Belot

Belot (colloquially called Bela) is a very popular card game. Various versions of the game are played around the world (see Jack-Nine games) and indeed a version of the game is often a “national card game” of a country (e.g. France, the Netherlands, Croatia, Bulgaria, Québec etc.).

Since Belot in its form is the most popular card game in Croatia, pretty much the same version is very popular throughout modern yogusolav states – especially in Vojvodina (Serbia) and Bosnia – and I haven’t noticed any English descriptions of Croatian version on the web, I thought I might blog a bit about the game. To distinguish the game from other versions of Belot, I’m going to refer to the game as Bela. Although I’m going to use certain terms from Wikipedia’s Belote article, the Croatian version is not described in the article.

Bela requires skill {although luck plays a very important role in the game [(see Declarations (cf04)]}, meaning you need a lot of experience and you need to play the game a lot to gain it.

The game can be played by 2, 3 and 4 players, but the 4 player game is the most common and others are just crippled versions of the 4 player game. Anyway, I’m going write general rules first and then crap unique to 4, 3 and 2 player games, but I’ll probably use 4 player examples in the description of the general rules.

CONTENTS

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DECK (cf01)
CARD RANK (cf02)
SCORING (cf03)
Declarations (cf04)
Sequences (cf05)
Squares (cf06)
Bela (cf07)
Declaration confirmation (cf08)
All tricks (cf09)
WINNING TRICKS AND GAMEPLAY (cf10)
OBJECTIVE (cf11)
SHUFFLING, DEALING AND CHOOSING THE TRUMP SUIT (cf12)
REACHING THE THRESHOLD (cf13)
FOUR PLAYER GAME (cf14)
Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf15)
Declarations (cf16)
Passing/falling (cf17)
All tricks (cf18)
Threshold (cf19)
Play a four player game of Bela (cf20)
THREE PLAYER GAME (cf21)
Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf22)
Passing/falling (cf23)
Declarations (cf24)
All tricks (cf25)
Threshold (cf26)
TWO PLAYER GAME (cf27)
Cutting the deck, dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf28)
Passing/Falling (cf29)
Declarations (cf30)
All tricks (cf31)
Threshold (cf32)
OPEN BELOT (cf33)
Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf34)
Declarations (cf35)
Passing/falling (cf36)
Über (cf37)
Threshold (cf38)

DECK (cf01)

Bela is played with Hungarian cards (aka Wilhelm Tell cards and Doppeldeutsches Blatt). However, I’ll talk here in the terms of the standard French deck because it is the most common deck and there is no point in confusing people. Besides, Bela is played with Hungarian cards here because they are a common local deck in Croatia not because the deck was made for Bela nor because Bela was made for Hungarian cards. I doubt the French play Belote with Hungarian cards… Anyway, this way, you can just apply French suits and card values to a local deck common where you live. Besides, I recommend you just play the local version of the game. If you already play your local version of the game and just want to see differences between your version and Croatian; well… you’ll spot them easier if I go on about the game with cards that are familiar to you🙂

So the game is played with a deck of 32 cards (A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7 of four suits).

CARD RANK (cf02)

There are 3 card ranks.

One is in the trump suit and square declarations [see Declarations – Squares (cf06)]. It goes as follows J–>9–>A–>10–>K–>Q–>8–>7.
Another one is in every suit, but trump. It goes as follows: A–>10–>K–>Q–>J–>9–>8–>7. Note that the value of jack and nine is different in the trump suit and other suits.
Finally, there are sequence declarations [see Declarations – Sequences (cf05)]. This rank is like in Poker and most other card games: A–>K–>Q–>J–>10–>9–>8–>7.

SCORING (cf03)

Scoring is done in two ways: through won tricks and through declarations.

Most cards are worth a certain number of points. The card values are different in the trump suit and in all the other suits. Anyway, the values of cards go as follows:

trumpother suits

Note that an 8 still beats a 7 like stated in Card Rank (cf02); they just aren’t worth any points when tricks are counted after the end of a round.

