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Especially favored within the Free Worlds League, Four-Card Drax is a card game that is played in the Inner Sphere for both casual entertainment as well as for prize money such as in tournaments and casinos.
Four-Card Drax appears to have evolved from the poker family of card games sometime after the 20th century, even pre-dating the formation of the Free Worlds League. It is known to be popular in the Free Worlds League Military and is simple enough for amateur play, such as among soldiers in their downtime, while at the same time lends itself very well to high-stakes gambling. The so-called "Gambler's World" of Kyeinnisan has several casinos which host high-stakes games of Four-Card Drax. The sudden shifts of fortune possible in the game make Drax quite suspenseful demanding alertness from the participants.
On Kyeinnisan pots of 5,000 C-Bills are not uncommon and stories abound of numerous high value items such as BattleMechs being won and lost on a hand of Drax, but few stories are greater than scruffling rogue Corey Chang who won control of Highpoint Traders after the previous president Hugo Schmatz placed its ownership on the table during a high-stakes game of Four-Card Drax at the infamous Cave on Kyeinnisan in 3020. Popular myth holds that Schmatz remains there to this day trying to improve his game and win his company back.
Four-Card Drax has gameplay somewhat similar to traditional poker. The deck consists of fifty-two plascards, divided into four suits: House Marik, House Steiner, House Kurita, and House Davion. Cards rank, from low to high : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Lancer, Rifleman, Regent.
Gameplay consists of rounds, each round consisting of five turns. Each round, players receive a starting "hole" card dealt face down which may be used to assemble a hand. After each player receives an face-up card per turn, there is a round of betting, though a player may fold and forfeit their contributions to the pot if they do not perceive adequate value in their hand, permitting a degree of strategy and bluffing in the course of play. At the end of each round, any players still challenging each other after five turns must show their full hands for scoring. However, if a player wins the round due to the other players folding, the winning player is not obligated to reveal their hole card. Hands are judged on their rank, the three top cards - the Lancer, Rifleman and Regent - have no value in themselves but charge the value of the cards in the player's hand:
|Regent||All cards increase value by one|
|Rifleman||All cards decrease value by one|
|Lancer of House Marik or Kurita||All cards decrease value by one|
|Lancer of House Steiner or Davion||All cards decrease value by one|
If a player receives a Lancer, Rifleman, or Regent as a hole card, he keeps it face down; it will affect his cards as given above. If he receives one of these cards face up, he sets it aside and receives another card. He will continue setting any of these cards aside until he receives a normal number card. However these cards, although set aside, will still affect his hand; he is obliged to keep them in sight where other players can see them.
The effects of the Lancer, Rifleman and Regent cards' effects are cumulative. For example, if the player receives two Regents, all cards in his hand will increase by two. When a Regent, Rifleman, or Lancer pushes a card over 10 or below 1, the card's value goes "round the corner", from 1 to 10 or from 10 to 1.
|From low to high|
|Three of a kind|
|Sequence of four, mixed suits|
|Drax (Sequence of four, same suit)|
|Four of a kind|
If the hands of two or more people have the same rank, the higher cards win. For example, if two people have four of a kind, four 9s will win over four 3s. If nobody has at least one pair, the highest card wins.
- House Marik (The Free Worlds League), p. 120: "Culture and Arts - Crime and Punishment - Four-Card Drax"
- Star Lord, Ch. 22
- House Marik (The Free Worlds League), p. 151: "Personalities - Corey Chang"