the game itself is a sort of poker variant (i've invented one in the past - the inimitable (and very stupid) "sloppy seconds": five card draw, two swaps (one with the pack, one to the left), you must swap two cards both times, twos are wild). if the previous parenthetical text is confusing, i'm sorry. you might not get the rest of this. i'm not going to explain poker here. just this version.
the game can be played by two or three players - either has its merits - but no more as there are not enough cards in the deck. (i believe that lewis has played with two decks and five players). each player has a five column layout as above... so that's one card in the first column, two in the second etc. KEY POINT: everyone forgets this, even when i tell them that everyone forgets it. you must make a poker hand (five cards) from all five columns. that's one from EACH column.
play is as follows:
- turn over the first card (column one). examine the state of play. if betting, round one of betting is now. betting is strictly unnecessary.
- pick up the next two cards (column two). place them back down, one face up.
- examine the second column of the player to your left (the only other player if playing heads-up). choose one of them to be discarded, i.e. aborted. next round of betting.
- third column. two face up. abortion. betting.
- fourth column. two face up. (this round is called the "victorian terrace" because it is two up, two down). abortion. betting.
- fifth column. three face up. abortion... and then... adoption. examine the third, fourth and fifth columns of the player to your right (also the only other player if heads up). take one of these cards and add it to one of your columns.
- final round of betting. see who is the winner.
if you do try it, let me know.