OBJECTIVE OF BALOOT: The objective of Baloot is to win tricks to score points.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 Players
MATERIALS: A modified 52 card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game
OVERVIEW OF BALOOT
Baloot is a popular bidding trick-taking card game in Saudi Arabia. In Baloot, 4 players will play in 2 partnerships. Players will bid to determine the scoring and rules of the round and then compete to win tricks. After the round scores will be compiled. The team to score 152 points or win a “Gahwa” round will win the game.
To set up Baloot a deck of 52 cards should have the 2-6s removed. This will leave you with a 32-card deck to play with. Partners should sit directly across from each other and dealing and playing will proceed counterclockwise.
The deck should be shuffled, and each player receives a hand of 5 cards. Of the remaining cards, one is revealed and placed face-up on the table.
There will be a round of bidding and after each player will receive three more cards. The bidding will determine the suit of the “hokum”, or trump suit if there is one. The ranking for cards in the Hokum is different from other suits.
For Hokum the ranking is Jack (high), 9, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, 7.
For all other suits, the ranking is Ace (high), 10, King, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, 7.
Baloot is played over a series of rounds usually, however, there is a scenario possible to win in one round if “Gahwa” is declared. First, there will be a session of bidding then the round will be played through, scoring points at the end.
The players are bidding for the faceup card in the center of the table. The winner of the bid will get that card as well as two randomly dealt cards from the remaining cards from setup. The other cards will be randomly dealt out after bidding as well.
The dealer’s right player will start the bid. When a player bids the have a few options; they may declare “hokum”, “Sun”, or “Pass”. Hokum is when the round is played with a trump suit, and that suit is determined by the face-up card on the table. Sun is when there is no trump suit at all. Passing allows the next player the choice instead.
If a player declares hokum, then all other players, in turn, get the choice of declaring sun or passing. If all players pass, then the original declarer of hokum can decide to declare sun or remain with hokum.
If sun is ever declared the bidding immediately ends. All players, in turn, get the choice to declare sun and take it from the original declarer or pass.
The players bidding third and forth from dealer get the option to declare “ashkal”, which is sun, but the player’s partner receives the card instead of them.
If all players pass without declaring, a second session of bidding begins immediately. In this session, if someone declares sun then the bidding is done.
If hokum is declared, then all players who haven’t passed yet are given the option of declaring sun or pass. If all pass the declarer of hokum can decide to remain with hokum or change to sun. If they choose hokum, now they must choose a trump suit, but it cannot be the same as the suit of the card faceup on the table.
If all players pass on the second session of bidding the cards are redealt and the game restarted.
After bidding there is a chance for increasing point values.
If hokum has been declared, then the other team can choose to double the rounds points. If this is done the player who won the bid, can choose to triple it. The player who chose to double may now choose to quadruple it. Finally, the player who won the bid can decide to declare gahwa. This means whoever wins this round wins the game.
If the points have been doubled or quadrupled players may not lead a trick with a hokum card if they have any other option. This is called a “locked” round.
If sun was declared the point increases above can only be done if the declarer of sun has more than 100 points and the other team has less than 100 points.
The player who won the bidding session will lead the first trick. All players must follow suit if able. If not, they may play any card including a hokum card. The winner of the trick is the highest hokum card or if none were played the highest of the suit led. The winner of the trick leads the next trick. The round is over once all cards have been played.
Projects are ways to score bonus points. They required a sequence of cards to complete. They must be declared in the first turn except for the project Baloot. Players may declare up to two projects but Baloot is added automatically if achieved.
Sira is a project that involves a sequence of three cards of the same suit to be played in a row.
50 requires four cards of the same suit to be played in a row.
100 requires 5 cards of the same suit in a row, or four 10s, Jacks, Queens, or Kings. In Hokum four aces can also be played.
400 required four aces to be played but only in a sun round.
Baloot requires the king and queen of the hokum suit to be played and this cannot be done in a sun round. It is declared once this has been achieved.
All cards can only be played on one project.
Scoring is not evaluated by how many tricks you win but by the cards you win in a trick. Each card has a bunt value which is used to calculate your score at the end of a round. The last trick of a round is worth 10 bunts when won.
In sun the card values are as follows: Aces are worth 11 bunts, Kings are worth 4, Queens are worth 3, Jacks are worth 2, and 10s are worth 10. No bunts are awarded for 7-9s.
In hokum, the values of the cards are the same as about except for the hokum suit itself. In the hokum suit, aces are worth 11 bunts, king 4, Queen 3, Jack 20, ten 10, nine 14, and 7 and 8 are worth 0.
Projects are worth bunts as well, but they differ depending on the round type.
For sun Sira is worth 4 bunts, 50 is worth 10, 100 is worth 20, and 400 is worth 40.
For Hokum Sira is worth 2 bunts, 30 is worth 5, 100 is worth, 10, and Baloot is worth 2.
Once bunts are calculated you use those to determine your score for the round. These differ depending on the round type.
For sun the bunts are taken and rounded to the nearest 10. Then they are multiplied by 2 and then divided by 10. This will be your round score. If the number is hard to round like 25 you will multiply by 2 then divide by 10 without rounding.
For hokum the bunts are divided first by 10 then this will be rounded to the nearest whole number except when it has 0.5 in the number such as 7.5. if this is the case drop the 0.5 and just round down to the nearest whole number.
Once a score is calculated the bidder determines if they succeeded in their round. In a sun round if they scored more than 13 points than the other team, they succeeded. In hokum, they must have gotten more than 8 points higher to succeed. Each team scores its points to the total points collected so far.
If the bidder did not succeed, then the other team scores the max amount of points 26 in sun or 16 in hokum and the bidder’s team gets nothing.
If a team wins all the tricks in a round, then they get 44 points (or 88 if the faceup card you bided for was an ace). The other team gets no points.
END OF GAME
The game ends once a team has achieved 152 points or a gahwa round is won by a team.