll have to refer back to earlier sections to get a few definitions. Duels have easier scoring, but more complicated bidding. As in multiplayer games, the higher rated player deals the first hand, and then the players rotate the deal. However, the dealer makes a hidden declaration. They may write their bid on a piece of paper, or indicate it with cards under the table, behind a book, or anyplace concealed and decent. If you want to bid with cards, take a number of cards equal to the "strength" of your bid from the top of the deck (don't let the opponent see how many) and hold them either face up, indicating a high bid, or face down, indicating a low bid. Besides different strengths of bid (keep reading for an explanation) players may also choose to bid "no bid" or zero strength (in this case the direction doesn't matter). The responder then declares their bid out in the open, and then the declarer reveals his or her bid. If the bids have equal strengths, but opposite directions (two high and two low for instance), the current dealer shuffles both hands, along with any cards used to declare bids, into the deck and redeals. Otherwise, set the bids aside. High bids stay face up and visible, low face down and unseen.

If one player bid high, with a strength greater than that of their opponent's bid, their opponent immediately captures a number of 2 card tricks from the deck equal to the strength of their winning bid. He keeps these tricks face up and visible. Then they place two cards from their hand on the bottom of the deck and draw two cards from the top of the deck. If the stronger bidder went low, they must capture a number of 2 card tricks (face up again) from the deck equal to the strength of their bid. Then they discard two and draw two. If both players bid identically, nobody takes any tricks before play. Both players discard two and draw two. If both players bid "no bid," then the dealer chooses whether to play the hand as a high or low hand.

4b. Play

The dealer leads odd-numbered tricks (the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th), and the responder leads the even-numbered tricks (the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th). If the stronger bid was high, both players try to take tricks. If the stronger bid was low, both players try to avoid taking tricks. Otherwise, itís identical to multiplayer.

4c. Scoring

If the stronger bid was high, the player with more tricks, including tricks captured from the deck as a result of the stronger bid, gets two points for every trick in excess of the other playerís number of tricks. If the winning bid was low, the player with fewer tricks, including tricks taken as a result of the stronger bid, gets two points for every trick the other player took in excess of theirs. If the number of tricks is identical, the dealer gets one point.

5. Examples

5a. Example Game - Multiple Players

This game should illustrate as many rules as possible. There are four players, Zak with a rating of 1125, Katie with a rating of 1076, Jen with a rating of 1011, and Derek with a rating of 958.

Zak has the highest rating, so he is first declarer. The players sit as follows:


Katie Derek


Zak deals out the cards and looks at his hand. Here you can see each player's hand, in the same seat as that player.


4C,8C,QC,KC,3S,7S,JS,10H,KH,AD                     JC,KS,AS,QH,AH,9D,10D,QD,Red Joker, Black Joker


Try setting this up with playing cards to get a feel for the game.

Zak declares that he is playing low, so he discards his 9 and 10 of Spades. Then he draws the 10 of clubs and the Queen of spades - ow! After some muffled cursing, declaration passes to Katie.

Katieís hand is not too hot, but she decides it is best played high, especially since one player already declared low. She discards 4 of clubs and 3 of spades, drawing the 7 and Jack of diamonds to replace them.

Jen declares low, discarding the Ace of clubs and 8 of spades. She draws the 8 and Jack of hearts.

Derek has not been forced, since there are more low hands than high, but if he declares high, it will be even. He decides to declare high - his hand is frankly awesome. He should be able to win the hand even though he is the least skilled player at the table. Letís look at the actual play now.

Zak declared first, so he will lead the first trick. He decides that the best way to get rid of the Queen is to lead it first, so he leads QS (Queen of Spades if you didnít figure out the abbreviations yet.) Katie has spades, so she must play one. However, she canít beat the Queen (she would need a King or Ace.) So she plays the 7 - that Jack is higher and therefore more valuable to her. Jenís only choice is the 5 of spades - itís her only card in the suit. Finally, Derek looks at the cards and decides to take it with his King. He could have used either K or A to take the trick.

Itís Katieís lead, and she decides to see if she can smoke out a high card from Derek. She leads her Ace of diamonds. Jen throws down the 4D - she wants to get rid of high cards. Derek has diamonds, so he can only play a diamond - or the red Joker since itís the same color. He could only play the black Joker if he had no diamonds (a "void.") He decides to take the trick with the red Joker. Zak throws down the three.

Now itís Jenís turn to lead. She decides to give herself a void in diamonds and leads the 2D. Derek thinks a while and plays the 9D - he doesnít want to risk the Queen when Katie might have the King. Zak has no diamonds, so he can throw any card onto the table without taking the trick. He gets rid of the 10C. Katie smirks a bit and takes the trick with the JD.

Derek decides to play it safe, so he leads the Ace of hearts. He knows Katie canít take it because both Jokers are accounted for - one in his hand and one already used. Zak plays his 6H, Katie drops the 10H, and Jen the JH. Now each player has led once - letís update how it looks on paper.

