Compleat Gamester: Cards


William Moore

Le Tarot Français

This is a very, very, very old trick-taking game game that was introduced into France sometime in the 16th century, most likely through Italy. The goal of the game is to have the most number of points after a series of hands.

Number of Players

The game may be played with 4 players (with variants for different numbers).

Set Up

  • Any French-suited tarot deck will suffice
  • Something to keep score

Assemble 4 players. The players all agree on a number of hands that will be played. Shuffle the deck. Next, deal one card to the middle and then deal 3 cards to each player. Continue this until there are 18 cards in each player’s hand and 6 in the middle, called the “chien”. The player to the right of the dealer goes first in bidding.

Game Play

Each player makes a bid trying to outbid the other. If no bids are made, all players “throw in their” hands by giving their cards to the dealer, who also picks up the chien, and hands the deck to the next dealer to shuffle and start a new game. The winner of the bid is called the “taker”.

Bids (from lowest to highest)

  • Petite - If the bid, the taker will take the chien after showing it to the other players.
  • Garde - If the bid, it is the same as petite but a higher bid.
  • Garde sans le chien - If the bid, nobody looks at the chien but the taker will get it once all cards are discarded and played.
  • Garde contre le chien - If the bid, nobody looks at it and the opponents get the points once all cards are discarded and played.

If petite or garde were the bids, the taker shows the chien to the other players and places them in their hand, they now discard face down 6 cards that are not atouts, kings, or the excuse (fool). If they cannot discard anything, they may discard atouts that are not a bout (1, 21, or excuse).

Tricks

Each round is called a “trick”. The taker plays a card from their hand called “leading”. All players must play a card from the suit of that card, preferably higher. If they do not have any cards of that suit, they may play an atout card. If an atout is the highest suit, an atouts must be played. The winner of the trick is the one with the highest card of that suit or atouts. The play order starts with the taker and proceeds to the right until all players play a card. And this is the end of the trick. The winner of the trick takes all the cards and places them into their trick pile. They will now lead the next trick. For example, if there are 2 atouts played: 21 and 5. In this case, the winner of the trick is the player who played 21.

Pip Rankings

Pips have different definitions of what is high depending on the suit. With the black suits (clubs and spades), 10 is the highest valued pip and 1, or Ace, is the lowest. The red suits (diamonds and hearts) have the ranking of the pips reversed, which means 1, or Ace, is the highest ranking pip and 10 is the lowest.

Card Values

Each card has a value when won in a trick. The following are their values:

  • Bouts (21, 1, and excuse) = 4.5 points each
  • Kings is 4.5 points each
  • Queens is 3.5 points each
  • Knights is 2.5 points each
  • Jacks is 1.5 points each
  • Everything else: 0.5 points each

The Excuse

Playing the excuse is an irregularity in the rules. If a player has the excuse in their hand, they may play it at any time regardless of what was led or the player has that suit. However, the excuse may not win the trick.

If the trick is led with the excuse, the next player determines the suit.

If the excuse is not played on the last trick, the player who played the excuse will keep the card in their trick pile regardless if they won the trick or not. If the player playing the excuse is not the winner of the trick, they must hand over from their trick pile a 0.5 card (more on this later) and hand it to the winner. If they do not have a 0.5 card, the moment they do, they must hand it to the player that had an excuse played during their winning trick.

If the excuse is played on the last trick, the winner of the trick gets the excuse.

End of the Hand

The hand ends once there are no more cards in any player’s hands.

Scoring Bonuses

Poignée

Before play starts, if a player has a certain number of atouts, they will gain a poignée bonus. They are as follows:

  • 10 atouts is 20 points (single poignée)
  • 13 atouts is 30 points (double poignée)
  • 15 atouts is 40 points (triple poignée)

To declare a poignée, the player with the correct numbers must show them before the first trick is played. The excuse is, for the purposes of a poignée, counted as an atout. The winner of the hand gets the poignée, even if they are not the one who declared it.

Petit au bout

If the 1 of atouts is played in the last trick, the winner of the trick gets 10 points.

Chelem

If a player takes all the tricks in the game, they will score a bonus if announced in advance.

  • Chelem annoncé - a player (often the taker) announces chelem before the beginning of play. If they succeed, they receive 400 points. If they fail, they lose 200 points.
  • Chelem non annoncé - a player wins all the tricks without announcing it and receives 200 points.

