Jeu de Tarot gets my vote for the most complex card game I have ever played. It is no mean feat to track what has been played with a 78 card deck. The rules provide many opportunities for strategic decision making. Finally all the players team up to prevent the one player who won the bid from making his or her contract. However, while it is a challenge to learn it is definitely worth it.
78 card french Tarot deck
Score pad or chips
How to play
The cards as seen above are rank ranked 21 down to one in the trump suite. In the non trumps suits the ranking is King, Dame, Chevalier, Vallet, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,and finally one. There is a card marked with a star called the excuse or fool.
The first dealer is chosen at random
The cards are shuffled by the player seated opposite the dealer.
The player on the left of the dealer must then cut the cards.
The dealer deals the cards, 3 at a time to each person, in a counter-clockwise direction. During the deal, the dealer deals cards individually to a stock of 6 cards called the Chien (Dog).The dealer may not deal the first or the last card of the deck to the Chien.
The players pick up their cards only when the deal is finished.
The player on the dealer’s right speaks first. If he or she says “I pass”, the right to bid passes to the right hand neighbor of this player, and so forth, to the dealer.
If all four players pass, the player on the right-hand side of the dealer proceeds to a new deal.
But if a player bids, thinking that he or she can play alone against three united opponents, then that player says “prise”, “garde”, “garde sans le chien” or “garde contre le chien”.
The other players, in turn, may overcall this first bid with a higher bid. Each player speaks only once.
The bids in ascending order are:
The GARDE SANS LE CHIEN
The GARDE CONTRE LE CHIEN
To achieve Chelem successfully, it is necessary to win all the tricks.
The Chelem can be declared by the Preneur in addition to his or her contract and the points are counted according to the required contract and a bonus (or a penalty) is added depending on the success (or the failure) of this Chelem:
Chelem announced and achieved: additional bonus of 400 points.
Chelem not announced but achieved: additional bonus of 200 points.
Chelem announced but not achieved: 200 points are subtracted from the total.
In the event of a Chelem announcement, the player making the announcement leads the first trick and becomes Preneur, regardless of who is the dealer.
In order for a Chelem to succeed, the one announcing it must win all tricks and must play the Excuse in the final trick. Consequently, “Petit au bout” will be counted if the Petit wins the second to last trick
Play starts during a Prise or a Garde bid when the bidding is finished. The Preneur turns over the 6 cards of the Chien so that each player can them.
The Preneur takes the cards in his hand then discards 6 cards which remain secret during the entire play of the hand and which will be counted towards the won tricks of the Preneur. One may neither discard a King nor a Bout. One may discard Trumps, however, only when it proves necessary. One must then show the discarded Trumps to the Defense.
When the Preneur finishes the discard, he says “play” and the discard may not be further modified or examined
On a Garde Sans or a Garde Contre, the cards of the Chien remain face down.
On a Garde Sans, they are placed in front of the Preneur and will count towards his won tricks.
On a Garde Contre, they are placed in front of the player located opposite the Preneur and will be counted towards the won tricks of the Defense
Poignée or handful (10, 13 or 15 Trumps)
A player having a Poignée may, if desired, announce it and present it, arranging the Trumps in descending order, completely and only once, right before playing his first card.
With the simple Poignée (10 Trumps) there is a bonus of 20.
With the double Poignée (13 Trumps) there is a bonus of 30.
With the triple Poignée (15 Trumps) there is a bonus of 40.
These bonuses have the same value regardless of the contract.
This bonus is awarded to the victorious side in a played hand.
The Poignée must include ten, thirteen or fifteen Trumps.
When a player has eleven, twelve, fourteen, sixteen or seventeen Trumps, the player hides one or two Trumps of his choice, but complying with this very rule: the Excuse in the Poignée implies that the player announcing Poignée does not have any other Trumps.
If the Petit is played at the last trick, it is called “Petit au bout.”
The side winning this trick, receives a bonus of 10, multiplied by the value of the contract, regardless of who wins the deal.
A player having the Petit without any other Trump and not having the Excuse must announce Petit Sec, displaying his or her hand and annuling the deal before the bidding commences.
The Preneur having finished the discard, says “Play”.
The first trick is led by the player located on the right of the dealer. Then each player plays in turn in a counter-clockwise direction.
The player having having won the first trick leads the next trick, and so forth. The game proceeds according to following rules:
With a Trump, one is obliged to exceed the highest Trump already played, even if it belongs to a partner. A player not having a Trump exceeding the highest one played, plays a Trump of his or her choice”
With a suit card, one is obliged to play a card of the suit led, but not required to exceed it
A player is obliged to play a Trump if he or she does not have a card of the suit led. If a preceding player also Trumps, one is obliged to over-Trump (to play a higher Trump) or to under-Trump (to tinkle) if one cannot over-Trump.
Players may play a card of or her his choice if he or she has neither a card of the suit led nor a Trump.
If the card led to a trick is the Excuse, it is the next card played which determines the suit led.
