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How to Play:

The game lasts just 7 rounds. Over the course of the game each player will make 7 different melds. Each meld requires a different number of cards and has different rules for scoring points.

The 7 melds take their names from a Mother Goose rhyme:

  • 5 cards - Rich Man
  • 3 cards - Poor Man
  • 2 cards - Beggar Man
  • 1 card - Thief
  • 6 cards - Doctor
  • 4 cards - Lawyer
  • 7 cards - Indian Chief

During the 7 rounds, a player makes each meld once and once only, but they can be made in any order. After each round the hands refill to 8 cards. The game is over at the end of the seventh round, i.e., once everyone has made all 7 melds.

The 7 Melds

Here are the 7 different melds in order of number of cards required:

1. Thief. Meld any single card and score the face value for that card. (For all "face values" in the game, aces count 1 and face cards count 10.)

The Thief's special power is that, after everyone's scores for the hand have been recorded, the player who played the Thief may elect, instead of being dealt a new card from the deck, to "steal" a card someone else has melded on that hand.

Once a Thief decides to steal a card, the player takes it into hand and replaces it in the other player's meld with the card melded as Thief. Thus it is available to be stolen by another Thief, if any.

If more than one Thief is in play, the honor of the first steal goes to the lower or lowest number. If there is a tie and they cannot agree to take different cards, neither Thief gets to steal.

2. Beggar Man. Meld 2 cards and hope for sympathy. This symbolizes two outstretched supplicating hands.

For each card someone else melds on the same round that matches the rank of one of your two cards, score 2 points.

3. Poor Man. Melding 3 cards, here is your chance to profit by the sweat of your brow. The spade is the symbol of your toil. Meld any 3 cards, but score the face values only of the spades you play.

4. Lawyer. The Law is exact. Meld 4 cards, and if their face values add up to exactly 25, score 25 points. Otherwise score nothing.

5. Rich Man. Even a Rich Man has to pay taxes! Meld any 5 cards, add their face values together and score the total as a negative number.

6. Doctor. The 6 cards melded as the Doctor must meet very stringent requirements, or they will score nothing. All 3 of these conditions must be met:

(a) No two cards can be of the same rank. (Because a Doctor needs wide and varied knowledge.)

(b) At least one of the 6 cards must be a heart. (Because a Doctor needs to have a heart!)

(c) One of the 6 cards must be an ace. (Because a Doctor should be an ace!)

If these three conditions are met, then the player picks one suit and scores 10 points for each card in that suit among their 6 cards. (Because a Doctor needs to be good at their specialty.)

7. Indian Chief. The Indian Chief is a compound meld, being comprised of two discrete parts: A five-card poker hand and a two-card chemin-de-fer hand.

(a) To score the chemin-de-fer hand, add the face value of the two cards together and count just the last digit of the total. (For example, a 7 and an 8 added together make 15, so are worth 5.)

(b) To score the remaining 5 cards in the meld, find the best poker hand that can be made and score as follows:

  • 50 for five of a kind (if two decks are in play)
  • 45 for a straight flush
  • 40 for four of a kind
  • 35 for a full house
  • 30 for a flush
  • 25 for a straight
  • 20 for three of a kind
  • 15 for two pairs
  • 10 for one pair
  • 5 for no pair

Remember: The 7 melds can be played in any order. After the 7 rounds are played and scored, the winner is the player with the most points.

Refilling to 8 cards:

The players leave their melds face-up until the cards for the new round have been dealt from the remainder of the deck. Then the remainder of the deck is shuffled together with the face-up cards to form the supply for the next hand.