Scoring

At this point, the taker counts their trick pile points and the opposing players pool their tricks and count their card points.

First, the bid is applied. If petit, garde, or garde sans le chien bids were made, the chien cards are added to the taker’s trick pile. If the bid was garde contre le chien, these are added to the opponent’s trick pile.

Now, calculate the points won or lost by the taker. First, the taker receives 25 points. Next, determine the card point difference from a value based on how many bouts the player has. For the following bouts won the taker subtracts:

  • 3 bouts means a taker subtracts 36 card points
  • 2 bouts means a taker subtracts 41 card points
  • 1 bout means a taker subtracts 51 card points
  • 0 bouts means a taker subtracts 56 card points

Then, apply the petit au bout bonus if acquired or subtract if the opponents acquired it. Next, multiply the value by the bid:

  • For petite, multiply by 1
  • For garde, multiply by 2
  • For garde sans le chien, multiply by 4
  • For garde contre le chien, multiply by 6

Now, apply any poignée or chelem bonus. For example, by losing chelem annoncé, the taker will lose that many points.

If the taker has a positive score, the players lose that many points and the players lose that many points and the taker’s score is multiplied by the number of opponents. If the taker has a negative score, the players each earn that many points and the taker loses that many points times the number of opponents. At all times, the total score earned by each player of a given hand is 0.

Winning the Game

After all agreed upon hands are played, calculate the total scores. The player with the highest score wins.

Variants

For 2 Players

Each player is dealt 36 cards in groups of 6 cards. The poignée atouts are changes as follows:

  • Single poignée requires 15 atouts
  • Double poignée requires 18 atouts
  • Triple poignée requires 21 atouts.

Otherwise, the rules are the same as four-player French Tarot.

For 3 Players

Each player is dealt 24 cards in groups of 4 cards. The poignée atouts are changed as follows:

  • Single poignée requires 13 atouts
  • Double poignée requires 15 atouts
  • Triple poignée requires 18 atouts.

Otherwise, the rules are the same as four-player French Tarot.

For 5 Players

Each player is dealt 14 cards in groups of 2 cards. The chien contains 7 cards. Otherwise, the rules are the same as four-player French Tarot. The poignée atouts are changed as follows:

  • Single poignée requires 5 atouts
  • Double poignée requires 8 atouts
  • Triple poignée requires 10 atouts.

Teams

Players are divided into groupings matching the number of players. For example, if you have 8 people, there will be 4 teams of players

Marmalade

Marmalade is a trick-taking game where players try to reach the end of a particular cribbage board.

Number of Players

The game is played with 2+ players. Basically, as many players as the cribbage board allows.

Set Up

  • Any 52-card deck will suffice.
  • One cribbage board

First, Shuffle the deck and cut it. Next, reveal the top card and place it on the table. The suit of the card is the trump suit. Next, reshuffle the deck and deal an equal amount of cards to all players, setting aside any extras. Finally, determine play order using any method desired.

Game Play

Each player discards a card. If a player discards the trump suit, they win unless someone else plays a higher trump suit. If no trump card is discarded, the highest facing card is the winner. The player that wins the trick scores based on the cards received in the trick. Play continues with the person who won the last trick. If the players run out of cards, reshuffle all cards except the trump card and redeal to all players as described in the Set Up.

Highest Cards

If they are the red suits, the rank from highest to lowest is King, Queen, Jack, Ace, 2 through 10. If they are the black suited cards, the rank from highest to lowest is King, Queen, Jack, 10 through 2, 1 or Ace.

Scoring

First, the player that wins the trick moves their pegs immediately based on the cards in the trick. If the player wins by discarding a card that is of the trump suit, the player moves their peg 5 spaces. For each trump card in the trick, move the peg 2 spaces. For each court card, move the peg one space. If a player winds the trick, but does not get the trump card, move the peg 2 spots.

Winning the Game

The first player to move to the last space, even if that player has more moves, wins the game.

Maw

The old Irish card game that has changed little in the 400+ years of its existence. It is also called “Spoil Five”.

Number of Players

It works ideally with 4 or 5 players, but up to 10 may play.

