Hoyle's Games Modernized/Poker Patience

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Hoyle's Games Modernized
Poker Patience


This game, which has recently come into favour among card-players, consists essentially of the task of laying out twenty-five cards face upwards on the table, in five rows of five cards each. A full whist pack of 52 cards is shuffled and cut, and the cards are dealt by the player, one by one, in order from the top.

Each card, after the first, must be laid down, as it is dealt, next to one already on the table, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. That is to say, it must be placed immediately above, or below; to the right, or to the left; or corner to corner. The resultant oblong is considered as comprising ten Poker hands (of five cards each), five hands being reckoned horizontally (which we will call the rows) and five vertically (which we will call the columns). The object is to lay out the cards so that the aggregate total score of the ten Poker hands shall be as large as possible. The score-table is as follows (for definition of terms, see page 124):—

Straight flush 30 Threes 6
Fours 16 Flush 5
Straight 12 Two pairs  3
Full 10 One pair 1

(It will be noticed that the relative values differ from those in Poker proper.)

The game may be played by two or more players, each against all. Each player is provided with a separate pack. One is appointed dealer; his pack is shuffled and cut in the ordinary way. The packs of the other players should, for convenience, be sorted out previously into suits. As a card is dealt, the dealer names it aloud; each of the other players then selects the same card from his own pack. Every one uses his own judgment as to the laying-out of the cards; and when the twenty-five are all played, and the tableaux are complete, the total scored by each player is added up, and the losers pay the winners on an agreed scale.

Supposing five players have scored as follows.—

A, 87; B, 81; C, 78; D, 78; E, 65. A is paid 6, 9, 9, 22 points by B, C, D, E respectively. B is paid 3, 3, 16 points by C, D, E respectively. C and D are each paid 13 points by E. Thus A, B, C, D win 46, 16, 1, 1 points respectively; and E loses 64.

Or we may proceed by adding all the scores together (making 389), multiplying each player's score by 5 (the number of players), and paying for the differences, above or below the total. If we multiply each player's total, as given above, by 5, we get A, 435; B, 405; C and D, 390; E, 325. The differences (by excess or defect) between these and 389 give the same result as before.

Serpent Poker Patience.

This is a "problem" variety of the above game introduced by Ernest Bergholt. In the preceding game, the cards are dealt "blind"—that is to say, when we lay down any given card, we are in ignorance of those that are to follow.

In "Serpent Poker Patience," the twenty-five cards are dealt, in fixed order, face upwards, and are all known to the player before he begins to lay them out. This is a pastime for one player only.

If there were no limitation of the rule for laying out the cards, the analysis would be too complicated to be practicable; hence the added restriction, which forbids the corner to corner contact, and enjoins that each card must be laid vertically or horizontally next to the one last played. We have, in fact, to make a "rook's path" on a chess-board of twenty-five squares, beginning and ending where we please.

While analysis is thus simplified, there still remains considerable scope for variation in the total score obtained. The art of play often consists in the sacrifice of valuable combinations in order to obtain others which, in the aggregate, will count a higher number of points; and curious results may thus be sometimes exhibited. I give the following by way of illustration: it is not difficult.

The twenty-five cards are dealt in the order specified:—

D.6, S.5, C.Q, D.Q, H.Q, H.10, C.10, H.6, C.3, H.J, H. ace, H.5, H.8, H.K, S.Q, H.4, C.2, D.2, H.7, S.J, S.3, H.3, D.3, S.6, H.2.

What is the highest score that can be made by laying out the above cards in serpentine order?

A few trials will suggest the following arrangement, with two straight flushes, intersecting in the ace of hearts, whereby a total of 78 may be secured:—

Hoyles Games Modernized 270a.png

The rows count a straight flush (30), threes (6), a pair (1), threes (6); the columns count a straight flush (30), two pairs (3), pair (1), pair (1). Total, 78.

But the correct solution is as follows (abandoning one of the straight flushes):—

Hoyles Games Modernized 270b.png

The rows count a straight flush (30), threes (6), a straight (12), threes (6). The columns count fours (16), full hand (10), pair (1). Total, 81.