Game, Flip and Flop

Game, Flip and Flop is a variation of the game Tonk popular in the city of Dayton, Ohio. In addition to the regular "game" pot, the game features two additional pots, the "flip" and the "flop" won by the holders of the lowest cards in two suits.


Players: Game, Flip and Flop is best for 3 to 5 players.

Cards: A standard 52-card deck is used for this game, without Jokers.

Stakes: The value of the basic stake must be agreed before the start of the game.

There are three pots, called game, flip and flop. Before the deal each player must put the agreed stake into each pot. A player who does not have enough money for all three pots contributes only to the game and flip pots. A player with only enough money for one pot contributes only to the game pot. If a player who does not contribute to a pot cannot win that pot on that deal.

Note: players must always have at least one stake in reserve to cover the extra payment in the event that they are caught or another players wins with 50 or tunks out. A player who has only enough to put a stake in the game pot while keeping the required reserve is considered "all in" (as in poker). The player's "tunk life" is at stake and if they do not win the game pot they are eliminated from the game.

The Deal: Five cards are dealt to each player, clockwise, one at a time. The dealer's last card is turned face up: this is the flip card.

The remaining undealt cards are placed face down in a stack to form the stock. During the play, discards will be placed in a face-up pile next to the stock. At the start of the play the discard pile is empty.

Objective: The goal of the game is, by drawing and discarding, to form your cards into spreads (melds), which can be books (Sets) of 3 or 4 equal ranked cards or Runs of 3 or more cards in suit, or to dispose of your cards by adding them to existing spreads.

Card values

Card Value
Ace 1 point
Jack 10 points
Queen 10 points
King 10 points
2 - 10 face value

Winning with 49 or 50

Before play begins, anyone who has a total of 49 or 50 - that is five 10-point cards or four 10-point cards with a nine - can declare it and win the round without any turns being taken.

A player with 49 points wins the game pot. The player simply takes this pot. 50 points wins double the game pot: the winner takes the pot and in addition the other players each have to pay an extra stake (equal to their original game pot stake) to the winner.

If more than one player has 49 or 50 points, the procedure is as follows:

  1. All the winners split the game pot equally between them.
  2. All the players who did not have 50 points (including those who had 49) pay an extra stake to a new pot, and this pot is split equally between the players who had 50.

Example: Given a game with five players and a $1 stake, the game pot contains $5. Player A has 49 and player B has 50. Players A and B take $2.50 each from the pot. Then everyone except B pays another $1 to B. Net result for the game pot: A is up $0.50, B is up $5.50, and the other three players are down $2 each.

The Flip and the Flop

The flip pot is won by the player who was dealt the lowest card in the suit of the dealer's exposed flip card. The flop pot is won by the holder (if any) of the lowest card in the other suit of the same color - for example the lowest spade if the flip card is a club. Aces are low.

In order to win the flip or the flop, the players must show their card(s) before they draw from the stock pile. This is done in order around the table, beginning to dealer's left, just before each player's first turn of play.

Players only show cards that have a chance of winning. So if you are the first player, you show your lowest card of the flip suit only if you have a lower card in this suit than the dealer's flip card, and your lowest card of the flop suit if you have any cards of this suit. Other players, at their turn, show cards in either or both suits if they are better (lower) than the lowest card in the suit so far shown. The dealer's flop card (if any) does not have to be shown until the dealer's turn.

The flip pot is won on every deal, because the dealer, by definition, always has a flip card. The flop pot may not be won if no cards of that suit were dealt. In that case the players add another stake before the next round and the size of the pot increases until it is won.

Game Play

Note that claiming the flip or flop pots, or an instant win with 49 or 50 points can only happen before the first player takes their first turn. After that point the players take turns until a player is able to end the round as described below.

Play commences with the player to the left of the dealer taking a turn and continues clockwise until the hand ends. Since the discard pile starts out empty in this game the first player must draw from the stock pile on their first turn. From that point on turns consist of the following steps:

  1. Drop: At the start of their turn, before drawing a card, the player has the option of doing a drop. This means that they lay down all the cards in their hand and claim that the total point value of their hand is lower than any other player's points. If that's not true, then there are penalties. See below.
  2. Draw: If the player doesn't drop, then they start their turn by taking a single card from either the stock pile, or the discard pile.
  1. Meld: If the player has cards that can be formed into one or more spreads (melds) then they may do so, or they may hold on to their cards if desired for strategic reasons.
  2. Lay off: The player can also reduce the cards in their hand by extending the existing spreads already on the table.
  3. Discard: If, after placing or adding to spreads, the player has any cards left in their hand, they must end their turn by discarding one card face up on top of the discard pile. In this game, however, it is legal to lay down all cards without reserving a final card for the discard pile. If a player has no cards in hand at the end of his or her turn, either without a discard or by discarding the player's last card, the play ends.

End of Round

There are four ways that the round can end.

  1. Going out: If a player has no cards at the end of a turn, the play ends and the player collects the game pot.

  2. Dropping: A player chooses to drop their hand - showing all their cards. In this case all players must show their hands and total the value of their cards. If the player who dropped has the lowest total, that player simply collects the game pot. If some other player has an equal or lower total, the player who dropped is caught, and must pay an extra stake to the game pot. This increased pot is won by the opponent who has the lowest total.

    If two or more players other than the one who dropped have equally low totals, the double pot is shared equally between them. Note that if the player who drops has the same lowest score as another player, the player who dropped loses and the other player wins.

    Example: Given a game with five players and a $1 stake, player A drops but players A, C and D all tie for lowest total. Player A pays an extra $1 into the game pot, and then players C and D share the $6 pot. The net result in this case is that A has lost $2, C and D have won $2 each and the other two players (B and E) have lost $1 each.

  3. Tunking out: To tunk out a player must lay down two spreads of 3 cards, which will leave them with no discard. The two spreads do not have to be played on the same turn. A player cannot tunk out by adding cards to existing spreads, they must two spreads they created for themselves. A player who tunks out wins a double game pot: each of the other players adds a second stake to the game pot and the winner takes it.

  4. The stock pile runs out: The player that pulls the last stock pile card ends the hand. Note the next player cannot use the last discarded card. Everyone shows their cards and the player with the lowest hand wins the game pot. If more than one player has the same lowest hand, the game pot is split equally between them.

Home    The Games