OBJECTIVE OF BELOTE: The objective of Belote is to win tricks to score 1000 points.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 4 players
MATERIALS: One modified 52-card deck, a way to keep score, and a flat surface.
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking Card Game
OVERVIEW OF BELOTE
Belote is a trick-taking game playable by 2 to 4 players, though it is widely accepted that 4 player Belote is best. In 4 player Belote players are in partnerships of 2. In 2 and 3 player Belote there are no partnerships. In 4 player games, partnerships are fixed so that partners are always players sitting across from each other.
Players will bid on who determines trump, make declarations about their and play through a series of tricks. How many and which tricks are won will matter for scoring.
To set up, a deck of 52 cards will need to be modified to be 32 cards. All cards 6 and below will be removed. This will leave Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, 10s, 9s, 8s, and 7s.
Belote has a strange way of dealing where the deck is never shuffled. Instead, the player to the dealer’s left will cut the deck and then players will start to receive their hands.
The dealer will first deal each player a batch of three cards, then a batch of two cards in counterclockwise order. After these cards are received the dealer will flip the next card on top of the deck face up in the center of the play area. The bidding portion of the deal will begin.
The player to the dealer’s right will be the first to decide if they would like to take the card in the center or pass. If they take the card then they are declaring their team the takers for the round, the card in the center will determine trump and they will need to score at least as many points as the opponent team to complete their contract. If they pass this decision goes to the next person in a counterclockwise order until a player has taken the card, or all four players have passed.
If all players pass, then there is another round of bidding where taking the card now means that the player’s team will be the taker and they will still need to complete the above contract but now they may choose trumps. If all players pass again, all cards are collected, the dealer passes to the right, and the round restarts.
Once a player decides to take the card the bidding is over. That player will take the card into their hand and the dealer continues to deal cards in the same order. All other players receive three cards, while the taker receives 2. All players should have 8 cards in hand.
Card Rankings and Values
Belote has three separate card rankings and some cards hold value used for scoring.
The trump suit has its ranking and scores. The ranking is Jack (high), 9, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, and 7 (low). Their values in the same order are 20 points, 14 points, 11 points, 10 points, 4 points, 3 points, and 8s and 7s receive zero points.
The ranking for other suits is Aces (high), 10s, Kings, Queens, Jacks, 9s, 8s, and 7s (low). Their Values in order are 11 points, 10 points, 4 points, 3 points, 2 points, and 9s, 8s, and 7s receive zeros points.
Declarations also follow their ranking. So, when cards must be in ranking order, they follow the traditional ranking of Ace (high), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, and 7 (low). They have different scores based on whack declarations are made. These will be discussed below.
There are three different types of declarations. There are same ranking declarations, sequenced declarations and Belote and Rebelote declarations. Same ranking declarations and sequenced declarations follow the same guidelines where Belote and Rebelote declarations have their guidelines.
Same Ranking Declarations
Same ranking declarations are also called Squares. You can declare a square when you have four of the same ranking cards in your hand. The only cards that can’t be used are 8s and 7s. Each square is valued differently as well. Jacks are worth 200 points, 9s are worth 150 points, and Aces, Kings, Queens, and 10s are worth 100 points.
Sequences are a series of cards in ranking order of the same suit. They are between 3 and 5 cards long. Sequences longer than 5 cards can be declared and are counted as any of the 5 card sequences they include for ranking purposes. Three card sequences are worth 20 points, four card sequences are worth 50 points, and five-card sequences are worth 100 points.
Belote and Rebelote Declarations
Belotes and Rebelote is when a player holds both the trump king and queen. It is played, scored and follow different rules than other declarations. It is always worth 20 points.
Guidelines for Declarations
The guidelines for ranking declarations and sequence declarations are as follows. Only one team will get to score their declarations. To find which team will get to do so each team will make their declaration when they play their card during the first trick. Squares rank higher than 5 sequenced declarations and the ranking for squares is congruent with scoring.
An example of this would be Player A plays the first card of the trick and makes a declaration of four 10s. Player B plays their card and makes a declaration of a sequence of three. Player C plays their card and makes a declaration of a sequence of 5. Player D plays their card and makes a declaration of four Jacks. After the first trick is settled player may discuss, if needed, who wins the declarations and the losing team can ask to see the declared cards to confirm. In this instance, Player D wins and their team may score their declarations at the end.
For Belotes and Rebelotes they do not need to be declared with other declarations. They are not part of the ranking and are scored no matter which team wins scoring privileges for the other types of declarations. Belotes and Rebelotes are declared by calling Belote when the first card of the pair is played and Rebelote when the second card is played to finish the declaration.
The game starts with the player to the dealer’s right and continues in a counterclockwise rotation. The player to the dealer’s right will lead the first trick. Players that follow will need to follow some requirements with the cards they play. Players must always try to follow suit and if not, must play a trump to beat any other trumps played unless your partner is currently winning the trick. If not able to follow suit or have no trumps to play they may play any card to the trick.
The winner is the player who played the highest trump or if not applicable the highest card of the suit led. The winner of the trick leads the next.
The last trick is special and the team to win it scores an additional 10 points.
Tricks are scored by each team and the team permitted to may also score their declarations. Belotes and Rebelotes are also scored. If the taker’s team scored equal or more points to the opposing team, they have completed their contract and both teams may score their points to their total game scores. If the taker’s team fails to make their contract the opposing team score 162 points plus all declarations of both teams.
If the taker’s team wins all the trick, then they score an additional 100 points giving them 252 points plus declarations. If a team loses all the trick must give up all their declarations except for Belotes and Rebelotes. If the opposing team wins all the tricks, they score 252 points plus declarations of both teams.
END OF GAME
The game is won when a team reaches 1000 points. If both teams reach 1000 points in the same round the game ends in a draw.