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The Game of Pam
"Mouche" - Four of a suit plus Pam ♣
Origin France
Alternative names Loo
Type Trick-taking
Players 3 to 8 (5 to 7 best)
Cards 52
Deck French
Play Clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) J♣ A K Q 10...
Related games
Euchre, Rams

Lanterloo or Loo is a 17th-century trick taking game of the Trump family of which many varieties are recorded. It belongs to a line of card games whose members include Nap, Euchre, Rams, Mao, Hombre, and Spoil Five. It is considered a modification of the game of "All Fours", another English game possibly of Dutch origin, in which the players replenish their hands after each round by drawing each fresh new card from the pack.


Under various spellings, like the French forms Lenterne, Lenturlu, Looterlu, (meaning "fiddlesticks", a meaningless word equivalent to "Lullay", or "Lulloo", used in Lullabies), the game is supposed to have reached England from France most probably with the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Also called Langtrillo in its prime form and later simply Loo (also termed Lant in the north of England by 1860, most possibly for having evolved into a more elaborate form of play by the addition of new rules, it may also have been brought to England from Holland. Whichever way it may have been, by the turn of the eighteenth century it was already England's most popular card game. It was considered a great pastime by the idle rich of that time, but it got a very bad reputation as a potentially vicious "tavern" gambling game during the nineteenth century.


Oxford English Dictionary quotes a 1685 reference to "Pam at Lanterloo", and Chatto quotes a Dutch political pamphlet of about 1648 entitled Het herstelde Verkeer-bert verbetert in een Lanterluy-spel, containing a dialogue equating the game Labate (hence French Triomphe became La Bête, "The Beast", in Cotton's Complete Gamester) with Lanterluy. This was the very first mentioning of the game.

The name "Pam", denoting the J♣ in its full capacity as permanent top trump in Five-Card Loo, represents an old medieval comic-erotic character called Pamphilus (Latin for a Greek word, meaning "beloved of all") or "Pamphile", in French, described as "an old bawd" by the New Zealand-born English lexicographer Eric Partridge.


The game is played by 3 to 8 players using a 52-card pack. The players bet and play for tricks, and in each round they may pass, play, or "miss" (exchange from an extra hand). The main forms of the game are Three-Card Loo, Five-Card Loo,and Irish Loo, which is Five-Card Loo played with only three cards.

The turn to deal and play passes always to the left.


The basic idea is that a pool is formed by each player's contribution of three chips or counters (or five in Five-Card Loo). Then the players are dealt three cards each (if five play, then five cards are dealt) and the next turned for trump. Everyone's aim is to win at least one trick, under penalty of increasing the pool. For this purpose cards basically rank A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2, but the J♣, or "Pam", beats all the other cards, including the Ace of trumps.

The players, having seen their hands, can either abandon them free of charge or elect to play, thereby undertaking to win at least one trick for one third (or one fifth) of the pool. Any player failing to do so is "looed", and adds five more chips to the pool. Each player must have the same number of deals, but if there is a "loo" (the sum forfeited by a player who plays, but does not win a trick) in the last deal of a round, the game continues till there is a hand without a loo .



If any player holds a flush (five cards of the same suit or four of a suit plus Pam), whether dealt initially or obtained by drawing cards, he wins the deal outright, there being no pay. If more than one has a flush, the best is a flush with Pam; failing that, a flush in trumps; failing that, the flush containing the highest top card (or cards if equal). The holder of the winning flush wins the stakes of all the other players, including those who dropped, but excluding those holding either Pam or a lower flush.

Elder leads to the first trick. If he is in the possession of the trump Ace (or King if the Ace is the turn-up card), he must lead it. If not, he must lead any other trump, and it must be his highest trump, specially if there is only one opponent. If the Trump Ace is led and its player says "Pam, be civil", it may not be played to the same trick, unless its holder has no other trump in hand.

Subsequent players must then follow suit if possible, heading the trick, or trump if unable to follow. 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 leads to the next, trumping if possible.


Division Loo

One card is dealt to each player, and the player receiving the lowest card is entitled to deal. At the commencement of the game the dealer puts three chips, or counters, in the pool. The value of which already been agreed upon by the players. It is necessary to make the pool a number that can be exactly divided by three, say 3, 6, 9 chips. After the cards are shuffled and cut, the dealer gives three cards (one at a time) to each player, beginning at the eldest hand, and going round to the left. An extra hand called Dumby, or Miss, is dealt in the center of the table and the next turned up for trumps.

In the first hand, and whenever the pool consists of only three chips deposited by the dealer, it is called a Bold Stand, or Force, and each player is compelled to play his hand, except the eldest hand, who, if he prefers it, is entitled to the Dumby and may exchange it for his own. Bold Stand is played for the purpose of getting a larger pool; thus, if eight are playing, and five lose, they will be looed the amount of the pool, raising the total of chips to eighteen. The deal passes to the left, and the dealer must on all occasions pay in the pool three counters for the deal. When the pool consists of more than the original three chips deposited by the dealer it becomes optional to play or not, and before looking at his own cards, the dealer asks all the payers, beginning at the eldest hand, whether they play their own hand, take the Dumby, or decline playing for that round. If the eldest declines to the Dumby, the next in turn has this option, and so on.

Whenever a player declines playing, he must give his cards to the dealer who will place them under the pack. No one can retract after declaring his intention to stand or not. When all players have declared their intention, the first in hand of those who play, if he holds two trumps, must head the trick. At the end of the game, the pool is divided into three portions. If one player takes three tricks, he wins the whole pool; if he takes two, he wins two thirds; if one, only one third. All those who have failed to win a trick are looed the original amount deposited by the dealer and when only two players stand, the last player before the dealer must either play he hand, or the Dumby, or give up the pool to the dealer.

Unlimited Loo

Each player is looed the whole amount in the pool until the occurrence of a bold stand, which can only happen when three players stand the game, and each win a trick, or when two play, and one takes two chips and the other only one. The dealer being last in hand has always the advantage of knowing how many are to play before he decides. It likewise sometimes happen, when a large sum is in the pool, that none of the players consider it safe to stand, in which case the dealer takes the whole pool. This variation, also known as Loo the Board, forces those who lose the game to double the amount of chips in the pool, making it grow faster than in other forms of Loo.

Term Definition
Bold Stand A method of playing the game, in which it is a rule, that whenever there is only the deal to be played for, every person is obliged to stand in order to make a loo for the next hand. As often this happens, it is a bold stand.
Dumby The spare hand, which must be dealt in the regular order, either first or last but one, and not according to the dealer's whim
Force The same as Bold Stand
Heading the Trick Playing a better card of the suit led, or not having any of the suit, trumping it
Loo The sum put up by any one that is looed, and is either limited or unlimited; when unlimited, a person is looed for the whole amount of the pool; if limited, he is looed by no more than a certain sum, previously agreed upon, generally the price of the deal
Looed A person playing is looed when he does not take a trick, or when he breaks any of the laws of the game
Miss The same as Dumby
Misdeal When the dealer gives any of the players more or less than three cards, or deals out of regular order, or shows a card in dealing
Mouche A four-card flush with Pam.
Paying for the Deal At each new deal, the dealer puts into the pool three counters, or whatever it may be agreed upon by the party to play for; this is called the price of the deal
Pool The pool consists of counters which are paid for the deals, and of the sums forfeited by those who were looed the preceding hand.
Revoke When a person who has suit does not play it

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