Rules for the Card Game Smear

By Lisa Roberts

Smear, also known as Schmier, is a four-person, trick-taking card game similar to the game Pitch. The object is to be the first team to reach 21 points. Several different variations of this game exist. These rules are for the original Minnesota Smear.

Trump Card Ranking

Cards are ranked in the following highest to lowest order: ace, king, queen, jack, jick, high joker, low joker, 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, and two. A jick is the opposite jack of the same color as the trump suit. For example, if the trump suit is hearts then the jick is the jack of diamonds. The jokers are used as extra trump cards. If they are both played on the same trick, the first joker played beats the second.

Deal

The dealer rotates clockwise each hand. Dealing three cards at a time, the dealer gives each player a total of nine cards. The dealer also places four cards in the middle of the table. These four cards are called the “kitty.” The kitty is used during the bidding phase of the game. When a player has only non-scoring cards in his hand, a misdeal may be called. The current dealer shuffles and redeals the cards. Non-scoring cards are threes through nines of any suit including the trump.

Bidding Rules

The player to the left of the dealer begins with the first bid ranging from two to four points. Moving around the table clockwise, each subsequent player must bid a higher point number or pass. The highest bidder receives the kitty and selects the trump suit. After knowing which suit is the trump, all players discard non-trump cards until they hold six cards in their hands. No scoring trump cards may be discarded. If a player has more than six trump cards in her hand, non-scoring trump cards may be discarded. Each player starts the game with six cards in her hand.

Playing the Hand

The highest bidder starts the round. A non-trump card may lead on the first trick. Players must follow the same suit if possible. If the player does not have the suit led, then any card, including a trump may be played. The team playing the highest ranking card during that round takes the trick. All tricks taken must be placed face down on the table.

Round Points

Four points are awarded each hand. The “high point” is won by the team who played the trump suit ace. The “low point” is won by the team who plays the two of the trump suit. The “jack point” goes to the team who took the trick containing the jack of the trump suit. The “game point” is awarded to the team with the most card points in their taken tricks. Card points are awarded as follows: Ace is worth four points, king is three points, queen is two points, jack is one point, and a 10 is worth 10 points.

Scoring

At the end of each hand, the teams score the number of points they won on that round. There is no penalty for going over your bid. If the bid was not reached then the score would be negative the amount bid. For example, if the team bid five, but only took four points then their score would be a negative five for that round. If a team passes instead of bidding, they may still score the points won on that hand.

Shooting the Moon

Shooting the moon requires a player to first announce their intention to “shoot the moon.” Once announcedm the player must take every point listed in the scoring section. If any point is missed, the team loses the game. If successful and the team had a positive score prior to this hand, they have won the game. If successful and the team had a negative score, then their score is reset to zero.

Variations of Smear

The biggest difference between the various types of Smear is the awarding of round points. Jokers, jacks, and jicks are awarded a single round point during each hand. The awarding of these round points increases the amount available to bid and the opportunity for upset.

About the Author

Lisa Roberts embarked on a writing career after 10 years in human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree in human resources and marketing from Baylor University and has worked in the education field for more than 12 years.