The Great Exchange Revisited: Alternate Cash-Game Rules for Cursed Court

Cursed Court’s rulebook contains four sets of alternate rules. One of them, “The Great Exchange,” proposes rules for playing a banked, continuous cash game of Cursed Court. It’s played similar to the way poker is played: hand after hand in many-game sessions, with players wagering, winning, and losing money to each other over dozens of short game-length skirmishes.

There is a drawback to “The Great Exchange” that allows players with more money to easily prevail over players with less money, by simply making huge bets that can’t be matched, to take over the most-obvious board locations.

A similar drawback theoretically affects poker. The player with the most money at their disposal can prevail over any player — even one with a superior hand — by simply betting more money than the poorer player can wager.

However, the “table stakes” and “all in” rules by which poker is actually played in every serious setting prevent infinite escalation. Basically, poker players in these games can’t be forced out of a hand by running them out of chips. Players who’d run out of chips can go “all in,” betting all of their remaining money. Such players are “punished” for the shortfall because they’re only eligible to win amounts up to the amount they were able to call. If the subject interests you and you’d like more detail, the Wikipedia entry “Betting in poker” has a useful summary of table stakes rules, including the all in rules.

The same principle can fix the problem with “The Great Exchange.” Here we present rules for such an alternate ruleset, “The Golden Exchange.”

The Golden Exchange

Win and lose your influence coins in an improved version of "The Great Exchange.”

Players must provide a set of poker chips, which are used in the place of coins, but in the same way coins are normally used. Chips of equivalent value are assumed by these rules, but chips in multiple colors can also be used to represent different denominations.

At the beginning of a session — which will last as many games (i.e., years) as the players wish to play — each player pays a bank at least enough to purchase a minimum stake of chips. A minimum stake of at least 100 chips is recommended, but players may buy more if they wish.

The value of a chip is fixed for an entire session. A nickel or dime per chip is a good value for a modest game, but playing for a penny per chip, a quarter per chip, or even a dollar per chip is conceivable.

During play, players may place any number of chips — up to and including all the chips they have left — under any crown they wager.

If at any time a player is bumped from a space where they’ve already placed a crown, and the bumped player doesn’t have enough chips left that they would be able to double the bumping player’s bet, the bumped player is allowed to go “all in.”

This option arises immediately — that is, out of turn order, before the next player’s turn — and must be taken or allowed to pass before the next player’s turn.

Going all in allows a player to put all of their remaining chips on the space from which they were bumped, with an upside-down crown on top of that stack. Those players — bumper and bumped — both score the full amount of points from that space at the end of the game.

It is possible for more than two players to wind up sharing a space in this way, if a series of players go all in based on a series of overwhelming bets.

As is probably obvious, any all-in player plays the balance of that game at a disadvantage, having no chips left to secure or defend the best locations.

Score markers are not used in “The Golden Exchange.” Rather, at the end of each year, all of the chips wagered in that year are divided into three piles. The player who scored the most points collects two of those piles (i.e., two-thirds of the total) and the player who scored the second-most collects one pile (i.e., one-third of the total). If the total won’t divide evenly into thirds, excess chips go to the first-place winner.

If several players tie for the most points, those players split all of the chips evenly, and no second-place award is paid. If there is one first-place winner and several players tie for the second-most points, the tied players divide the second-place share evenly between themselves. Where ties occur and it’s not possible to divide evenly, excess chips remain in the pot for the next game.

Chips collected by winners and second-place finishers remain in those players’ stockpiles and are available for their use in future games. All players take back a set of crowns at the end of each game.

Between games, players already in the session may buy additional chips in any quantity, whether they are out of chips or not. New players may also join the session by buying in the same way the original players did. Players may never buy chips in the middle of a game, however, nor may new players join in the middle of a game.

The first-player marker advances between games per the normal rules. That is, the marker advances between games unless there are exactly four players playing, in which case it does not advance.

“Table stakes” rules common in poker are in effect in “The Golden Exchange.” That is, players may leave the session by returning their chips and taking the appropriate amount of cash from the bank. However, players may not leave a session and then return to it, unless the entire group agrees. This prevents players from unjustly protecting their winnings by leaving the game only to shortly return with a smaller bankroll.

As long as there are always between two and six players per game, games within a session of “The Golden Exchange” can continue indefinitely. If more than six players want to participate in an ongoing session, players can take turns sitting out of games.

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