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Tonk Play, also known as Tunk is a kind of knock Rummy or variation of Gin Rummy. A standard 52 card deck is used, without jokers. The cards have values as follows: picture cards count 10 points, aces count 1 point and other cards count face value.
In Tonk Play five cards are dealt to each player. The next card is placed face up on the table to start the discard pile, and the remaining un-dealt cards are placed face down in a stack beside the discard pile to form the stock.
Any player whose initial hand contains 49 or 50 points must declare this immediately and show their cards: this is sometimes known as a "tonk". In this case the hand is not played and the player with 49 or 50 is paid twice the basic stake by each of the other players. If more than one player has 49 or 50, the hand is a draw - there are no payments, the cards are thrown in and the next player deals.
The aim is, by drawing and discarding, to form your cards into spreads, which can be books of 3 or 4 equal ranked cards or runs of 3 or more cards in suit, or to dispose of your cards by adding them to existing spreads (Hitting). You win if you manage to get rid of all of your cards, or if you have the lowest value of unmatched cards when someone stops the play.
In theory any number can play, but it is widely agreed that Tonk Play is best for two or three players, maybe four. Since there is some scope for hustling collusion when more than two people play, some prefer to play with two players only.
Tonk Play is usually played for money. Before beginning, the players should agree on the basic stake (the amount which the winner of each hand will normally be paid by each of the other players). In certain cases the winner can win a double stake - this is generally known as a tonk.
The cards are cut to decide who should deal first. The highest card deals; if there are more than two players the player who cut the next highest card sits to the dealer's left, and so on around. If a new player joins a game that is underway, the new player sits to the dealer's right.
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Tonk Play is a popular pastime for lunch breaks and family game nights.