Commerce Description Of The Game
Ninety years ago the game of Commerce was recognised as being played in
two distinct ways, the new and the old mode, so that it may justly be
termed one of the oldest round games now practised. Although it is not
so popular as some of the others treated of in this volume, it will be
found to be a good game; exciting, entertaining, and well deserving of
more extended popularity than it has lately enjoyed.
Commerce is usually played with the full pack of fifty-two cards, but if
the number of players does not exceed seven the smaller pack of thirty-two
may be used, the game being available for any number of players within the
range of the pack, say seven with the thirty-two cards, and twelve with
The cards count in the usual way, except that in reckoning the number
of pips upon them, which is sometimes necessary in the course of play,
the ace counts for eleven, and the court cards for ten each. There is no
particular suit or trumps recognised in the game, the object of the players
being to secure special combinations of the cards, technically termed
(a) Tricon, (b) Sequence, (c) Flush, (d) Pair, (e) Point, which
range in value in the order given. The holder of the best combination in
each round is the winner, and he takes the pool or whatever other
stake may have been decided upon.
The five combinations just mentioned consist of the following:--
(a) Tricon.--Three cards of the same denominations as, for example,
three aces, three fives, three knaves, etc.
(b) Sequence.--Three following cards of the same suit, as, for
instance, ace, two, three; ten, knave, queen; queen, king, ace, etc.
Although the ace may be used at either end to form a sequence, it must not
be so used between a king and a two. King, ace, two, is not, therefore,
permissible as a sequence.
(c) Flush.--Three cards of the same suit, irrespective of value.
(d) Pair.--Two cards of the same denomination, the third one being
(e) Point.--The total number of pips on the three cards, ace reckoning
for eleven, and either of the court cards for ten.
In case of a tie between two or more of the players in any round,
the following rules are observed:--
(a) With Tricons, the highest wins, aces being first in this respect;
then kings, queens, etc., down to twos.
(b) With Sequences, the highest wins; the ace, king, queen sequence
reckoning as the best, and the three, two, ace sequence as the lowest.
(c) With Flushes, the one making the best "point"--as already described
(d) With Pairs, the highest wins. If two players are alike, then the
holder of the highest third card has the preference.
(e) With Point a tie is very rare; but if equality does occur, then
the holder of the first highest card different from the opponent's wins.
The deal is an advantage, and on that account it is best, when a finish
is desired, to conclude the game just before the first dealer's turn
comes round again, as then all the players will have had an equal number
of deals. Should it be found necessary, however, to conclude before the
original dealer's turn, play may be discontinued after the completion of
any deal, although such a course is somewhat unfair to the intervening
There is only one stake recognised in the game, so that it is simply
necessary to decide what shall be regarded as the value of a counter,
or what coin shall constitute the limit.
The amount of the stake having been settled, the dealer is decided upon
in the same manner as described in connection with the game of "Nap"
(see page 9). Each of the players then pays the amount of the stake
into the pool, the dealer also contributing on account of his deal,
so that he has to pay double.
The pack having been shuffled by the dealer, and cut by the player on his
right-hand side, three cards are distributed to each player, face downwards
and unexposed. The cards may be dealt either singly or all three at a
time, at the option of the dealer. The players having looked at their
cards, the dealer first addresses the one on his left-hand side, and asks
if he will trade; and he must either do so or stand on the cards dealt him.
If he decides to stand on the cards he has received, he turns his hand
face upwards on the table, and all the other players do the same, when
the holder of the best hand takes the amount in the pool, and also receives
the amount of a stake from the dealer, who is thus penalised for the
advantage that accrues to him from selling cards to those who wish to trade
for ready money, the amount he receives on that account becoming his own
property, subject to the payment mentioned. Should the player who declares
to stand be beaten by any of the others, he has to pay an additional stake
to the holders of the better hands.
If the player decides to trade, he may either do so for "ready money" or
by "barter." If for ready money, he continues operations with the dealer;
if by barter, with the next player in order round the table, who, in turn,
must exchange a card, unless he has a hand sufficiently strong to stand
upon, in which case he at once declares it.
If the player trades for ready money, he throws out a card from his hand,
pays a stake to the dealer, and receives the top card from the pack; his
rejected card being placed at the bottom of the pack without being exposed.
If the player decides to barter, he turns to the player on his left-hand
side and offers a card, which must be exchanged for one of those in the
next player's hand, unless that player considers his cards sufficiently
strong to stand upon, in which case the winner is decided by the method
If the player has traded, either for ready money or barter, and has secured
a hand strong enough, he at once stands, and exposes his cards; if not,
the dealer passes or to the next player, and acts in a similar manner,
going round and round the table until one of the players decides to stand,
when the hands are exposed and the round settled.
A player may only purchase or exchange one card at each turn; he must
not do both, but he is compelled to do the one or the other, unless he
decides to stand. When once a player agrees to stand, the commerce on
that round ceases, and all the hands must be exposed.
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