Hoola or Hula is a Korean Rummy game related to, and probably derived from the Japanese game Seven Bridge.
Players: 2 to 5 players can play the base version of Hoola, and there is a variation for 6 or 7 players.
Cards: A standard 52-card deck is used for the game. Use of the Jokers is optional.
The Deal: The first dealer is chosen randomly. In subsequent rounds the dealer is the winner of the prior round. The deal and play are counter-clockwise. Seven cards are dealt to each player, one at a time. One card is placed face up on the table to begin the discard piles, and the stock of undealt cards is placed face down beside it as the stock pile.
The melds in Hoola conform to the normal Rummy Sets and Runs and must consist of at least 3 cards, unless they contain a seven. The sevens are special cards. A single seven by itself is a valid meld. Two or more sevens form a valid set, and two or more cards of the same suit in sequence form a valid sequence.
Some examples of valid melds are:
- A card cannot be used in more than one meld at the same time. If you have 3-4-5-4-4 you can form either a sequence meld 3-4-5 or a set of fours, but not both.
- In Hoola an Ace can be used in a run as the high card, as the low card, or even in around-the-corner runs, so A-2-3, Q-K-A and K-A-2 are all valid sequences. Common variations of this rule are more restrictive and can be chosen by the players before the game starts, if desired.
|2 - 10||face value|
The dealer begins, and the turn to play normally passes counter-clockwise, (opposite the direction that most Rummy games are played.)
Each player's turn consists of:
- Draw: The player draws one card from the top of either the stock pile or the discard pile.
- Meld (optional): If the player has the cards to do so, they may optionally place one or more melds from their hand, face-up on the table (according to some reports, melding is sometimes known in this game as "dropping a trick" or "registering").
- Lay off (optional): The player may optionally extending melds that are already on the table by adding one or more cards to them to make larger, but still valid melds (also known as "adding to a trick").
- Discard: The player completes their turn by discarding one card face-up on the discard pile.
Steps 1 and 4 are compulsory - every turn begins by drawing a card and ends by discarding one. The following restrictions apply:
- The top card of the discard pile can only be taken if it is immediately used to lay down a new meld from the player's hand. It is not allowed to take the card from the discard pile to add it to an existing meld on the table, or to keep the card in hand for future use.
- Cards can only be added to melds that are already on the table if the player has already, in the same turn or a previous turn, played a complete new meld from their own hand.
End of Round
There are five ways that the round can end.
- The Blast: If at the start of any turn the player has not yet melded any cards, and the total value of the seven cards in their hand is less than 15 points or more than 82 points, they may stop the game and win. Stopping in this way with 83 or more points is called a Daepang (major blast) and stopping with 14 or fewer points is a Sopang (minor blast).
- The Knock: If at the start of a player's turn and they 10 points or less in their hand, and at least one other player melded some cards, then the player may stop the game. Everyone immediately shows their cards. If the player who stopped the game has fewest points in hand then they win, but if any other player has the same number or fewer than the player then the player loses. (Note that unlike some other games, such as Gin Rummy, it is not possible for other players to "lay off" cards on the winner's hand.)
- Going Out: If a player melds all but one of their cards, and discards the final card, they are the winner.
- Four sevens - the big luck: A player who has four sevens in hand can stop the game and win. Note that the sevens all have to be in the player's hand - if any sevens have been melded this type of win is not possible.
- End of Stock: If there are no cards left in the stock, and the game has not ended in any other way, the players show their cards, make any melds they can, and count the value of their unmelded cards. The player with the lowest value of unmelded cards wins.
At the end of the round, the winner is paid by the other players according to the number of points remaining in their hands. When counting points, any quads (sets of four cards of the same rank) are disregarded. For example 2-4-5-9-9-9-9 counts as only 11 points, not 47.
The loser with the fewest points pays 1 stake to the winner, the loser with next fewest pays 2 stakes, and so on. So if there are 5 players the player with the highest value of cards remaining will pay 4 stakes and the winner will collect 10 stakes in total if there are no ties.
In case of a tie, both or all tied players pay the higher amount. For example in a 5-player game if the final point scores are A: 11, B: 3, C: 34, D: 34, E: 11, both C and D pay 4 stakes and both A and E pay 2 stakes, so that the winner B collects 12 stakes in this case.
A player who has a seven in hand must pay double. (With more than one seven, the payment would be doubled for each seven held.)
A player who has had a turn but has not melded any cards must pay double. (Players who did not get a turn to play do not have to pay double.)
If the winner went out by melding all seven cards at once, without previously having melded any cards, and after each of the other players had played at least one turn, this is known as Perfect or Hoola and all the payments are doubled. If a player wins with a 'Perfect' by taking another player's discard, the player who discarded that card has to pay the losses of all the losers: the winner collect the money and the other players pay nothing.
