Oh Hell!

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Oh Hell! Card Game Rules


Oh Hell is a trick taking game where players try to win the exact number of tricks they bid; it may sound simple, but the game requires a strong strategy! Oh Hell can be played by 3 to 12 players.

The card game first appeared in New York and London in the 1930's and since then has become popular all over the world.

Ranking of Cards

In Oh Hell, Aces are high and 2s are low.



Play Multiplayer Oh Hell! Online

The Deck and the Deal

Oh Hell is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. For round 1, the dealer passes out 10 cards, one by one, face down to each player. The trump suit for the round is then established by turning over the next card in the deck. Depending on the number of cards passed and the number of players, there might be several cards that are out of play.

How to Play

Going clockwise, players announce how many bids they believe they will win in the round. Players cannot pass but can bid 0. After announcing their bids, gameplay begins with the player left of the dealer. This player leads the trick with whatever card they choose. Going clockwise, players must follow the lead suit if possible. After everyone plays into the trick, the player with the highest card in the lead suit (or trump suit) wins the trick. The winner of the trick leads the next trick.

Play continues until everyone has played all of their cards. Points are then tallied for round 1. Afterwards, the cards are shuffled, the dealer position rotates clockwise, and the new dealer begins round 2 by passing out 9 cards. Gameplay continues like in round 1. With each round, the number of cards dealt decrease by 1 until there is only 1 card dealt. After 1 card is dealt, the number of cards dealt increases by 1 until there are 10 cards dealt again. Gameplay then stops and final points are tallied.


Players receive 1 point for every trick won. If a player wins the exact number of tricks they bid on, they receive an extra 10 points bonus for the trick.


After 19 rounds, final points are tallied. The player with the highest number of points wins the game.


We support several customizable rules and options so you can play Oh Hell! exactly how you like or how you grew up playing with your friends and family. In addition to the classic way of playing, we often have new creative options for you to try to spice up the game if you are interested in trying different spins for fun.


Players determine a set amount of rounds (also known as hands or deals) that the game will go to (instead of the points selection above).


Players only have a set amount of time to make their turn after which a turn is automatically played for them and the game proceeds: Fast is 7 seconds, Standard is 15 seconds, Slow is 30 seconds, and Very Slow is 60 seconds. Players can also choose to disable the timer, but that is only for private tables.


When activated, the dealer cannot place a bid that would make the total bids equal to the number of cards dealt in the round. With hook enabled, at-least one person will not be able to successfully complete their bid.

Closed Bidding

When activated, bidding will happen simultaneously, staying anonymous until all bids have been placed. When switched off, bidding will happen in a turn-based manner, with the bids available for other players to see and use that information to smartly make your own bid .

Maximum cards dealt

Players can determine the maximum number of cards dealt in three ways: a default setting (10 cards for 5 players or less, 8 cards for 6 players and 7 cards for 7 players), a blanket standard of seven cards, or the maximum possible cards dealt using all cards from the deck.

Minimum cards dealt

Players can determine the minimum number of cards dealt. The options for this variation are 1, 2, 3, and 4

Fixed Trump

When activated, trump suits will be determined in a fixed pattern for each round. The choices are Spades, Diamonds, Clubs then Hearts (SDCH); Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts then Spades (CDHS); or Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades then No Trump (CDHSN); or Spades, Diamonds, Clubs, Hearts then No Trump (SDCHN); or always Spades. If not activated, trump suits will be selected by drawing the next card from the deck after all hands have been dealt for that round.

Successful Bid

Players can alter the points awarded for when a non-zero trick bid is successful. The default is 10 + Bid. Alternative options are: 10 x Bid; 10 + Bid²; 10 + 2 x Bid; 10 + 3 x Bid; 5 + Bid, 1 + Bid, Bid, 10 + Triangle Number (Bid x (Bid +1) / 2).

Successful Zero Bid

Players can alter the points awarded for when a zero trick bid is successful. The default is 10. Alternative options are: 5; 1; 0; 5 + Cards; 10 + Cards.

Double when All

When activated, players are awarded double points for a successful trick bid that is equal to the number of cards dealt that round.

Too Many

You can alter the points deducted for an unsuccessful trick bid for when the tricks were too many. The default is Taken. Alternative options are: Zero, Bid - Taken, 2 x (Bid - Taken), 3 x (Bid - Taken), 10 x (Bid - Taken), -(Bid - Taken)², -Taken.

Too Few

You can alter the points deducted for an unsuccessful trick bid for when the tricks were too few. The default is Taken. Alternative options are: Zero, Taken - Bid, 2 x (Taken - Bid), 3 x (Taken - Bid), 10 x (Taken - Bid), -(Taken - Bid)², -Bid.

