The Rules of Toad in the Hole & Pitch Penny
Being a traditional pub game without any national governing body, variations of equipment and rules abound. Where there is doubt, locally played rules should always apply.
Note: 1 inch = 2.54cm. 1 foot = 12 inches.
See also: Toad in the Hole table.
Toad in the Hole
The table for Toad in the Hole is about 15 inches across and 24 inches long. The playing surface slopes towards the players who stand behind a line 8 feet from the front of the board. In the centre of the table is a hole of about 2 inches in diameter through which the toads can fall. Each of the four toads is about one & a quarter inch in diameter and is traditionally made from brass although other materials such as hardwood or rubber can be used. It is thought that the disks were originally King George III cartwheel pennies.
Scoring can be recorded in any fashion. Often a chalkboard is used for scoring and some Toad tables have such a scoring board as part of their backdrop. Otherwise the use of a cribbage board is recommended since cribbage boards are both traditional and practical.
A coin is tossed to decide who throws first. The first player throws two toads, the second three toads and thereafter, four toads are thrown each turn.
1 point is scored for each toad lying completely flat on the surface of the table and 2 points for each toad in the hole.
Any toad which hits the back board or falls to the floor does not score. However, such a dead toad can influence the score of another toad – e.g. by knocking it into the hole to increase its score or by knocking it into the back or off the table to so that it doesn't score.
A good strategy is to land the toad flat just in front of the hole so that it slides in rather than aiming directly for the target. Really good players can land it just behind the hole so that it digs into the lead and falls back into the hole.
The winner is the first player to score exactly 31 points. If a player scores more than 31, they are bust and there is no score for that turn.
Once the score required to win is three or less, a player may only play as many toads, in his turn, as points required. So if 2 points are required to win at the start of the turn, only 2 toads should be thrown for that turn.
More than most pub games, variations on Pitch Penny abound. Also known as the Penny Game, Penny Seat, Penny Slot, Tossing the Penny or Penny in the Hole, Pitch Penny is normally played with old 18th century George II pennies which, these days, are a rare commodity. However, substitute coins or disks can be used instead if desired. The target area is usually a hole with a diameter of around 2 inches although semicircles of diameter 4 inches are also played. The hole is normally sunk into the top of an old seat, bench, table, chest, settle, stool or whatever surface suits the pub and would lie 2 or 3 inches in front of the back of the said furniture allowing a shot to rebound in from the back. Because repeated penny landings chip away at wood gradually rendering it unfit for the game let alone it's original purpose, sometimes leather or hardwood is laid around the hole. The throwing pitch is likewise also chosen to match the size and layout of the available space - perhaps the throwing line will be a doorway or maybe one foot must remain within the fireplace hearth while throwing. A typical throwing distance is around 7 feet..
The Play - Version 1
Between 6 and 13 pennies are used, depending upon the pub. In the simpler game, usually played in pubs that throw 10 pennies or less, it's simply a question of a player throwing all the coins one after the other and then scoring the number that finish in the hole. A typical match played by these rules would feature 2 teams of players playing the best of 5 legs. Each player in the team throws all the coins and the team who's combined scores are the greatest wins the leg. In the event of a tie, the most common method to decide the game is for the last member of each team to throw 3 pennies more apiece.
The Play - Version 2
In this version, a player begins by throwing all the pennies. The number of pennies which did not finish in the hole are counted and then the player throws that number of coins next go, continuing until one of the players wins by throwing all the pennies for that turn into the hole. This game can be more fun because as the pennies, get less, the turns get shorter and the game thus tends to finish with in a climactic rush. If Pitch Penny is played in a pub, the local rules always should apply but if the game is played privately, Masters Games recommends playing Pitch Penny version 2 with 12 pennies.
These rules are provided by Masters Traditional Games, an Internet shop selling quality traditional games, pub games and unusual games. For general information or for copying and copyright, see our Rules Information page.
Our rules are comprehensive instructions for friendly play. If in doubt, always abide by locally-played or house rules.
Copyright Masters Traditional Games © 2019. All rights reserved.