The player/team that won the last trick is awarded additional 10 points.

Total sum of points, including the last trick in a “clean game” (a round with no declarations), is 162.

One more thing before I proceed to declarations. Zero is never written when writing down the score of Bela. Hyphen is written in its place. Whether just in place of zero or for falling [see Objectives (cf11)].

Declarations (cf04)

Declarations are declared at the beginning of a round and can severely impact the game. They are made by certain combinations of cards held in players’ hands.

Note that rank of the declarations is important because only the declarations of the player/team having a declaration of the highest rank are scored, while the declaration of the other player(s)/team are not acknowledged. This can be confusing because the total amount of declarations doesn’t count. The rank is important. In order to clarify what I mean, I should write about the declaration rank down:

Sequences (cf05)

First, look at card rank in sequence declarations (A–>Q–>K–>J–>10–>9–>8–>7). The sequences must be in the same suit go like this:
Tierce* [a sequence of three card (e.g. J-10-9)] is awarded with 20 points;
Quarte [a sequence of four cards (e.g. Q- J-10-9)] is awarded 50 points;
Quint [a sequence of five cards (e.g. K-Q-J-10- 9)] is awarded 100 points;
Sequences of six and seven cards are treated like a quint (100 points).
Belot (a sequence of all eight cards in the same suit**) – the player/team having Belot is awarded by winning the game in progress.
*9-8-7 Tierce is usually called 19 to indicate that it’s the lowest declaration. When there are no other declaration, “19” is still awarded 20 points.
**Note: Some players consider Belot to be only in the trump suit while some players don’t give any special treatment to having all the cards of a suit. Belot occurs so rarely (once in 50 years in average) that I think the player who gets it (in any suit) deserves to be awarded a game. If nothing else, then to enjoy the happiness of the moment🙂

That is all good and well, but what if two players or teams have the same sequence (e.g. a Tierce). The card with the highest rank in the sequence is taken into account (e.g. Team 1 has Q-J-10 of Hearts while the other team has K-Q-J of Spades; Team 2 is awarded the declaration). What if all players/teams have exactly the same sequence (e.g. if Team 1 has Q-J-10-9 of Hearts and team 2 Q-J-10-9 of Spades)? In that case, the first thing to look at is whether one of those declarations is in the trump suit. If it is, it is immediately awarded* in favour of a nontrump declaration of the same rank. If none of the declarations are in the trump suit, the player/team to play first is awarded. So in our case if Spades are trump, Team 2 would be awarded 50 points (more if they had other declarations) no matter whether they played first. If neither Spades nor Hearts were not trump, Team 2 would be awarded their declaration(s) only if they were to play first.
*Note: Some players don’t take trumps into account and just look what player/team is first to play.

I’m going to illustrate whose declaration(s) is awarded in sequences of the same rank on three examples:
Example I: Player 1 (Team 1) is first to play. Hearts are the trump suit. Player 1 (Team 1) has 9-8-7 of Clubs, Player 2 (Team 2) has 9-8-7 of Hearts (trumps), Player 3 (Team 1) has 9-8-7 of Diamonds, Player 4 (Team 2) has 9-8-7 of Spades.  Team 2 are awarded their declarations because all players have declarations of the same rank, but Player 2 of Team 2 has his declaration in trumps.
Example II:  Player 1 (Team 1) is first to play. Hearts are the trump suit. Player 1 (Team 1) has A-Q-J of Clubs, Player 2 (Team 2) has 9-8-7 of Hearts (trumps), Player 3 (Team 1) has A-Q-J of Diamonds, Player 4 (Team 2) has A-Q-J of spades. Team 1 are awarded their declarations because 3 players had declarations of the same rank (in nontrump suits), but their declarations  (A-Q-J) outrank 9-8-7 in trumps and Player 1 of Team 1 is first to play.
Example III: Player 1 (Team 1) is first to play, followed by Player 2 (Team 2) who is followed by Player 3 (Team 2). Finally, the last player to play is Player 4 (Team 1). Hearts are trumps. Player 1 has 9-7-8 of Clubs, Player 2 has J-10-9 of Hearts (trumps), Player 3 has A-Q-J of Clubs, Player 4 has A-Q-J of Spades. Team 1 are awarded their declarations because A-Q-J (of any suit) outrank 9-8-7 (even of trumps) and Player 1 of Team 1 is first to play.

