One such card game called One-and-Thirty appeared in the mid 16th century and may have been the first example of the popular gambling card game known today as Black Jack. A later variant called Bone Ace developed from One-and-Thirty requiring a little more skill. However described below is the game play first for One-and-thirty followed by the slightly more difficult Bone Ace.
The play applied to One and Thirty and Bone Ace shows that a standard French-suited 52 card deck is used. A dealer is selected by the players cutting the deck and the lowest card chosen being that which identifies the dealer. A stake has to be agreed between the players before the game begins and this kitty is then kept in front of the players whilst the game is played. Three cards are dealt from the top of the pack by the dealer and placed faced down in front of each player. The aim of the game is for a player to reach thirty one points by adding up the totals on the cards they are given. Exceeding thirty one points puts a player out of the game. Point cards, that is those between one and ten equate to the number which identifies them, there is no record showing that an ace was worth anything other than a one, whilst picture cards were worth ten points. The first player to reach thirty one points wins, however if no one reaches thirty one the closest to it wins the pot. In the event of a tie the winner will be the eldest player, which suggests that age was privileged during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Although using the age discrimination in such a way ensured that a single winner was a certainty so that the pot was never shared.
The dealer then asks each player in turn, beginning with the oldest and working down to the youngest player whether they want an additional card or keep what they have. The actual terms used are “stick” or “have it”. Players who want to simply retain the cards they have without any additional ones will be passed over by the dealer while those who request another card or cards are dealt them from the bottom of the deck.
The difference between One-and-Thirty and Bone Ace is that with Bone Ace the last of the three cards dealt to each player is turned face up for all to see. In addition the Ace of Hearts is called the “Bone Ace”, and beats all other cards.
Bone Ace can be played by up to eight players and provides a slightly different approach to the more commonly played Black Jack.