Here is a brief rundown of Forty Fives, Merrimack Valley Style
by Jerry Dow


This is the Boss card and is worth 10 pts.  With it, you can bid 15 or 20.
This is the 2nd highest trump.  By itself, it is risky to bid 15, but possible
This is similar to a wild card.  It is always the 3rd highest trump, regardless of trump suit.
This is the 4th highest trump
This is the 5th highest trump.

Rules (Merrimack Valley Style)

Objective: Partners try to win tricks and prevent their opponents from doing so. The first team to reach 120 points wins the game.

Scoring: Each trick counts for 5 points, and the highest trump in play is an additional 5. After the hand, each team counts what they
have taken. If the bidder's team has taken at least the amount of their bid, they score all they have won. If this team fails, the amount
of their bid is deducted from their score. The other team in either case always scores what it has won in tricks.

Winning the Game: The team to first reach a total of 120 points wins the game. If both teams reach 120 in the same hand, the bidding team wins the game.

Players: This game can be played with anywhere from 2 to 10 players, but in this version it's 2 vs. 2 (partners).

Cards: A regular deck of 52. The highest trump is the 5, then the Jack, then and Ace of Hearts (no matter what suit
is trump). After that it goes Ace of suit, King, Queen, and then it black it goes 2 through 10 and in red 10 through 2 (both
cases skipping the 5).

The Full rank in the trump suit is the following;
From highest to lowest:
Hearts:
5, J, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2
Diamonds:
5, J, Ace of Hearts, A, K, Q, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2
Clubs:
5, J, Ace of Hearts, A, K, Q, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Spades:
5, J, Ace of Hearts, A, K, Q, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The Full rank in off suit is as follows: (the Ace of Hearts is not shown since it is always a trump and always the third highest card); From highest to lowest:
Hearts:
K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Diamonds:
K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A
Clubs:
K, Q, J, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Spades:
K, Q, J, A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

 

Dealing: Each player is dealt 5 cards in batches of 3 then 2. After the initial 3 cards to each player, 3 are dealt to a kitty
followed by 2 more to each player.

Bidding: The bidding starts with the player to the left of the deal and continues clockwise. Each player in turn may either
bid or pass. Bids are made in multiples of 5 up to 30, with the minimum opening bid being 15. No suit is mentioned during
the bidding process until all bids have been made. The highest bidder names the trump suit.

Drawing: Each player discards as many cards (up to 4) as he wishes from his hand. The dealer then restores each player's
hand to 5 cards, starting with the player to his left. Cards are dealt all at once to each player (no 3-2 method).

Playing: The bidder makes the opening lead. The hand is played out in 5 tricks. If a trump is lead and you have any trump
cards, you must follow suit.* If an off-suit card is led, any card may be played. A trick is won by the highest trump or the highest
card of the suit led if no trump are played.

*Reneging exception: The three highest trumps (5, J, Ace of Hearts) have the privilege of reneging when a lower trump is led.
For example, if the trump 6 is led, a player holding any of these three top trumps without lower trumps may throw off-suit instead
of following suit (if he has lower trump also, then he must play a trump). But there is no reneging a higher trump. For example, if the
trump Jack is played, the holder of the 5 may renege, but not the holder of the Ace of Hearts.

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Other Variations

  1. If a team bids 30 and makes 30, they get 60 points (instead of 30)

  2. If an off-suit card is led, if you do not want to trump in, you have to follow that off-suit if you have it.
    Included in this version is an option for this if you would like following this rule.

  3. If both teams are 90 points or higher (referred to as being "on the green"), you must bid in order to win.
    If you don't bid and reach 120 points, play continues. This goes on until either the bidding team goes out
    or a team fall off of the green.

  4. Dealer can take the bid for the amount that is currently the highest bid on the table.

  5. There is no minimum bid of 15. You can bid as low as 5 if you want.

  6. During the bidding process, the dealer can "hold" and the bidding continues around the table where players
    who did not pass can bid higher if they want. This continues until all players but one have passed.

  7. You are allowed to discard all 5 of your cards (you are not forced to keep one).

  8. The dealer can "rob the pack" after everyone has discarded. This means that the dealer can look through all
    of the discarded cards by all of the players and keep any if he wishes.

  9. No kitty is used.

  10. The player to the LEFT of the winning bidder makes the opening lead (as opposed to the bidder).

  11. If a team has more then 100 points, they are not allowed to bid less then 20.

 

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