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Crates is another form of Crazy Eights and part of the eights group of card games. Originating in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the 1970s, it is more well known in the New England area.

Crates is normally played with 4 players as two partnerships. Partners sit opposite one another.

A normal 52 card deck is used. In one variant, Kings and Queens are removed to increase the proportion of special cards.

Points Table
  • A: 1
  • 2: 20
  • 3: (see scoring below)
  • 4: 15
  • 5: 30
  • 6: 30
  • 7: 20
  • 8: 50
  • 9: 30
  • 10: 25
  • J: 10
  • Q: 10
  • K: 10

A complete game of Crates consists of 15 hands. In the first hand, each player is dealt 8 cards, in the second hand 7 cards. etc... The eighth hand, each player is dealt 1 card. The ninth through fifteenth hands each increase by one card back to the original 8 cards.

The deal begins arbitrarily and rotates to the left. After all cards have been dealt, the remaining cards are placed on the table, the top card is turned over to start the discard pile.

Win by having the fewest total points throughout the game.

General play
At any time during the game, there are three pieces of information:
  • suit
  • rank
  • direction
The current suit is the suit on the top of the discard pile unless the card is an 8 or 9 (in which case the suit was chosen by the player who played the 8 or 9). The current rank is always the rank on the top of the discard pile. Initially, each hand starts out with the direction of clockwise.

The card turned over by the dealer to create the discard pile is treated as if it had been played by the dealer. If the card is an 8 or 9, the dealer must choose the suit before looking at his or her hand. If the card is a 9, the suit must be the same color as the 9.

As with all members of the eights group, the general rule of play is that each player must play a card that matches either the current suit or the current rank, or play a wild card (8 or 9). The only exception to this rule occurs during a 2-sequence. When a player cannot play on the discard pile, the player must draw a card from the deck. Play then proceeds to the next player in the current direction.

Upon playing a card, some action may be necessary before the next player's turn. See card actions (below) for the list.

When a player has exactly two cards, the player must clearly say "one card" when playing a card. If some other announcement must be made (during a 2-sequence or upon playing a wild card), "one card' must be said first. Anyone who fails to say "one card" when required to do so is penalized by having to cards drawn on the player's next turn. If the player does not get another turn in the current hand, the penalty is forgotten (ie: another player goes out).

Ending a hand
When one player has no cards in his or her hand, the hand is over. The exception to this rule is when a 2-sequence is in progress, in which case it continues until it ends normally, at which point the hand is over - even if every player now has cards.

Card actions

  • A: used in a 2-sequence
  • 2: start a 2-sequence
  • 3: none
  • 4: skip the next player
  • 5: each player must draw a card (in order to ensure proper pressure)
  • 6: play again
  • 7: next player but one takes a card (not the person who just played)
  • 8: wild (any suit)
  • 9: wild (same color suit)
  • 10: reverse direction of play
  • J: none
  • Q: none
  • K: none

When a player plays a 2, it starts a 2-sequence. After this point, each player must play an A or 2 of any suit. When one player cannot do so, that player must draw the number of cards equal to the total number of pips (A: 1; 2: 2) played in the sequence. Once the cards have been draw, the 2-sequence is over, and play continues following number or suit as usual. The drawing of cards happens after a player has gone out (and thus will cause the player to score something other than 0).

At the end of each hand, players receive points according to the cards remaining in their hands. See the card points table (above) for the point value of various cards. At the end of the fifteenth hand, the player or partnership with the fewest points wins the game.

Scoring threes
Threes are special in how they are scored. A hand that contains only threes counts -50 for each three in the hand. When the threes are in combination of other ranks, they are scored at +3 instead. The three may 'cover' any card other than an eight. If a hand contains threes and other cards, the player may pair the three with a non-eight card which is then scored as +3. This pair may be matched again if desired with another three.

Scoring example:
A, 2, 3, 3, 6, 8 K - One three covers the 6, the other covers the 2 because these are the highest scoring non-eight cards. The total score would then be: 50 + 10 + 3 + 3 + 1 = 67.

3, 3, 8 The threes are the only non-eight cards so one covers the other for a total score of 53.

When a player must draw a card, but the deck is exhausted, that partnership (or player) is given a "pressure". The first pressure a partnership receives counts as 5 points, and each one afterwards counts double the value of the previous one. Pressures are accumulated throughout the game, but are scored in the round they occur.

  • Hands with 1 to 3 cards dealt are referred to as "skill hands", while all others are the "luck hands".
  • If one player has chosen a suit by playing a wild card, and the next player plays a ten (reversing the direction), the player who plays the ten says "Play 'em" to the player who chose the suit.
  • A player receiving a card from someone else playing a seven should thank the donor. In partnership games, a player who plays a seven should say "Card for my partner!" to which the partner replies "Thank you, partner!"
  • If a player's last card is a 6, it must be played and then another card is immediately drawn. This is known as a "Cooper". A player who Coopers does not need to say "one card" on that turn.
  • A player who causes the other players to draw an unusually large number of cards in quick succession is said to be "working the deck".
  • It is considered 'bad' to deliberately fail to say "one card" in order to avoid going out on the next turn.
  • Saying "Uno" instead of "one card" is grounds for ridicule.

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