How to Play the Game of Loo
“On entering the drawing-room she found the whole party at loo, and was immediately invited to join them; but making her sister the excuse, said she would amuse herself for the short time she could stay below with a book.”
Pride and Prejudice
For the game of loo you will need:
Deck: 52 card deck with Aces High
Players: 5-8 best, up to 17 possible
Object: To take tricks and earn a share of the pot.
Preliminaries: Dealer places three chips in the pot. She deals three cards to each player, face down.
The first round in the game of loo differs from other rounds. This round is called Simple Pool. Every player must play the hand she is dealt, which is called a “bold stand.” The player to the dealer’s left leads a card. The other players must play the suit led and must play a card of a higher denomination, if possible. If she has no card of the suit led, she discards any card she chooses. The trick is taken by the player who plays the highest card in the suit led. However, if one player has been unable to follow suit, the dealer turns up the top card on the deck to determine trump. If one or more cards in the trump suit has been played, the highest trump takes the trick. The person who takes the trick leads the next play. When the three tricks have been played, any player who has won a trick takes a share of the pot, one third for each trick taken. Any player who has not taken a trick in the round is “looed” and must place three chips in the pot.
Play: The following rounds are called Double Pool. The deal passes to the left. The new dealer places three chips in the pot. She deals three cards to each player and to an extra hand, which is called a “miss” or a “widow.” Then she turns up the top card in the remaining deck to determine the trump. Each player, starting at the dealer’s left, must declare whether she will play the hand dealt, withdraw from playing the round, or trade her cards for the miss. Once a player has taken the miss, it is no longer available, so subsequent players can only play or pass. If all but one player have passed and the player has not taken the miss, the dealer may choose to play her own hand and have a chance to win part of the pot, or she may choose to defend the miss. If she defends the miss, she does not take any winnings from the pot. The amount won by the miss remains in the pot for the next round. Play during rounds of Double Pool must begin with the player the left of the dealer leading her highest trump, if she has a trump. The person who takes a trick must lead the trick with a trump or the highest card she holds in another suit, if she has no trump cards. The winners of the tricks in Double Pool divide the pot according to the percentage of tricks taken.
If you enjoyed this article on the game of loo, you might like our Jane Austen playing cards.