Auction Forty-Fives (aka One Hundred Twenty) is a popular card game throughout Canada. A direct descendant of the Irish game, Spoil Five, it’s particularly favored by Irish-Canadians in Nova Scotia. Like so many games that spread from one region of the world to another, not everyone plays by the same rules.
Over time, several common variations to the rules of Auction Forty-Fives have surfaced. In fact, in the original version, known simply as Forty-Fives, there is no bidding for tricks prior to the start of a hand, and the target score is 45 (hence the name). When bidding for trump was introduced, the name was altered to “Auction Forty-Fives”. As the bidding process became more and more popular, some began calling it “One Hundred Twenty”, since 120 is the target score in this edition.
Before I continue, the rule variations below assume that you already know how to play Auction Forty-Fives. If you’re not familiar with the rules, please refer to Canadian Forty-Five Rules before continuing.
Popular Forty-Five Rule Variations
I’ll start with rules of the original, no-bidding version of Forty-Fives. Normally the second-hand version would be the “variant”, but the original game’s popularity fell far enough that it’s now considered a variant of the more popular bidding game.
Original Forty-Fives (No Auction)
This version can be played by 2, 4 or 6 players. In 4 or 6 player games, partnerships are used to develop 2 teams, with 2 or 3 players each. Team players must alternate seating.
The dealing and rank of cards are the same, but there’s no bid and no draw phase after. Once all cards are dealt, the next card in the deck is placed face up on top of the deck. The suit of this card becomes trump.
If the face up card is an Ace, the dealer has the option of taking this card, then discarding any other card from his hand. If any other player has the Ace of trump in his hand, he has the option of discarding the Ace in favor of the face up card.
The player to the left of the dealer will lead to the first trick. All traditional rules apply at this point, right up until time to take score.
When the hand is finished, only the team who captures the most tricks will earn score. Capturing 3 or 4 tricks is worth 5 points. Capturing all 5 tricks awards 10 points. A new hand is dealt, and the game continues until a team scores 45 points – the target score to win.
Dealer Robs the Pack
One common variation to the rules of Auction Forty-Fives is to let the dealer “rob the pack” during the Draw Phase. Instead of discarding and drawing new cards like the rest of the players, the dealer can search through the remainder of the deck and take whichever cards he wants. This rule is generally applied to 6 player games, when the remaining deck isn’t so full.
Handling of Misdeals
A misdeal can occur in one of three ways.
If any players receive too many or too few cards.
If the agreed upon order of the deal is not kept (3 then 2, or 2 then 3).
If a player’s card is exposed during the deal.
Normally, all cards will be immediately returned. The same dealer will reshuffle and deal again.
By some Auction Forty-Fives rule variations, players can be penalized, or even rewarded, for it.
If a misdeal is discovered before the first lead, it must be fixed. The player who is short or over will either draw to reach 5, or have the player to his right remove a random card and place it face down on the table.
If the misdeal is discovered after the first lead, but before the third trick is caught, the player’s hand is null and void. They must place it face down, and can no longer participate. If their team won the bid, it’s an automatic loss, and the bid is scored against them.
If, however, a player is dealt a misdeal, and it isn’t caught before the third trick is captured, that player automatically wins all 5 tricks!
Want to learn more? Check out our History of Forty-Fives and Action Forty-Fives Strategy pages.
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