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Three-card Loo being the most popular at the present day, we shall devote
ourselves more particularly to that game, leaving the five-card variety to
be considered later on, under the heading of Variations. The object of
each player is to win one, two, or all of the three tricks into which each
deal is divided, and in doing so he is opposed by all the other players
who have elected to stand, and who, in turn, try to secure the tricks for

The stakes are first decided on--usually three counters or coins for
the deal, and six for a loo. It is desirable that the amount in the pool
should be divisible by three, so as to allow of its equal apportionment
among the winners of the three tricks. The first dealer is then chosen,
and he, having paid to the pool the agreed amount for his deal, proceeds
to distribute the cards for what is termed a single, a term denoting that
merely the dealer's stake is to be played for.

The pack having been duly shuffled and cut, the dealer turns the top card
face upwards in the middle of the table, and then distributes one card,
similarly exposed, to each player. If either of the players receives a
higher card of the same suit as the one turned up, he wins the amount in
the pool. If two or more receive superior cards, the higher takes the
stake. The others are looed, each having to contribute the agreed amount
of a loo to the pool, for the next deal. It is usually agreed that the
penalty for a loo on the single shall be half the amount of the ordinary
loo, or the same amount as for a deal. If neither player receives a
higher card of the same suit as that turned up all are looed, and the
amount in the pool remains, being included in the stakes for the next
deal. The amount of the loos having been placed in the pool, as also the
sum agreed upon to be contributed by the next dealer, the cards are
re-gathered, shuffled, and cut, and the second deal is proceeded with.
Three cards are distributed to each player, and a spare hand, or miss,
as it is generally called,* is left in the middle of the table.
The top card of the undealt portion of the pack is next turned up,
to decide which of the suits shall be trump, and then each of the players
--commencing with the one on the left hand side of the dealer--in turn
looks at his cards, and decides whether he will stand, whether he will take
the miss, or whether he will throw up his cards for that deal, unless the
rule for "Club Law" shall have been previously decided upon, when all the
players have to stand, and the miss is withdrawn--see page 26. If he
decides to stand, the player retains the three cards originally dealt him,
and says, "I play"; if he elects to throw up his cards, he places them,
unexposed, on the top of the undealt portion of the pack, and takes no
share in the remainder of that hand, neither paying nor receiving in
connection with the play; while if he determines to take the miss, his
original cards are added to the undealt portion of the pack, as before, and
he takes up the spare hand. In this latter case he is compelled to stand,
that is, it is not optional with him to throw up the miss, when once he has
elected to take it.

*The spare hand is not always called the "miss." Some players
designate it the "cat"; the term possibly originating from its
un-certainty; hence the expression, often used in connection
with the spare hand--"Let us hope she will not scratch us."

The player on the dealer's left having determined which course he will
pursue, the one on his left has to decide, and so on, until the dealer is
reached; he may, in like manner, stand, throw up, or take miss, provided
the spare hand has not already been appropriated. If none of the players
take the miss it is added to the pack, but in that case it must not be
exposed, or looked at by any of the players.

Should it happen that each of the players in front of the dealer has
thrown up his own cards, and neither has taken the miss, then the dealer
is entitled to the amount in the pool, no matter what his cards are.
Should it happen that only one player has declared to stand on his own
hand, then the dealer, if he cannot stand on his own cards, may take
the miss. If he does not care to do either he must play the miss for the
benefit of the pool, against the single player who declared to play on his
own cards, and anything he may then win with the miss is left in the pool
for the next deal. Should it happen that all the players in front of the
dealer have thrown up their cards, and one has taken the miss, then the
dealer may stand, or not, as he chooses; but if he also throws up his
cards, then the holder of miss, being the only standing hand, takes the
whole amount of the pool. These contingencies are seldom, if ever, met
with in actual play, but being possible it is necessary to fix laws to
govern them.

The players who have decided to stand, either on their own cards, or on
the miss, then proceed to play the tricks, the one nearest the dealer's
left having to lead. It is, however, sometimes agreed that the holder
of miss for the time being shall lead, but this is hardly a desirable
departure from the more regular course of leaving the lead to the elder
hand, and we cannot recommend its adoption. If the leader holds the
ace of trumps he must lead it, and similarly, if the ace is turned up,
and he holds the king, he must start off with that card. If he has two or
three trumps (of any denomination) he must lead the highest. "Two or more
trumps, lead one," is the rule of some players, but unless this matter
is specially decided upon before the commencement of play the rule to lead
the highest of two or three must govern the point. In all other cases
the leader may start off with whichever card he chooses.

The play proceeds from left to right, and each player, in turn, has to
follow suit if he can; as it is his desire to secure the trick for himself
he will play as high as possible if he has the power to head the
trick. If he cannot follow suit he must play a trump if he has one,
provided his trump is higher than any previously played to the trick,
but it is not compulsory to trump a suit when it is not possible to head
the trick by doing so. Failing the ability to head the trick, he may
discard as he chooses. It is compulsory, however, for each player,
in turn, to head the trick if he is able to do so, and herein lies one
of the greatest differences between Loo and Nap, for in the latter game,
as we have shown, it is optional with a player whether he will head the
trick, or pass it. The trick is won by the player who plays the highest
of the suit led, or, if trumped, the highest trump. As winner, he has
the privilege of leading for the next trick, which is conducted on
similar lines to the first. This applies also to the third trick, the
only stipulations being that if the player who won the first trick has a
trump he must lead it, and if he be left with two trumps he must play the
higher of the two as the lead for the second trick. The three tricks
having been disposed of the amount in the pool is divided equitably
among the winners, while those who stood--either on their own hand or on
miss,--and did not succeed in winning a trick are looed. If all who
stood succeeded in making one or more tricks, so that neither of the
players was looed, it becomes a single again, and the cards are dealt as
already described for that round (see p. 18).

A player infringing any of the rules, or playing in an irregular manner,
is looed, and the amount of his winnings, if any, is left in the pool.
The hands must, however, be replayed in proper order, and if then the
tricks are secured by different players, that must be considered
the result of the hand, and the losers by the proper play are looed,
even though by the first and erroneous method they secured one
or more of the tricks. Briefly, no player can he looed, or secure any
part of the pool through the irregularity of either of the other players.
In any case the player who transgressed the law does not win anything.
If his cards secure one or all of the tricks the amount of his winnings is
left in the pool for the next deal, and he is looed. This does not apply
to penalties for looking at the hands, or declaring out of turn, or making
a misdeal. In those cases the offending player pays the penalty into the
pool for the current deal, and stands an equal chance with the others in
fighting for the tricks. The cards as played are left in front of the
players, not being turned or otherwise interfered with until the
completion of the three tricks, when, as already described,
they are gathered up for the next round.

We will now proceed to consider the various points of the game not touched
upon in the description already given.

Next: Stakes

Previous: Loo

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