is a fast-paced card game
for three to eight players, designed to simulate open outcry bidding for commodities
. The game was developed for Parker Brothers
and first sold in 1904. This popular version of the game was developed by Edgar Cayce
, who would also become famous for his psychic predictions.
The inspiration was the US Corn Exchange and it was likely based on the very successful game Gavitt's Stock Exchange, invented in 1903 by Harry E. Gavitt of Topeka, Kansas (and reprinted in 2004 in an authentic "heirloom" edition by Out of the Box Publishing).
Each deck consist of 74 cards: Nine cards each of eight different commodity types. The specific commodities have varied over the various editions of the game, but those used in most modern editions are: Barley
, or Wheat
. Two special cards are also included, the Bull
and the Bear
The number of commodities included in each round is equal to the number of players. Each player is dealt nine cards; two players get ten if the Bull and Bear are included.
Pit has no turns, and everyone plays at once. Players trade commodities among one another by each blindly exchanging one to four cards of the same type. The trading process involves calling out the number of cards one wishes to trade until another player holds out an equal number of cards. The two parties then exchange the cards facedown.
When a player has nine cards of the same commodity, he or she will call out "Corner on..." the commodity they have obtained, ending the round. (In deluxe editions of the game, a bell is rung instead.) That player then earns points equal to the number value of the commodity they "went out" with.
The Bull and the Bear
The Bull card is considered "wild" and can be used to complete any set or, if the player has the full nine cards as well as the Bull, double the score for that round. A player cannot win if they hold the Bear, and at the end of each round, the player holding the Bear and any losing player holding the Bull each lose 20 points.
The game ends when either a set number of rounds have been played, or when a player reaches a certain point total.
The original edition had only seven suits: Barley, Corn, Flax, Hay, Oats, Rye, and Wheat.
The 100th anniversary edition released in 2004 included a reproduction of the original edition, as well as a brand new edition that featured 8 "modernized" suits: gas, silver, rice, oil, cattle, gold, platinum, and cocoa.
Some newer versions still have 7 suits, but they are a little different: Barley, Corn, Oranges, Coffee, Sugar, Wheat, and Soybeans.
Other editions include Barley, Corn, Oranges, Coffee, Sugar, Wheat, Soybeans, and Oats, depending on whether the deluxe or normal version is used.
Phrases Often Used During Play
Chasing the bear : When one attempts to follow the progress of the bear after trading it away by watching the following trades. Going for a hay ride : When one attempts to pick up all of a commodity that one has little of, because one has traded enough of it back and forth that one has an idea where it is all located. Slip him/her the bull : When one trades the bull away, usually just before the game ends. Slip him/her the bear : When one trades the bear away, usually just before the game ends. The granary : A player's hand. Getting flaxed : Inadvertently acquiring an abundance of flax, the commodity with the lowest value. Flaxing out : Cornering the market
on flax. Bear Trap : Receipt of the Bear just preceding the ring of the bell to signify the game's end; doubly nasty if receipt of the Bear was part of the final trade that facilitated the winning hand.