Napoleon (card game)


This popular game is played by four, five, or six persons with a full pack of cards, which take the same value as in Whist. The object of the game is to make tricks, which are paid to or received from the dealer at a fixed rate, a penny or more a trick, as previously arranged. The deal being decided in the usual way, the pack is cut and five cards are dealt one at a time to each player, beginning at the left. After every round the deal passes. Each player looks at his cards, the one to the left of the dealer being the first to declare. When he thinks he can make two or three tricks he says, "I go two," or "I go three." The next may perhaps think he can make four tricks; and if the fourth believes he can do better he declares Napoleon, and undertakes to win the whole five tricks. The players declare or pass in the order in which they sit; and a declaration once made cannot be recalled. 

The game then, proceeds. The first card played is the trump suit; and to win the trick, a higher card than that led in each suit must be played. The winner of the first trick leads for the second, and so on till each of the five tricks are played out. Each player must follow suit, but he is not bound to head the trick or to trump. Each card as played remains face upwards on the table. Supposing the stake to be a penny a trick, the declarer, if he win all the tricks he declared, receives from each of his adversaries a penny for each of the declared tricks; but if he fail to win the required number, he pays to each of them a penny a trick. For Napoleon he receives double stakes from each player; but failing to win the five tricks, he pays them single stakes. The game, though simple, requires good judgment and memory to play it well. In some companies it is varied by the introduction of a Wellington, which is a superior call after the Napoleon, and takes triple stakes; or a Sedan, in which the player undertakes to lose all his tricks. This declaration takes precedence of all the others. Each player may Pass, or decline to make a declaration; and when all the players pass, the deal is void. Occasionally a pool or kitty is made by each dealer paying a half stake; or the players may purchase new cards from the pack. In either case, the pool is taken by the winner of the first Napoleon, or divided according to arrangement at the close of the play. The best play in Napoleon is not to win tricks, but to co-operate in defeating the declaring hand.