Getting the family around the table together is more and more a challenge these days. Establishing a family night brings the family closer, especially when family night entails an exciting card game like “Hell.”
The following card game, “Hell,” tops the list of my family’s favorite – fast moving, easy to play, and a great round of fun! Gather the cards, the family and enjoy a great family night together!
This card game is a version of speed or group solitaire. The winner announces his claim by yelling “Hell!” – hence the name – but you can choose to call it anything you like, especially if you don’t want your kids yelling that out loud! Here’s how you play:
You will need one full 52 card deck for each person playing. The number of players is usually only limited by the number of people you can put around your table comfortably. The more the merrier, believe me! It will also be easier to separate the decks after each round if the backs of each deck are different.
The card game begins by each person setting up his deck as if he were playing solitaire – seven cards across, the leftmost card being face up, all the others face down. Then covering all the face-down cards with another card, the leftmost again being turned face up. Repeat this until all seven piles have a face up card on top. You are now ready to start playing “Hell.”
Do not start play until all of the players have their decks ready. As soon as everyone announces they are prepared, say “Go!” Let the game begin!
“Hell” is played just like solitaire. Each player turns three cards from her deck (the remaining cards not previously laid on the table), flips them over so that she can see only the top of the three. She then tries to play the visible card, either on her table hand or out in the center of the table, in the community “pot.” Then she flips three more and continues through to the end of the deck in her hand. Turn the deck over and start again – flipping three at a time, playing what can be played.
The pot is created as players find the aces (A’s) in their hands. These aces are thrown into the center of the table where all players have access to them. Then cards are laid on the aces in sequential order going up (ace, 2, 3, 4,…J, Q, K) following suit (hearts together, spades, etc.). Anyone can lay cards on any of these piles.
There’s nothing better in this card game than trying to beat out a player who is attempting to play the same card you want to play! You must be quick. While you are gathering up your 6 of hearts to play it on an open 5, two other players may play the 6 and maybe even the seven while you watch in disbelief! Speed is of the essence!
But you don’t have to play only in the center. You can quietly play on your own deck, again just like solitaire; moving sequentially downward, alternating black on red. (Playing a red 8 on a black 9, then a black 7 on that red 8, and so forth.) But the excitement is in the center. Oh, and you can’t play on someone else’s laid out cards – just yours and the pot.
The round of “Hell” is over as soon as someone is able to play out the deck in their hand, regardless of whether they play within their own table hand or out in the community pot. When someone runs out of cards in their hand, they yell, “HELL!” and play stops. The call of “Hell!” is usually accompanied by a variety of interjections demonstrating the frustration of the other players, especially those not able to get rid of that one last card in their hand!
Everyone adds up the points from the cards remaining in their hands: number cards are 5 points, face cards are 10 and aces are 15. These points become a negative score. Someone with three number cards and two face cards will have a score of -35. The ultimate winner is the one with the score closest to zero!
A few things to note:
♥ Don’t use two hands to play cards out into the pot. One hand is always in charge of holding the deck, not moving cards.
♠ Only one card at a time can be played. Even if you have say a 4 of clubs and a 5 of clubs that can be played, you must play the four, then come back and play the 5. You can’t pick up both and move them to the pot simultaneously.
♦ If play stops because no one can lay a card, count to three and have everyone move the top card of the deck in their hand to the bottom, which will bring up different, and possibly playable cards, as you move through the deck again.
♣ Kibitzing, or helping another player, is only allowed for the younger children. Parents can help them by showing cards that can be played – for the child’s advantage, not for the adult’s!
♥Adults playing with young children may also want to remember to let them win the race to the center occasionally – it encourages them to keep playing.
You can preset a score that will end the game, like 500, or do as we do, and just play until everyone is ready for something else – usually having dessert, or coffee, or just sitting around the table and gabbing.
And that’s what family time is all about – listening to each other and simply taking pleasure in the company!