OBJECTIVE OF BESTIA: Be the player with the most chips at the end of the game 

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 – 6 players 


RANK OF CARDS: (low) 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, J, Q, K, 3, Ace (high)

TYPE OF GAME: Trick taking



Bestia is an Italian gambling trick-taker in which players try to capture as many tricks as possible.  Ante in, fold or play, and exchange cards to build the best hand possible.  Capture at least one trick to earn some winnings.  Failing to capture any tricks will cost you big.


 Bestia uses a 40 card deck which ranks from (low) 2,4,5,6,7,J,Q,K,3,Ace (high).  Players will begin the game with the same amount of poker chips.  The ante for each hand should be determined prior to the start of the game.

Before the deal, each player pays the ante to the pot.  Dealer shuffles and deals 5 cards face down to each player who paid the ante.  The cards are dealt five at a time to each player.  Turn the top card from the deck over in order to determine the trump suit for the round.

Upon seeing their cards, players will have an opportunity to make one of three calls.  Beginning with the player left of the dealer, they may:

Fold – any player who does not wish to take part in the hand may fold.  To fold, players should place their cards face down on the table in front of them.  If only two players remain in the game, they automatically split the pot.

Play – any player who wishes to play may exchange up to five cards from their hand.  They discard the cards they do not want, and the dealer doles out an equal number of cards.

Knock – a player may knock to immediately begin the game.  If a player knocks, they and any following player cannot fold or exchange cards.

Be Third – a player can claim to be the third player if needed.  If only two players remain in the hand, the player who claimed to be the third player will stay in the game.  If three other players stay in for the hand, the player who claimed to be third must fold.

At the completion of the betting phase, each player who has chosen to stay in pays into the pot one more time.   


Typically, play begins with the player left of the dealer.  If a player knocks in the betting phase, they lead the first trick.  Any card can be played to lead the trick.

Bestia is a must-win game meaning that following players must try to win the trick if they can.  If a following play can follow suit, they must play a higher card to the trick than what has been played.  If they cannot win the trick by following suit, but they have a trump card, they must trump the trick.  If they cannot play a high enough card in the lead suit or the trump suit to win the trick, they may play any card from their hand.

The highest ranking card takes the trick.  The trick-winner leads.  Continue play until all five tricks are captured.

Deal passes left each round.  Play one round for each player at the table.


The total pot is divided into fifths each round.  A player wins one fifth of the pot for each trick they capture.  Players who fail to win any tricks earn nothing, and they must pay into the pot a number of chips equal to the pot’s current value.

If a player knocks and fails to capture any tricks, they must pay one and a half times the pot value for the next hand.


The player with the most chips at the end of the game wins.

Mark Ball
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