Set Up

  • A 52-card deck

Players pool 2-3 tokens that make up the pool.

The Deal

Deal cards to every player until one player receives a Jack of any suit, which determines the dealer for the round, passing the deal to the left for each subsequent round. The dealer adds another stake to the pool called the “dealer’s stake”. Shuffle the cards again with the neighbor cutting the deck. Deal a pack of 3 cards to each player followed by a pack of 2 cards. Place any remaining cards face down and turn over the top card for the trump suit.

Issues while Dealing

If you deal too many or too few cards, accidentally or intentionally expose a card that was supposed to be face down, you forfeit your turn as a dealer and dealing passes to the left. Optionally, if all players agree, you can add another dealer’s stake to the pool.

Robbing the Pack

If you are dealt the Ace of the trump suit and prior to the first trick, you may take turned up card that denotes the trump suit. If the turned up card is the Ace of the trump suit, the dealer may place a card face-down from their hand in front of them. When it is the dealer’s turn to discard a card, they take the card and may discard it immediately for effect or discard on a later turn.

Game Play

The player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick. If you can’t follow the trump suit, discard any card. If you can follow suit, you may discard from that suit or the trump suit. If the trump suit is lead, you must follow suit with a trump suit. The winner of the trick is the one with the highest rank discarded.

Suit Ranking

The following are always the highest of the trumps (in order):

  • 5 of the trump suit, also called the “five fingers”.
  • Jack of the trump suit
  • Ace of Hearts
  • Ace of the trump suit if the trump suit is not Hearts

Furthermore, the ordering of ranking is different per suit:

  • For the red suits, the court cards are the same as any other game in ranking. The 10 is high and Ace is low for the pips.
  • For the black suits, the court cards are the same as any other game in ranking. The Ace is high and 10 is low for the pips.

In both cases, the Jack and Ace are only like this when they are not in the highest trumps category.

Winning the Game

The person with the highest number of tricks won at the end of 5 rounds, wins the game and the pool.

Jinking

If you win the first three rounds of the game, you may take the entire pool and win the game or lead the fourth round despite having lead before. This is called “jinking it”. If jinking it, receive an additional stake from every player in addition to the pool. Otherwise, you lose all claim to the pool, play ends, and the pool carries forward to the next deal.

Noddy

Noddy is an old English game that means “simpleton” and is the actual parent of the game of cribbage.

Number of Players

The game is played with 2 players.

Set Up

  • A 52-card deck
  • A cribbage board

Deal three cards to both players. Next, players choose the point values that are either 15, 21, or 31. Finally, cut the deck and the person who is not the dealer will flip over the top card. If it is a Jack, the dealer scores “Knave Noddy” and moves the peg 2 spots on the cribbage board.

Game Play

At the start of each turn, the player reveals a card from the deck. This card can be used in card combinations. Each turn, starting with the player who is not the dealer, the player announces, but does not reveal, their combinations. They then move the peg that many points scored. If the player exceeds the set score, the other player wins. If the player does not want to proceed any further, they announce “Go” and the next player goes. This is repeated until there are either no more cards in the deck or a player meets or exceeds the set score. Once the last card is played, that player pegs 1 point for the “Go” or 2 if the card makes it exacty the set score called the “Hitter”.

Scoring

When combining cards, Aces are low.

Pairs:

  • A basic pair is worth 2 points.
  • Pair royal (two of the same suit and also called “prial”) is worth 6 points.
  • Double pair royal (four of the same suit) is worth 12 points.

If the points of the cards in play are worth 15 or 25 after the card is played, the player scores 2 points.

If the player has a run (cards in sequential but not same suit order):

  • Three cards are worth 1 point.
  • Four cards are worth 2 points.

If the player has a flush (cards in sequential but of same suit order):

  • Three cards are worth 3 point.
  • Four cards are worth 4 points.

If the player reveals a Jack of the same suit as the turn up card, that player scores 1 point.

Runs and flushes more than 4 cards are worth 1 point for every card above 4.

Winning the Game

The first player to not exceed the set score wins the game. If one player exceeds the set score, the player who does not exceed the set score wins.

Scarto

Scarto is an Italian game using tarot decks that translates to “waste”.

Number of Players

The game is played with 3 players.

