Saskatchewan Card Game Of Kaiser

I learned this game approximately 30 years ago, and was introduced to me by friends of the same age, who learned this game from their parents, who were mostly farmers in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Most of these communities were of Ukrainian, German, French, and Hungarian descent, but no one seems to be able to trace this game back to Europe.

The game is played mostly in Saskatchewan, but also in some parts of the neighboring provinces of Manitoba, and Alberta, but some people South of the border in the USA may know the game, as a few people have moved and settled there, and have taught the game to their new friends. Some people in Saskatchewan also have relatives South of the border, and when they come and visit, we make a habit of teaching them the game. Talked to a friend about this game, and he said he learned the game when he was in Ontario in 1980's. The rules that I have given in this article of this game is how my friends and I play the game. There are other variations and you can look them up on the Kaiser Network, where you even play a game.

In order to play this game, you need 32 specific cards taken out of a normal 52 card pack. These cards are: Clubs: 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, and Ace. Diamonds: 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, and Ace. Hearts: 5, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, and Ace.Spades: 3, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, and Ace. The game is played with 4 people, You and your partner sit across from each other, and likewise with the other 2 people. Start the game by choosing who will deal the cards first. We choose a dealer by taking cards from the deck, and the first one that draws a Jack, starts dealing the cards. Designate a score keeper, and also decide whether you or your partner will keep the winning tricks. Decide what minimum bid is to be. Game is won when one teams reaches a score of 52. Deal all 32 cards clockwise until each player has 8 cards. Sort your cards into suits.
Terms uses in this game:
  1. 8 No ( or any other number from 6 to 12) means 8 No Trump
  2. Slough means get rid of a card when you cannot follow suit.
  3. 5 means 5 of Hearts.
  4. 3 means 3 of Spades
  5. 3 or 5 Bare means you only have the 3 or the 5 and no other Spades or Hearts. 
  6. Unprotected---Same as above.
  7. Short Suited---No cards in any 1 suit Cards For Playing KaiserCredit: EdithRose

Rules Of The Game

  1. Player to the left of the dealer, starts by bidding on how many tricks he thinks he and his partner can take in 1 round. Minimum bid is 6. Other bids are 6 No 7, 7 No, up to a maximum of 12
  2. Every other player must either pass or bid higher than the previous bid, except the dealer, who can just take the highest bid made.
  3. If no one bids, then the dealer has to take a forced minimum bid of 6, or what ever minimum bid is determined before the game starts ( as low as 5). I Will Be Using A Bid of 6 For The Rest Of These Rules.
  4. Who ever wins the bid, now names Trump, or No Trump, in which the highest card of any suit played will take the trick.
  5. Winner of the bid leads with any card he wants, and everyone must follow suit, but if they can't, they play any card they wish.
  6. At end of each round, each team then adds up their points. The Scoring is as follows:
  7. Score 1 point for every trick you and your partner take. If the 5 of Hearts was included in one of the tricks, you get an extra 5 points, so a total of 6 points for that trick. If one of the tricks includes the 3 of spades, you get 1 point for the trick, but lose 3 points for the black 3. So, if team won 6 tricks in total, that is 6 points plus 5 points, minus 3 points, which will give that team 8 points, and they win their bid of 6 tricks.
  8. If No Trump was named, then the team would get double, which would be 16 .
  9. If the bidding team did not make the bid, then they now have negative 6 as their score, or negative 12, if they had bid No Trump. If a team's score is at Bid-Out, they cannot score any points if they did not win the bid. Bid-Out is usually set at 45. That means, that since that bid of was won, the opposing team could not score those 2 points, unless they stole the 5 of Hearts from the winning bidder.  
The winning bidder won the the bid of 6 and named Diamonds Trump. He plays out his 6 Diamonds and takes 6 tricks, but has no 5 of Hearts yet. He then plays out his low Spade, and the opposing player to the left of him takes the trick with a higher Spade, and then the next player plays the 3 of Spades, and the last player throws the 5 on it because he can't follow suit. The opposing team has stolen the 5 of Hearts from the winning bidder, but also takes the 3 with it. If the opposing team then takes the last trick, they now have a score of 4 points ( 6-3+1) and can score if they were at Bid-Out,  and since they stole the 5 from the winning bidder, and the winning bidder still scored 6 points, which is what he bid. Here are a few variations:
1. You may call a misdeal if you receive no Aces, no Face Cards, no 5 of Hearts, and no 3 of Spades, but you must ask your partner if it is okay to call a misdeal, as he may have a good hand and wants to play it. The reason for the 5 of Hearts is that if you have it and no Aces and no Face Cards, you can still win a trick with that card. If you have the 3 of Spades, you can still do a little damage to the other team.
2. You can decide to play with the cards you are dealt, or you may agree to pass 1 or 2 cards to your partner, and your partner passes you 1 or 2 cards. We usually play by passing 2 cards, but it also depends on who you are playing with. If we come across people who have never played by passing cards, then we just play with the cards we are dealt, but if they want to try it by passing cards, then that's okay too. When passing cards, we set the minimum bid at 7. You cannot call a misdeal after cards are passed.
3. Calling Kaiser. You have to make sure you can take all 7 tricks by yourself, including the 5 of Hearts, and manage to let the opposing team take the trick containing the 3 of Spades. If you do this, then you get 52 points and win the game, but if you lose, then the opposing teams gets the 52 points and wins the game. This is rare, but possible, but the stars better be lined up correctly. I have heard of another variation of this, that makes it a little easier to accomplish, and it states that your partner can help you take home the 7 tricks, and give away the last trick to your opponents. Some people object to this variation, saying that if your partner helps you, then that is the same thing as bidding 12 No Trump, and you should just get 24 points. We play the first version mentioned.

