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|Tong its (play now) is a popular Filipino rummy card game. Originating in the northern Philippines, the game was brought to the United States in the mid-90's and was quickly adopted on college campuses. It offered a new alternative to long time favorites pusoy dos and spades.|
Tong its is a three player game. The dealer deals 12 cards to the players counter clockwise starting with herself and then deals an extra card to herself for a total of thirteen. The remaining cards in the deck are placed in the center of the table.
The dealer always starts the play. She can either open by dropping at least a three-card straight flush (3 cards of the same suit) or by dropping at least a three of a kind (also know as a trio). She can drop a straight flush with more than three cards if she chooses to. To drop a hand, you place the cards face up in front of you. After she drops at least a trio or 3 card straight flush, cannot drop either, or doesn't want to open, she has to discard one card face up to the center of the table. Once she discards a card her turn is completed and the play moves to the next player, which is the player to the right.
Note: Aces can only be used in low straights.
This next player can either pick up the discarded
card or she can pick a card from the deck. If the player chooses to pick
up the discarded card she has to open her hand by either dropping at least
a three card straight flush or a trio with the card she just picked up.
If she picks a card from the deck and completes a hand by either completing
a three card straight or a trio she is not obligated to open.
During her turn, the player also has the option to connect (sapow) to any set of face up cards, either her open cards or the other players. She can connect by extending a straight flush by one or more or by adding a card to a trio making a 4 of a kind. To connect, you place your card face up next to the cards you are connecting to. In the case of straight flushes, other players can connect to the card you connected with when it is their turn to play.
When she is done either dropping cards or connecting, she must discard one card to the center of the table to end her turn.
When you are holding a completed hand, you do not have to drop it unless you picked up a discarded card. However it is usually a good idea to drop at least one competed hand to discourage other players from calling draw (explained more later).
If you are holding a trio you can pick up a discarded card to make a four of a kind but you have to drop the completed hand in front of you.
You can connect to as many dropped hands as you choose. Moreover you can connect one or more cards to a dropped straight flush.
You cannot pick up a discarded card and connect it.