When it comes to sequences of 5 to 7 cards, the highest card is still vital* (e.g a sequence K-Q-J-10-9 beats Q-J-10-9-8-7 despite being a sequence of only 5 cards because King beats Queen).
*Note: Some players take the length into account (in that case Q-J-10-9-8-7 would beat K-Q-J-10-9).

Squares (cf06)

Squares always beat sequences. They go as follows:
Four Jacks are awarded 200 points;
Four Nines are awarded 150 points;
Four Aces are awarded 100 points;
Four Tenners* are awarded 100 points;
Four Kings are awarded 100 points;
Four Queens are awarded 100 points;
Four Eights and four sevens are worth nothing.
*Note: some players rank Kings and Queens above Tenners. This makes no sense to me because of the card ranks (i.e. if Jacks and Nines are ranked as in the trump suit, so should the other cards be – J–>9–>A–>10–>K–>Q–>8–>7) [see Card Ranks (cf02)].

The same card can be used to form both a sequence and a square*. For example, a King in a hand can form both 4 Kings and a A-K-Q-J Quarte.
*Note: Some players don’t allow the same card to be used in both a sequence and a square.

Finally to make sense of all the declarations, here’s an example: Player 1 (Team 1) has 4A; Player 2 (Team 2) has 10-9-8-7; Player 3 (Team 1) has 9-8-7 and Player 4 (Team 2) has 4Q and Q-J-10. Team 1 is awarded their declarations (in total 120 points; 4A + 9-8-7 = 100 + 20 = 120) because Player 1 of Team 1 had four Aces which is the highest ranking declaration in this case. The team is also awarded “19” of Player 3 because Player 1 and 3 are the same team. Team 2 can kiss their asses despite their declarations being worth 170 points in total.

Bela (cf07)

Pairing of the King and Queen of trumps is called Bela. It is awarded with additional 20 points. Unlike the other declarations, Bela is declared during the game by playing either King or Queen of trumps (a player must have both King and Queen in his hand and say Bela upon discarding the King/Queen in order to declare Bela). Bela is independent from other declarations, meaning it can be declared even if player’s/team’s other declarations aren’t acknowledged.
The King and Queen of Bela don’t need to be a part of declaration (e.g. no need for A-K-Q). When they are a part of deceleration, both declarations can be declared (meaning that A-K-Q worth 20 points on their own plus another 20 points if the player declares Bela).
So in the above stated case, Player 4 can declare Bela if he has the King of trumps in addition to the Queen and 20 additional points will be taken into account.

Declaring any declarations is optional. Furthermore, you can’t say Oh, I have [had] four Queens! If you hadn’t noticed your declaration at the beginning of the game, you can go screw yourself. Similarly, you can’t play the King of trumps, not declare Bela and then later play the Queen and say Hey, I had the King! or even worse say you had the King and Queen of trumps after you played both cards.

Declaration confirmation (cf08)

All declaration(s), including Bela, need to be confirmed, meaning a player/team needs to win at least one trick in order to be awarded their declaration. Players having 100 in sequence are often unable to confirm their declaration unless the sequence is in the trump suit because if the sequence is in another suit, they probably lack other suits including trumps [at least 5 of the cards in their hand are used in a sequence, meaning they have only 3 (5 in a 3P and 2P game) other cards in their hand] and it’s quite possible that other players lack the suit of his sequence.
Not confirming you declaration usually (3P game is an exception) means the other player/team won all tricks and they’re awarded the declaration(s) of the poor soul(s) who were unable to confirm their declaration(s) [see All tricks (cf09)].

