A trick-taking hand of cards
|Playing time||15 min.|
Rams, (German: Ramsch), is a French trick-taking card game related to Nap and Loo, and may be played by any number of persons not exceeding nine, although five or seven make a good game. In Alsatia and Belgium the game of Rams is also spelt Rammes or Rems. The basic idea is fairly constant, but scoring system vary. Despite being a widespread European gambling drinking game, it is also called Rounce in America and played with a 52 card deck without any difference between simples and doubles and with no General Rounce announcement. In the German variety of the game called Bierspiel, the 7♦ is the second best trump ranking next below the ace.
Each player starts with five, seven or ten counters, and the general principle is to lose counters by winning tricks. Each player drops out as he plays his last counter, and the last left in is the overall loser. Alternatively, the first to run out of counters is the overall winner. By another method, the dealer puts five counters in the pool and each player takes a counter for each trick won, or adds five for taking none.
The 32 cards rank A K Q J 10 9 8 7 in each suit. A first dealer is selected at random and the turn to deal and play passes to the left. Each player is dealt 5 cards each, in batches of 3 and 2, including an extra hand or "widow" face down. The next card is turned up for trumps. Anyone who thinks he can win all five tricks immediately announces "General Rams" and no one may then drop out. Otherwise, each player in turn from dealer's left announces whether he will pass, throwing the hand without penalty, or play, thereby undertaking to win at least one trick. Another option is to throw the hand in and take the widow in its place. Only the first player to bid may do so.
There must be at least two active players. If all pass up to the player at dealer's right, both he and the player must play. So, the dealer may not pass if only one previous player has undertaken to play the game.
Before play, dealer may take the trump turn-up and throw out any unwanted card face down. The opening lead is made by the player at dealer's left, unless anyone declared a General Rams, in which case the declarer leads. Subsequent players must follow suit and head the trick if possible and if unable to do so, they must play a trump and beat any trump already played so far. The trick is taken by the highest card of the suit led or by the highest trump if any are played. The winner of each trick then leads to the next.
Each player removes a counter for each trick taken. Anyone who played but failed to win a trick is saddled with five more. The declarer of a General Rams loses five counters if successful, and everyone takes five more. If unsuccessful, the declarer takes five more, the others drop one counter for each trick they had won, and a player who took none is exempt from penalty.