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(pū kè)
(simplified: 扑克)

A Chinese card game. Dictionaries may tell you it means "poker", but the game's not similar to any poker variant I'm aware of. (And, kids, don't pronounce it like the English slang for "vomit"; it should be "poo-keh".)

In Shandong province, one walking around just after the sun goes down and all the shops close will see many groups of people playing this game. Five to ten men (and occasionally a woman or two) will gather in a circle, sitting on their foot-tall scissoring wooden stools with woven-ribbon seats, and whip cards out onto the table in front of them as they play into the night. It is a fun game, and since money is not involved the way it is in poker (if at all), I don't imagine that tempers rise over the game very often.

Puke is played with two or three decks of cards. It's not very necessary to shuffle the cards well, because of how they're dealt (see "Setup" below).

If you're playing with money, there'll be an entrance price (probably just a couple yuan) and at the end of the game, the winner gets the pot.


To start off, the cards are set face-down on the table, on a slant (sort of like when your friendly casino dealer lays out a deck with one swipe of the hand, then retrieves it with another swipe). Someone pulls a random card out of the middle of the deck, and dealing starts with the person sitting as far away from the card-puller as the number on the pulled card.

Instead of one person dealing the deck, though, each person grabs his/her own cards. The person who starts takes the top face-down card, then the person to the right takes a card, and so on around the circle until the entire deck has been taken.

Once the deck is gone, the first card-puller plays first.


(Like many card games, the goal is to get rid of your hand, and the fun comes from the means you must undertake to acheive that end.)

A game is made of many rounds. The player who starts a round picks a set of cards from his/her hand. The cards must all be of the same number (a Joker counts as any number). The player then slaps the set, face up, onto the table, and the person to the player's right goes next.

The next player tries to find a set of cards in his/her hand with the same number of cards, and with a number value higher than that of the one just played. The player may pass if s?he can't (or doesn't want to) play anything. Once no one can (or will) top a set (either because of the high value of the set, or the number of cards in the set, or a Joker in the set), the round is over. The face-up cards of the last round are flipped over, and the player who went last starts a new round.

4 is the lowest denomination, up through King to Ace, and 2 is the highest. (Same as in Big Two, except 3 is a special-case: it's the number with which you must empty your hand.) Jokers are trumps.

The first person who gets rid of all his/her cards, playing a set of 3s last, wins. Play often continues to the second- and third-place winners.

A final facet of the game is how the cards are, physically, played — instead of just placing a set down on the table, players will toss/smack/slap the set upon the table with some force, but without their hands actually touching the table. This is hard to do without either upsetting the table or scattering the already-played cards all over the place while still looking cool.


(I only played the game a couple times, so my observations probably aren't as sound as those of seasoned players. Nevertheless...)

Since you have to play one or more 3s as your last hand, you don't want to get rid of them in normal play. (Also, if you don't get any 3s in your starting hand, you'll want to trade another player for one. This will make everyone laugh at you.)

Since being the last to play in a round means you get to start a new round (and thus can control it), it's a good idea to keep a selection of higher cards for later on in the game for round-hijacking in the endgame. Jokers, Aces and 2s are especially good to keep around.

(Disclaimer: I learned this game from a group of Chinese teachers who, despite being English teachers, didn't speak English all that well. There's no doubt in my mind that I've missed a few facets of the game. Corrections are welcome.)

Puke (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Puked (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Puking.] [Cf. G. spucken to spit, and E. spew.]

To eject the contests of the stomach; to vomit; to spew.

The infant Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Puke, v. t.

To eject from the stomach; to vomit up.


© Webster 1913.

Puke, n.

A medicine that causes vomiting; an emetic; a vomit.


© Webster 1913.

Puke, a. [Etymol. uncertain.]

Of a color supposed to be between black and russet.


⇒ This color has by some been regarded as the same with puce; but Nares questions the identity.


© Webster 1913.

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