A card game popular in the Northern Steadfast and parts of the Beyond.
Using a standard 52 card poker deck, the dealer deals each player five cards. The remaining cards become the draw pile. The top card from the draw pile is placed face up next to the draw pile to become the discard pile.
Value of the cards
Each face card [jack, queen, or king] is worth 10, aces are worth 1, and all other cards have a value equal to their number, e.g. a Three of Spades is worth 3.
Determine the amount of the payoff
This can be whatever the players wish, i.e. a chip, a quarter, 10 jellybeans, nothing, etc.
Immediately after the deal, all players check for TONK. A player has TONK if the total of the cards in their hands is 15 or less, or greater than 48, i.e. 49 or 50. If any person has TONK now, they must yell “Tonk!” and drop their cards to show the other players. Each of the players that doesn’t have TONK must pay the player(s) with TONK twice the agreed upon payoff. If no players have TONK, then normal play proceeds with the player to the left of the dealer. (A player can only get TONK immediately after cards have been dealt. Later in the game, the value of their hands may be less than 15 or greater than 48, but it isn’t a TONK.)
Once play has begun, a player has two paths to choose from, and can choose one or the other, but not both during their current turn. The first path is called “Going Down,” and it is an attempt to win the game, the second path is normal play.
Path Number One
To go down, the player drops his/her cards announcing the total value of the hand. If that player has the LOWEST point value, he/she wins, and all other players must pay him/her the payoff amount. If, however, he/she doesn’t have the lowest point value, then he/she must pay each player who has a point value that is equal or lower than his/her own, DOUBLE the payoff. Everyone else must pay the person, or persons in case of ties, with the lowest total the normal payoff amount.
Path Number Two
In the second path, the player must take either the top card from the draw pile or the top card from the discard pile into his/her hand. Afterwards, if he/she has three of a kind, four of a kind, or a spread of three or more cards of the same suit in numerical order [order is Ace Two Three…Ten Jack Queen King] (like a straight flush) he/she may put those cards out of his/her hand in front of him/her. Cards put out in this manner no longer count towards the total value of the player’s hand. Also, a player may add to any spreads already on the table at either end of the spread, even those in front of other players.
A player may not add to threes (or fours) of a kind already on the table, only spreads. If a player manages to get rid of all his/her cards during his/her turn, he/she has won the game and all other players pay him/her the payoff. If any cards remain in his/her hand, the player must discard a card onto the discard pile. If discarding leaves the player with no cards, he/she wins. If he/she still has cards, play proceeds to the next player.
If you put down a new spread, you cannot drop on any of your next three turns; you must wait until the start of your fourth turn after putting down your book or run before you are allowed to drop. This is to make it less easy for the first person who puts down, reducing their hand to two cards, to win simply by dropping at their next turn when the other player(s) still have five cards.
If you “hit” someone by adding a card to their spread, they cannot drop in their next turn; they must wait until the start of their second turn after you hit them before they are allowed to drop. This provides a way of delaying someone you think is about to drop until you can improve your own hand. Also, if you hit your own spread, then you yourself cannot drop at your next turn, but must wait another turn.
Waiting is cumulative; if you put down a spread and are then hit, or if you are hit twice, you add together the number of rounds you have to wait.
Waiting does not stop you from winning by getting rid of all your cards – any time that you have no cards in your hand, you automatically win without needing to drop.
Credit to bsfs.