History of the 45s Card Game

Also Known As (AKA)

45s is known by many different names. Here are some of them: 45s, Auction forty-fives, Auction 120s, 120, Growl, Spoil Five, Maw.

Some of these games are diferent from our version of 45s and some are the same. 45s and Auction 120s are considered to be the same. One thing in common with all these variations is that the order of the cards (even back to Maw) appears to be the same.


History of Forty Fives (provided from the information on http://www.pagat.com/spoil5/45.html)

Forty Fives is a descendant of the Irish game Spoil Five. It is much played among the Irish population in the New World - especially in Nova Scotia - the most popular version being one with bidding, technically known as Auction Forty-fives, and also sometimes called One Hundred and Twenty, which is more logical given that 120 is the target score and the number 45 has no relevance to the game.

What is 45s? (all information on this page provided from http://www.nea45s.50megs.com/)

Good question. Have you heard of Maw? I didn't think so. Our good buddy King James VI of Scotland (also King James I of England; look it up) had this great desire to play a card game called Maw. It was either an Irish or Scottish game that was played by the people and made its way up to the castle of James VI. "trick"

Of course the game was popular and it evolved into a game called Spoil Five which is very similar to the game of Forty Five which is still played today especially in Canada. Auction forty-fives came out of that mess also but we think it came from somebody that cheated so much that he made up his own game.

The great game of Forty Fives (according to the NEA45s the official way to write out the name is 45s) was also derived from Maw. The similarities are the order of the cards, the "Renege Rule", it was a trick based game, etc. We are not quite sure how this game came to be but we are pretty sure that it originated in Northeastern Massachusetts near Lawrence. It is also played in Haverhill, Methuen and other surrounding towns.

Why is the Academy based in Boston? Because that is where the founding fathers now live. Keith is from Haverhill and learned the game from his father and Thurston of course learned it from Keith.

Interesting points

  • Maw was played in the 15 and 1600's
  • King James VI used to have someone hold his cards for him while he played
    (and Thurston always has someone shuffle for him; coincidence?)
  • The Irish word for "five" is the same as the word for "trick."

How is Forty Fives similar to Maw?

Maw goes back to 15th century England; here is the website you can reference: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/Tattershall-tb/cards.html. This card game is reported to be Gaelic in origin. Supposedly it was a favorite of James VI of Scotland. The earliest record of the game comes from Ireland in 1551. The earliest rules are from Scotland, 1576.

Two to ten players may enter the game. All players bet an even amount to enter. The object of the game is to win either three or five tricks or to prevent another player from doing so. The winner of three tricks wins the pot. If there is no winner, another bet is wagered and added to the pot before the next hand. If a player wins the first three tricks they automatically win the pot. If they play to the forth trick they must win the rest of the tricks to win the pot. In this case normally the players must put in extra money. If the player does not take the final two tricks they are penalized. Normally by matching the pot.

To start play, each player is dealt five cards from a normal 52 card deck. The top card of the remaining is turned up to determine trump. The cards in the trump suit rank five, then jack, then ace of hearts regardless of the trump suit. Then ace of trump (if not hearts), king and queen. Now, depending on the color of the trump suit the remaining cards will be ranked different. For red they are ranked 10 down to 2 and for black they are ranked 2 to 10. Non trump cards are similarly ranked.

Play commences with the person to the dealers left. This person plays a card and all the other players take turns playing a card of the same suit if they have it. If they do not have the suit they may play a trump. If no trump then any card. They need not play the 5 & jack of trump or the ace of hearts if they do not desire. Lesser trump must be played if the player is void in a suit.

At times the rules will change slightly. All changed rules must be stated by the dealer before dealing and betting commences.

Links to other card game and 45s game site