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All Fours is a game of English origin and dates from the 17th century. Once known to virtually every card-playing American, it survives today, principally as Auction Pitch. It is still a popular game in the United States and has also evolved into Seven-Up, Cinch, and other games. There are many versions of Auction Pitch, and while the rules have changed greatly over the years, the essential feature has always been the scoring of high, low, jack, and the game.
Rank of Cards
A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Deal three cards at a time clockwise, beginning with the player to the left, until each player has six cards. After each hand, the deal passes to the left.
The player on the dealer's left bids first. Each player in turn may either bid or pass. The lowest bid is two, and each successive bid must be higher than any preceding bid, except the dealer, who can bid and play for the amount of the preceding bid. However, if any player bids four, they are said to "smudge," and the bid cannot then be taken away from that player.
The "pitcher" (highest bidder, or the dealer if they assume the contract at the highest preceding bid) leads first. The suit of the card "pitched" indicates the trump suit. On a trump lead, each player must follow suit if possible. On any other lead, a player may either follow suit or may trump. When unable to follow suit, a player may play any card. The player of the highest trump - or the highest card of the suit led if the trick contains no trump - wins the trick and leads next.
When all six tricks have been played, the points due each player are tabulated. Usually a score is kept with pencil and paper. Each player except the pitcher scores whatever points they make. The pitcher scores whatever points they make if the score at least equals the bid contract. However, if the pitcher has not scored as many points as were bid, they are "set back" by the amount of the bid - that is, the number of points bid is deducted from their score. Thus, a player may have a net minus score, which is called being "in the hole." The score for a player in the hole is indicated on the score sheet as a number with a ring around it.
The first player to reach a plus score of 7 points wins the game. The pitcher's score is counted first, so that if the pitcher and another player reach 7 points on the same hand, the pitcher wins, even if the other player has a higher total score. If two players other than the pitcher are able to reach 7 points on the same hand, the points are counted in this order: High, Low, Jack, Game.
A player who smudges and who makes the bid by winning all 4 points wins the game immediately - unless they were in the hole (in which case the smudger only receives the 4 points).
The winner of the game receives 1 point from each player whose score is 1 point or more, and 2 points from each player whose score is zero or minus (in the hole). (Variation: In some games, the winner receives an additional point from each player for each time that player has been set back).