A zero-sum card game that is so rustic that people who play Euchre call it a hick game. Most popular in Wisconsin. I have seen it played with anywhere from 3 to 7 players, but 5 is the best.

The Deck

There are four suits: Hearts, clubs, spades, and trump. In hearts, clubs, and spades, the rank, in descending order, is ace, ten, king, 9,8,7. In trump, it is......

Qc,Qs,Qh,Qd,Jc,Js,Jh,Jd,Ad,10d,Kd,9d,8d,7d, where c=clubs,s=spades,h=hearts,d=diamonds.

In addition, each card has a specific point value attached to it:
Note that point value does not correlate to strength.

The deal

Each player gets (32 div: n) cards, where n is the number of players. If n=4, then they actually only get 7 cards apiece. The remainder of the cards are called the blind, and are placed face down in the middle of the table. Each player, starting with the player left of the dealer, has the option of either picking up the blind and trying to win the game, or of letting the blind sit and passing to the next player. If the blind is not picked up by any player, then a leaster is played.

Normal Play

The player that picked up the blind may incoporate some of the cards that were picked up into the hand, but must put down (bury) a blind of the same size as the one picked up. A player may decide to get rid of low cards from their hand, or they may decide to bury cards with a high point value. The player to the left of the dealer always plays first.

3 or 4 players

The picker plays against the other players as normal: must follow suit, trump beats anything else. At the end of the round, the picker adds the point values of the tricks he took to the point values of the cards in the blind.

If the picker takes 61-89 points, then the other players each give one dollar to the picker. If the picker takes 90-118 points, then the opponents each give two dollars to the picker. If the picker takes all the points, then the opponents each give three dollars to the picker. Losing is penalized: If only 30 to 60 points are taken, then the picker must give two dollars to each opponent. If 2-29 points are taken (Less than shneider), then four dollars is paid per person. If no points are taken, then six dollars is paid per person.

5 or more players

The picker is in a partnership with whoever holds the Jack of Diamonds. If the picker holds the Jd, he goes it alone. This can cause some wonderful paranoia at the card table: The player to the right of you just overtrumped the picker...do you toss your ten on the hand to keep the points away from the picker, or are you abetting the enemy? At the end of the round, the score is tallied as before, but the partner gets 1/3 of the winnings, or must shoulder 1/3 of the debt to the opponents.


If no one picked up the blind, then a leaster is played. The object of a leaster is to be the person who took the fewest number of points, yet still took at least one trick. The blind is given to whoever takes the last trick (some people say the first trick). The winner collects one dollar from each of the other players. Generally, no one likes leasters.


Don't ask me. I always seem to end up losing to toothless old farts and rednecks from places like Oshkosh or Sheboygan Falls.

If you don't want to go to Wisconsin, you can always play Sheepshead in the game rooms on Yahoo!.

The only thing I would add to bitter_engineer's write up are the following variations:

Called Suit:
In games where the picker has a partner, that partner could, instead of being the person Jack of Diamonds, could be the person with the Ace of the called suit. When someone picks, and after they bury, they call a suit, but they must have a fail card in that suit and not the Ace, (i.e. King, 10, 9, 8, or 7). Or they can state they would like to go it alone. Now the first time the called suit is played, the partner must play the Ace. Often the strategy in these games for the picker and partner is run through as much trump as possible before the called suit is played. Most likely someone against the picker and partner will have a void in that suit, and so this is a chance for the opposition to get at least 11 points (from the ace), by trumping. (The picker has to have a fail card, 'cause he called the suit, and the partner has to have the ace). So the strategy on the opposition's side is to play the picked suit as soon as posible. Of course table talk is still prohibited, so nobody except the partner knows who the partner is, until the called suit is played.

Also you play that the picker has a partner in a four person game as well.

Sheeps"head` (), n. [So called because of the fancied resemblance of its head and front teeth to those of a sheep.] Zool.

A large and valuable sparoid food fish (Archosargus, ∨ Diplodus, probatocephalus) found on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It often weighs from ten to twelve pounds.

⇒ The name is also locally, in a loose way, applied to various other fishes, as the butterfish, the fresh-water drumfish, the parrot fish, the porgy, and the moonfish.


© Webster 1913.

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