The Excuse may not win a trick (except in the event of Chelem), but it still belongs to the side holding it. If the opposing side wins the trick containing the Excuse , the holder of the Excuse must replace it in the trick by any small card (any card, including a Trump, valued at ½ points) taken from the tricks won by his side.
In the event of a successful Chelem without the Preneur having the Excuse, this card is played normally and remains with the side of the Defense and accounts for 4 points.
The tricks won by the Defense must be collected by the player seated opposite the preneur.
At the end of the hand , players count the points contained in the won tricks of the Preneur for one total, and those of the Defense as another total.
To win the contract, the Preneur must score a minimum number of points according to the number of Bouts that he or she has acquired at the end of the played deal. If the Preneur has three Bouts must win 36 points in his or her tricks. With two Bouts the Preneur must win 41 points in his or her tricks. A Preneur with one Bout must win 51 points in his or her tricks. If a Preneur has no Bouts they must win 56 points in there tricks.
In the event of Garde Sans, it is possible for the Preneur to acquire a Bout with the Chien.
If the number of points is equal to this minimum, the contract is barely achieved; if the number of points is higher, the additional points are profit (positive); if the number of points is lower, the contract has not been achieved and the score is counted as a loss (negative).
Any contract arbitrarily being worth 25 points, one adds 25 points with the number of scored points, positive or negative.
This new total is multiplied by a coefficient according to the appropriate contract:
in the event of Prise, this total is unchanged,
in the event of Garde, this total is multiplied by two,
in the event of Garde Sans, this total is multiplied by four,
in the event of Garde Contre, this total is multiplied by six.
Each Defender scores the same number of points: negative if the Preneur wins, or positive if the Preneur fails.
The Preneur counts three times this total; as positive if he or she wins, or as negative if he fails.
The total of the four scores of the Preneur and the three Defenders is, thus, equal to 0.
Tarot for 3 Players
The rules are the same as for the game for 4, but the cards are dealt 4 at a time per person.
Each player receives 24 cards, the Chien 6 cards.
The contracts are identical to the game for 4 players
The Poignées are: simple: 13 Trumps; double: 15 Trumps; triple: 18 Trumps
It is not necessary to provide a low valued card to supplement the trick involving the Excuse. This rule is worthy only to insure an even number of cards per side. Among three players, it is indeed uncertain to have an even number of cards to be counted at the time of calculation.
At the time of calculation, it is necessary to round off the half point. Thus, a Preneur who was to make 41, loses if he makes 40.5. The round-off is done, then, by always privileging the side which scores points. Thus in the preceding case, the Preneur loses by 1 point. Conversely, if he had made 41.5, he would have won by 1 point.
If the Preneur misses by 1/2 point, he has failed to fufill the contract.
Tarot for 5 Players
The cards are dealt, counter-clockwise, 3 cards at a time per person. Each player receives 15 cards and 3 cards are dealt to the Chien.
The contracts are identical to the games with 3 or 4 players
The Poignées are: simple: 8 Trumps; double: 10 Trumps; triple: 13 Trumps
Before turning over the Chien, the Preneur calls a King of his choice and the holder of this King becomes his partner.
If the Preneur has the 4 Kings, he calls a Queen, or a Knight if he also has the 4 Queens.
If the chosen King is with the Chien, then the game is played 1 against 4.
The first trick may not be led in the suit chosen by the Preneur unless this trick is led by the suit’s King.
The distribution of the points (including the bonuses of Poignée and/or Petit au bout) is divided 2/3 for the Preneur and 1/3 for his partner. If the Preneur plays 1 against 4, he combines the totality of the points as + or – according to his success or failure.
If the Preneur misses by 1/2 point, he has failed to fulfill the contract
One reader commented that they would the like rules for a liars dice game that uses a cigar box. Here is a great one called Pass the Trash. This liars dice variation uses a cigar box instead of a cup to hide the dice from the other players.
Pass the Trash
2 or more
Set of five poker dice
Box with a lid to roll dice in and keep them concealed
Score pad or counters
How to play
The rank of poker dice hands are from highest to lowest
Five of a kind (aces down to nines)
Four of a kind ( aces down to nines)
Full house ( aces down to nines)
Three of a kind ( aces down to nines)
Two pair ( aces down to nines)
Pair ( aces down to nines)
High die ( aces down to nines)
The first player rolls all five poker dice in the box so that no other player can see the result. He or she then makes a bid in the form of a poker dice hand as described above. The bid can be, but does not have to be the actual poker dice hand rolled by the player.
The player then passes the closed box to the next player.
The next player can either accept the previous bid, or reject it.
If accepting the bid, the player takes the box and, rolls any or all dice he or she chooses not to keep. The player then bids a poker hand which must be a greater rank than the hand bid by the previous player. A player may chose not to look at the dice and bid blind. After biding, the player passes the closed box to the next player who may accept or reject the bid.
If the player rejects the bid, he or she calls “liar” before opening the box to expose the dice to all the players. If the dice are equal to or greater than the bid the player rejecting the bid loses a life. If the dice are a hand of lesser value than the bid, then player making the bid loses a life.
The player who lost a life that round starts the next round.