Dealing Order

After you have established the Maximum and Minimum amount of cards to be dealt (see above in 'Maximum Cards Dealt' and 'Minimum Cards Dealt'), you can alter the amount of cards dealt in each round. The default Dealing Order starts at Maximum, descends to 1 card, then ascends to the Maximum. Alternative options are: Min..Max..Min, Max..Min, Min..Max, Max..Min..Max..Min, or Max.

Lead trump

By default, you can lead trump anytime on a trick. Alternatively, you can restrict trumps to be only lead after they are broken (somebody trumps an existing non-trump trick); after the first trick; after three tricks; after three tricks or broken. If your hand consists of only trumps, then this doesn't matter.

Must trump

With this option enabled, you must trump the trick if you are void in the ongoing trick suit.

Must win

With this option enabled, you must win the trick if you are eable to do so (play higher than the winning card, or if void in the trick suit, must trump the trick).

Double deck

Players can choose to play with a double deck and also control the cards being used from the second deck. Options include low cards (2-6) when needed (more than seven players); Full deck when needed (more than seven players); Full deck always.

First card wins

When playing with two decks and the same card is played, this option controls whether the first card or the second card wins the trick.

Highest bidder leads

Instead of beginning with the player left of the dealer, the first player to lead the trick is the person with the highest bid.

No trump rounds

Players can determine which rounds will not have a trump suit. This option only works with the dealing order Min..Max..Min. Options include one no trump round at max (Min..Max,NT,Max..Min); no trump rounds for each player at max (Min..Max,NT..NT,Max..Min), no trump round whenever an ace is the turned over card; or no trump round whenever an ace or king is the turned over card.

Standard Trick Rules

In a trick, each player plays a single card. One player is selected to start, then play proceeds clockwise around the table. If possible, players must play a card which is the same suit as the first card played - this is called 'following suit'. If a player cannot follow suit, then they may play any card in their hand.

Based on the cards played, one player is declared the winner of the trick, usually for playing the highest value card of the trump suit, or of the suit of the card which started the trick.

Card Game Basics

A deck of cards consists of 52 cards, with 4 distinctive subgroups. Each of these subgroups is recognised by a symbol and are referred to as suits. They consist of Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds. Each suit contains 13 cards which, generally, are considered in this order, Ace (A), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jacks (J), Queen (Q) and King (K). Some games include the two Jokers found in a standard deck but most games don't.

Solitaire Games

As the name implies, Solitaire games are typically games that one can play alone. Solitaire begins by building a grid of cards called a Tableau. The Tableau, or Cascade, is a set of 7 piles of overlapping cards. The first pile has 1 card, the second pile has 2 cards, and so on. Only the bottom card in each pile is facing upward. The remaining deck forms the discard and draw piles. The goal of solitaire games is to move cards from the tableau, discard, and draw piles into four suited piles (called the foundations) in ascending order (Ace to King).

Trick Taking Games

Trick Taking games center around having the highest ranked card in a draw. Typically, players of trick taking games sit in a circle, sometimes in teams and sometimes playing solo, and are dealt a hand of cards. Given the specific game's card ranking (and trump), players draw a card from their hand in hopes that it outranks the other cards played. The player who outranks the others wins the trick for that round and gameplay is repeated until the cards are exhausted. Typically the player or team with the most tricks wins the game.

Rummy Games

Rummy games are typically played in teams of two where players try to play their cards, or meld them, in groups of a kind or in sequences of a suit. Rummy games often contain the joker and wildcards (Ace and 2) to help make melding easier. Depending on the type of meld made, teams receive a certain number of points. After a player lays off all of their cards, the game ends and the team with the most points wins.

Betting Games

Betting games typically center around having the highest ranked hand in a group of players. Before the hands are dealt, betting games normally require an ante, or an initial bet that starts the pot, or the winner's prize. After receiving their cards, players make bets over who has the highest ranked hand. Players do not need to bet according to their real hand; they can bluff, or lie, in hopes that other players fold from the game rather than challenge their hand. Either the last player betting or the player with the highest hand between the last players betting, wins the pot of bets.

Climbing Games

Climbing games typically center around players getting rid of their cards as fast as they can. Each climbing game has its own rules for discarding cards and its own implications for getting rid of your cards first. Some games run on a points system where the player who gets rid of their cards first gets the most points. Other games run on a ranking system where the player who gets rid of their cards first is in a better position for the next round.

Classic Games

Classic games vary to a great degree in terms of rules and objectives. A thread that binds them all is their simplicity and age. Classic games are typically easy enough for young children to play them and have typically been around for many years.


Would like to discuss new features or variations for Oh Hell!? Need a custom rule? Have a question? Got a suggestion? Don't see a game you want to play? Please contact us by email, facebook or twitter - we really value your feedback and love hearing from all of you!

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