The rules of Pit are oddly contradictory. For n players choose n commonities, add in the Bull and Bear, shuffle and deal out the cards. The rules state that everyone gets 9 cards. Doh! With the Bull and the Bear added in that doesn't work.

The way we reconcile this is two people have 10 cards which gives them a significant advantage, e.g. they can simply hold a single card of a commodity to effectively eliminate whoever ends up going for that commodity.

Are there better solutions to this?

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The rules in my copy of the game note that two people get 10 cards. Generally these will be the two people left of the dealer.

You cannot call pit with the Bear in hand; you can call Pit with a Bull and 8 copies of a commodity. If you call Pit with a Bull and all 9 copies you get double points for that commodity.

Of note, it is courteous to remind people that they have 10 cards in hand but only need 9 of a commodity. New players often end up holding all 9 of a commodity while desperately looking for a phantom 10th because they are used to seeing their entire hand match.

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It's gone through a lot of runs. I know my rules are contradictory. :) We've had kids do exactly what you described (I just need one more but I can't find it anywhere!). lol – John Robertson Mar 7 '11 at 18:01
Yeah every time I see a box of Pit it is always another printing. The commodity types and scores change from version to version as well. – MrHen Mar 7 '11 at 18:35

Deal 9 cards to each player, leaving the last two face down. (These leftovers are called the "widow" in some games.) That means that a complete set of 9 can't be completed for two of the sets in the game. A player can call a corner while holding 8 cards if he willing to gamble that the 9th is out of play. After corner is called, check to see if the 9th is in the widow. If it is, the score is as normal. If it's not, the person holding it gets a bonus (+20) and the person calling the false corner gets a penalty (-20).

We always played with spoons. In the middle of the table, one fewer spoons than the number of players. Once somebody gets a corner he quietly picks up one spoon. As they notice, other players pick one up until there are none left, leaving one player out. Everyone with a spoon gets 20 points. Note that it's excellent form to continue to pretend to trade after you've picked up your spoon, leaving the unobservant desperately trying to improve his hand while everyone else snickers behind their cards. Double hilarity if two players continue to trade with one spoon left on the table.

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Another option (for BULL & BEAR) -

Include both the Bull and Bear cards - AND 7 random cards of one complete commodity set of 9. Thus two cards which are two different commodities would be discarded when using the Bull & Bear card. Thus no one will know which other commodities have an extra card.

All players will have TEN cards at all times. But you just need a set of 9 to win/corner the market. And the normal Bull and Bear point rules apply. So having Bull card the player gains bonus points. Having the Bear card the player minus points. And having both Bull & Bear loose double points. And obvious there are two commodities that could not be finished unless you had the BULL card.

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Have the Bull and the Bear cards constantly being passed faced down (clockwise) as you trade the other cards/commodities with all players. Bull & Bear cards go around like ring a round the rosy. You are NOT allowed to have both BULL & BEAR at the same time. If you have the Bull or Bear card, you can briefly hold it, but you must immediately pass it to the player on your left (clockwise) when the player to your right passes the other Bull or Bear card to you. Thus the Bear & Bull cards are being passed continually in a circular motion.. - You could choose to glance at these cards as they pass through you with which to remember where they are. ---- Then when any player corners the market with a set of all 9 of one, the game stops, and the player holding the Bull card receives an automatic point bonus (of 25), and the player holding the Bear card gets a automatic subtraction of points (for example minus 10). Note: if you are passed the Bear card but you are still holding the Bull card when someone corners the market (rings the bell/end of the round) then you receive a penalty of minus 50 points for having both Bear & Bull cards.

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This doesn't seem to answer the question. – Philip Kendall Dec 31 '14 at 17:33

In the group where I've often played Pit, we discarded the Bull and Bear cards before shuffling. It makes the game simpler and better, in my humble opinion.

That being said, we can still debate which is the best solution if you do want to keep those cards. MrHen's solution may well win that honour. A different option would be to discard two cards at random every time you deal. The advantage is that the playing field is level; however, there are up to two commodities that cannot be completed. But in this version, all players are equally likely to be affected.

I could see a few variants of this variant:

1. Make the discarded cards secret. At the end of every round people are going to be frustrated that their chosen commodity was unwinnable.

2. Make the discarded cards public. Now all commodities of the discarded type are effectively Bear cards.

3. Start a timer for (say) 30 seconds when the round starts. At the end, if no one has won yet, play is interrupted and one of the discarded cards is made public. Players try not to give away that they were close to finalizing a "doomed" commodity. Play continues for another 30 seconds and is interrupted again to make the last card public. Chaos ensues.

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I personally like the Bull and Bear cards. We usually play at least one round per player at the table and count up the scores at the end so 2 people having 10 cards each round evens out. – MrHen Mar 7 '11 at 19:19
(Unrelated from my other comment) Discarding a few cards secretly may be worse than adding extra cards from unused commodities to even out the hand totals again. – MrHen Mar 7 '11 at 19:21