All tricks (Shooting the Moon???) (cf09)

If a player/team wins all tricks in a round, they’re awarded additional 90 points. In addition, the player/team is awarded every declaration they and other players had.
If a player/team doesn’t confirm their deceleration(s) (i.e. they don’t win a trick), it usually means the other player/team won all tricks (3P game is an exception) and is awarded their declaration(s).

WINNING TRICKS AND GAMEPLAY (cf10)

The player who takes the previous trick plays the next trick first.

When a trick is played, players must play über.

Über (Ger. over) is ensuring the trick is yours while following suit. Basically über consists of three rules: The first one is to follow suit whenever you can; the second is to overpower the played card (e.g. a player discards King of Spades; you must play Ace of spades despite having the Queen), thus ensuring you take the trick; the third is to play a trump when you can’t follow suit, again to ensure you take the trick. Actually, saying “temporarily ensuring you take the trick” unless you’re the last to play would be better because the player(s) who play after you must also oblige über. Finally, when you can’t follow suit and have no trumps, you’re free to discard whatever card you feel like discarding.

I’ll try to explain über on the following examples:
Example I: Spades are not the trump suit. Player 1 discards Jack of Spades. Player 2 has Nine and Seven of Spades. He can discard either the Nine or the Seven because neither of them outranks the Jack (discarding the Seven would be the right choice because Sevens have the lowest rank; 9 at least beats 8). Player 3 has the Tenner, Queen and Eight of Spades. He must play either the Tenner or the Queen because those two cards outrank the Jack while the Eight does not. Player four can’t follow suit, but has trump(s). He must “cut” the trick with a trump.
Example II: Spades are not the trump suit. Player 1 discards Queen of Spades. Player 2 has the King and Jack of Spades, he must play the King. Player 3 has no Spades, so he cuts the trick with a trump. Player 4 has the Ace and Eight of Spades. He is no longer obliged to overpower the King because the trick has been cut (i.e. even if he played the Ace, he wouldn’t win the trick because Player 3 played a trump).
Example III: Spades are not the trump suit. Player 1 discards Nine of Spades. Player 2 has no Spades, so he cuts the trick with the King of trumps. Player 3 has no Spades too, but has the Tenner and Queen of trumps. He must play the Tenner to overpower the King. Player 4 has neither Spades nor trumps, so he discards whatever card he wants (let’s say he discards Seven of Clubs because his team mate hasn’t won the trick, so he doesn’t want to give any points to his opponents).
Example IV: Spades are not the trump suit. Player 1 discards Nine of Spades. Player 2 has no Spades, so he cuts the trick with the King of trumps. Player 3 has no spades and has the Seven and Queen of trumps. He must still play a trump, but he can chose between the Seven and the Queen since he can’t overpower the King, so he discards the Seven to give his opponents no points. Player 4 has neither spades nor trumps, so he discards whatever card he wants (let’s say that this time he discards the Tenner of Clubs because his team mate won the trick).

OBJECTIVE (cf11)

Objective of each round is for the player/team who chose the trump suit to pass. The opposing player/team try to prevent them in that. The player/team pass if they manage to win more points than their opponent(s) [that usually (2P game is an exception) means the payer/team that chose the trump suit needs to win 81 (+ possible declarations) +1 point]. If the player/team falls (i.e. doesn’t pass), all the points they managed to collect in a round are given to the opponent (3P game is an exception). The points are written down after each round and the player/team that reaches the threshold (4P 1001 pts; 3P 701 pts, 2P 501 pts) first wins.

As you can see, declarations can be a real bitch.

In theory, the maximum number of points won per round can be 802. A player has 4 Jacks (200 pts) and four Nines (150 pts) and his team mate has four Aces (100 pts) and four Tenners (100 pts). If the remaining 4 trumps were equally distributed, they’d have to be quite incompetent not to take all tricks …so 162 pts + 200 + 150 + 100 + 100 + 90… Actually, if their opponent would be extra stupid and had K and Q of trumps, he could declare Bela, thus, earning them another 20 points (822 in total). Well, this theory is quite unlikely to happen🙂

SHUFFLING, DEALING AND CHOOSING THE TRUMP SUIT (cf12)

A round begins with dealer shuffling the deck. After he shuffled it, he gives the deck to the player on his left (or right depending whether you play cards counter clockwise or clockwise) who then cuts the deck if he wants. The dealer, then, starts dealing. The first player to be dealt his cards, and then the first to play after the cards are dealt, sits opposite of the cutter (right of left of the dealer depending again on the direction you’re playing in).

