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Belote Round: 0
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Belote

Game Type: Card Game
|
Number of Players:4

How to Play Belote?

Belote is a fun, strategic trick-taking card game for four players.
Belote was invented around 1920 in France and still considered one of the most popular card games there.

You (the brown monkey ) and your partner (the yellow bird ) will face off against your opponents (the red fox and blue otter ).

The game is played with a deck of 32 cards: cards 7 through Ace in each of the four suits. It's important to note that the rank and score of cards can vary depending on their suit!

Let's get into the specifics of how this works.

In Belote, one suit becomes the "trump" suit, outranking all other suits. Trump cards win tricks against higher-ranked cards from other suits.

Choosing and playing trumps is crucial in the game. For example, a Jack (J) scores 2 points in a plain suit, but scores 20 in a trump suit.


Plain Suits Trump Suit
Rank Score Rank Score
A 11 J 20
10 10 9 14
K 4 A 11
Q 3 10 10
J 2 K 4
9 0 Q 3
8 0 8 0
7 0 7 0

Let's learn more about playing!

Belote consists of multiple rounds, each beginning with a "bidding" part before moving on to the trick-taking part.

Dealing and Bidding

The dealer shuffles the deck, then gives out five cards to each player. The next card in the deck is revealed for all to see.

The decision to "take" or "pass" this face-up card is first made by the player to the dealer's left. If they take the card, its suit becomes the trump suit for that round. If they pass, the choice moves to the next player.

If everyone decides to pass, the players get another chance to take or pass the card. However, this time, the player who takes the card may choose any suit as the trump, except for the suit of the face-up card.

If all 4 players pass again, the deck is gathered, shuffled, and dealt again by the same dealer.

Once a player takes the face-up card, its suit becomes the trump for that round. The player who took the card gets two more cards from the deck, while all other players receive three additional cards, for a total of eight cards per player.

Declaring

Some cards can form special combinations that give you extra points. These are called declarations. There are three kinds of declarations:

  • Square: This is when you have four cards of the same rank, like four jacks or four aces. A square is worth different points depending on the rank of the cards:

    • Four jacks: 200 points
    • Four nines: 150 points
    • Four aces, kings, queens or tens: 100 points

    Four eights and four sevens don't count as a square and earn no points.

  • Sequences: This is when you have three or more cards of the same suit in a row, like jack-queen-king-ace of hearts or seven-eight-nine of spades. The cards are ranked from seven (lowest) to ace (highest).

    A sequence is worth different points depending on how many cards it has:

    • Five cards: 100 points
    • Four cards: 50 points
    • Three cards: 20 points
  • Belote-rebelote: This is when you have the king and queen of the trump suit. This is worth 20 points.

Apart from belote-rebelote, each player's declarations are announced when they play their card in the first trick of the round.

If you have belote-rebelote, you say "belote" when you play the king or queen of trumps and "rebelote" when you play the other one.

A card can participate in no more than one declaration.

Who gets points for their declarations?

Only one team gets points for their declarations (except for belote-rebelote): the team that has the strongest one. The other team gets none of their declaration points.

At the end of the round, you add the points of your team's declarations to your score.

Belote-rebelote always counts for your score, regardless of who had the highest declaration.

How do you determine the strongest declaration?

A square is always better than any sequence. If two teams have squares, the one with the higher score wins (e.g. a square of 9s is stronger than a square of Kings). If they have the same score, the one with the higher rank wins (e.g. a square of Aces is stronger than a square of Kings).

In the case where two teams have sequences of identical length, the team with the higher-ranked cards is the winner (e.g. a sequence of 10-J-Q is stronger than 8-9-10). If the rank is equal and one sequence is made up of trump cards, the trump sequence wins. If neither sequence is made up of trump cards, the team that played first in the rotation wins.

If you have a sequence of more than five cards, you only show the highest five cards of that sequence.

