Turtle Butt
Designed by P.D. Magnus, David L. Van Slyke and Cristyn Magnus
Players 2-6
Length ?
Extra Material None

a family of push-your-luck Decktet games for 2 to 6 players

This page only remains here as a historical curiosity. The game developed into Terrapin, a family of betting games. Turtle Soup is a brinksmanship game that also uses the idea of a hand being 'Turtle Butt.'

'Turtle Butt' is when a hand of cards includes at least one instance of each of the six Decktet suits. Since the numbered cards have two suits each, it is possible to get Turtle Butt with as few as three cards. It is also possible (although unlikely) to take twenty-six cards without getting Turtle Butt. How lucky are you feeling?

There are several different Turtle Butt games. The simplest is the basic game, in which you try to score points by accumulating good cards without getting Turtle Butt.

In the basic game, there are three face up cards that are shared by all players. Players also have face up cards that are theirs alone. You can choose to stop at any time to score points for whatever your cards are worth, or you can take more cards in hopes of a higher score. If you take too many cards, though, you risk getting Turtle Butt and scoring no points at all.

Other Turtle Butt games use many of the same rules as the basic game, while adding rules for more player interaction. In the rococo game, for example, only the player with the best hand can score any points in a round. In the liar's game, there is only one hand and only one player can see it at a time.

The basic game

A hand begins with the dealer shuffling the deck and dealing out three cards in the center of the table.

If the three cards show all six suits, then the dealer should set them aside and deal three new shared cards. This will happen, for example, if the three cards are all of the same numbered rank.

Once the shared cards are dealt, the player to the dealer's left is given the choice of taking a card or stopping. If the player chooses to take a card, then it is dealt face up in front of them. If the player's card and the shared card together show all six suits, the player has Turtle Butt, is forced to stop, and will not score any points for the hand.

The dealer then continues around the table clockwise, offering the same choice to every player. Once the dealer has either taken a card or chosen to stop, the process repeats. Any players who have not stopped have the choice of taking another card or stopping.

Players who have stopped in a hand (either by choice or by getting Turtle Butt) may not rejoin the hand later and take further cards. If the deck is exhausted before every player stops, then remaining players are treated as if they had chosen to stop.

Players who got Turtle Butt score no points for the hand.

Players who chose to stop score points for pairs, larger sets, and straights. The shared cards and the player's personal cards are considered together for scoring.

Number cards: Each pair of number cards is worth the rank of the card. For example: A pair of 3s is worth 3 points.

**Aces and Crowns: **Matching Aces or Crowns are worth points depending on the number of matching cards.

* Pair: 1 point
* Three of a kind: 5 points
* Four of a kind: 10 points
* Five of a kind: 20 points

For example: If a player has both a pair of Aces and a pair of Crowns, then they count for 2 points (1 point each).


Longest Run: A player with two or more cards in rank order scores points for a run: 1 point for each card in the longest straight that can be made from the cards. Aces are treated as being before 2s. Crowns are treated as being after 9s. Runs do not 'wrap around.' The cards for a run do not need to have been dealt in sequence. They may be rearranged for scoring. A player can only score points for one run in any given hand, even if they have more than one run of the same longest length.

For example: The shared cards are a 7, a 3, and a Crown. You opt to take a card and get a 6. You take another card and get another 6. You take a third card: another Crown. If you stop now, you would score 9 points. (6 for the pair of 6s. 2 for the run 6-7. 1 for the pair of Crowns.)

Once the hand has been scored, the player to the dealer's left becomes the new dealer and a new hand begins. Points are added up from hand to hand. You may play to a predetermined target number of points or for a predetermined number of hands.

In the course of play, the usual jargon for card games can be used. When you ask the dealer for a card, you can say: "Hit me." When you choose to stop: "I'll stay." But when a player collects all six suits, you really should announce "Turtle Butt!"

The rococo game

The rococo game adds more player interaction. Only the player with the highest scoring hand can get points for that round. The points for winning the hand are determined by the outcome of a special scoring round, instead of by the card combinations in the player's hand.

After every player has stopped or gotten Turtle Butt, the player with the highest scoring hand enters a scoring round. The player may take one point for winning the hand or press their luck by taking another card. If the extra card gives them Turtle Butt, then the hand is over and they get no points. If it does not, then they may take two points for winning the hand or press their luck again. The scoring round continues until either they get Turtle Butt or decide not to take further cards. If they decide to stop, then they score one point plus one bonus point for each extra card they took during the scoring round.

The liar's game

In the liar's game, there is only one hand of cards, and only one player can see it at a time. You need to bluff the next player into either taking the hand or challenging you when the hand really has points in it. If you're challenged when the hand goes Turtle Butt, you're out. (Unlike other Turtle Butt games which are for 2 to 6 players, the liar's game can be played with groups of any size.)

The first player draws a hand of three cards, looks at them, and then may draw additional cards. Further cards are drawn one at a time, and the player may look at each one before deciding to draw another. When done drawing, the first player announces a score of one or more. The next player must either challenge the announcement or accept it.

If the next player challenges, then the first player shows the entire hand. If the cards score as many points as the player announced and are not Turtle Butt, then the second player (the challenger) is out of the game. If the cards are Turtle Butt or score fewer points than were claimed, the first player (the one challenged) is out of the game. After a challenge, the deck is shuffled and the next player a new hand. The next player will be the challenger (if the challenge went well for them) or the next player after that (if it did not).

If the second player accepts, then the first player gives the hand to the second player. After looking at the hand, they may draw further cards. When done drawing, they must announce a score greater than the score claimed for the hand by the previous player.

The next player then either challenges or accepts this announcement. Play continues until only one player remains.

The extended deck

If you want to spice up the game, you can add in the Excuse. Just shuffle it in at the beginning of the game.

The Excuse: The Excuse has no rank and does not contribute to scoring in any way. It has no suit and does not contribute to Turtle Butt.

Pawns:Pawns would make the game much riskier; each Pawn has three suits, meaning that just one card can take you from a safe hand with three suits to Turtle Butt. This skews the odds so much that it is best just to leave the Pawns out.


Design and development: David Van Slyke, P.D. Magnus, Cristyn Magnus



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