Game rules Oh Hell
Aim of the game
The aim of the game is to guess how many tricks you are going to win each round and to then obtain the exact amount through skilled card choice.
Win a duel
If you guess correctly, you receive plus points. However, an incorrect guess results in minus points. Each duel consists of several rounds - the winner is the player who has the highest total at the end of the duel.
The playing cards
Oh Hell is played with a deck of 60 cards. The deck is comprised of the following cards:
- 52 numbered cards (from 1-13) in 4 different colors
- 4 Owl jokers
- 4 Mole jokers
Contrary to other card games, the cards in Oh Hell have no "worth" in the points total. The determining factor is how many tricks you win.
A Oh Hell duel consists of 4, 8 or 12 rounds. Each round is played in the same way:
Start of the round and dealing of the cards
The cards are dealt at the start of each round. The amount of dealt cards increases by 1 each round. In duels with 4 or 8 rounds, the first round begins with 3 cards. In duels with 12 rounds, the first round begins with just one card.
After this, the top card in the deck will be turned over. The color of this card determines the trump color for the round. If a mole or owl card is turned over, more cards will be turned over until a numbered card appears.
A player is chosen as the dealer. This player begins the bidding and later plays the first card. In the first round, the dealer is chosen at random. In each further round, the dealer changes in a clockwise direction.
Each player makes a bid beginning with the dealer. The bid can be any number between 0 and the number of cards in the round.
In order to score plus points in Oh Hell, the amount of tricks won must exactly equal the bid. When bidding, it is therefore important to guess the strength of your hand as well as possible.
Be careful: The last player cannot make a bid that results in the total sum of the bids being equal to the total amount of tricks. If there are 6 dealt cards per player and the first three players have chosen 2, 1, 1, the final player can therefore not choose 2, as 2+1+1+2=6, i.e. the number of cards.
Playing the cards
After bidding, the real game begins. Beginning with the dealer, each player chooses a card from their hand which is then placed in the middle of the table. This is referred to as playing a card. Once each player has played a card, these 4 cards together form a trick.
In the remaining tricks, the player who begins is not the dealer but rather the player who won the previous trick.
Choice of cards
The first player can always choose any card they wish to play.
The following players must then follow suit. This means that they must choose a card which is the same color as the first card which was played.
If a player does not have a card of the same color, they have the option to play a trump card in order to win the duel or any other card.
If the first card played is a mole card, the first numbered card which is played determines the color which must be followed.
If the first player plays an owl card, the remaining players can play any card they wish.
Win a trick
The winner of a trick is determined in the following way:
- If there is one or several owl cards in the trick, the player who played the first owl card wins the trick.
- If there are no owl cards but trump cards, the player who plays the highest trump card wins the trick.
- If there are no owl cards and no trump cards in the trick, the player who plays the highest card which is the same color as the first card wins the trick.
In addition there is a very unlikely possibility. If all 4 players play a mole card, the player who played the first mole card wins the trick.
Once all players have played their last card, the points are calculated.
Each player who wins as many tricks as they bid receives plus points. There are 20 points for a correct bid plus 10 points for each trick won.
If the bid is incorrect, the player receives minus points. For each incorrect trick, either above or below the bid, the player receives 10 minus points. Example: A player makes a bid of 1 but wins 3 tricks. The player therefore has won 2 tricks above their bid and receives 20 (= 2 x 10) minus points.
Important: The bonus points for tricks won are only credited if the bid is correct. It therefore doesn't help to try to win as many tricks as possible.
The owl card
The owl card is the highest card in the game. The first owl card which is played in a trick wins the trick. It is also possible to play an owl card even if you should have to follow suit.
If the first card in the trick is an owl card, each player can play any card they wish. The following players are therefore not required to follow suit as the trick cannot be won by any of the other players.
The mole card
The mole card is the lowest card in the game. If a player plays a mole card, they cannot win the trick unless they play the first mole card and all others play mole cards as mentioned above.
Just like the owl card, the mole card can be played at any time even if it would normally be required to follow suit.
Tips and tricks
- The joker cards help when making a bid. An owl card is almost a guaranteed trick whereas a mole card can be used to ensure you don't win a trick.
- High numbered cards (12, 13) win lots of tricks particularly in the later rounds as it is possible that all players must follow suit.
- It is a good idea to try to play all cards of a particular color as soon as possible. This means that you can choose between trumping or throwing away if the particular color is played.
- If you are winning a duel, make bids which are easier to meet. If you are losing a duel, however, sometimes a high bid is worth it, even if it is risky, as you receive lots of plus points if it pays off.