“Rules for Pig”
Origin — This is a native game developed and played by people of Fentress and Pickett Counties in the north-eastern section of Middle Thinessee. Nobody seems to know the origin, they just grew up watching it played and learning the game themselves. The game has been played and passed down for generations. Although variations now exist from community to community -- and often from house to house, these are the rules that I have followed and taught to others for 35+ years. The usual setting was the back of a country store, next to a “pot-belly” stove. A large cardboard box was the table and wooden soft-drink cases were used as chairs.
Object of the Game — (4 players total) The object is to be the first partnership to reach a game score of a positive 52 points or more. Points are earned by capturing “Point Cards” in tricks. If both sides exceed the game score at the end of the same hand, the team who named trumps that hand wins. If any team goes -52 or lower, the other team automatically wins.
Cards — A common deck of “poker” playing cards are used, including one “Joker” card -- 53 total cards.
Pig Cards — The number “5” card of each suite is call a “Pig”. Unlike most card games, these lower ranking cards are the highest of the “Point Cards” in value.
Off Cards — Two sets of “Off Cards” exist in each hand -- the “off pig” (5) and the “off Jack”. These are the same colored 5 and Jack of the called trump Suit. Example: if spades are called trumps, then the same colored 5 and Jack (of Clubs) since they are black, also, are considered trumps for this particular hand. If diamonds are trumps, then the red 5 and Jack of hearts are also trumps.
Trash Cards — This is any card other than a trump card (including off pig and off Jack). There is no rank in trash cards. All are equal and have no value.
Choosing The Dealer — To begin each game, cards are shuffled and scattered (face down). Each of the four players draw one card highest card deals the first hand. If a tie exists, the “tied” players redraw. The deal proceeds in a clockwise direction.
Dealing - The dealer thoroughly shuffles the entire deck of cards. When completed, the player to the right of the dealer has the option to cut” the deck one time. The cards are then dealt out one card per player (clockwise) until each player has 9 cards. The initial dealing then stops and the bidding now begins.
Misdeal - A misdeal will occur if any card is exposed during dealing. This deal is over and the deal is passed to the next dealer. If any player exposes a card intentionally, his team forfeits the game. If a player makes any “table-talk” suggestions during a hand, a penalty will result (that hand ends and the opposing team will be awarded the most possible points for that hand).
Bidding — Players bid for the right to choose the “trump” suit. Each player bids the number of total points he thinks his team can capture in one hand The minimum bid is 7 and maximum bid is 16 (with three exceptions which will be discussed later). After the initial deal (each player having 9 cards) bidding starts with the player on the dealer’s left and passes clockwise with the dealer having the last bid. Each player has only one bid per hand. You may, but need not, bid on your turn, You must either bid at least one point higher than the last bidder or say, “I pass”. The bid goes around the table only one time. The person who had the highest bid then names the trump suit. If neither of the first three bidders bid (all pass), the dealer must take the bid for at least the minimum bid of 7. Each player then discards (face down) all trash cards and the dealer finishes dealing the remaining cards. Each player is given enough cards to have a total of 6 cards in his hand. Example: If a player has only 2 cards remaining after the discard, he would be dealt 4 cards (total 6). This is also clockwise from the dealer’s left. When all four players have 6 cards in their hand, the remaining cards are given to the player who had the highest bid and who named the trump suit. Before play begins, anyone with more than 6 trumps must discard (burn) trumps to reduce his hand to 6 cards (the same number of cards as all the other players — he could burn a trump card and hold a trash card if desired). Any player who discards a trump card before play begins must orally disclose this to the other players. As a general rule, only one trump “point card” may be discarded --- this is the 2 or deuce trump card. If the deuce “point card” is discarded, the three trump card then becomes a “point card” for that hand. If the 2 and 3 are discarded, the 4 becomes the “point card”. If the 2, 3, and 4 are discarded, the next “non-point” card (6) becomes a point card (and so on). There are eight “point cards” in each hand. Remembering that the deuce is the only “point card” that may be discarded; if, on the very rare occasion, a player has all seven remaining “point cards” in his hand (Ace, Jack, Off Jack, Joker, 10, Pig and Off Pig) a special “Flog Slam” is called and that hand is over with that player’s team awarded the highest possible score for that hand (16, 28, 30 or :32). When all players have only six cards in their hand, it is time for play to begin. If any player discards a trump card without telling the other players, a penalty will result (that hand ends and the other team will be awarded the highest possible score for that hand.)
Playing — The highest bidder begins play -- playing either a “trump” card or a “trash” card -- and play continues in a clockwise direction (must play in order) until everyone has played one card. If a card is laid or even shown, it must be played. The player playing the highest ranking trump card catches the “trick”, and gets to begin the next play. The player catching the trick turns the four cards face down near him and is the only player allowed to look back at them until the hand is over. Play proceeds until all cards have been played (six tricks caught). When the beginning player leads out with a trump card every player must play trumps. If a player has no trumps at this required time, he must play all of his trash cards and his play on this hand is finished. If the beginning player leads a trash card, any player may play either a trash card or a trump card. If all players play trash cards, the beginning player will lead again (trash cards have no value or rank). If the beginning player plays trash and one or more players play a trump card the player with the highest ranking trump card catches the trick and gets to lead the next play. All players must play in their “order of play”. If a player has only trash cards remaining in his hand, he may hold them until he is required to play a trump card or he may discard them anytime (this is the only exception to the “order of play”). If a player plays out of their “order of play”, a penalty will result and the opposing team will be awarded the total point total possible for that hand and that hand is over.
Scoring — After all six tricks have been caught, each team totals their points (total 16 possible points -- exception later). The team who bids the highest, must make their bid total. If this team makes over their bid point total, they receive the total number of points they capture. Example: Team A bids 10 but makes 12 points, they receive a score of 12 points and team B receives a total of 4 points for that hand (A = 12 and B = 4 for a total of 16 points). If a team fails to make their bid - total, they lose that entire number of points. Example: Team A bids 10 and catch 9 points, they lose 10 points (scoring minus 10 and B plus 7 points -- the number of points they caught). Remember, the game ends when a team score of plus or minus 52 is equalled or exceeded.
Exceptions to Bidding and Scoring — A bidder may double 14 (bidding 28), double 15 (bidding 30) or double 16 (bidding 32). If a bidder bids 28, the team must catch 14 or more points that hand. If they catch 14 or more points, they will score only the 28 they bid. If they do not catch 14 points, their score is reduced by 28 points. A 30 bid requires 15 caught points or more, and a 32 bid requires catching all 16 points. 32 is the highest bid possible and the most points that may be scored on aiy one hand. Remember that the person with the highest bid gets to name trumps. If a player bids 32, the only other player that can bid 32 and take the bid is the dealer. Example: the first bidder bids 32, bidder 2 and 3 are skipped and the dealer has the option to bid 32 also and get to name trumps or the dealer can “pass”.