As I mentioned above, the player/team that chose the trumps must achieve more points than their opponent to pass, otherwise they fall and receive no points. Their opponent(s) receive their points instead (3P game is an exception). Each player, except the dealer, can either choose the trump suit or pass (3P game is an exception). If all the players before the dealer pass, the dealer must choose the trump suit [he is mussed (Ger. muss – “must”)]. Now, this might look to you like it applies that players (well, Team 1 in 4P game) should just pass to avoid a possibility of falling. However, choosing the trumps is preferable. The player who chooses the trumps has the control of the round in his hands. He chooses the suit that favours him. He, also, prevents the opposing payer/team to win all tricks because it is extremely unlikely (happens only if a player chose the trumps on a really bad hand, probably because he was mussed) for the player/team that didn’t choose trumps to win all tricks. And falling is better than not winning a trick since the player/team that won all tricks is awarded additional 90 points.

REACHING THE THRESHOLD (cf13)

The threshold depends on the number of players.

There are two option: enough and pass.

The first option lets player(s)/team say they’ve reached the threshold in the middle of a round even though they might fall if the round was played to the end. They just say they have enough points. Note that when the last trick is played, they do fall if they had chosen the trump suit and didn’t win more points than their opponent(s), that is after the round is over you can’t just say that you have enough points. You must win the necessary amount of points before the last trick has been played (i.e. before the end of the round).
According to the other option, you can’t say you have enough points in the middle of a round. The round must be played till the end. If the player/team that was about to reach the threshold fell; well, tough luck.

Needless to say, there are different tactics in reaching the threshold by enough and pass. When playing enough, the player near the threshold will choose the trump suit that allows him to reach the threshold in a few tricks with no regards to passing (e.g. a player/team needs 15 points to reach the threshold; they are going to choose the trumps if they have a Jack in their hand and only crap besides the Jack  because Jack of trumps will win them 20 points). When playing pass, the opposing player/team is going to muss the player/team near the threshold and do they’re best to prevent them from passing. These tactics don’t apply to 3P game where the player to play first must choose a trump anyway. Well, more about 3P game later.
I prefer playing enough, but a lot of people play pass, so I often have to adapt when I’m a guest.

If all players/teams breach the threshold, the player/team having the most points wins.

FOUR PLAYER GAME (cf14)

Four player game is played in teams. Team mates sit opposite each other.

Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf15)

Each player is dealt three cards and then another three cards, having six cards in total. Players choose the trumps from those six cards. Each player can pass, except the dealer who is mussed to choose the trumps if other players pass. Once the trumps have been chosen, each player is dealt another two cards, making the hand of each player consist of eight cards in total at the beginning of game.
Yes, usually all 8 cards are dealt (in 3+3+2 sequence) and the last two cards simply remain untouched until trumps have been chosen.

Declarations (cf16)

After the cards had been dealt and trumps were chosen, player look at their hand to see if they have a declaration.

The team mate of a player with the highest ranking declaration – or rather his team – is automatically awarded his declaration(s) no matter their rank. I’m going to return to an example from Declarations section of General rules:
Player 1 (Team 1) has 4A; Player 2 (Team 2) has 10-9-8-7; Player 3 (Team 1) has 9-8-7 and Player 4 (Team 2) has 4Q and Q-J-10. Team 1 is awarded with their declarations (in total 120 points; 4A + 9-8-7 = 100 + 20 = 120) because Player 1 of Team 1 had four Aces which is the highest ranking declaration in this case. The team is also awarded “19” of Player 3 because Player 1 and 3 are the same team. Team 2 can kiss their asses despite their declarations being worth 170 points in total.

