Oh Hell Card Game (Rules and Instructions)

Oh Hell is an excellent trick-taking card game for all ages and levels of experience. These Oh Hell card game rules explain all you need to know before playing. 

Estimation, Up and Down the Creek, Get Fred, Nomination Whist, Oh Pshaw…these are just a few alternative names for Oh Hell, a popular trick-taking card game for 3 or more players. 

The game is often likened to Euchre (see the Euchre game rules) or Spades (check our Spades game rules). Nevertheless, Oh Hell is, in some regards, completely unique.

Key highlights of this Oh Hell rules guide:

  • What is Oh Hell
  • Oh Hell Card Game Rules
  • Oh Hell Scoring 
  • Oh Hell Rules in Pictures 
  • How to play Oh Hell (Video tutorial)

Ready to learn how to play Oh Hell? Continue reading for detailed instructions.

Related: 5 player card games

What is Oh Hell?

Oh Hell Card Game Info Image

In Oh Hell, your chances to win depend 50:50 on your skills and luck. The game consists of both bidding and taking the tricks, and it allows you to show off your strategic skills. 

Number of Players: 3 to 7 (4 to 6 works the best)

Ages: 10 +

Difficulty: Easy to moderate 

Length of Play: 25 – 50 minutes

Type of Game: Trick-taking card game

Similar to: Bridge, Hearts, Sheepshead

Main Objective: Guess the correct number of tricks you’ll take and score points. 

Our Take: Oh Hell is a game with simple rules, but it’s far from easy to win it. Nevertheless, the more you play it, the more you will love this game.

What You’ll Need to Play Oh Hell Card Game

If you plan to play the Oh Hell card game, you’ll need the following:

  • Decks: 1
  • Number of Cards: 52
  • Cards Omitted: Jokers

Oh Hell Card Game Rules

Although scoring in Oh Hell can be difficult, the rules of this game are pretty straightforward. Let’s start with the initial setup and deal.

Starting the Game

First, appoint the dealer: Each player draws a random card, and whoever gets the highest-ranking card becomes the dealer.

The dealer provides all the players with an equal number of cards according to the following scheme: 

  • In a game with 3 to 5 players, each gets 10 cards. 
  • If there are 6 players, everyone receives 8 cards.
  • For 7 players, the dealer hands seven cards to each. 

Tip: The dealing scheme can differ. Regardless of the number of cards, it’s essential to deal everyone an equal number of cards.

Put the remaining cards in a pile on the side. This will be your stock. Turn the top stock card over and place it on the pile. This card’s suit will be the trump for the upcoming round. 

How to Play Oh Hell

Now when you’re all set up, the game can start. The player sitting left of the dealer takes a turn first; then the gameplay continues clockwise: 

  • Each player bids on how many tricks they think they can take based on the trump and their current cards. Players usually bid by showing the number on their fingers.
  • Everyone bids; there is no passing in this game. However, you can bid zero. The dealer also places bids; they cannot bid the maximum possible number.
  • The first player leads with the card of their choice. The card’s suit will lead the round, meaning other players must aim to match it. 
  • Whoever plays the highest-ranking card of the matching suit takes the trick (note that Aces are the highest-valued cards, and the twos are the lowest-ranking in this game).
  • Store the tricks separately so that you can count them later.
  • Whoever won the previous round leads a new one…

What if you don’t have any cards from the lead suit?

If you cannot play a lead suit, you can choose a card from any other suit. 

However, regardless of how high-ranking card you play, you cannot take a trick with any other card than the leading suit unless it is a trump suit.

A trump always wins the trick regardless of the card’s actual value. If multiple players play a trump, the highest-ranking card takes the trick. 

End of the round 

Players continue until they have no more cards in their hands. The hand is then over, and it’s time for scoring (see the Scoring section below).

Next, the role of the dealer passes to the left, and the new round begins with players receiving one card less each. Continue until you’re down to 1 card. Then count the total scores. 

Oh Hell Scoring 

  • For each trick a player took, they get 1 point.
  • If the player wins precisely as many tricks as they bid, they win 10 points.

The player with the highest total score (after the final round) wins the game.

Oh Hell Rules in Pictures

Step 1

The dealer provides all the players with an equal number of cards depending on the number of players. If 3 to 5 players play (like in our case), each gets 10 cards.

Oh Hell card game rules 1 image

Step 2

The remaining cards form a stock. Turn the topmost card over. This card’s suit will be the trump for the upcoming round. Each player then bids on how many tricks they think they can take.

Oh Hell card game rules 2 image

Step 3

The first player leads with a random card, and the others aim to play a higher-ranking card of the same suit to win the trick. They can play any other card if they don’t have a leading suit.

Oh Hell card game rules 3 image

Step 4

Any trump always beats all the other cards regardless of their value. If more players play trump cards, the highest-ranking one wins the trick. 

Oh Hell card game rules 4 image

Step 5

Players continue until they have no more cards, storing all the tricks they won separately. Each trick is worth 1 point. Winning precisely as many tricks as the player bid earns them 10 points. 

Oh Hell card game rules 5 image

How to Play Oh Hell Card Game – Video Tutorial 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Blackout in Oh Hell?

The “Blackout” is an alternative scoring in Oh Hell, which only allows players who guessed the exact number of their tricks accurately to score points for each individual trick they have.

Is Oh Hell similar to ​​Mormon Bridge?

Yes. Mormon Bridge is so similar to Oh Hell that it is sometimes considered the same game. However, in Mormon Bridge, players first get one card and add 1+ for each new round.

Can you play Oh Hell with more than seven people?

Yes, but in this case, using two decks of cards is recommended instead of one. 

Other Oh Hell Online Resources

  • If you’re into statistics and odds, this article can help you understand how probability works in Oh Hell.

Other Similar Games to Oh Hell (Our Guides) 

Looking for some other exciting trick-taking card games like Oh Hell? Here are a few of our guides you should consider reading next:

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Read all the articles (121) written by Lucia Fajnerova