All Fours or All 4’s is a trick-taking card game that originated from England. The game was played by rich and poor alike, and was one of the most popular card games for gambling in 19th Century England.
Although the game’s popularity has waned in parts of the world, it is still particularly popular in Trinidad and Tobago, former British colonies whose culture has been shaped by England.
How to Play All Fours?
All Fours, as a game that began in England, naturally uses the 52-card standard Anglo-American deck. This guide, for the purposes of simplicity, will explain how to play two-player All Fours.
However, the game may also be played with three or four Players. In the three and four Player version of All Fours, there are no rules changes. Each Player is still dealt the same number of cards.
All Fours cannot be won in a single round, as such, there are multiple rounds in a single game. In each round, each Player will be given a new hand of cards.
How to Deal
The round begins by shuffling the deck. It is considered customary for the non-dealing Player to cut the deck in half after it has been shuffled, and place the bottom half on top of the remaining cards.
In a game with multiple Players, the next Player to become Dealer in the clockwise Dealer rotation will cut the deck. In two-player All Fours, the Dealer role will merely alternate between the two Players.
Once the deck has been cut, each Player in the game will be dealt six cards in total. These cards are to be dealt to each Player in two “packets” of three, or to be dealt three cards at a time.
The Player and the Dealer will look at their cards. Then, the deck of remaining cards will then be placed to the center of the play area, and the top card will be discarded.
The suit of this discard determines the Trump suit for the round. However, the non-Dealer Player has some influence over the Trump suit’s determination.
If the Player wishes, they may “stand” the Trump. This means they accept the Trump suit.
If the Player does not like the Trump suit, then they may “beg”.
By Begging, the Player asks the Dealer to discard another card, and determine a new Trump. The Dealer may decline this, but if the Dealer accepts, then each Player will be dealt one more packet of three cards each, and top cards from the deck will be “milled”, or discarded, until a different suit from the original Trump appears.
This new card will determine the Trump suit for the round.
The rest of the game flows in normal trick-taking fashion.
- Each Player will present a card, and the card with the highest rank wins.
- The non-Dealer Player will place the first card, and the Dealer will play their follow up card.
- For the next trick, the right to play first card alternates to the Dealer.
Unlike other trick-taking games, in All Fours, Players do not have to follow suit if they are playing a Trump card. When not playing a Trump card, Players are forced to match the suit of the first card in the trick. If a Player does not follow suit, without playing a Trump card, that Player will lose the trick.
The game’s win condition is explained below in the Scoring section, due to its complexity.
All Fours Rules
The most basic rules are summarized as follows:
- Aces are always high in All Fours, and Aces represent the highest possible card rank in the game.
- During the deal, Cards should be dealt 3 at a time to each Player, until both Players have six cards.
- It is customary to have the opposing Player cut the deck.
- The Trump suit is determined by discarding the top card of the deck at the beginning of a round.
Scoring & Points
The All Fours card game is scored by its own special set of conditions, awarded at various conditions of play. These conditions are known as:
All of the point conditions are worth 1 “Victory Point” for achieving them, and a game of All Fours ends when one Player accumulates 7 of these “Victory Points”.
Gift and Jack
During the Deal, either Gift or Jack may be awarded. Gift is awarded to the opposing Player when the Dealer accepts the opposing Player’s “beg”. Jack is awarded to the Dealer if the card discarded for Trump is a Jack.
The remaining point conditions are awarded during regular play.
High is awarded to the Player which plays the highest rank trick-taking Trump card in the round. The best possible card for being awarded a High point is the Ace.
Low is awarded to the Player that plays the lowest rank Trump card in the round. The best possible card to play in order to win a Low point is the 2 of Trump, also known as deuce.
A Jack point may also be awarded during regular play, if a trick is taken that contains the Jack of Trump. The Player which took the trick the Jack was played in wins the Jack “Victory Point”.
Game points are rewarded for the Player whose tricks were the greatest cumulative value.
At the end of a round, each Player will tally together the “Game point” value of their cards. These values are only used at the end of the round, to determine the winner of the Game point.
Players will tally these specific points, unrelated to the points which win the game, and compare their scores. The Player wins the Game Point when the value of their taken-tricks is the greatest in that round.
The game will end when the first Player manages to achieve 7 of the “Victory Points” awarded for Gift, High, Low, Jack, and Game.
The following is a possible opening hand in a game of All Fours:
7♦, J♣, A♦, Q♦, 5♥, 3♥
Assuming you are not the Dealer at the start of the game, this hand has the potential to be advantageous. If the Trump suit for the round is diamonds or hearts, then this is a fairly good hand with a number of Trump cards in it.
If the Trump suit comes up spades, or clubs, and the Dealer accepts your beg, not only will you be awarded a Gift point, but your odds of getting a favorable Trump in the new drawing increase to 66%, as there are two favorable possible suits, as opposed to one unfavorable Trump suit.
This game has multiple interesting variations. You can read our guides with instructions on how to play below:
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you win All Fours?
Players win the whole game by achieving 7 of the Victory Points explained above.
What is the best card in All Fours?
The best card in All Fours is the Ace of Trump, as it beats all other possible cards in a trick, and automatically awards a High point for being played.
How many cards are dealt in All Fours?
Each Player is dealt 6 cards, unless the Trump is begged. If there is a beg on the Trump suit at the start of the round, each Player will be dealt three more cards for a total of nine.
Can you stand with no Trump in All Fours?
No, there must always be a Trump suit determined at the start of each round.