Whose deal is it?  Come on, deal ‘em out.  All you need is a standard pack of playing cards unless it’s a boys’ night in – then you can use the special pack you picked up in Amsterdam.  But then again, if it’s a boys’ night you’re probably playing poker – not this game. 

You’ll probably need at least three players but probably not more than six.  A piece of paper and a pen would be good too.  Designate someone to score.  Someone who can add up would be helpful.  We were taught this game on one of our trips over to Cyprus to see Sarah’s old man Keef and his Maid Marion.  It’s a simple to learn game and good fun.  The game is called Palmer.  We call it Palmer, named after Keef, because he didn’t have a name for it.  Palmer is Keef’s surname, in case you hadn’t worked it out. 

Sarah, with her Dad, Keef

We play this in the bus sometimes.  Here are the rules. 

The Aim of the Game

The idea is to finish each round with the least points against you, preferably zero.  After each round you count each players’ points and add it to their rolling total from the previous rounds.  When a player hits a predetermined total (e.g. 50 points) then that player is out.  Get outta’ town loserGo put the kettle on or get some beards.  The loser will normally think the game is crap, and to be fair, they might be right.  You keep playing until there is one player who still has a score below 50 (or whatever your predetermined score is).  And that player is the winner!  Watch out for the usual post match uncalled for celebration drivel.

Marvellous, good game, didn’t you play well, crackerjack, two in the bed, one in the black, stay out the jack and um… bulls eye.  Easy Peasy, crush a grape, wrestle an action man, and look what you could have won.  Super smashing great, come on down.  I thank you. 

You will all recognise the winner easy enough.  Upon winning they generally adopt the characteristics of a twat. 

Scoring:  The points for each card equal the number of the card.  So, a seven is a seven, a three is a three and an ace is worth one.  Simple.  How much is a ten worth?  Yep, you guessed it.  It’s worth ten points.  Simple.  A Jack and a Queen are also worth ten.  Here’s the complicated bit.  The King, now he’s worth zero.  And that’s good.  Zero points is what you’re after.  Bob-a-job.

If you end up with two cards with the same number then they cancel each other out and both score zero.  So two aces gets you a zero.  Two Queens get you a zero.  Two Kings get you a zero – but they’re worth zero anyway – you remembered that already.  Right?

Ok – we’re all clear on the scoring?  Two eights?  Yeah, that gets you a zero. 

What about a Jack and a nine?  Ok, that scores you ten for the Jack and nine for the nine, so that would be nineteen.  N N N N nineteen. 

The Deal:  The dealer deals four cards to each player and sets the remaining cards in the middle with the top card turned over face up next to the rest of the un-dealt pack.  Let’s call this the ‘Palmer Pile’. Don’t look at your cards.  I SAID DON’T LOOK AT YOUR CARDS!!

Each player arranges their four cards face down into a 2×2 square.  You have a top row of two cards and a bottom row of two cards.  Now, without letting your opponents see, take a peek at your bottom row, but don’t turn them over.  You’re allowed to look at these now and during the game.  You’re not allowed to look at your top row.

First Play:  The player to the left of the dealer goes first.  That’s tradition, so no need to muck about there.  The first player can do one of three things:

  1. Take the card that’s facing up from the Palmer Pile next to the pack of un-dealt cards in the middle.  If you take this card, you must use it to replace one of your four cards which you will discard to the Palmer Pile, face up.   You can replace either one of your bottom cards that you have already taken a peek at, or you can replace one of your unseen top cards.  You replace your top cards blind, that’s to say, you can’t look at it before you make your choice.
  2. Take a card from the un-dealt pack.  Obviously you don’t know what this card is, but you hope it’s a better card than the one showing on the Palmer Pile.  If you take this card you use it to replace one of your four cards as described above.  Go read that bit again if you already forgot what you do next. 
  3. Turn over one of your four cards.  You don’t need to select a card from either the Palmer Pile or the un-dealt pack if you don’t want to, but you must turn over one of your four cards.

After your first go you should have one of your four cards face up.  This card is fixed now.  You can’t swap it.  You’re stuck with it.  So don’t go turning over high cards unless you’re stupid or a girl – I mean let’s face it, they do take a lot longer to learn new card games don’t they.

The Next Turns:  Once you’ve done one of those three things the next player takes their turn.  On the second round do the same thing again, but you can’t replace any of your cards that are already face up.  Keep going round until all the players have turned all four cards over.  When you’ve done this you add up your points and the designated scorer will tott up the scores on the doors and then you all begin the next deal.

Take turns to deal by moving round to the original dealers’ left.  Again, this is an ancient rule of card playing.  If you’re a boy be ready to deal for the girl next to you.  If you’re a boy and you do deal for the girl next to you, be sure to make an arse of yourself by trying to deal like a Las Vegas croupier.  Don’t be surprised if someone calls you a ‘tit’.

Tactics:  Who knows.  Given the idea is to score low you want to discard your high cards to the Palmer Pile, but remember you can only peek at two of your cards.  A second tactic is to reveal or swap your top cards that you can’t see as soon as possible so you know what you have to deal with.  You can do this by swapping with a low card picked up from the un-dealt pack or the Palmer Pile, or you simply take a gamble and turn a top row card over.  Sometimes you just have to play to get a pair.  You’ll work it out.


One comment on “BLOG 14 – PALMER, THE CARD GAME

  1. […] Fold out canvas table – we use ours with the table top from the van for a sturdy surface. Ideal for preparing food, putting your pint on or for a quick game of Palmer […]

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