Hwa-t'u is a Korean gambling version of a fishing game with "Hana-Fuda" cards. It's a relative of Min-Ha-To, but the scoring is adjusted to make a fast (and addictive) gambling game. I suspect that Hwa-t'u, Kwa-Do and Ha-to are simply different romanisations of the name for the cards. Strangely, I didn't know about the gambling game until seeing links from Ian Bowes' FlowerCards.com site, so what follows is my version of the rules (as always, there are a number of variants) from The Game Room StressedOut and MonkeyBar, the latter instructions being reproduced at Cody Michael Stumpo's site. I have no way of knowing how close my version is to the original, but it works. If you have any suggestions, corrections or criticisms, let me know.
The game uses the Korean (naturally) version of the flower cards. If you're unfamiliar with the deck, check the details here. Some versions of the rules make use of jokers, so if you have the Japanese deck, use the blank card as the joker (if you have several packs, you can use up to three blanks).
Number of Players and Deal
Hwa-t'u is normally played by three or more players, though it makes a good two player game for forfeits. Choose the first Oya or Son (dealer) by cutting cards. The person on the dealer's left may opt to cut, or not as they see fit. If they do not cut, the first six cards are placed on the table face down, then seven are dealt to each player, counterclockwise. If the deck is cut, three cards go to the table, then four are delt to each player, then three to the table and three more to each player.
If there are more than three players, some players drop out after the deal. Leave the cards on the table face down, and in turn, counterclockwise from the dealer, each player decides whether or not to drop out. The dealer must play, so once two more players are "in", the remainder cannot play. As recompense, they receive an agreed cash sum, usually one stake, from the players other than the dealer, for any gwangs (brights) in their hand. Equally, there must be three players, so if no-ne wants to playe, the last two must play regardless, although this is less common. Folded hands are placed face down in a stack and added to the bottom of the pile.
To start play, the cards on the table are turned face up. If all four cards of a suit are turned face up on the table, the dealer wins. If there are not, then any player with four of a kind wins (in the event that there is more than one such set, precedence is counter-clockwise with the dealer last).
Before any cards are played, any player with three cards of the same set has the option to show the three cards. If the player goes on to win the hand, the score is doubled. There's no penalty for showing the cards and then losing - the other players knowing half your hand is considered penalty enough.
Play starts with the dealer and goes counterclockwise. First, one card is played from the player's hand, attempting to match one of the upturned cards. Then the top card from the deck is turned over. If the hand card or deck card matches a single card from the table, the two are taken into the player's scoring pile. If the deck card and the hand card both match a single card, wll three remain on the table, to be taken by the player who plays or draws the fourth card. If this happens on the first turn, the unlucky player gets a bonus. The player who takes all four cards also gets a "pee", or "trash" card from the other two.
Korean (right), and some Japanese (left), decks have one or more jokers (in the Japanese decks these normally show Tengu. Unlike a suit card used as a "Gaji", Tengu has no match, but is a sang-pee. If a player has a Tengu in hand, it may be played at any time and the player will then draw another card. If a Tengu is on the table, the dealer takes it and replaces it with the next card from the deck. If a player turns it over during play, that player takes it and turns over the next card.
There is often an exception to "play one card from the hand", which is that if a player is dealt three of a kind and the fourth card is on the table, all three cards may be played, the set of four being added to the player's score. In this case the player also receives one pee from the other players.
If there are only two cards on on the table, and a player matches one from hand and then the other from the deck, this is called "soul" and once again the "lucky" player receives one pee-card from each of the others.
A player has no pee-cards does not have to hand over any cards in any of these cases.
The scoring in Hwa-t'u differs significantly from the majority of fishing games from Japan, Korea and Hawaii. There are also a large number of local rules for the scoring.
Gwangs (brights, lights or kings).: These combinations are the most variable - this is about the most common and appears to balance the game fairly well. All five gwangs are worth ten points. Four gwangs (the four not including rain) are worth six points, whilst four including rain are worth four points. Any three are worth three points, whilst two gwangs including rain are worth two points (two gwang combinations without rain do not score).
Ribbons (tanzaku): any five ribbons are worth one point. Each additional ribbon is worth one point. A matched set of "chong-dan" (red lettered), "cho-dan" (red), or "hong-dan" (blue) tanzaku or ribbons is worth three points. Note that as usual the rain tanzaku is not part of the three red tanzaku.
All three birds (not the lights or rain with swallow) is known as "Godori" and score 5 points. Although rain with swallow is not a bird, it does count as an animal.
Animals: Any five animal cards are worth one point. Each additional animal is worth one point. A player capturing all eight animals receives double stakes. (Some local rules allow the use of the rain-card bird as an animal card as well). Three birds are "godori" and worth five points. A player who gets all their points from animal cards, that is, having at least seven such cards but with no other scoring combinations) receives double stakes.
The wine-cup can be counted as an Animal, or as a sang-pee (see below). Most versions allow this to be determined as the game progresses, in which case one would normally count it as an animal to begin with so that you don't have to give it away. Some versions, however, insist that but you make this choice as soon as you take the card.
Pee: ten pee-cards are worth one point. Each additional pee-card is worth one point. Three (or four if the wine-cup is counted as a pee) cards are known as "sang-pee", and count as two points each. Apart from the wine-cup, the cards are the landing stge, lightning from the rain suit and the yello non-light phoenix.
If the winner has at least ten pee-cards, any player having some pee cards, but not having at least six, must pay double stakes.
The Name of the Game
If all players run out of cards with no player getting three points, the hand is redealt by the same dealer and no money changes hands. The next game is worth double stakes. If that game, too, is tied, the following one is worth triple, and so on.
Once a player with at least one card left reaches three points (seven in the two-handed version), the win condition, the real fun begins. The name "Godori" comes from the "go or stop" mechanism that characterises the end-game. This also occurs in some of the Japanese two-handed versions of Hana-Fuda, and is crucial. This aspect of play, together with knowing when to fold or play with more than three players, is the equivalent of the bidding stage in Bridge, and drastically reduces the effect of the fall of the cards over a large number of hands.
A player with at least one card left in hand, and at least three points, may say "go" or "stop". If the player calls "stop", the game ends, and the winner collects the stakes. If the player says "go", play continues. If (but only if) that player scores again, they may again call "stop" or "go". Each "go" is worth one point and three "go"s doubles the score. If, however, a second player wins after someone has called "go", the player who said "go" must pay both the losers losses. This is called "dokbok".
A special condition called "shodang" exists when one player has two cards left and it appears that each will cause one of the other players to win. The player may call "shodang" and reveal both cards. The other players may choose to accept or decline. To accept implies that the player in question believes that if the other player gets the card he needs, the other player will win. To decline implies believing that one can win no matter which card is played. If both players accept, the game ends with no winner. If one player declines, the player originally calling for a showdown plays the card that would seem to be against the declining player, possibly allowing the accepting player to win.