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Game Type
Trick Taking
Kids, Adults
5, 6, 7, 8
Two or three centuries ago, Loo was the leading card game in England, "a favorite alike of the idle rich and industrious poor," reported Albert H. Morehead. He went on to say that Loo is mentioned in English literature more than any other card game, although since then, Whist, Bridge, and Poker have largely displaced it. Loo takes its name from the French lanterlu, a refrain from a popular 17th-century song.
Number of Players. Though the game can be played by more or less people, Loo is best for five to nine participants. Each person plays for himself.
The Pack. The standard 52-card pack is used. However, if fewer than five people play, a stripped deck is used. It consists of 32 cards with the sixes down through deuces removed.
The Draw, Shuffle and Cut. Any player takes a shuffled pack and deals it around. The first player receiving a jack is the first dealer, and thereafter, the deal rotates clockwise. The dealer has the right to shuffle last, and the pack is cut by the player to his right.
The Deal. The dealer completes the cut and deals three cards to each player, one at a time, face down, beginning with the player to the left.
Stakes. The dealer antes three chips into the pot, and, at times, the pot is increased by units of three chips at a time. Thus, it can always be divided evenly into three parts, one for each trick. A deal that begins with only three chips in the pot is called a "single"; with more chips in the pot, it is a "double."
The Play. The player to the dealer's left leads. Players must follow suit if possible, and must play a higher card in the suit. If he has no cards of the suit led, the player may trump, and must trump higher if a previous player has trumped. The winner of a trick leads next. Note: The cards of a trick are not gathered together; each is left face up in front of the owner.
Single Pot. Should all hands fail to follow suit to each of the three leads, no trump suit is fixed. However, the first time any player fails to follow suit, the current trick is completed, and then the top card of the pack is turned up to fix the trump suit; that trump is in effect for the trick just played as well as for subsequent tricks.
Settlement. One-third of the pot is collected for each trick won. If a player fails to win one of the three tricks, it is called "loo," and that player must put three chips into the next pot, thereby making it a "double."
Double Pot. For a round with a double pot, an extra hand, called the "miss," is dealt to the right of the dealer. After the deal, the next card is turned up for trump, and prior to the opening lead, the dealer asks each player in turn to state his intentions. Each player must pass, stand, or take the "miss."
If a player passes, he is out for that deal, and his hand is placed immediately face down under the pack. A player who "stands" remains in the game. A player who takes the "miss" (and thus commits to standing), places his original hand under the pack. If all other players pass except either the dealer or a player who has taken the "miss," the lone player takes the pot and the cards are abandoned for that round. If only one player ahead of the dealer stands, the dealer must either stand and play for himself, or must take the "miss" and "defend the pot."
In the double-pot game, the leader to each trick must lead a trump if he can, and must lead the ace of trumps at the first opportunity, or the king, if the ace was turned up.
Settlement. All players who did not pass participate, and the pot is divided into three parts, one for each trick. When there is a loo, the player looed pays three chips to the next pot; and when the dealer is forced to "defend the pot," he neither collects nor pays, since settlement is made only by his opponent.
Flush. A hand of three trumps is a flush and wins the entire pot without play. If two or more players hold flushes, the hand closer to the dealer's left is the winner. Flushes are announced after the dealer has declared, and all hands of players who have stood (or taken the "miss") are looed.