Belote variants around the world

What are the variants of belote around the world?

Belote, that social and strategic card game which is largely prevalent in France, also has players from all over the world. And so many variants…

Even if the rules of the game, the counting of points and the name can change depending on the player and/or the country you are playing in, everyone speaks the same language: that of belote!

What are the origins common to all types of belote in the world?

The most popular theory among historians is that belote has Jewish origins. Imported to the U.S. before then being introduced to Europe by American diamond dealers, belote would have been developed in the Netherlands where it is still played under the name “Klaverjassen”, or “Klaberjass” in English. The first “modern” player of belote was therefore Dutch!

Klaverjassen has several variants but the basic rules are the same as classic belote:

  • Four players split into two teams (the accepters and their opponents).
  • A game is played with 32 cards (from the 7 to the Ace) and with all of the suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds).
  • With his teammate, the accepter undertakes to make the contract he has bid. The opposing side (the defenders) try to stop him.
  • After the dealer has dealt out the cards, each player must have a total of eight cards in his hand.
  • The taking phase designates the trump suit and value of the contract in each game.
  • As in all trick-taking games, you must follow suit (play the same suit as the one led first to the trick) or, if you cannot, you must play a trump.
  • Deal after deal, each team scores some number of points. The winning team is the one that attains a specified final score first. That team wins the game.

Belote around the world: which rules vary?

Over time, in every country where a community of belote players has emerged, many variants of belote have seen the light of day…

The rules differ, on the whole, on the following points:

  • The number of players.
  • The set of cards used: the total number of cards in the deck can vary, as can the suits and face cards.
  • The value of the cards.
  • The way the bidding phase progresses, with the bids and overbids diverging according to the variant.
  • Belote can be played with or without announcements. Announcements are combinations of cards which bring in extra (bonus) points. So, the most common announcements are belote rebelote, square, hundred (or quinte), fifty (or quarte) and tierce.

Which variant of belote is played in which part of the world?

Belote is an international game, among the most popular, along with poker, bridge and tarot. Let’s go on a small tour of belote games and players from all over the world!

In French-speaking countries, as well as Tunisia, Algeria, Macedonia, Madagascar, Morocco and Russia, the name “belote” is also used. 

Other countries have given it a distinct name but use the rules of traditional belote:

  • French belote” in England,
  • Schafkopf” in the German version,
  • Vida”, played in the north of Greece,
  • Pilotta”, very popular among the Cypriot population,
  • Bridge-Belotte” in Russia and Bulgaria,
  • Baloot” in Saudi Arabia,
  • Dloute” in North Korea,
  • Bilette” in Mauritania.

Finally, some card games from foreign countries have different characteristics but are definitely variants derived from belote:

  • Jass” or “Chibre”: In Switzerland, Austria and the south of Germany, this is played with two to six players and a deck of 36 cards (from the 6 to the Ace). In the official rules, there is no obligation to trump if you can, which completely changes the card-play phase.
  • Bazaar belote”: In Armenia, this version of belote is played with announcements that are unheard of in France, such as “club 8” or “Queen of Diamonds”.
  • Skat”: This is the German version of coinche, except that players may use a German card deck with the four traditional suits (Leaves, Bells, Hearts and Acorns).
  • Belote whist”: Mix between the famous English game and belote. Players must take turns to announce the number of tricks that they think they will be able to take. These all have the same value when it comes to totaling up the points.
  • Tute” in Spanish or “Touti” in its North African version. This version of belote is played with a Spanish deck, where the four suits are: Coins, Cups, Swords and Batons. As for the face cards, there are jacks and kings but the queens are replaced by knights. Finally, the announcements are called “canticos” (songs).

We hope we have gone through all of the belote variants played around the world… If you play or know of a type of belote not mentioned in this article, please don’t hesitate to tell us about it! 

How can you play your favorite variant of belote in all four corners of the earth?

No need to go to the ends of the earth to list variants of belote!

In France alone, you can count many of them. They differ according to the number of players: two-player, three-player or five-player belote. But also according to how the bidding (and overbidding!) works and the way announcements and counting of points are carried out: coinche belote, belote contrée, bridge belote, belote de comptoir, American belote, solitaire belote…

So, when you are homesick, how do you play belote online according to the official rules of your favorite variant? You can just download a mobile app for free and start a game of belote on your smartphone or tablet!

Open a player account on the FunBelote app and make your choice from the suggested types of belote (classic belote, coinche, belote contrée) and game modes:

  • Multiplayer belote (free and unlimited mode) : an online playing table where real players and AI hang out together.
  • Duplicate challenges: players can finally compete online in a perfectly balanced game setting! Each participant plays the same deal in the same place.
  • Belote tournaments (classic, contrée, coinche): every day, join our daily belote competitions and win batches of chips by ranking among the top players!
  • Beginner or experienced belote player looking to progress? The “Practice” mode (which is free and unlimited) allows you to play against Lancelot, FunBelote’s artificial intelligence system. Lancelot adapts to your level and you will improve at your own pace!

See you soon on the FunBelote app for a new game experience!

The app is available from the Apple and Google Play stores, for mobile and tablet devices (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).