Over the Rhine

Designed by Mark S. Ball


Over the Rhine is a trick-taking card game for two players that combines Over the Top’s battery system with Euchre. Players will have private hand cards as well as table cards that can be seen by their opponent. The mischievous spirit of Euchre is captured through the inclusion of two jokers, left and right jacks, and a slew of unknown cards.


Play with a standard 52 card deck by stripping the pack down to 7’s through Aces. Also, include two jokers to complete the 34 card deck. The jokers need to look different in some way. Designate one as the big-joker and the other as the little-joker.

Grab a piece of paper and pencil for keeping score.


Cut for low card to determine the dealer. Lowest card cut deals first.

The deal consists of each player receiving ten cards divided into two areas: a table and a hand of cards.


Each person’s table cards will be on the playing surface for both players to see. Deal each player three cards face down in a horizontal row and then two cards face up in a row. The table cards form the shape of a pyramid.


Deal each player five cards to form their hand. These cards are held so that your opponent cannot see them.


Place the rest of the cards face down near the center of the table to form the chaff pile. Turn the top card of the pile over. This card is used to start the bid.


The non-dealer looks at the turned-up chaff card and decides whether or not they want that suit to be trump. If they do, they say “play it”. That suit becomes trump for the round.

If the non-dealer does not want that suit to be trump, they say “pass”.

If the non-dealer passes, the dealer has a chance to say “play it” or “pass”.

The person who says “play it” becomes the maker for the round, and that suit becomes trump. The opposite player becomes the defender.


The maker may also choose to shoot the moon. This means that they will only play with their hand cards. Their table cards are not used. The maker must announce they are shooting the moon before the first card is played. There is a scoring bonus for successfully taking all five tricks while shooting the moon.


If both players pass on the first turn-up card, the next chaff card is turned up from the pile until a new suit or a joker is revealed. The new suit revealed immediately becomes trump. The round is then played as a free-for-all. Whoever captures three or more tricks wins the round and earns points.

If a joker is ever turned up, the round is automatically a free-for-all played with no trump suit. The other joker becomes the lowest ranking card.

Players cannot shoot the moon during a free-for-all round.


The trump suit is the most powerful suit for the round, and its ranking structure changes. From low to high, the trump suit becomes: (low) 7 8 9 10 Queen King Ace Left-Jack Right-Jack Little-Joker Big-Joker (high)

Both jokers join the trump suit and must be played as if they are part of that suit. The trump suited jack jumps up in rank and becomes the right-jack. The jack that is the same color as the trump suit becomes part of the trump suit. This card is called the left-jack. For example, if hearts are trump, the jack of diamonds becomes a heart for the round, and it must be played as one.


The non-dealer leads the first trick. They may play one card from their hand or their table area. That card is placed face up in the center of the playing space.

The opposite player must play a card from the same area. They must also follow suit if they can. If they are unable to follow suit, they may play any card.

Continuing the trick, the player who led plays a card from the other area. If they led the trick with a card from their table, they must add a card to the trick from their hand. This card must also follow suit if possible. If they cannot follow suit, the player may play any card from that area.

For example, the non-dealer leads a 10♠ from their table. The opposite player follows suit with the Q♠ from their table. The non-dealer continues the trick with a K♠ from their hand. The opposite player does not have a spade in their hand, so they play the 9.


The highest ranking card in the suit that is led or the highest ranking trump card wins the trick. The trick-winner collects the trick and keeps it face down in front of them. Players are not allowed to look at the cards they have collected until the end of the round.

In the example above, the non-dealer wins the trick with the K♠. If ’s were trump, the 9would have won the trick.


After the trick is collected, both players choose one face-down card from their table and turn it over. It does not matter which card they choose. There can never be more than two table cards face up.


The trick-winner must lead from the trick-winning area. If they win with a card from their hand, they lead the next one from their hand. If they win with a card from their table, they lead from the table.

Play continues until all five tricks are collected. Once this occurs, the round is over.


If the maker captures three or four tricks, they earn 1 point. If they capture all five tricks, they earn 2 points. If the maker shoots the moon and captures three or four tricks, they earn 1 point. If they shoot and capture all five tricks, they earn 4 points.


The defender sets the maker by capturing three or more tricks. They earn 2 points for doing so.


In a free-for-all round, whoever captures three or four tricks earns 1 point. Capture all five tricks and earn 2 points.


Once the score for the round is totaled, collect the cards. Deal passes to the opposite player. Continue playing rounds until the game ends.


The first player to earn 7 points wins the game.

Free PDF of Over the Rhine

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