Set Up

  • Any 78-card tarot deck will suffice

Choose the dealer at random using any agreed upon method. The dealer deals packs of 5 cards to each player until each player has 25 cards. The last 3 remaining cards are placed in the dealer’s hand who then selects 3 cards from their hand that are not a king or the bouts with the excuse only discarded if no other atouts are available.

Game Play

The first trick is led by the player to the right of the dealer and each subsequent trick goes to the right of the current lead. The lead will lead with any card in their hand and each player, moving to the right, must discard (play) a card of the same suit. If they cannot discard a card of the same suit, called “following suit”, they may discard an atout. If they cannot discard an atout, they may discard any card knowing full well they cannot win the trick in this manner. The winner of the trick is the one who discards the strongest card. The winner takes the discarded cards, groups them together, and places them on their trick pile. The strength starts with atouts and goes down through the lead suit. For example, the 1 atout is stronger than the king but not as strong as the 21 atout. For spades and clubs, or clubs and swords, the King is stronger than Jack, which is stronger than the 10, which is stronger than the 1, or Ace, depending on the deck. For hearts and diamonds, or cups and either pentacles or coins, the King is stronger than Jack, which is stronger than the 1 or Ace, which is stronger than the 10. Game play continues until there are no more cards in the player’s respective hands.

End of the Game

Once all cards in the all player’s hands are discarded, the game ends and the scoring begins. In groups of 3, each player counts the face cards, which the bouts count as face cards for scoring. The scores are as follows:

  • Roi (King) is worth 5 points.
  • Dame (Queen) is worth 4 points.
  • Cavalier (Knight) is worth 3 points.
  • Valet (Jack) is worth 2 points.
  • The bouts are worth 5 points.

Players then subtract 26 from their points and the player with the highest score is the winner.

Skat

This is a 200+ year old German trick-taking card game and is the national card game of Germany.

Number of Players

The game is played with 3 players.

Set Up

  • A 52-card deck

Remove all cards of all suits lower than 7 with Aces high. Deal 10 cards to each player. Place the remaining two face down in a pile called the “skat”. Next, players place bids. The highest bidder goes first and is called the “soloist”. The soloist will then choose any potential trump suit.

Game Play

Players take turns playing cards from their hand. Ranking from highest to lowest, including their point values, are Aces (11), Ten (10), Kings (4), Queens (3), Jacks (2), the remainder are worth 0 points. The winner of each trick is determined by either the highest ranking card of the trump suit, if any, or the highest ranking card if no trump suit was played. This continues until there are no more cards remaining.

The Skat

At any time, the soloist may take the skat into their hand and afterwards discard two cards from their hand.

Winning the Game

At the end of the game, everyone calculates the point values of all cards won in the tricks. If the soloist wins 61 points, they are declared the winner. Otherwise, the other players win.

Tarocchini

This Italian tarot game from Bologna dates back to possibly the early 16th century and has changed very little since then.

Number of Players

The game is played with 2-7 players.

Set Up

  • Any 78-card tarot deck will suffice, or, alternatively, the Tarocco Bolognese deck may be used

Before play begins, if the 78-card tarot deck is used, remove the 2-5 pip cards of all suits. Shuffle the deck and deal to all players using the French tarot rules.

Game Play

Play is similar to the French tarot rules, including suit rankings. Once all players have no cards in their hands, the game ends.

Atouts, tarrocchi, and their names

The atouts are given different rankings. First, the excuse is called the Matto and is the lowest rank, even lower than the pip cards. Next, the 1 atouts is called the Begato and is ranked higher than Kings. After that are the Moretti, which are 2 through 5 atouts. After that, following their card value, are 6 through 17 atouts and called the numeri di scavezzo. The next four cards are ranked higher than the numeri di scavezzo, but have assigned names and are called the grande. The 18 atouts is called Luna. The 19 atouts is called Sole. The 20 atouts is called Mondo. Finally, the 21 atouts is called Angelo and is the highest ranked card. The tarrocchi are the grande and Matto cards. The Matto and the Begato are collectively known as the contatori.

End of the Hand/Game

Once all cards are played, players count the combinations of cards that they have in their trick pile. Here are the associative combinations that are possible:

  • Three tarocchi is worth 18 points, but all four are worth 36 points.
  • Three Kings are worth 17 points, but all four are worth 34 points.
  • Three Queens are worth 14 points, but all four are worth 28 points.
  • Three Knights are worth 13 points, but all four are worth 26 points.
  • Three Jacks are worth 12 points, but all four are worth 24 points.

