The standard 52 card deck is used.
Standard ranking of A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
Be the first to obtain 11 (red and white) chips while minimizing blue chips. (note: some games are played to 15 chips.)
The cards are dealt 3 at a time to each player until each player has 6 cards (see Kitty Variants for special deal rules). The deal rotates clockwise after each hand. (note: All rotations in Shmear are clockwise.)
A maximum of 4 Shmear Points are available per hand:
- One Point for High for bringing home the highest trump
- One Point for Low to the player who plays lowest trump (not exactly the case in our Pitch Variation)
- One Point for Jack to the player who brings home (a.k.a. 'captures') the jack of trump
One Point for Game is calculated at the end of the hand. Each card has a value, and each player counts the total value of the cards they have taken. The player with the greatest total wins Game (not awarded in event of a tie). The card values are:
- Each Ten 10 points
- Each Ace 4 points
- Each King 3 points
- Each Queen 2 points
- Each Jack 1 point
- All other 0 points
(note: There are a total of 80 card points available.)
Even though it is possible to lose points in Shmear, a player’s Score can never be less than Zero chips.
Each bid represents the number of Shmear Points that a player plans to win from the cards in their hand. The minimum bid is 2 and the highest bid is 4 (see Shooting the Moon). Bidding begins at dealer's left and goes around the table once. A bid must be greater than the highest previous bid or the player must pass. The player with the highest bid names the trump suit.
If all players pass, the dealer is given the choice of playing out the hand or forfeiting the deal. If the dealer plays out the hand they either bid 2 or Shoot the Moon (see below). If the dealer forfeits the deal then they lose 2 chips, gain 1 blue chip and the next player deals. It is wise to forfeit the deal if another player is close to winning the game
The winner of the bid leads a card (whose suit becomes the new trump suit). Each player (in-turn) must follow suit unless they have no trump cards. At the end of the trick, the player who played the highest ranked trump card (see Rankings) wins the opening trick and captures all of his/her opponent’s cards that were played in that round.
The winner begins the next round by playing one of their remaining cards. Each player (in-turn) must play a card of the same suit or play a trump. If a player does not have a lead-suit or trump card then they may play any of the remaining cards in their hand. At the end of the trick, the player who played the highest ranked card in the lead suit (see Rankings) wins the trick and captures his/her opponent’s cards. However, if a trump card is played then the player with the highest ranked trump card wins the trick. This process continues until all cards have been played all of their cards (6 tricks).
After the hand is completed the high bidder adds up the number of Shmear Points they’ve won. If they’ve won at least as many Shmear Points as they bid, they earn a chip for each Shmear Point they’ve won (can be more than the bid). If they’ve won fewer Shmear Points than bid, they lose the number of Shmear Points bid and receive a blue chip (also called a “smuck”). Opponents always get a chip for each Shmear Point they have won.
The process of Bidding, Playing, and Scoring is continued until a player has enough chips to win the game (15 chips). The deal is passed clockwise.
Shooting the Moon!!!
On the very first hand of a game or anytime a player has at least one chip they may Shoot the Moon when bidding. Shooting the Moon is the highest bid. A player may shoot the moon even if another player bids 4 Shmear Points ahead of them.
If the Shooter wins all 4 Shmear Points they win the game. If the Shooter does not win all 4 Shmear Points, the Shooter loses all their red and white chips and earns 2 blue chips. If a player Shoots the Moon they must play their original 6 cards and may not swap, use the kitty or draw any cards. If a player Shoots the Moon in Crazy Shmear then the Regulator Shmear rules are in effect. The Shooter does not get a partner and every player may earn Shmear Points under the Regulator Shmear rules.
The winner is the first player to reach 11 or more (red and white) chips. If more than one player has at least 11 chips, the winner is the player who just bid (regardless of which player has more chips). In the rare case when two or more players have 11 or more chips and the bidder didn’t make his/her bid, the winner is the player with more chips. In this rare case, if the tying players have the same number of chips then the game is a draw.