OBJECTIVE OF BURRACO: Meld all your cards in hand!
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players (fixed partnerships)
NUMBER OF CARDS: two 52 card decks + 4 jokers
RANK OF CARDS: Joker (high), 2, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
RANK OF SUITS: Spades (high), Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs
TYPE OF GAME: Rummy
AUDIENCE: All Ages
INTRODUCTION TO BURRACO
Burraco is an Italian card game, not to be confused with the South American games Buraco and Burako. This game has similarities to the rummy game Canasta, in that goal is to make melds or combinations of 7 or more cards. Burraco, like other more modern games in this family, utilizes a second hand that players use once disposing of all cards in the first hand. Despite the game originating in South America, the Italian rules are considered standard.
Joker: 30 points each
Two: 20 points each
Ace: 15 points each
K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8: 10 points each
7, 6,5, 4, 3: 5 points each
To choose the first dealer, have each player draw one card from the shuffled deck. The player who draws the lowest value deals first. The player who draws the highest cards sits to the left of the dealer and plays first. In the event of a tie, use suit rankings (listed above) to determine who has the highest value card. The two players with high cards play the other two with the lower cards.
After each hand, the deal moves to the left.
The dealer shuffles the deck and the player to their right cuts the deck. They must lift the top 1/3 of the deck, taking at least 22 cards and leaving at least 45 in the deck. The dealer grabs the remainder of the deck (the bottom 2/3s) and deals from it, passing each player 11 cards. The player that cut the deck deals from the bottom of their cut to form 2 face-down piles or pozzetti. These are dealt one card at a time, alternating between the two, until each pile has 11 cards. The two piles are placed in a cross shape, with one pile horizontally placed on top the other. The cards the remain are placed in the center of the table, face down.
After the dealer finishes each of the 4 hands, they place the 45th card face-up in the center of the table and the cards that remain beside it, on top of the cutter’s extra cards.
So, each player has a hand of 11 cards. In the center of the table is the pozzetti, which has two face-down stacks of 11 cards, for a total of 22 cards. The pile of remaining cards from the cutter and the dealer should consist of exactly 41 cards with 1 card face-up beside it.
The goal of Burraco is to form melds. Melds are card certain combinations set on the table that must contain at least 3 cards. You may add cards to your team’s melds, but not your opponent’s melds.
TYPES OF MELDS
- Set. A set has 3 or more cards of equal rank. You may have no more than one wild card (2 or joker) or be made entirely of them. You can have no more than 9 cards in a set.
- Sequence. A sequence has 3 or more cards that are consecutive AND the same suit. Aces count both high and low, but cannot count as both. A sequence can have no more than 1 wild card (2 or joker) to replace a missing card. Twos may count as natural cards in sequences. For example, 2-2-Joker is a valid sequence. Teams may have two separate melds of sequences in the same suit, however, they cannot be manipulated (joined or split).
Melds with natural (non-wild) cards only are called clean or pulito. Melds with at least 1 wild card are dirty or sporco. If a meld contains 7+ cards it is called a burraco and earns that team bonus points. Burraco melds are indicated by flipping the last card in the meld horizontal, 1 card if it is dirty and 2 if it is clean.
The player directly to the left of the dealer starts the game and play passes to the left. Players take turns until someone goes out or the stockpile has been exhausted.
Turns consist of:
- Draw the top card of the face down pile OR take the entire face-up discard in hand.
- Meld cards by placing valid card combinations on the table or adding cards to pre-existing melds, or both.
- Discard a single card from hand to the top of the discard pile. Every turn ends in a discard of 1 card.
Next, the first player to play all cards in hand grabs the first 11-card pozzetto and uses as a new hand. However, the second pozzetto is taken by the first player to run out cards on the other team. Below are the two ways to take a pozzetto:
- Directly. After melding all the cards in hand, simply grab a pozzetto and keep playing. You may even be able to meld cards from the pozzetto hand immediately. After all the cards have been melded that possibly could, discard, and play passes to the left.
- On the Discard. Meld all cards in hand but one, discard the last card in hand. On the next turn, or while other players take their turns, grab a pozzetto. Keep the cards face-down.
THE END GAME
Play ends in one of these three ways:
- One player “goes out.” This is called chiusura or closing. However, to close, you must:
- Taken a pozzetto
- Melded 1 burraco
- Meld all cards in hand BUT one, which is discarded, and cannot be a wild card. FInal discard is required.
- Two cards left in the stockpile. If there are only 2 cards left in the draw or stock pile the game immediately stops. The discard cannot be taken into hand and no other cards can be melded.
- Stalemate. Permitting the discard only has one card, and players are simply discarding and grabbing from the discard, and no one wishes to draw from the stock, there is no progress in the game. Play may end here and hands scored.
After play ends, teams score the hands and melds. At this point, reference the card values section above.
Cards in Melds: + card value
Cards in Hand: – card value
Burraco Pulito (clean): + 200 points
Burraco Sporco (dirty): + 100 points
Going Out/Closing: + 100 points
Not Taking Your Pozzetto: – 100 points
The game ends when 1 team scores 2000+ points. However, if both teams score 2000+ points in the same hand, the team with the higher cumulative score wins.