Game Strategy 

1. Watch the cards as they are being played. Unless you have a very good hand which includes the 5 of Hearts along with 4 other hearts, you have to try and figure out what your opponent has and what your partner may have. If your partner cannot follow suit, watch the card he sloughs off, as he may be telling you that is the suit he wants you to play when you run out of taking tricks, so he can take over.
2. If your partner sloughs off an Ace of Spades, he may be telling you that, was the only Spade he had, and if you have the 3, you can play it any time you want when you take over, therefore letting the opposing team take it.
3. Watch what your opponents are sloughing off, as they are also communicating to each other by what cards they play.
4. If you play the game by passing 2 cards to your partner, pay attention to what I give you. If I pass you the 3 of Spades and another card, I am telling you that I am now have no more spades, so you can safely play that card when it comes your turn.
5. If I pass you the 5 of Hearts, I could be telling you that I have the Ace of Hearts in my Hand. If you win the bid, you know where the Ace is.
6. Have fun. It's only a game. All of the above does not guarantee that you will win, as everything depends on "How The Cards Fall"

Random Dealt Hands

I have dealt out 4 hands, starting from the bottom and dealing to my left. I picked up my hand, and my husband picked his hand, which is the top one. We passed 2 cards to each other. I passed him the Ace Of Spades and the Ace of Clubs, as I had a bad hand, hoping that he could make better use of them than I could. He passed me the 10 and Jack of Spades so he would be short-suited. We then left the cards the way they were for 2 days so we would not remember what cards we just had. I then picked up the hand on the left, and he picked up the hand on the right. I passed him the 5 of Hearts and the Jack of Clubs. The reason for passing these cards is that I never keep the 5 of Hearts bare in my hand. By passing him the Jack, I am telling him maybe I have no more clubs. My husband passed me the the Jacks. By passing me the 2 Jacks he could be telling me that he is now short-suited in 1 or 2 suits, but which one is something I don't know.

