OBJECTIVE OF FERBLI: Have the highest value 4 card hand.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-7 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 32-card deck with German suits
RANK OF CARDS: A (high), K, Over, Under, X, IX, VIII, VII
TYPE OF GAME: Vying
INTRODUCTION TO FERBLI
Ferbli is a Hungarian card game that was quite popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, now the game is not common and is generally played in rural areas of Hungary and Transylvania. The name of the game is derived from the German word Farbe, meaning “color.” For a while, you could find this game in Austrian Casinos where it was referred to as 41 and Färbli.
The object of the game is to have the highest ranking hand of four cards, or bluff and convince other players in the betting your hand is better so they fold.
THE CARDS & THE HANDS
Ferbli is suited for 2 to 7 players. Both the deal and game play move counterclockwise or to the right.
The game uses a 32-card deck with German suits. In Hungary, the pack is locally known as magyar kártya.
The suits: acorns or makk, leaves or zöld, gourds or tök, and hearts or piros.
The cards: Ace or ász, King or király, Over or felső, Under or alsó, X or tízes, IX or kilences, VIII or nyolcas, and VII or hetes. Sometimes the Ace is referred to as the Pig or disznó.
To compare hands, cards are given point values: Ace = 11 points, King = 10 points, Over = 10 points, Under = 10 points, X = 10 points, IX = 9 points, VIII = 8 points, and VII = 7 points.
The possible hand combinations, ranked from highest to lowest, are as follows:
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of equal rank, four Aces is the highest, VII is the lowest. They follow the card ranks above.
- Banda (gang): Four cards in the same suit. These hands are ranked according to the total value of cards in the hand, from 34 to 41.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of equal rank. Hands are ranked from high to low based on the card rankings above, ace is the highest and seven is the lowest.
- Three-card Ferbli: Three cards in the same suit. Follows normal card rankings.
- Two Aces: A pair of Aces. No other pair is valuable.
- Two- card Ferbli: Two cards in the same suit. Value ranges from 21 to 15.
- One card per suit: Ranked by high card, 11 to 8.
THE DEAL & THE BETTING
Players must mutually agree upon the stakes prior to starting the game. The vizi, or minimum bet, and the maximum bet must be decided. Players can raise their stake by placing extra bets. Other players must call (match the bet) or fold and forfeit possible winnings in the pot. Generally, the game is played Limited Ferbli (korlátolt ferbli), in which the minimum amount you can raise is equivalent to the vizi. The maximum raise is twice the previously largest bet. The initial bet can be between the vizi and twice the vizi. If the first bet is twice the vizi, the following bet can be equal or up to 4x the vizi.
Prior to the deal, the player to the right of the dealer, or the first player, pays the minimum bet to the pot.
The dealer then shuffles the pack and the player to their left cuts it. After, the deals passes each player a set of 2 cards, face-down. The deal starts to the right of the dealer. Each player has the right to request to see the bottom card of the deck.
FIRST BETTING ROUND – THE VIZI & THE CUKASSZA
In the initial betting round, players examine their two cards. Any player other than the one that already put a vizi in the pot must match that (at least) to play. The game moves counterclockwise or to the right, so the game starts with the player two seats to the right from the dealer (or the player to the right of the first player). Moving to the right, each player either matches the vizi or folds. If they fold, they drop out of the game. This is signified by placing their hand crosswise on the table, face-down.
If there are 4 or less players at the table at this point, the game can continue, it only needs two active players. If there were five or more players, the game needs three players to proceed.
In the event there are not enough players, all the cards are thrown in and players who did not pay the vizi must do so. The pot now has a single vizi per player, this is called a cukassza. The deal passes to the right and the game re-starts. The player to the right of the dealer must place another vizi and players are dealt two new cards. The first betting round is repeated.
As the pot grows larger, it gives people more an incentive to stay and play.
SECOND BETTING ROUND – Besszerelés, Kóstáltatás
Once the first betting round is finished and there is a sufficient number of active players, the first player can raise the stake. This is announced by declaring besszer or beljebb. However, if the first player doesn’t wish to raise, no other player may raise either. The dealer will typically as the first player, “mehet,” which means “should the deal continue?” The first player then answers yes if they do not wish to raise. After, the dealer hands each player another two cards. The third round of betting starts.
But, if the first player decides to raise, the deal does not continue and they place a stake in the pot. The stake can be up to twice the vizi. Other players can match, fold, or raise. If each active player folds, the first player wins the pot! But, if there is at least one other active player, the game proceeds on.
The last player, either the dealer of the player to their left, can raise more if the first player raised. This is a special raise called kóstáltatás (charging). The last player can then continuously raise the stakes, with a maximum of raises equal to the amount of players active in the game. If the last player charges the first player, their bets can be up to 2x the besszer bet. After, the dealer deals the first player another two cards. At this point, the first player must either pay the charge, or kósta, or fold. No matter what the first player decides, the other active players must decide, without examining two more cards, if they should also pay the charge or fold. The first player has 4 cards while everyone else has 2.
No matter if the first player paid their charge, the last player can also charge the net active player in the game, and the next, all the way around the table. They can charge players a maximum of twice the previously largest bet in the game. The last player can choose to stop charging active players, if this happens players are dealt their next two cards without a charge.
The player who is second to last, or to the left of the last player, is the ostorhegyes or the trace-horse. If there are only two players, the trace-horse is the first player. The last player can charge this player twice, on charge per card.
- The last player can charge them for the third and fourth cards
- The last player can charge for only the third card
- The last player can charge for neither cards
The trace-horse can charge the last player in the exact same way, as well. Each charge can be twice the previously largest bet placed. Active players in the game who do not wish to fold must match these charges.
Players can look at the cards they are paying for or do so blindly. This allows for the blind bet in the third betting round.
THIRD BETTING ROUND
Active players have a four card hand. Players can examine their hands, or only the first two cards if they want to bet blindly. Unless the original first player hasn’t folded, the first player is the first active player to the dealer’s right.
The first player starts betting. They can stake from 1 vizi to twice the previously largest placed bet. The first player has the right to check, by they must call or raise the subsequent bets. If you wish to check, announce fórpassz (1st player), cupassz (2nd player), dru (third player), undpassz (fourth player), and und for all other remaining players. If all players check no one takes home the pot and everyone throws in their hands. Players who have not put in at least the vizi are required to and the money stays in the pot, ready for the next deal.
If someone places a bet, all other players must at least match it by calling, raise, or fold and forfeit possibly winning the game. The last active player takes home the pot without a showdown. If multiple players remain in the game, the last player who called can raise (between the vizi and twice the previously largest bet placed). Active players are required to match or raise to stay in the game. Whoever has the best hand wins the pot.
BETTING BLIND – Vakin Hívás
During the third betting round, players who have only seen their first two cards can bet blind in this round. If you bet blond it requires that the bet must be raised unless a player wishes to fold. The last player to match the blind bet is forced to raise it to stay in the game. The blind better may look at their two already-seen cards whenever, but if they look at their blind cards blind betting immediately ends.
If there is more than 1 player at the end of the betting, players reveal their cards an the best hand takes the pot! Beginning with the player to the right of the dealer, players show their cards. If two players have equal hands, the player closest to the right of the dealer wins. The pot is never split.