Next, players calculate the point totals of each card in the trick pile. The following table shows the point values:

Name of the CardCard Points
Angelo5
Mondo5
Sun1
Luna1
Numeri di scavezzo1
Moretti1
Begato5
King5
Queen4
Knight3
Jack2
Pips1
Matto5

Next, calculate the cards by sorting the trick pile in sequence, called "cricche". For each cricche, the contatori may not be used to substitute the Angel or any King. If it is an atouts, the sequence ends when a contatori is used as a wild card, unless they are used as wild for the 16 atouts or a grande card.

For each cricche, if a pre-condition is met, they are worth 10 points and all extra cards that are defined by that sequence are worth additional 5 points each card. They are pointed when removed from the trick pile as follows:

  • If the Angel and at least of the next three grande are in the trick pile, all consecutive numbered atouts are considered the “extra cards.”
  • If the King and at least two face cards of the same suit in the trick pile, the 1, or Ace, of the same suit is considered an “extra card.”
  • If the two Moretti and another that may be considered wild in the trick pile, up to 6 total cards, including any wild cards, are considered the “extra cards.”
  • If two Aces plus a third are in the trick pile, up to six 1, or Aces, with wild-cards are considered “extra cards.”

If three or more cricche are made, double the points received.

The player with the highest score wins. If tied, the game ends in a draw between the players with the same score.

Tarocchi Siciliani

This is a form of tarot played traditionally in Sicily.

Number of Players

The game is played with 4 players.

Set Up

  • Any 78-card tarot deck will suffice
  • Something to keep score

From the diamond suited cards, remove the 3 through 1, or Ace. From every other suit, remove the 4 through 1, or Ace.

Game Play

Game play is exactly the same as Le Tarot Français except with a smaller deck.

End of the Hand/Game

The game ends when no player has cards in their hand. The winner of the hand is the one who scores the most points.

Scoring

Each player gathers their trick pile and groups them into triplets. Each triplet is worth the value of the cards minus 2. If there are any remaining cards, subtract only 1 point from the value instead of 2.

  • The bouts are worth 10 points.
  • Atouts 19, 18, 17, and 16 are worth 5 points.
  • The kings are worth 5 points.
  • The queens are worth 4 points.
  • The knights are worth 3 points.
  • The jacks are worth 2 points.
  • All other cards are worth 1 point.

Tarock

A German version of tarot.

Number of Players

The game is played with 4 players.

Set Up

  • Any 78-card tarot deck will suffice
  • Something to keep score

From the pip cards in the red suits (diamonds and hearts), remove the 10 through 5 cards. From the pip cards in the black suits (clubs and spades), remove the 6 through 1, or Ace.

Game Play

Game play is exactly the same as Le Tarot Français except with a smaller deck.

End of the Hand/Game

Hands and games end exactly the same as Le Tarot Français except pointing and scoring is different. The winner of the hand is the one who scores the most points.

Scoring

Each player gathers their trick pile and groups them into triplets containing one “counting” card (bouts or one courts) and 2 low cards. Each triplet is worth the value of the counting card. If there are no more counting cards, but more triplets, each triplet of low cards is worth 1 point. It is entirely possible that there are remaining cards that are not in triplets for a player. Two low cards in this case are worth 1 point and 1 low card would be worth 0 points.

  • The bouts are worth 5 points.
  • The kings are worth 5 points.
  • The queens are worth 4 points.
  • The knights are worth 3 points.
  • The jacks are worth 2 points.
  • The low cards are worth 1 point.

Troggu

Troggu is a tarot card game originating in Switzerland.

Number of Players

The game is played with 3-6 players.

Set Up

  • Any 78-card tarot deck will suffice
  • Something to keep score

Remove from the “red” suits the 7 through 10 and remove from the “black” suits the 4 through 1, or Aces. The high to low rankings are the same as French tarot.

