Nine-card brag is a card game for two to four players that uses a slightly modified version of the hand ranking system in three-card brag, a British card game similar to poker. Players typically wager a token amount of money, but you can also play using a point system.
Choose a player to be the first dealer. In most games, this is done by dealing a single card to each player, with the highest card designating the dealer. Players put antes into the pot and the dealer gives each player nine cards face-down. After each round, the deal rotates to the left.
If you have any four of a kind, you win the hand immediately. If another player also has four of a kind, the player with the higher four of a kind wins. Four 9s are the highest hand. All other hands follow standard poker rankings. If no player has four of a kind, but someone has four pairs (a hand that is typically weak when divided into three brags in the next stage of play), he can show his hand and “save the game.” This means players pay an additional ante and the cards are redealt.
Organize your nine cards into three-card hands called “brags.” Beginning with the player to the dealer's left, players reveal their best brag. The player with the highest brag wins the hand. A tie is won by the first player to show his brag. Players reveal their second and third brags in the same way, starting with the player who won the previous hand. If you win two hands, you win the pot. Otherwise the pot carries over into the next round.
A prial (three of a kind) is the best hand in nine-card brag. Three 9s are best, and other prials follow poker hand order. A running flush (three consecutive cards of the same suit) is the next best hand, followed by a run (three consecutive cards). An ace can be either high or low card in runs. The fourth best hand is a flush, then a pair and finally a high card.
You can also use points to keep score, rather than betting. Before the game begins, set a winning point total. You receive three points when you win with four of a kind and one point when you show four pairs. If the hand makes it to the brag stage, you receive one point for each hand won and a bonus point for winning all three hands.
Ben Joseph attended the University of Florida and received a B.A. in religious studies. He now lives North Carolina and has worked as a freelance writer for two years.