Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Several years ago, one of our writing friends Jason taught us a game. It's called Poohead.

Okay, it may not have originally been called Poohead in other parts of the country. But that's how it was introduced to me, and Poohead it shall remain. (My mom initially balked at the name until my brother proposed it be called "Crap head" instead; she quickly backed down.)

Over time, we taught it to my family, and then Nathan's family, and then parts of our extended family. It's become quite a staple of family gatherings on both sides. But inevitably, every six or eight months, I get a call from some family member who is spreading the joy to others and can't quite remember all the rules. So here they are, written down for all posterity (as well as those forgetful moments):

First, the game requires a deck of face cards. It can be played with any number of people ranging from 2 to 10, though you need two decks of cards for games with 6-10 people. It also tends to be most fun when you have 4-5 players, but that's my personal opinion. You will need one joker from each deck of cards used.

After the cards are shuffled, the dealer puts three cards face down in front of each player. Then he places three cards face up in front of each player (with one face up card stacked on top of one face down card, making three little piles). Then each player gets three cards for their hand. Any extra cards after dealing go in the draw pile.

Before the game begins, players may exchange cards from their hand with the face up cards in front of them. At no point in this process should they look at the face down cards. A common strategy is to put your best cards down in front of you face up to make it easier to play them later in the game, since everyone can see what they are and play accordingly to best hinder you.

Threes are considered to be the lowest card. Game play begins when the dealer says "Threes out". Whoever gets a three on the table first gets to go first.

When it is a player's turn, he or she must play the same card or higher. For example, if a jack is played, the next person can play a queen, king, or ace, or most special cards (see below for more details). If they have multiple cards of the same value, they can play them all at once (for example, they can play three queens on a jack). It does not matter how many of a card the previous person played, so long as the next player puts down the same value card or higher.

There are five special cards in the game (special meaning they have unique abilities).

- Twos reset the pile, meaning any card can be played by the next person. Twos can be played on anything, and anything can be played on a two.
- Eights act as a skip. When played, they skip the next person's turn. The person playing next plays on the card under the skip/eight. Eights can be played on anything.
- Nines must be played in order (i.e. on a card the same or lower than 9); however, the next person must play the same or lower than a nine instead of the same or higher. Normal play resumes after that; it only affects the person playing directly after a nine (or an eight on a nine, as the case may be).
- Tens explode the pile, taking all the cards in the pile when it is played completely out of the game. The player may go again and can play any card. Tens can be played on anything, including nines.
- Jokers act as a wild card. They can be any card of the player's choosing, including a 10.

If a person cannot play the same card or higher, and does not have any special cards they can play, they must take the pile.

As long as a draw pile remains, all players must draw to replenish their three-card hand. They must all have at least three cards until the draw pile is gone. If someone takes the pile because they cannot play, they will not need to draw until they drop below three cards.

Once the draw pile is gone, players continue until their hand is gone. Once their hand is gone, they play from the three face up cards in front of them. Once the three face up cards are gone, they may play from the three face down cards without looking at them first. When a player goes to use one of their face down cards, they choose one without looking at what any of them are, look at the one they chose, and play it if possible. If they cannot play it, they pick up the pile. In this case they do not have to show other players what the card is, and they put it in their hand along with the cards from the pile. If at any time a player must take the pile, they have a hand again and must play all the cards in it before resuming play of their face up/face down cards.

If a player has a card (or cards) in their hand that matches a card face up in front of them, and it is the last card(s) in their hand (and the deck is gone), they may play all matching at once, including the face up one in front of them, for maximum efficiency. Matching in this case refers only to value, not suit.

If a player cannot play any of their face up cards on the pile when it is their turn to do so, they will take the pile. They can also take the card they tried (and failed) to play on the pile and put it in their hand.

Last rule: if at any point in the game, four cards of the same value touch, the pile explodes and is taken out of the game (just like when a 10 is played). The person whose turn it is when this occurs may play again.

If any rules need clarifying, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, have fun trying this quick, fun game! I promise once you've played it once or twice it's pretty easy to keep everything straight. :)

1 comment:

  1. We play a very similar game that also had the name edited. It went from ___head to crapface. Ha ha, don't tell your mom...or mine!