Belote is a popular French card game for four people, whereby they play in two teams. It is a close relative of Clobyosh, which is played in the Jewish communities all over the world, and of the Dutch game Klaverjassen.
The aims of the game are to collect as many points as possible with your partner by taking tricks (or with announcements, depending on the variant) and to be the first team to reach the point limit. You may choose between classic Belote, with or without announcements, and the game version Belote Contrée. If you hold the trump Queen and the trump King (Belote and Rebelote) you receive additional points.
Tips and tricks for playing the game
- Understand the rules.
The rules of the game are simple, yet mastering the game is a long process.
Here are the basic rules to follow:
There are 32 cards used for playing belote. They are the Kings (K), Queens (Q), Jacks (J), Aces (A), Tens (10), Nines (9), Eights (8) and Sevens (7). All four colors are used – Diamond, Spade, Hearts and Clubs.
Cards are dealt as follows:
Three cards to four players each.
Then another two.
After the bids and contracts, three more cards to each player.
- Learn about the bids and contracts.
The lowest bid is ‘Clubs’♣.
‘Diamond’♦ is higher than ‘Spade.’
‘Hearts’♥ is higher than ‘Diamond.’
‘Spades’♠ is the highest of all colors.
After that comes ‘Not Trump.’
The highest possible bid is ‘All Trump.’
There is the option to ‘Double.’ This way you are saying you intend to beat your opponent at his bid. The results, in the end, are doubled.
The other option is ‘Re-Double,’ which can only be said if there has been a ‘Double.’ The results, in the end, are re-doubled (multiplied by 4).
- Understand the strength of the cards.
When you are playing a color as a trump (e.g. a player has bid ‘Hearts’), then the Hearts’ strength is as follows from strongest to weakest: Jack, Nine, Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Eight and Seven.
The other cards are like that: Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, Nine, Eight, And Seven.
In that case, ‘Hearts’ is the strongest color and beats all other.
When you are playing a game of ‘All Trumps,’ all colors are equally strong; none beats the other. Cards are again Jack, Nine, Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Eight, Seven.
When you are playing a game of ‘not Trump’, all colors are again equal, but the strength of cards is Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Jack, Nine, Eight, Seven.
Whatever game you are playing, remember that you always have to answer the color wanted, if you have it. Hearts on the table means you have to give hearts, as well. If you do not have that color, you can give whatever you want. In a game of color, when you do not have the wanted color, you need to use a trump (the color that was bid) to get the hand.
When a trump card has been played, you must overtrump it, if you have a higher-ranked card
In a game of ‘No Trump,’ you can try ‘going low.’ In other words, you need not give a higher-ranked card, if you do not want to.
- Learn the declarations.
Declarations must be announced during the first round of the current game.
A sequence of three. Cards can be any part of this order: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7. This is worth 20 points.
A sequence of four. It’s worth 50 points.
A sequence of five. It is worth 100 points.
Longer sequences don’t count. A sequence of eight is called one sequence of five and one of three.
Four Nines. This is worth 150 points.
Four Jacks. This is the highest declaration. It is worth 200 points.
Four of A, K, Q or 10 is worth 100 points. Sevens and Eights are not awarded.
Belote is the combination of a King and a Queen of the same color. It must be a trump color. Belote is worth 20 points.
In a ‘Not Trump’ game, declarations are not allowed and don’t count.
5 .Master the rules of scoring.
Each card has its scoring value. Only Jacks and Nines change their own depending on the game.
Aces are worth 11 points. Tens are worth 10 points. Kings are worth 4 points. Queens are worth 3 points. In a game of ‘Not Trump’ and if not a trump color, Jacks are worth 2 points and Nines are worth 0 points. Eights and Sevens are always 0 points.
In a game of ‘All Trumps,’ Jacks worth 20 points and Nines worth 14 points.
The winner of the last round gets an additional 10 points. Declarations are also added to the score.
When the team who bid the game does not have enough points, they are considered ‘inside’ or ‘committed.’ This means all points go for their opposition.
When a team is kaput, the other team wins additional 90 points.
The whole score for a game of ‘All Trumps’ is 258 (26) and for a game of ‘Not Trump,’ it’s 162 (16). When a team has half or more, they win the current game. The score is then added to the global scoring sheet.
Follow the steps and score the most points with your partner.