These doubles are cumulative. For example if another player goes out by melding all seven cards at once, you have not melded any cards, and your hand contains a seven, and there are two other losers with fewer points than you, you are subject to three doubles and must pay 24 stakes (8×3).
If the player who knocks is undercut - that is, some other player has an equal or lower number of points - the payments are doubled and the player who knocked has to pay all players' losses to the winner while the other players pay nothing.
Optional Rules and Variations
The following rules may be added to the standard game if all players agree to the variation before the first player takes their turn. It’s not an all or nothing deal, the game participants can pick and choose which variations they like.
Battle Hoola: If a card is discarded which another player can use to form a new meld, the player can claim the discard, even if it would normally be another player's turn to play. This is done by calling "Kam sa hap nida!" (Thank you!), taking the card, and putting it on the table together with cards from hand to make a valid meld, possibly putting down further melds or adding to melds, and discarding. The game then continues from the player to the left of the player who took the card out of turn. If two or more players want the same discard it goes to the player who claimed it first. Players normally slap the discard to claim it, so that when more than one player does this it is clear from the position of the hands who was first.
Tame Battle Hoola: Rather than the free-for-all, deck-slapping battle described above, if there is more than one player who wants the discarded card then it goes to the player whose turn comes first in the normal counter-clockwise rotation.
Alternate card values: Some players count all picture cards (king, queen, jack) as 10 points. In this case, either the method of stopping the game by means of a blast is not used, or the requirement for a major blast would be to have a hand consisting entirely of kings, queens and jacks.
End without discard: Some play that it is not necessary to end one's turn with a discard when going out. With this rule, a player holding for example two 4's could pick up a third 4, meld the set of 4's and go out without discarding.
No around-the-corner: Some play that the ace can be used as a high or low card card in a sequence but not both, so that A-2-3 and Q-K-A are valid melds but K-A-2 is not allowed. Some play that the ace is always low, so that A-2-3 is valid but Q-K-A and K-A-2 are not.
6 or 7 players: When 6 or 7 play, one or two players must drop out after the deal, leaving exactly five players in the game. The dealer is not allowed to drop out, so the player to dealer's right (assuming counter-clockwise play) is the first to decide whether to play or drop out, followed by the others in turn.
If four players in addition to the dealer have chosen to play, any remaining players must drop out. On the other hand, once one player has dropped out of a 6-player game or two players have dropped out of a 7-player game, the remaining players must play.
Players who are forced to drop out (because there are already five players in the game) can claim compensation for any sevens, sets of three cards or suited sequences they have in their hands. Payments can vary according to prior agreement: Yishin Cho suggests a payment of ¼ stake for each seven, set or sequence, from each of the four players (other than the dealer) who chose to play, so that a player forced to drop out receives a total of 1 unit for each seven, set or sequence. Players who choose to drop out when they could have played cannot claim compensation. After the compensation payments if any have been made, the hands of the players who dropped out are given to the dealer and shuffled back into the stock.
Max points for knocking: The maximum number of points with which you can knock varies from place to place and with the number of players. Some options are:
- 7 points for 2 people, 10 points for 3 people, 15 points for 4 people
- 5 points for 2 people, 15 points for 3 people, 21 points for 4 people
- 5 points for 2 people, 10 points for 3 people, 15 points for 4 people, 21 points for 5 people
- 5 points regardless the number of players
- 4 points regardless of the number of players
Hoola doubles: Some play that if a player goes out with a Perfect (or Hoola) then the next round is played for double stakes. If that is also won with a Perfect hand, the stakes for the following round are doubled again (four times the original stake) and so on.
Jokers: Hoola is sometimes played with one or two jokers, which are used as wild cards - in other words they can be used as a substitute for any needed card when putting down a meld. There are various alternative ways to count jokers remaining in a player's hand when the round ends:
- A joker counts 0 points, but doubles the points for the remainder of the hand. Two jokers multiply the points by 4. (This is the recommended option.)
- A joker counts 0 points, but quintuples penalty points for the rest of the hand (as in Seven Bridge)
- A joker counts 0 points, and has no effect on other points.
- A joker counts 14 points, and triples points in the rest of the hand. Two jokers would count 28 points total and multiply the rest of the hand by 9.
- A joker counts 20 points, and has no effect on other points.
- A joker counts 30 points, and has no effect on other points.
Direction of play: Occasionally the game is played clockwise, rather than counter-clockwise.
Undercut penalty: Some play that if a player stops the game by knocking and is undercut by another player having the same number of points or fewer, then the player who stopped the game must pay an agreed fixed penalty to each opponent - for example 5 stakes - and there are no other payments.