There are several variations to the card game 31. For the core game rules, see this page.
West Lansing Cut-Throat
Three cards of the same number, regardless of suit, equal 30.5 points and beat all other hands except the blitz hand. All three-of-a-kind hands equal 30.5, regardless of card number.
Players set a minimum knocking score. For example, a player can’t knock unless their hand adds up to 17 or higher.
There is no free ride in the country. Once a player loses all his lives, he is out of the game entirely. He may not play one more round in hopes of gaining back a life.
After cards are dealt, the dealer looks at both the widow and his own hand, and chooses which he wants. The hand he doesn’t want becomes the widow.
Play continues the same as for 31 except for the following:
- If a player swaps one card with the widow hand, their discard must be placed face up. If they swap a face down card with the widow hand, their discard must be placed face down.
- If a player swaps their whole hand for the widow, they have the option to place their discarded hand face up or face down. If they place it face up, their turn is over. If they place it face down, their turn continues. Players may swap whole hands only once per turn.
After the cards are dealt, the player to the left of the dealer may call a “throw down” by revealing his hand. All other players must immediately show their cards, and scoring commences. No one may draw cards or exchange with the widow. The throw down is treated like knocking, but without the added penalty if the person who throws down gets the lowest score. A player may only throw down if he has not looked at his hand yet.
Ride the Bus
Instead of losing lives, players start out seated at the back of the bus. As they lose rounds, they move toward the front of the bus in the following sequence:
- Stand at the back of the bus.
- Stand in the middle of the bus.
- Stand in the front of the bus.
- Stand on the stairs.
Being on the stairs is equivalent to being in the country. If you lose while on the stairs, you are “off the bus,” or out of the game.
The player with the highest score is awarded one point instead of his total score. If there is a tie, the player who didn’t knock gets the point. If there is a tie and neither player knocked, they both get a point. Players with the lowest score lose a point. If that player knocked, they lose two points. If a player blitzes, they gain one point immediately, and the round is over. Play continues until someone reaches 31 points.