                                   Jen - low, 0 tricks
     Katie - high, 1 trick                                     Derek - high, 3 tricks
       8C,QC,KC,JS,KH,7D                                    JC,AS,QH,10D,QD,Black Joker
                                 Zak - low, 0 tricks

Itís Zakís turn to lead again. Clubs are untouched, so he leads the 6C. Since Katie has a King anyway, she plays her QC without worrying about throwing away a trick. Jen gets rid of the 9C, and Derek takes the whole thing with that Black Joker.

Now Katie looks at her options. Since Derek used the Black Joker, he probably doesnít have the Ace of Clubs, and both the Red Joker and Ace of Hearts are gone. Therefore both her kings can take tricks - if in the right suit. She has one lead left after this, so she plays the King of hearts. This way, she leaves her options open for which card to play in the event of a club lead, since she has two clubs. Jen is happy to get rid of the worrisome 8H. Now itís Derekís turn. He only has one heart - and itís one less than the lead! Heís not happy about playing his Queen of hearts, but he has no choice. Zak plays the 3H and Katie takes the trick.

Jen decides to lead the 2C - it loses to any other club. Derekís only club is the Jack, so he has no choice but to play it. Zak has to play 5C. Then Katie uses the KC to nab another trick. Now we see why she used the KH to lead last trick - that 8 will now take a trick!

Derek thinks awhile and then plays the QD. Zak throws his highest card, the 6S, and Katie must use 7D. Jen throws her highest card, the 7C.

Zak plays safe and leads the 2S. Katie puts down the JS (no choice again), Jen the 3C (high card), and Derek takes the trick with the AS. For the last trick, Katie leads, and since all the players have different suits, her 8H takes the trick. She certainly outplayed Derek this round, but his hand was just to good to beat. Ok, now how do they score this hand?

Derek declared high and took 6 tricks, so his raw score is 6.

Katie declared high and took 4 tricks, so her raw score is 4.

Jen and Zak both declared low and took no tricks. The value of N (section 3a) for 4 players is 6, so their raw scores are 6-0=6.

Since there is a tie for second and third, but fourth is different than second, the penalty is the fourth place score - 4 points. Hence the refined scores for Zak, Jen, and Derek are 2, and for Katie 0. Nobody was forced, so the final scores are 0 for Katie and 2 x 2 = 4 for the others. The score sheet now looks like this:


The form for each entry is:

Declaration, Raw Score - Penalty : Refined Score

Total Score (add final score to previous total)

Next round, Katie is first declarer since she is to Zakís left. She gets a better deal this round - sheís the only high hand. She takes 8 tricks, and Jen and Derek get stuck with one. In the next game, she and Zak both go low taking no tricks, and the other two split even. In the fourth hand, Katie gets an awesome hand and takes 8 out of 10 tricks - and Jen who was also high only got two! Hereís the scoresheet:


Since they agreed to play to 20, this ends the game. Now for an explanation of how I rate this:

For 4 players, each player gets a win over each other player who finished lower than them, a loss to each other player who finished higher than them, and a draw with each player who finished with the same score. However, the change for each individual is less than that for a duel. Itís also less than it would have been had they played to 25 or more.

The ratings start out as follows: Katie 1076, Zak 1125, Derek 958, Jen 1011.

Since Jen was last place, Katie steals 7 points, Zak 5, and Derek 9.

Now the ratings look like this: Katie 1083, Zak 1130, Derek 967, Jen 990.

Jen is no longer adjusted - now Katie takes 5 points from Derek, and Zak also takes 5.

Now - Katie 1088, Zak 1135, Derek 957, Jen 990.

Finally, Katie takes 9 points from Zak, so she moves up to 1097 and Zak falls to 1126. Chances are, after the match report arrives in my Hotmail mailbox, Katieís a pretty happy camper - 21 points up this game! If they had played to 25 or more, the changes would have been greater.

Overall, all the players had similar ratings, so the top two moved up and the bottom two moved down. In a four player game, with a 1200, 1150, and two 900s, one of the 900-rated players could go up by placing third.

5b. Example Game - Duel

The two players involved in this duel are Zak, with a rating of 1126, and Katie with 1097. Zak deals first, since his rating is higher, and draws a hand with AC, 5S, 7S, QS, AS, 3H, 8H, KH, 6D, AD, and the Red Joker. This hand is quite capable high, so he places three face-up cards behind his arm, where Katie canít see them. Katie now looks at 3C, 5C, 6C, 8C, 8S, 10S, 5H, 2D, 3D, and JD and bids two low. Zakís bid of three is stronger, so Katie takes three tricks, and Zak discards 3H and 6D, drawing 7D and QD.

Hereís a quick run of the hand:


Zak took seven tricks to Katieís three, but Katie had three free tricks from Zakís bid. Therefore Zak only had one trick more and scores two points. You can see that this could take a while! Most duel hands give one player 2-8 points, although - once - I made at least 20 points in a single hand... I bluffed a four low hand, my opponent bid five high, when I actually had a no bid with which I could either take or avoid five tricks. I think that I took 5 or 6 tricks... plus the five bonus tricks from his bid!