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  Rules of the game - Belote EspañolFrançais

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Belote

Rules of the game

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Basic principle
  • 4 players (forming two teams of 2 players sitting opposite each other)

  • a standard 32-card pack

    • 4 suits ( Spades,  Hearts,  Diamonds,  Clubs)

    • 8 cards per suit (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7)

After the dealing, each player holds 8 cards sorted by suit and rank. In Belote, the cards in each suit rank from highest to lowest in the following way:

Card ranks

Note that the 10 ranks between the Ace and the King.

Belote is a trick taking game: each of the four players plays one card in turn, and the one who played the highest of the 4 cards wins the trick. Then, he collects the cards played, and leads to the next trick. On a trick, there are several simple rules to follow:

  1. The player who leads to a trick can play any card he wants (of any suit, of any rank). The suit of this first card fixes what is called the suit led.

  2. Then, the 3 next players must imperatively play a card of the suit led (if they have at least one).

  3. If a player has no more cards in the suit led, he discards, that is, he plays any card he wants.

  4. When the 4 players have played, the one who played the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The cards of the other suits cannot win the trick. The player who won the trick collects the cards and starts again like in (1).
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Aim of the game

Belote is a game played in teams of two. The tricks won by the players of the same team are put together. At the end of the deal, when the 8 tricks have been played, what matters is not the number of tricks won by each team, but the number of card points included in their tricks. Because each card has a value in points:

Card points

  Ace     10    King   Queen   Jack   9 8 7 
11 10 4 3 2 0

Note the great amount of points yielded by the Ace and 10.
The low cards (9, 8, 7) yield no points.

So, at the end of the deal, the players count the points won by each team. The aim of the game, to win a deal, is to get more points than the other team. The scored points accumulate from deal to deal. And the ultimate aim, to win a whole game, is to reach a certain number of points (for example, 1000 points).

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The bidding

In standard Belote, cards are dealt in 2 rounds. On the first round, the players are given only 5 cards each, and the 21st card is laid on the table face up: it is called the turn-up card. Next, there are two simple and quick bidding rounds:

1st round

Each player may in turn choose to Pass or Play. If he plays, he picks up the turn-up card, and the suit of this card becomes the trump suit (see further on). As soon as a player decides to play, the bidding is over.

2nd round

If the 4 players have passed on the first round, each one may in turn choose to Pass or Play by naming one of the 3 other suits (never the suit of the turn-up card). While naming a suit, he picks up the turn-up card, and the suit named becomes the trump suit (see further on). As soon as a player decides to play, the bidding is over.

Once the bidding is over (the trump suit is then agreed), the rest of the cards are dealt. Each player is given 3 cards, except for the declarer (the one who plays) who gets only 2 cards since he took the turn-up card.

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The trump suit

What is the trump suit? The trump suit is a suit stronger than the three others. This is why a player who decides to play always names a suit in which he has many cards, to give himself an advantage. The rules specific to the trump suit are the following ones:

  1. The ruff and its rules

    When a player has no more cards in the suit led (and only in that case), he may play a card of the trump suit (what is called ruffing) and thus win the trick, whatever the rank of his ruffing card. For example, he can ruff an Ace with the 7 of trumps and win the trick.

    • Always ruff or overruff

      You always have to ruff a trick which is temporarily won by the opponent. If the trick has already been ruffed, you have to overruff (ruff with a higher card).

    • You don't have to ruff your partner

      You don't have to ruff a trick which is temporarily won by your partner. You may either ruff or discard.

      As soon as a trick has been ruffed by a trump, the cards of the other suits can no longer win the trick. The player who wins the trick is then the one who played the highest trump.

  2. Always rise in the trump suit

    When the suit led is the trump suit, you always have to rise (play a higher card than the highest one already played), if you can. This rule applies even when your partner is temporarily winning the trick. If you cannot rise, you play the trump card you want.

  3. Card ranks in the trump suit

    In the trump suit, the cards rank differently than in the three other suits. The Jack and the 9 become the two highest cards, and the ranks from highest to lowest in this suit are the following ones:

    Card ranks in the trump suit

    Example with Spades as trumps

  4. Card points in the trump suit

    In the trump suit, the card points are different from the three other suits. The Jack and the 9 become the cards that yield the most points, as shown below:

    Card points in the trump suit

     Jack    9     Ace     10    King   Queen   8 7 
    20 14 11 10 4 3 0

    The Jack and 9 of trumps yield 34 points together.

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MAKING the contract or FAILING

So, the declarer's team, who fixed the trump suit, often has the advantage of having many cards in this suit which is stronger than the three others. But it also has a contract to make. It must win more points than the other team. If it fails to do so, all the points in game will be scored by the other team.

In all, there are 162 card points in game, including the bonus given to the team who takes the last trick (see further on). So, half of the points are worth 81, and one more than half the total points is 82.

So, to make its contract, the declarer's team must win at least 82 points. For example, if it takes 120 points, it makes its contract and scores 120 points while the other team scores 42. On the other hand, if it takes less than 82 points, it fails to make the contract and all the 162 points are given to the other team.

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Other little rules

  1. 10 extra points (called the last trick bonus) are given to the team who took the last trick of the deal.

  2. 90 extra points are given to the team who made a capot, that is, who won all the tricks. So, a capot yields 162 + 90 = 252 points.

  3. When a player holds the King and Queen of trumps (called the Belote meld), he gets 20 extra points provided that he says Belote and Rebelote when playing the two cards.

  4. During the first trick, players may declare melds (card combinations) that yield extra points according to the kind of combination:

    Set of four: 4 cards of the same rank (200, 150 or 100 points according to rank).

    Quint: run of 5 cards (or more) in the same suit (100 points).

    Quart: run of 4 cards in the same suit (50 points).

    Tierce: run of 3 cards in the same suit (20 points).

    Note that only one team can score meld points, the one who declared the highest meld. Meld points can help a team to make its contract or defeat its opponents.

  5. The deal ends in a draw when both teams win the same amount of points (81). In that case, the declarer's team scores no point, while the defense team scores 81 points. The remaining 81 points are frozen and will be given to the winner of the next deal.

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A few hints to make a good start

For the bidding

  • Don't hesitate to play as soon as you have at least 3 trumps with Jack-9 in a suit.

  • Play also with at least 4 trumps headed by a high one (Jack or 9).

  • Play also with 3 trumps headed by the Jack, and at least 1 Ace in the side suits.

For the playing

  • Draw the opponents' trumps if you are the declarer and hold the high trumps. Count the trumps held by the other side (there are 8 trumps in all).

  • Cash your Aces. Don't hesitate to play a winning card despite the risk of ruff.

  • In defense, make the opponents ruff.

  • Give points on the tricks won by your partner. On the contrary, on the tricks won by your opponents, play your lowest cards.

If you have understood the basic principle of the game, feel free to download Bel Atout, Belote card game in free full unlimited version, that will allow you to play against the computer quietly. All the rules, as well as their numerous variations, are detailed in its help pages. The program and the help pages are all in English, with multilingual support for the menus and dialog boxes (Spanish, Italian, German).

Direct link to this page, that you are free to use
http://vincent.brevart.free.fr/english/_reg/_regbel/belote-card-game-rules.html

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