Passing/falling (cf17)

When the team that chose the trump suit falls, all the points they managed to win in a round are awarded to their opponents.
Since the total number of points is 162 [+ declaration(s)], determining whether the team passed is easy. The opponents count they’re tricks and if they reach 81 pts [+ declaration(s)], the other team falls and there’s no need for them to continue counting. All the points of the round are just awarded to them. If they don’t reach 81 pts [+ declaration(s)], the number of points they won is just subtracted from 162 [+ declaration(s)] and each team is awarded the amount of points they won in the round.

All tricks (cf18)

A team having no tricks means the other team has won all tricks. Basically, if you don’t manage to confirm your declaration, it is awarded to the opposing team.

Threshold (cf19)

Threshold in a four player game is 1001 points. The team to reach 1001 points first wins🙂

Play a four player game of Bela (cf20)

Play Bela for free on your Android device. Play the game for $2.5 on your iOS device.
Play Bela online on Playtoy (Croatian; Hungarian cards).


THREE PLAYER GAME (cf21)

Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf22)

Players are first dealt three cards then another three. The player first to play must choose trumps. When he chooses the trumps, each player is dealt another four cards. There are two cards left. Those two cards are dealt to the player who chose trumps. The player who chose trumps has in his hand 12 cards in total while the other two players have 10 cards. Therefore, the player who chose trumps discards two cards from his hand to his tricks.

Each player now has 10 cards in his hand and the game can begin.

Passing/falling (cf23)

The player who chose trumps does all he can to pass while the other two players temporarily “team up” to prevent him. The player falls if he doesn’t win more tricks than his opponents together. Therefore, the “team mates” are going to give each other valuable cards so the sum of the points in their tricks is bigger than the number of points in the tricks of their “common enemy”. When the player falls he isn’t awarded the points he won in he round, but neither are his opponents.

Like in a four player game, all cards are used, so the total number of points in a round is 162 [+ declaration(s)]. Therefore, each player who didn’t choose trumps counts his points and is awarded them. Then their points are summed. If the sum exceeds 80 points, the player who chose trumps, fell and he isn’t awarded any points, but his points aren’t awarded to his opponents either. I’ll write a few examples:
Example I: There were no declarations. Player 1 won 60 pts, Player 2 won 71 pts, Player 3  won 22 pts. Players 2 and 3 (the “team mates”) are awarded their 71 and 22 points respectively while player 1 is awarded shit because 71 + 22 = 93 which is more than 80;
Example II: There were no declarations. Player 1 won 82 pts, Player 2 won 60 pts, Player 3 won 20 pts. All the players are awarded their points, respectively, because the sum of the points of Players 2 and 3 (the “team mates”) is exactly 80 pts (60 + 20 = 80);
Example III: There were no declarations. Player 1 won 103 pts, Player 2 won 17 pts, Player 3 won 42 pts. All the players are awarded their points respectively because the sum of the points of Players 2 and 3 (the “team mates”) is less than 80 pts (17 + 42 = 59).
In other words, in example I the player who had chosen trumps didn’t manage to win more than a half of the points in the round, so he fell; but he did manage to win more in examples II and III, so he passed.

Declarations (cf24)

After the player who chose trumps discarded his two additional cards, players declare their declarations. Yes, the player must be careful not to discard cards that would form a declaration.
If a player who didn’t choose trumps has a higher ranking declaration than the player who chose the trumps, his “team mate” is awarded his own declaration even if the rank of the declaration is lower than that of the player who chose trumps. For example: Player 1 has A-K-Q-J, Player 2 has 4 Tenners, Player 3 has 9-8-7. Player 1 isn’t awarded his declaration because Player 2 has the highest ranking declaration, but Player 3 is awarded his declaration because his “team mate” has the highest ranking declaration. Players 2 and 3 don’t share declarations. They are each awarded their declaration respectively (in our case Player 2 would be awarded 100 points and Player 3 twenty points).