When a player loses three lives they are out of the game.
The last player with a life is the winner.
In the book Best of the worlds Best Dice Games by Gil Jacobs, I read about a variation called The Holy Grail. It is played as above except that a player can only save dice during his or her roll by placing them where the other players can see them. The player rolls the remaining dice in the box concealed from view. If the next player accepts the bid they may roll any or all of the dice including the ones saved by the last player and only expose the dice they chose to save rather than roll.
Normally I post games that I am confident still have a strong following, but despite being an outstanding game, I have yet to meet anyone who still plays Two Player Pinochle. I hope this post will help kickstart a Two Player Pinochle revival as well as find players who are already enjoying it.
A single pinochle deck or two traditional decks with 2-8 removed
Paper and pencil for score keeping
How To Play
The cards are ranked highest to lowest as shown below, as is the values of the card when taken in a trick. Each
ace 11 points
Each ten 10 points
Each king 4 points
Each queen 3 points
Each jack 2 points
Nines 0 points
The last trick taken earns 10 points
The values of the melds are:
A, K, Q, J, 10 of the trump suit (flush, or sequence) 150 points
K, Q of trump (royal marriage) 40 points points
K, Q of any other suit (marriage) 20 points
Dix (lowest trump; pronounced “deece”) 10 points
A♠, A♥, A♦, A♣ (100 aces) 100 points
K♠, K♥, K♦, K♣ (80 kings) 80 points
Q♠, Q♥, Q♦, Q♣ (60 queens) 60 points
J♠, J♥, J♦, J♣ (40 jacks) 40 points
Q♠, J♦ (pinochle) 40
(The dix is the nine of trumps)
The dealers Deals 12 cards to each player three or four cards at a time. The next card is turned up and placed on the table; it is the trump card and every card of that suit is a trump. The remainder of the pack forms the stock and is placed face down
Each trick consists of a lead and a play. The non-dealer leads the first trick , then the winner of each trick leads next. When a trump is led, it wins the trick unless the opponent plays a higher trump. When any other suit is led, the card led wins unless the opponent plays a higher card of the same suit or a trump. The leader may lead any card, and the opponent may play any card. It is not necessary to follow suit.
After each trick, the players draw a card from the top of the stock to restore their hand to 12 cards; the winner of the trick draws first.
After winning a trick, but before drawing from the stock, a player may meld any one of the combinations that have value, as described above. A player makes a meld by placing the cards face up on the table, where they remain until the player wishes to play them, or until the stock is exhausted.
Melding is subject to the following restrictions: 1) Only one meld may be made in a turn. 2) For each meld, at least one card must be taken from the hand and placed on the table. 3) A card once melded may be melded again, only in a different class, or in a higher-scoring meld of the same class.
Once a card has been melded and placed on the table, it may be played to a trick as though it were in the holder’s hand; however, after it has been played, it may no longer be used to form a new meld.
Melding the dix. If the dealer turns a dix (pronounced “deece”) as the trump card, they score 10 points immediately. Thereafter, a player holding a dix may count it merely by showing it upon winning a trick. They may count the dix and make another meld in the same turn. The holder of the dix has the right to exchange it, upon winning a trick, for the trump card.
When the stock is exhausted the rules for playing tricks changes. The winner of the twelfth trick may meld if possible, and then must draw the last face-down card of the stock. They show this card to their opponent, who draws the trump card (or the dix, if the exchange has been made). The winner of the preceding trick now leads, and the rules of the play are as follows: each player must follow suit to the card led if possible, and must try to win when a trump is led (by playing a higher trump). A player who cannot follow suit must trump if they have a trump. In this manner the last 12 tricks are played, after which the players count and score the points they have won in their tricks and melds.
When keeping score melds are scored when they are made. Scores for cards taken in tricks are added after the play is complete and the cards are counted.
A game can be played to 1,000 points, playing a series of deals. When one player has scored 1,000 or more, and the other player less than 1,000, the former wins the game. If at the end of the play of any hand each player has 1,000 or more, play continues for a game of 1,250, even if one player has, for example, 1,130, while the other has only 1,000. If both players go over 1,250 at the end of the hand, the play continues for a 1,500-point game, and so on.
Declaring Out. At any time during the play, a player may “declare out.” At that point, play stops and his tricks are counted. If, in fact, the player has 1000 points or more, he wins the game – even if the opponent has more. If the claimant has fewer than 1,000 points, he loses the game. If the game has been increased to 1,250 points, 1,500 points, or a higher score, a player may declare out at that figure.
Some players play every deal is a single game. The player who scores the most points wins.
Looking for an al fresco chess spot in Denver, Colorado? Then come to the 16th Street Mall, between Arapahoe Street and Curtis Street. Artists Doug Eichelberger and Susan Wick created this group of tables with two ceramic tiled chess boards separated by a mosaic sculpture. It’s a great spot to find a pick up game and do some people watching.
Players can sip the beverage of their choice and choose a game from an impressive collection of games–mostly in French. If your French is a little rusty, the staff clad in bright yellow t-shirts will teach you the rules of the games you picked.