LOO (formerly called " Lanterloo," Fr. lanturlu, the refrain of a popular 17th-century song), a round game of cards, played by any number of persons; from five to seven makes the best game. " Three-card loo " is the game usually played. An ordinary pack of fifty-two cards is used and the deal passes after each round. Each player must have the same number of deals; but if there is a " loo " (the sum forfeited by a player who plays, but does not win a trick) in the last deal of a round, the game continues till there is a hand without a loo. The dealer deals three cards face downwards, one by one, to each player and an extra hand called " miss," and turns up the top of the undealt cards for trumps. Each player contributes to the pool a sum previously agreed upon. The unit for a single stake should be divisible by three without a remainder, e.g. three counters or three pence. The players are bound to put in the stake before the deal is completed. Each player in rotation, beginning from the dealer's left, looks at his cards, and declares whether he will play, or pass, or take " miss." If the former, he says " I play." If he takes miss he places his cards face downwards in the middle of the table, and takes up the extra hand. If he passes, he similarly places his cards face downwards in the middle of the table. If miss is taken, the subsequent players only have the option of playing or passing. A player who takes miss must play. Those who are now left in play one card each in rotation, beginning from the dealer's left, the cards thus played constituting a trick. The trick is won by the highest card of the suit led, or, if trumped, by the highest trump, the cards ranking as at whist. The winner of the trick leads to the next, and so on, until the hand is played out. The cards remain face upwards in front of the persons placing them.
If the leader holds ace of trumps he must lead it (or king, if ace is turned up). If the leader has two trumps he must lead one of them, and if one is ace (or king, ace being turned up) he must lead it. With this exception the leader is not bound to lead his highest trump if more than two declare to play; but if there are only two declared players the leader with more than one trump must lead the highest. Except with trumps as above stated he may lead any card he chooses. The subsequent players must head the trick if able, and must follow suit if able. Holding none of the suit led, they must head the trick with a trump, if able. Otherwise they may play any card they please. The winner of the first trick is subject to the rules already stated respecting the lead, and in addition he must lead a trump if able (called trump after trick).
When the hand has been played out, the winners of the tricks divide the pool, each receiving one-third of the amount for each trick. If only one has declared to play, the dealer plays miss either for himself or for the pool. If he plays for the pool he must declare before seeing miss that he does not play for himself. Any tricks he may win, when playing for the pool, remain there as an addition to the next pool. Other rules provide that the dealer must play, if only one player stands, with his own cards or with " miss." If miss is gone and against him, he may defend with the three top cards of the pack, excluding the trump card; these cards are called " master."
If each declared player wins at least one trick it is a single, i.e. a fresh pool is made as already described; but if one of the declared players fails to make a trick he is looed. Then only the player who is looed contributes to the next pool. If more than one player is looed, each has to contribute.
At unlimited loo each player looed has to put in the amount there was in the pool. But it is often agreed to limit the loo, so that it shall not exceed a certain fixed sum. Thus, at eighteen-penny loo, the loo is generally limited to half a guinea. If there is less than the limit in the pool the payment is regulated as before; but if there is more than the limit, the loo is the fixed sum agreed on.
The game is sometimes varied by " forces," i.e. by compelling every one to play in the first deal, or when there is no loo the previous deal, or whenever clubs are trumps (" club law "). When there is a force no miss is dealt. " Irish loo" is played by allowing declared players to exchange some or all of their cards for cards dealt from the top of the pack. There is no miss, and it is not compulsory to lead a trump with two trumps, unless there are only two declared players. At " five-card loo " each player has five cards instead of three, and a single stake should be divisible by five. " Pam " (knave of clubs) ranks as the highest trump, whatever suit is turned up. There is no miss, and cards may be exchanged as at Irish loo. If ace of trumps is led, the leader says " Pam be civil," when the holder of that card must pass the trick if he can do so without revoking. A flush (five cards of the same suit, or four with Pam) " loos the board," i.e. the holder receives the amount of a loo from every one, and the hand is not played. A trump flush takes precedence of flushes in other suits. If more than one flush is held, or if Pam is held, the holder is exempted from payment. As between two flushes which do not take precedence, the elder hand wins. A single stake should be divisible by five.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)