Declarations still need to be confirmed. I will try to explain that by expanding the previous example:
So P1 has A-K-Q-J, P2 has 4×10 and P3 has 9-8-7. Player 1 won 100 pts in tricks. He also had the King and Queen of trumps, so he declared Bela being awarded another 20 points (120 in total). Player 3 won 82 pts including his declaration, while player 2 did not manage to win a trick and, thus, didn’t confirm his declaration. Player 1 did pass and is awarded in total 120 points, Player 3 is awarded his 82 points and Player 2 is awarded nothing because he didn’t win a trick in the round, so his square (100 pts) went to hell. The total sum of points in the round was 202 (162 pts + 20 points from the declaration of Player 3 + 20 pts from Bela) and the player who chose trumps won more than the total sum; in other words he won more points than his opponents combined (120 > 0 + 82). Therefore, he passed.

All tricks (cf25)

A player not winning a trick doesn’t necessarily mean another player won all tricks. Basically, if you’d won no tricks, it’s quite possible none of your opponents was awarded your declarations🙂

Threshold (cf26)

Threshold in a three player game is 701 points. The player to reach 701 points first wins🙂

TWO PLAYER GAME (cf27)

Cutting the deck, dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf28)

In this case a player cuts the deck for himself (only two players – dealer and cutter)🙂

The dealer first deals his opponent three cards, then he deals three cards to himself, then another three to his opponent and another three to himself. Then he turns a card and puts it face-up on the table (or on whatever playing surface). Then he deals his opponent and himself final four cards, so both players have 10 cards in total. Then he puts the remaining cards face-up on top of the face-up card, signalling that the remainder of the deck isn’t used in the round (only 20 out of 32 cards are used in a two player game). Note that both the face-up card and the remaining deck are visible.20160812_212538
Cards after being dealt in a two player game

Players then take their first six cards. The player to play first can either accept the suit of the face-up card for the trump suit or he can pass. If he passes, his opponent gets the same right. If the opponent passes, the first player can either chose another suit to be the trump suit (he can’t choose the suit of the face-up card because he already rejected that suit) or pass. If he passes, his opponent is mussed and must choose the trumps from the remaining three suits. For example, the face-up card is King of Spades. Players first choose whether they want Spades to be trumps. Both of them can pass on Spades. If they do, they can then choose between Diamonds, Hearts and Clubs. If a player accepted the suit of the face-up card, a player who has Seven of the same suit in first six cards can replace it with the face-up card. In our case, if a player accepted Spades and one of the players has Seven of Spades in his first six cards, he can replace it with the King. If another suit was chosen and a player has the Seven of Spades, he can go screw himself.
When the trumps have been chosen (and the face-up card replaced), players take the remaining 4 cards and the game can begin.

Passing/Falling (cf29)

The player who chose trumps must win more points than his opponent to pass. If he doesn’t, he falls and all the points he won in the round are awarded to his opponent.

Since 12 cards of the deck aren’t used in a two player game and because, thanks to shuffling🙂 different twenty cards are in use in each round, passing can’t be determined from the total sum of points in a clean game. The number simply varies from round to round.

Declarations (cf30)

Nothing special about declarations here since there are only two players. The declaration(s) of the player with the highest ranking declaration are awarded.

All tricks (cf31)

A player having no tricks means the other player has won all tricks. Basically, if you don’t manage to confirm your declaration, it is awarded to your opponent.

Threshold (cf32)

Threshold in a two player game is 501 points. The player to reach 501 points first wins🙂


OPEN BELOT (cf33)

Open Belot is a version of Belot only for two players. It is quite rare. I’ve played it only with one buddy and we’re not even sure we’ve been playing it right. We can’t really check because the information on Open Belot is scarce since the game is so rare. The game is quite cool and catchier than Bela for two players, so it’s definitely worth to mention.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it, but the game goes something like this:

As the name says, the game is played so both players see each other’s cards.

