Oh Hell! is also known by a variety of other names including Blackout, Elevator (l'Ascenseur in France), Oh Shit! and Bust (from Australia and New Zealand), Boerenbridge or 10 op en neer in the Netherlands. It is a member of the exact bidding group of trick-taking games.

Players
Between 3 and 7 people may play. The game is best for 4 to 6 players.

Cards
A standard 52 card deck is used. Ace is high.

Sequence
The game consists of a series of hands. The first hand is played with 7 to 10 cards dealt to each player, depending on the number of players:
  • 3, 4, 5 players: 10 cards each
  • 6 players: 8 cards each
  • 7 players: 7 cards each
Each successive hand is played with one less card down to a hand of just one card each. This is then followed by hands with one card more per hand, back to the starting level.

With 7 players the number of cards in the hands is:
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. A total of 13 hands to the game.

Object
The object is for each player to bid the number of tricks he thinks that he can take from each hand, and then take exactly that many - no more and no fewer. Points are awarded for making the bid exactly and are deducted for missing the bid (see scoring). The catch is that at least one player will fail on each hand, because the total tricks bid by players does not necessarily equal the number of tricks available to be taken.

Deal
Determine the dealer. Deal rotates clockwise with each hand. Cards are dealt out singly until everyone has the correct number of cards. The next card is turned face up and determines the trump suit for the hand. The trump suit beats any other suit played in that hand.

Bidding
Bidding in each hand begins with the player to the left of the dealer and continues clockwise, back to the dealer, who bids last. Each bid is a number representing the number of tricks that player will try to take. Everyone must bid. Zero is a valid bid indicating your object is to take no tricks at all. Keep in mind when bidding that not all the cards in the deck are in play. The dealer must bid in such a way that the sum of the bids is not the number of tricks in that hand.

Play
The play begins with the dealer, who leads the first card. The lead may be any suit (including trump). Play follows clockwise. Each player must follow the led suit, if he can. If the lead suit cannot be followed, he may play any other card in his hand, including trump. The player who has played the highest trump card, or if no trump was played, the highest card of the led suit, wins the trick. That player then leads the next trick. Continue until all tricks have been played and won.

Scoring
Scoring is simple. If a player makes his bid exactly, he gets 10 points for each trick bid and won. A successful zero bid wins 10 points. If he misses his bid (either over or under), he looses 10 points times the number of tricks which he missed the bid.

In case of a tie after the last hand, deal another hand at that number of cards until a clear winner is determined. It must be noted that any player can win until the end.

Variations
Sequence of hands
Some people start from 1 card each, and go up to the maximum number of cards and then back down to 1. Others go from the maximum down to 1 and then stop or from 1 to the maximum and stop.

One version called Devil's Bridge, in which hand size increases and decreases. On the final 1 card hand, the players must hold their card on their forehead, so that each player can see all the other's cards but not their own.

In Australia, when playing 5 players, 13 low cards from a second pack are added to make a 65 card pack, so the first deal with is 13 as with 4 players. With 6 players, another 13 cards are added, so that the bottom half of the pack is duplicated. If two duplicate cards are played in a trick, the second card played beats the first.

Trump variations
Instead of turning up a card, the trump may go through a fixed sequence that may or may not include "no trumps". In Oh Shit!, spades are always trump.

Bidding
Some people play without the restriction on the dealer's bidding so that the dealer may bid in such a way that everyone can win. There is great debate about which style is more skilful.

Simultaneous bidding is another option. Each player bids in secret and all bids are revealed at the same time.

Scoring
Alternate systems:
  • Win 1 point for each trick. Win 10 points if you make the bid exactly. No penalty for the wrong number of tricks.
  • Win 5 points if bid is made plus 10 points for each trick taken. Loose 5 points if you were wrong, plus an extra 5 for each trick difference.
  • If you make the bid exactly: 10 + (bid)*(bid). If you fail, you loose the square of the difference.

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