Game Play

Each player will receive a number of cards in a grouping and to the “Tapp”, which is in the center. Deal to players a number of cards that depends on the number of players:

  • For 3 players, deal to each player 6 + 6 + 6 groupings of cards.
  • For 4 players, deal to each player 4 +4 +5 groupings of cards.
  • For 5 players, deal to each player 4 + 4 + 3 groupings of cards.
  • For 6 players, deal to each player 4 + 5 groupings of cards.

The remaining cards are placed in the Tapp. One player, called the Tappist, is chosen and the rest form a temporary team. Each player, starting with the Tappist, can say “ich nehm’s”, “ich gehe”, or solo. If no solo and someone says “ich nehm’s”, the game goes onwards.

Misere

If everyone says “ich gehe”, a Misere is played. No one receives the Tapp. The dealer leads the first trick and nobody is on the same team. The objective is to not get more than 58 points.

Exchanges

If there is no soloist, the Tappist takes the Tapp into their hand and discards that many cards face down. The exception is that no bouts or kings may be discarded. Another exception is if the Tappist holds all 4 kings, they may be discarded all of them if desired.

If someone said “solo” earlier, they are the Soloist and they may not look at or draw from the Tapp.

Play

Either the Tappist or the Soloist leads the trick with players to the right following the suit. A trick is won just like in French tarot.

End of the Hand/Game

Each side counts the cards in their tricks with Tappist and Soloist including the Tapp in their totals. The scoring is as follows:

  • Bouts are worth 5 points each.
  • Atouts 2- 20 are worth 1 point each.
  • Kings are worth 5 points each.
  • Queens are worth 4 points each.
  • Knights are worth 3 points each.
  • Jacks are worth 2 points each.
  • Pips are worth 1 point each.

The winner is the one with more than 58 points, in which the Rappen is given to them. If a tie, the Rappen is not given out. The basic stake is 10 Rappen. This means if the Tappist or Soloist win, they receive 10 Rappen from each player. If the rest of the players win, they receive 10 Rappen from the Tappist or Soloist. For example, a Tappist will receive 40 Rappen for winning a 5 player game. In a Misere game, the player with the most points must pay 10 Rappen to all other players. For example, if the dealer wins a 5 player game, they must pay 10 Rappen to all players.

War

The classic game of capturing as many cards in a deck.

Number of Players

The game is played with 2 players.

Set Up

  • One standard 52-card deck

Deal the entire deck evenly to all players, one at a time, and face down. Anyone may go first at any time.

Game Play

Both players flip the top card of their face down stack. The player with the highest card wins the trick if the card suits are different and takes both cards, placing them at the bottom of their stack. If they are of the same suit, both players flip a card face up and one face down. The player with the highest active face up card, gets all cards from the trick. If the face up cards are the same suit again, repeat the process of removing a card face down and face up until the new active face up card is not of the same suit.

Winning the Game

The game ends when one player has won all of the cards from another player.

Tarot Decks

A tarot deck may be used. The atouts are considered the same suit as the other active face up card.

Whist

The classic trick-taking game.

Number of Players

The game is played with 4 or more players. It is possible that players are divided into teams.

Set Up

  • One standard 52-card deck

All cards are dealt face down to each player until the last card is undealt. Flip this card face up. It is the trump card and the suit of that card is the trump suit.

Game Play

Turn goes clockwise starting with the player to the left of the dealer. This player leads with a card by placing one face up from their hand. Play continues with players to the left that try to: play with the trump suit, play with the same suit as the card that was led, or just play a card. The trick is won when the player with the highest trump suited card is played. If no card was played using the trump suit, the highest card of the led suit wins the trick. The winner of the trick takes all the cards and leads the next round.

Winning the Game

The game is won when all cards are taken. The first six tricks taken do not count towards scoring. Starting with the seventh trick, every odd trick counts as one score. The player, or team if team play is chosen, with the highest score wins.

Tarot decks

Tarot decks may be chosen. If this is the case, the atouts are the trump suit and the last card is not assigned as the trump card.

Wish Solitaire

A solitaire game

Number of Players

The game is played with 1 player.

Set Up

  • One standard 52-card deck

Remove the 2s through 6s of all suits. Deal out 8 piles of four cards each.

Game Play

Flip over the top cards of each pile. If there are any pairs of a kind, take them from the pile and set aside, flipping over the card underneath, if one exists.

Winning the Game

The game is won when all piles are exhausted.