Up and Down the River

Up and Down the River is a card game of strategy and prediction, where playing well is not as important as knowing how well you will play.

This game uses a standard deck of cards (no Jokers) and is for 4 to 8 players. It also requires a blank sheet for scoring.

Prepare the scoring sheet by writing the initials of everyone playing across the top of the sheet, and the number of cards for each hand to be played along the left hand side. Starting with lower numbers means a faster game, while full games can start with 8 or 10 cards per round. Each round is played with one less card than the round before until 1, before building back up to the starting amount.

The first dealer is the person to the left of the scorekeeper, who shuffles and deals the number of starting cards to each player. They then place the remaining cards in a pile in the middle, before revealing the suit of the top card, which is the trump suit.

After the trump suit is revealed and everyone looks at their cards, the first player to the left of the dealer calls how many tricks they think they are going to make, up to a maximum of the number of cards and a minimum of zero. Each declaration is recorded by the scorekeeper.

A trick is when a player wins one hand of the round being played. This is done by playing the highest cards in the lead suit or by playing trump cards. Winning a trick also means the winner leads the next hand.

The calling of tricks continues around the circle until back to the dealer, who cannot call in such a way that the number of overall tricks equals the number of cards to be played. For example, in a round with 5 cards, and 4 tricks already declared, the dealer cannot call 1 trick. They must call either zero or 2-5 tricks. This ensures that at least one person is not successful.

A variation on declaring tricks is where everyone places a closed fist (or two) on the table, and after a countdown everyone reveals their declaration at the same time. In this case an equal number of tricks and cards is allowed.

Play begins by the first player playing any card from their hand, the suit of which determines the lead suit. The other players must follow the lead suit if they can, otherwise they can play any other card, including trump cards if they want.

The winner of the trick is whoever played the highest card of the lead suit, unless a trump card is played, in which case the player of the trump card wins the trick. If multiple trump cards are played, the highest of value wins the trick.

Whoever wins then restarts play by playing any card, which changes the lead suit. The game then continues until all hands are played, at which points are added up by the scorekeeper, and the deck is shuffled and dealt by the player left of that round’s dealer.

A trick is worth 1 point, while correctly guessing the number of tricks to be made is worth 10 points.

Rounds continue by removing a card each round, until only one card is played for the round, before adding one back in each round until the starting number again. The player with the most points at the end wins.