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The best head's up games--verdict is in

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Saturday, 5 October 2013, at 12:22 p.m.

I come from a family of competitors. At age 4 I started playing War with my brothers and parents, and at 5 we played a card game called Casino. At 6 or 7 I learned Gin, and at 10, Scrabble and Backgammon (I'm now 68). In college I played Pitch, Klabiach, Gin, Hearts and Bridge every spare minute.

But after all those years of playing, two games have gone to the very top of my list for being the most exciting, challenging, and fun for heads up play:

Gin Rummy with the doubling cube, and backgammon with two cubes.

The rules for both are simple: in Gin you can cube before you draw, and we do play with beavers. A much more complicated form is to play a match, just like a backgammon match, where the first to reach 11 points wins the match (you get 1 point for a call, 2 for a gin or undercut, and the cube doubles everything if you take it.)

In backgammon, when you double or redouble, you give 2 cubes at once. If the player drops, he drops both cubes. If he takes, he takes only one cube, then the player who doubled rolls 1 die, and the taker then gets to decide whether to take or pass the second cube.

Again, I have found these to be the best games but I don't have a lot of people to play, so I am slowly teaching family and friends and hope to see more people try it so there will be more people out there ready to take my money.

Try it, you'll like it, and be sure to look me up if you're in Chicago.

As an aside, I have found more and more people to play Challenge-Gammon with me, and it is not only a great gambling game, but one of the most educational ways to play backgammon. We play on XG, and after every roll your opponent can challenge your play or cube decision. We generally bet \$10, and it works just like the cube...I can pass the challenge and just pay, or accept and we have a \$20 bet (we use ++ and the difference must be more than .02). Want to talk about sharpening your game! Now, if you don't have equally-skilled opponents, its easy to work out some kind of a spot (\$10 to \$7 for example).

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