Trick-taking phase

Now the fun begins! There are eight tricks in each round. Here's how it works:

  • The player to the dealer's left starts by playing any card they want. This is called the led card, and its suit is called the led suit.
  • The other players, in clockwise direction, take turns to play a card. Players must play a card of the led suit, if they have one. This is called "following suit".
  • If you don't have a card of the same suit, you have to play a trump card, if you have one. A trump card is a card of the suit that was chosen as trumps in the bidding phase. A trump card is a card of the suit that was chosen as trumps in the bidding phase. For example, if the leading suit is hearts, the trump suit is diamonds and you don't have hearts, you have to play a diamond. This is called "trumping".
  • In case you have to trump and someone already played a trump card before you, you have to play a higher trump card, if you have one. For example, if someone played the nine of trumps and you have the jack of trumps, you have to play it. This is called "overtrumping".
  • The exception to this rule is when your teammate is already winning the trick. In this case you don't have to overtrump, you can play a lower ranked trump.
  • The player who played the highest card of the led suit or the highest trump card wins the trick.
  • The player that won the trick leads the next one.

Scoring

Now it's time to count your points and see who won! Here's how it works:

  • The round's score is the sum of trick points and declaration points, each counted separately.
  • Each team counts up their trick points. The team that won the last trick of the round gets a "Last trick bonus", an extra 10 points.
  • The team that took the faceup card from the beginning, is called "The Takers". The takers must get at-least as many points as the other team. If they succeed in doing so, each team gets the trick points they accumulated during the round.
  • If instead the taker got less points than their opponents, they lose all their points and their opponents get all trick points.
  • Note that the takers must get at-least as many trick points (tricks + last trick bonus) as their opponents, without taking into account declaration points and/or belote-rebelote bonus.
  • The total points that can be earned is 162 (152 from normal tricks + 10 last trick bonus), which means that in order for the takers to not lose all their points, they must get 81 or more points.
  • A special case happens when a team wins all tricks in a given round. Regardless of whether they were the takers or not, they get a 90 point bonus called "Capot" in addition to the trick points and last trick bonus. This adds up to 252 points.
  • Apart from the trick points, the team that has the strongest declaration gets their team's declaration points, while the other team doesn't.
  • A team that declared belote-rebelote gets the 20 point bonus regardless of anything else.

Determining the winning team

The game continues until one team reaches the target score (501, 701, or 1001), crowning them the winner.

If both teams surpass the target score at the same time, the team with more points wins. If both teams have the same number of points, another round is played to determine the champion!

Remember, Belote is a game of strategy! Examine your hand carefully, keep an eye on your opponents, and use your cards wisely.

Now, you're ready to enjoy the game! Happy playing!

Tips and strategies

  • Study your hand attentively before accepting the bid and grabbing the face-up card. Not scoring enough could lead your opponents to accumulate significant points.
  • There are numerous reasons for accepting the bid. You might have many cards from the face-up suit, possess strong cards from the face-up suit (like the Jack and 9), or have strong plain-suited cards.
  • Keep an eye on the other players, especially if they didn't accept the bid. This could reveal something about their hand, such as a possible lack of the Jack and 9 from that suit.
  • Think carefully before declaring your cards. Your rivals might have a stronger declaration. Also, remember that you're exposing your cards to everyone, which should factor into your decision to declare or not.
  • When your partner is about to win the trick, you have a choice. You can play a strong card to enhance the team score if you win the trick, or you could save your strong cards for later, opting to play a weaker card now.
  • Holding onto strong cards might be beneficial but be careful, as it could backfire. If you lose following tricks, you could unintentionally give your opponents many points.
  • Consider playing your trumps early in the round rather than saving them for later. By doing so, you can set the tone of the round and potentially cause your opponents to lose their trumps, allowing you to play strong plain-suited cards without the fear of being trumped.
  • On the flip side, preserving trumps for later could be a better strategy. They could come in handy when you can't follow suit anymore, and they increase your chances of winning the last trick of the round.
  • Keep an eye on your opponents: Watch the cards that your opponents play. This can help you figure out what cards they might have left, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Be mindful of the scores: If your team is close to reaching the target score, you might want to play more conservatively. On the other hand, if you're far behind, you might need to take more risks.

As a final note, remember that Belote is not just about winning every hand, but about scoring the most points over the course of the game. Stay focused, and always be thinking a few steps ahead.

Now, gather your cards, take a deep breath, and let the fun begin! Good luck, and may the cards be ever in your favor!

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