Dealing and choosing the trump suit (cf34)

The dealer first deals his opponent a row of four face-down cards. Then he deals a row of four face-down cards to himself. Then another row of four face-down cards to his opponent and then again to himself. Then he deals his opponent a row of four face-up cards which he places on top of the first four face-down cards. Then he deals the same to himself and then another four face-up cards to his opponent, now to cover the remaining four face-down cards. Finally, he deals himself the final four cards. Again face-up to cover his remaining face-down cards.20160813_152020 (768x1024)
This is how Open Belot looks like at the beginning of a round

20160813_152142 (1024x768)
And this is how Open Belot looks like at the beginning of a round with a cat

After the cards were dealt like in the above pictures, the round can begin. Player 1 can choose the trumps or pass. If Player 1 passes, Player 2 (the dealer) is mussed and must choose the trumps. Before passing, Player 1 must look carefully at the cards, so his opponent doesn’t choose a suit that totally goes in his favour.

Declarations (cf35)

Declarations differ somewhat than in Bela.

First, both players are awarded their declarations respectively, no matter who had the highest declaration. They still need to confirm the declaration(s) though.

Secondly, sequences differ a bit. If a player has a sequence at the beginning of the game, he is awarded the usual value of the sequence (i.e. 20 points for a Tierce, 50 points for a Quarte and 100 points for a Quint or a bigger sequence), but if he gets a card that would continue his sequence during the gameplay, he is awarded only 20 more points. For example, a player has 10-9-8-7 at the beginning of the game. He is awarded 50 points. Then, during the gameplay, he opens the Jack of the same suit, now having J-10-9-8-7. He isn’t awarded 100 points for a Quint; just another 20 for opening the Jack and, thus, continuing his sequence, providing, of course, he didn’t brake his sequence (i.e. didn’t discard the Nine or the Eight) in the meantime in which case he’s awarded no additional points because he doesn’t even have the minimal sequence of three cards. Furthermore, players are awarded just 20 points per sequence for making them during the game, no matter how long the sequences are.

There is nothing different about the squares and players should always be careful their opponent doesn’t make a square.

I’ll illustrate what I’ve just said in the following pics:

20160813_205040
The upper rows are the cards of Player 1 while the bottom rows are the cards of Player 2. Player 2 has A-K-Q of Clubs and is awarded 20 points for the Tierce.

Player 1 then plays the Seven of Hearts, which Player 2 takes with the Ace, opening the Jack of Clubs.

20160813_204930 (768x1024)
Player 2 now has A-K-Q-J-10, but is awarded just 20 more points instead of 100 for a Quint.
In theory, Player 1 should be more concerned about Player 2 having three Kings. If the opponent opens another one, he’s going to be awarded 100 pts for having 4K and that would provide him with a serious advantage over Player 1. But, when we compare the pics of the beginning of the round with these, we’re going to notice that the King of Diamonds had already been played.

Passing/falling (cf36)

Player who chose trumps must have more points than his opponent, otherwise he falls and all the points he managed to win in the round are awarded to his opponent. It’s easy to see whether players pass or fall here because the player who didn’t choose the trumps can just count his points. When he reaches 81 points [+ declaration(s)], he can stop counting because his opponent fell, otherwise his points are just subtracted from 162 points [+ declaration(s)] to see how many points his opponent won.

Über (cf37)

The little sources I managed to find about Open Belot say über is not played (suit has to be followed though). However, we always play über simply because über requires tactics. You have to think how to ensure you win more points. For example, you have a Tenner of a nontrump suit, but your opponent has the Ace of the same suit. In addition to the Tenner, you have the King while your opponent has the Seven along with the Ace. Playing über, your opponent must take the King with the Ace because Seven is lower than King and you can then take the opponent’s Seven with your Tenner. This way you win 10 pts while your opponent wins 15 points. If über weren’t played, your opponent could just give you the Seven when you play the King and take your Tenner with his Ace. In that case, you would win only 4 points that way and your opponent would win twenty one points! In short, über über alles! ×D

Threshold (cf38)

Threshold in Open Belot  is 1001 points because there are usually a lot of declarations. The player to reach 1001 points first wins🙂


Posted on August 14th, 2016 at 20:08 GMT
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