Rules and Method of Play:
Pope Joan may be played by up to eight players, using a standard deck of 52 cards with the 8 removed. The circular game board is divided into eight compartments. The counters for the game can be chips or pennies, however you may substitute whatever stakes you wish for the counters.
Choose the first dealer, after which, each subsequent deal passes to the left. Each player dresses all compartments with two counters per compartment. Variation: The dealer dresses the board by placing six counters in "Pope 9", two each to "Matrimony" and "Intrigue", and one each to Ace, King, Queen, Jack and "Game".
After this step is complete, the dealer deals all the cards around to each player, and to one more extra hand for a dummy hand; the dummy hand to remain unrevealed throughout play. It doesn't matter if some have more cards than others. The last card dealt is turned up and establishes a “trump” suit. If it is an Ace, King, Queen or Jack, or “Pope 9", the dealer wins the counters in the respective compartments on the board; Variation: If "Pope" is turned up the dealer also wins the counters in "Game" and the cards are taken up without play, the board is dressed again and the deal is passed on.
The objective of the game is to win counters by playing cards that correspond to the labeled compartments, and to be the first to run out of cards.
The player to the dealers left leads by playing the lowest card he has of any suit he chooses. Ace is always the low card.
Whoever holds the next higher card of the same suit plays it next. This continues until no one is able to play and the sequence is stopped. A stop is any King, or any card that no one can follow. Whoever plays a stop card continues the game by playing the lowest card they have of any suit they choose.
Whoever plays the Ace, King, Queen or Jack of trumps, or "Pope", wins the counters in the appropriate compartment. Anyone playing both Jack and Queen of trumps in succession wins the contents of "Intrigue". Any one playing both the Queen and King of trumps in succession wins the contents of "Matrimony"; Variation: If the two cards are played from different hands sequentially, the contents are divided between the two players, additionally, "Pope" can only be played when the holder has the lead.
The first player to play all their cards wins the counters in Game, and also one counter from each player for each card they hold in their hand, except the holder of the unplayed "Pope" card, who is exempted from this payment; Variation: The player holding "Pope" pays double.
A game consists of several rounds. Unclaimed counters are carried forward to the next deal. It is possible for the "Matrimony" and "Intrigue" compartments to build up large quantities of counters.
At the end of the last round, if any compartment contains counters, the next person to deal deals the pack face up to all players, without a dead hand, the trump suit from the previous game is still in force. The players receiving the appropriate card empty compartments containing counters. The holder of Queen or King of trumps will also win half the counters in "Matrimony", while the holders of the Queen or Jack of trumps wins half the counters in "Intrigue".