Belote is said to be from France, although we don't have any real proof. Nevertheless, that's in France that the game is way the most popular, where it is sometimes not far from being considered to be à national sport, as Jass in Switzerland. There are quite notable differences with Jass but the two games are still considered to be similar.
The objective is simply to get points by judiciously playing your cards. It is played in two teams of two players with a deck of 32 standard French cards and is organized in rounds of 8 tricks.
Course of the game
Players make two teams of two and place themselves on the table so that each team plays alternatively.
At the beginning of the round, dealing goes in two steps.
- The dealer deals 5 cards to each player, by groups of 2 and then 3 or 3 and then 2.
- He turns the next undealt card and show it to everybody. This card is proposed as trump suit for the first round of the bet phase (see below).
- At the end of the bet phase, once the contract to be played is determined, dealing of the remaining cards (3 for each player) continues starting at the taker. That player will thus have the card previously shown in his hand.
- Then, once all cards have been dealt, the card play can start
At the end of the round, points are counted and the player to the left of the current dealer becomes dealer for the next round.
Betting and contracts
After the first distribution part, when each player has 5 cards in his hand, the next undealt card is returned and proposed as trump suit.
At his turn starting at the player after the dealer, each player can choose whether to take or pass.
The player who decide to take choose the trump suit and engage his team to make at least a certain number of points.
At the first table round, the trump suit is necessariliy of the suit given by the returned card. IF nobody takes at first turn, another suit can be chosen as trump but then it's no longer allowed to choose the suit of the returned card.
If nobody took after a second table round, cards are taken back, shuffled and dealt by the next dealer.
IN the basic rule, the player who takes make the bet phase end and the second part of deal restarts with him (it isn't possible to overbet). He then engages his team to make at least 82 points.
There exists a certain number of variants allowing and even encouraging overbetting: belote countered, coinched, etc. where a number of points is announced additionally to a trump suit. These variants aren't available on the playroom yet.
At his turn, the player must :
- IF there isn't any card on the table, he has to begin a new trick. as such, he can play any card of his choice. This first card will determine the suit.
- IF he isn't the first one, then :
- If he owns a card having the same color as the suit (the first card played), then he has to follow, that is being obliged to play that color.
- IF he doesn't own any card of the required suit, then he musts cut if he can, meaning play a card of the trump suit if he has one; except if his parthner is currently winning the trick, in which case he isn't obliged to do so.
- If he hasn't any card of the required suit and if someone already cut before him, he is still obliged to play trump and to overtrump, i.e. play a stronger trump if he can.
- If and only if he has neither required suit nor trumps, then he can discard any card of his choice
When everybody has played his card, the player who put the strongest one win the trick. The strongest card is defined by :
- If there are trumps, the highest trump card win the trick
- Otherwise, if there isn't any trump, the highest card having the suit color win the trick
Belote and rebelote
If a player owns the king and the queen of trump, his team can obtain 20 bonus points. To get them, he must announce « belote » when playing the king, and « rebelote » when playing the queen, just after having played the corresponding card but before the next player plays.
The king and the queen must be played in that order; playing the queen and then the king don't give the bonus.
Of course, the bonus is lost when forgetting one of the two announcements.
At trump color, order and value of cards are the following :
- Jack, 20 points.
- 9, 14 points; this card is often called « the fourteen ».
- Ace, 11 points
- 10, 10 points
- King, 4 points
- Queen, 3 points
- 8 and 7 don't count any point
At non-trump colors, order and value of cards are the following :
- Ace, 11 points
- 10, 10 points.
- King, 4 points
- Queen, 3 points
- Jack, 2 points
- 9, 8 and 7 don't give any point.
Be careful about the particularism of the 10, which is placed just after the ace and thus wins against other figures.
Last trick is worth 10 points. A round counts exactly 162 points. A complete belote game is often played in 1000 points.
At the end of the round, three cases are possible :
- The attacking team, the team where the taker is, obtained at least the number of points required by the contract and made more points than the opposite team: in this case the contract is met and each team gets the amount of points effectively realised during the round. IN the standard belote game, the minimum required number of points is always 82, which is at least more than the half of 162.
- The attacking team didn't realise the required points or defenders obtained more points than the attackers, the contract is thus failed. The team who didn't take obtain in this case 162 points, and 0 for the takers.
- The two teams obtained the same amount of points, there is a tie (typical case: 81). IN this case, defenders immediately mark their points, while points of attackers team are taken back in the game; they will be given to the winner of the next round.
A match, meaning getting 162 points by taking all the tricks, gives a bonus of 90 points, what makes 252 in total.
The 20 points for belote and rebelote are always counted for the team who made them, independently of the result of the contract. They can allow to save from fail or tie and are never banked for a next round.
Key shortcut summary
- Enter: start the game or play a card
- C: announce cards currently on the table
- A: announce trump suit
- F: announce current required suit
- S: announce scores
- Espace: announce « belote » and « rebelote »