 Dealt CardsCredit: EdithRose

 After The Cards Are Passed

Playing CardsCredit: EdithRose
I am the dealer, therefore, bidding starts to my left. 
1. If the player is a risk taker ( like my brother-in-law), he would bid 9 No Trump. If he was paying attention what his partner passed him, he would take the chance that he had no Diamonds left, and that the other 3 are between me and my partner. He would play out the Ace, King and Jack and take home the other 3 Diamonds and the 5 of Hearts with it. Then he would play out the other 2 Diamonds. Then he would play out the 9 of Spades, since he watched the player to left slough off the Ace of Spades, and top player's partner has sloughed off the Jack of Spades. His partner should now be thinking that he played his lowest Spade or his only Spade, he should now take that trick with his King of Spades. His partner now plays out the 8 and the trick is taken with the Queen. The winning bidder now plays out the Jack of Hearts. Winning team now has 12 No Trump and given away the Three of Spades, and the losing team is now negative 2.
2, Even if the opposing was not sloughing off Spades, the 3 would be thrown on the 9, and the opposing team would take over, and then be able to cover the 3 with the next 2 tricks. Winning team would still get 10 No Trump. 
3. Is there any way the player on the left can lose the game? No. Even if he plays out all 5 Diamonds right away. and the top player does not slough off his Ace of Spades, he still gets 10 No Trump. 
4. Even if the top player sloughs off his Ace and his partner sloughs off the King and 8, and the bottom player also sloughs off the Spades, and he has to swallow the 3, which gives him another trick, then he would get another trick with the Queen, and still have 9 No Trump.
5. Now let's go a little further: What if the player on the left is the dealer, and the top player bid 9 No Trump and won the bid, could he win? Yes, he could win , but he is taking a big gamble (My brother-in-law), as he does not know where the rest of the Hearts are. He would win nothing more than that, as he has to take the 3, and give away 1 trick.
6. Could the dealer on the left take that 9 No Trump bid and win. Yes, he could but it would have to be played out like scenarios 1, 2, or 3 above (Again, my brother-in-law). I am not as aggressive as my brother-in-law and would only take 8 No Trump that hand on the left, but if I was the dealer on the top hand, I would take the bid of 8 No Trump, but not 9 No Trump.
7. If the player on the right was the dealer, and I had to start the bidding, I would only bid 6 on the bottom hand, because I have no idea where the 5 is or the rest of the hearts. Could I win the bid? No, as there is an unwritten ruler, that if you have decent cards, you bid on them. You do not "sit in the bush". With the cards as you see dealt, there are some good hands.

Playing The Cards As They Were Dealt With No Passing Of Cards

Dealt CardsCredit: EdithRose
I am the dealer and hold the bottom hand. The opponent to my left will probably bid 6 on his hand, The top player, my partner will probably bid 8 and win the bid. He will play out the Ace and King and get the rest of the hearts including the 5. He can now play the 8 of Hearts, and he now has 8 minus 3= 5, as the player on the right should throw the 3 on it. Hopefully, my partner will come back with the either the Q or K of Clubs as I would have sloughed off the 8 of Clubs on his 8 of Hearts, indicating that I want him to come back in Clubs. I will take the trick with the Ace of Clubs. I will then play the Ace of Spades, and we now have 7 points. Then I will play the 10 of Clubs, and he will take it with his Queen or King. The next 2 tricks will be the opponents.
Can we lose this game? Yes, if I do not play the 10 of Clubs on the last trick I took, and played out a Diamond instead. Is there a way for us to get 9 points with my partner's hand at the top? Yes, but it involves taking a big risk on his part, and he would also have to be watching all the cards that go out very very carefully. He would be better off to bid 8 No. Is there an advantage to playing the game by passing cards? No, because you can mess up your partner's hand by passing the wrong cards. You can also mess up your hand by having to passing cards.
Could the player on the left win a 6 bid on the hand he has? No and Yes. No, because no one on the opposing team would let him win a bid of 6 with the cards they have. Yes, if he manages to win the bid, he could win the round, but he would have to watch the cards that are being sloughed off very carefully, and hope that my partner and I got rid of all our Spades and we could not follow suit, and hopefully his partner kept all of his Spades, which he should since he has the 3.    

The Elusive Hand

Look at the photograph and you will see what a possible Kaiser Hand can look like. If I had these cards in my hand, I would take a chance and call "Kaiser". I would play the 3 of Spades first and get it over with fast. If my opponent to the left of me took the trick and his partner had to follow suit, then the game is over and my team has won, because the rest of the tricks are mine. I would then lay down my cards instead of playing them out. If I had the 8 or 9 of Spades instead of the 3, I would also try, as I am hoping my partner has the 3, and the opposing team would take the trick. . No, I have not had a hand like that to call, but I have seen one. I have also had a hand where I called 10 No and won all the tricks by myself and gave away the 3, but that was because some one was not watching the cards carefully enough as they were being played out.  

Kaiser Hand DealtCredit: EdithRose

A Set Of Cards For Playing Kaiser

Since you can't buy a set of Kaiser Cards like the photo below, then how about getting yourself a deck of nice cards and designate the 32 just for playing this game. That way, you won't have to sort them out every time you want to play the game.
I purchased this set about 25 years ago, but have never played the game with them. I guess I just wanted them as a souvenir. The box has some wear on them, but the cards and instructions are in new condition. I have not found another set like it.
Kaiser Playing CardsCredit: EdithRose

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