The game of Oh Hell explores the idea of taking an exact number of tricks specified by a bid before the hand, and differs from other trick-taking games in that players play a fixed number of hands. The game uses trump, often decided by a cut of the deck after the hand's cards have been distributed.
Like many popular social card games, Oh Hell has many local variants, in both rules and names.
There are many variations to this game; a common set of regulations is given here.
Oh Hell can be played with almost any number of players (3+) although 4-7 is considered optimal. The game is played using a standard 52-card deck, with ace (A) being the highest rank, two (2) the lowest.
A game consists of a fixed number of hands, and each hand consists of dealing a certain number of cards to each player, depending on the variation and the number of players. During a hand, each player bids for a number of tricks, then attempts to take exactly that many tricks during the hand.
The dealer (initially determined by cutting cards) deals out the cards one by one, starting with the player to his left, in a clockwise direction, until the required number of cards has been dealt. After the dealing is complete, the next card is turned face up, and the suit of this card determines the trump suit for the deal, which is why only up to 12 cards are dealt in a four-player match. (If there are no unused cards, the largest hand is played without a trump suit. Alternatively, the maximal round trump suit can be determined in a variety of ways: for instance, by revealing the dealer's last card as in whist or by cutting the pack before dealing.)
Each player now bids for the number of tricks he believes he can win. The player to the left of the dealer bids first. Bidding is unrestricted.
When every player has made a bid, the player two to the left of the dealer makes the opening lead. Play then proceeds as usual in a trick-taking game, with each player in turn playing one card. Players must follow suit, unless they have no cards of the led suit, in which case they may play any card. The highest card of the led suit wins the trick unless ruffed, when the highest trump card wins.
The player who wins the trick leads to the next trick.