Rules of Michigan Kitty
(also known as Michigan Rummy)



Best with 4-6 players, though this is flexible. Players should be old enough to recognize numbers and keep track of the sequence of jack, queen, king, and ace coming after 10. Otherwise, it can be played by adults and children together very successfully, and does not require intense concentration.

Use a bridge deck of cards. Use pennies, chips, beads or other SMALL counters for money. It is good to have about 100 - 150 pennies for each player so no one runs out during the game.
Two is the low card and ace is high for each suit.
The object of each hand is to play cards that win pots of money and/or to go out of cards first. The object of the game is to have the most pennies at the end.

In the middle of the table place eight shallow saucers labeled for the seven money cards/combinations and the kitty.
There are seven "money cards:" Ace of Spades, Queen of Clubs, King of Hearts, 10 of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, King AND Queen of Diamonds, and 8,9, AND 10 of ANY ONE SUIT . (These are won by any player able to play one of these cards/combinations in a hand.) The Kitty is collected by the person who wins a hand by going out of cards first.

At the beginning of each hand, each player antes one penny into each saucer, eight pennies total.

The dealer shuffles and deals all cards into piles, counting one more pile than number of players.

The first pile dealt is the dummy hand. Distribute the remaining hands to the players, starting with the player at the left of the dealer. For instance, if there are four players, deal five hands. The first hand is the dummy, the last goes to the dealer. There won't be an even number of cards, so the last players to get their hands have a one-card advantage in going out first.

The dealer looks at his own hand. If the dealer has no "money cards" (see below) and is dissatisfied with his hand, he may simply exchange his hand for the dummy. His previous hand now is out of play.

If the dealer does not wish to change hands (or can't because his hand contains a money card), he sells it to another player at auction. Players bid starting with the player to the left of the dealer. No player may bid if he has any money card in his hand. Players either bid or pass, starting with one penny and going up. A player who passes can't decide to bid for that hand when the bidding comes round again the same turn. Player who bids the highest gets the dummy hand and pays the money he bid to the dealer. His old hand is now out of play.

Once the bidding is finished, the hand out of play (the dummy or the hand exchanged for dummy) is kept face down and its cards are unknown to the players. If it was traded in by a player, that player has an advantage if he can remember what was in it, but he can't go back again and look at the cards.

The player to the left of the dealer plays first. He must play the very lowest card in his hand, of any suit. (For instance if the lowest card he has is a four, but he has a four of clubs and a four of diamonds, he may play either. But if he has a three of hearts he must play that, even if the four of clubs is his lowest club.) He announces which card he has played and starts a pile face up in front of himself.

The player with the next higher card of the same suit announces it and plays it into a pile in front of himself. If any player has several cards in sequence, he plays all of them.

Eventually, play will stop because no one has a card to play because 1). it is in the dummy hand, 2). later in the game, because the next higher card was already played and is "dead'" or 3). because an ace was played. (The ace is the highest card in any suit and always stops play.)

The player who played the last card before play stopped gets to choose the next card to play from his hand. But it must be the opposite color (if he played a spade, he must start with a diamond or heart, his choice. The player is said to "go red" or "go black.") And unlike the first card played in the game, the card must be the lowest card of that suit. For instance, if a player plays the six of clubs and no one has the seven of clubs, play is dead. He must play a heart or a diamond. If his lowest diamond is a six and his lowest heart is a ten, he would probably play the ten of hearts since its a money card. He can't start with the jack of diamonds since he has to play the lowest diamond he has, which is the six. And he can't play any clubs or spades since play ended with a black suit.

Once that player has started a new run, any player with the next card in sequence plays it, and play continues until the sequence stops again.

Each time a player plays one of the money cards/combinations, he collects the pennies that were ante'd into that saucer at the beginning of the hand. Not all money cards will be able to be played, and the combination cards may not come up at all during an entire game. In that case, the players continue to ante into those saucers, so there may be considerable pots available to the next players who can play them.

The first player to be able to play the last card in his hand ("to go out") wins the hand and collects the kitty. No other cards may be played that hand, even if they are money cards. The other players pay the winner one penny for each card left in each of their hands.

Play continues until everyone is tired of playing. Then the last hand is announced. Any money left in any saucer at the end of that hand goes to the winner of the hand (in addition to that player getting the kitty).

After the last hand, pennies are counted and the player with the most pennies wins.

If someone runs out of pennies before everyone is ready to quit, it is okay for that player to borrow from another player or one of the pots that is getting full of pennies. He leaves an IOU, and that is redeemed by the player that gets it at the end of the game. There is no reason to have anyone leave the game early because they are out of pennies.

Strategy: Strategy is involved in two parts of the game: Bidding for the dummy and deciding which card to play when one has played the last card before play stops because a card is dead.

Players bid on the dummy based on how many other players are bidding (if everyone's bidding, there are surely money cards in the dummy) and based on a guess of how much one can collect by going out first (or avoid paying by not having cards left in one's hand). You don't want a hand with a lot of low cards, because whenever anyone starts a new run, it will probably start with a higher card an not give you a chance to play your card. Winning the dummy is also an advantage if one can remember which cards are in the hand one is turning in, since they will be dead during play.

If one has a hand with lots of aces and/or lots of cards that come in sequence right after money cards, it is an advantage. Aces allow one to choose the next suit. And since other players will try to steer the play to get their own money cards played, the player with the next card in sequence will likely be able to play it, leaving one less card in his hand.

When a player has played the last card before play goes dead and gets to choose the next suit, he tries to steer play to: 1). get rid of as many cards from his hand as possible - play the suit he has the most of 2). get rid of low-numbered cards that might be skipped over when another player chooses that suit and only has a higher card in his hand 3). get a chance to play his own money cards, or 4). get a chance to play cards he knows will cause play to go dead again, so he can choose the next suit - if he knows a card was in the hand he traded for the dummy, or that it was played by another player who only had higher cards when he chose the suit, he will try to play the card immediately below a dead card in sequence. By remembering which cards are dead and by playing aces, he can often go back and forth between red and black suits several times before any other player gets a chance to play any cards. That way he avoids the chance that cards in his hand will not be able to be played before someone else goes out. It may be best to delay playing a money card if one knows for certain one can first play several other cards that will cause play to go dead immediately.

That being said, there is a lot of luck involved, and the five year old who understands none of the strategy could beat everyone.

One way of setting up the game is to cut down Styrofoam bowls to make the saucers, and label each with a permanent marker on the inner sides for the money cards and kitty. Cut the saucers about ½ inch deep, but cut the saucers for the 8-9-10 and the K-Q diamonds deeper than the others, because they can accumulate quite a lot of pennies in a game.



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