Everything you need to know to play belote contrée well
Belote contrée is one of the many variants of the famous card game of classic belote. It is played using the same rules but comes with certain specific aspects such as, for example, the “double” and “redouble” bids (French: contre and surcontre, from which it takes its name).
And, if its supporters are to be believed, the communication tactics used by each team in the contract phase are the biggest advantage of this belote game!
Discover the specifics for playing belote contrée point by point in this article and then go to our FunBelote app to play a game online!
Starting a game of belote contrée
Like all card games derived from traditional belote, you need a pack of 32 playing cards, from the 7 to the Ace of each of the suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds).
Contrée is played by four players divided into two teams. The dealing, bidding phase and play are carried out counterclockwise.
The order and value of the cards (in Trumps and No-Trumps), as well as the rules for winning a trick in the suit led, are identical to classic belote.
So, what are the specifics for learning to play belote contrée?
Dealing the cards
At the start of the game, the dealer distributes eight cards to each player around the game table. According to the official rules, the cards must be dealt in lots of two or three cards, in a total of three rounds. The FunBelote app carries this dealing out as follows: 2/3/3.
In contrée, there is no face-up card. Taker and trump suit are not designated by a turned-up card but in the bidding between the players.
Making bids in belote contrée
The first player to start the bidding is the one sitting to the right of the dealer.
The players can bid the contract they think they will be able to make by giving: a number of points to be attained/a chosen trump suit. For example: “80/Clubs”.
Each player can raise the previous bid by 10. Bids must be made between 80 and 160 points. The team that thinks it can win all of the tricks in a game can make the highest bid: capot (260 points).
How to announce and bid in belote contrée
Playing belote contrée: double and redouble
From the first round of bidding, if an opponent deems that the bid that has been made cannot be fulfilled, he can “double” the team that bid it.
Doubling fixes the contract and prevents any possibility of further bidding, except if the contracting players decide to “redouble”; that is, they reaffirm that they will be able to make their contract.
Agreements about bids in belote contrée
To increase the chance of winning the bidding, there is a “convention” that allows you to “communicate” with your partner in the bidding phase. This is where players all over the world find that tactics and enjoyment come into bidding in belote contrée!
Be aware: we are not talking about cheating. Experienced belote contrée players play according to a communication code. They know that such a proposition for a contract (the value of the bid) is informing them about the number of trumps that the person making the bid has in his hand.
This allows him to indicate the contents of his hand to his partner. The result is a strategy for winning the bidding phase and making a contract.
There are two ways to announce the cards in your hand: small-game announcements and announcements of aces.
Announcing a “small-game” contract
– 80 to a suit: signifies that the bidder either has the Jack or the 9 and at least two other trumps in hand. His partner will raise his teammate’s bid by 10 points only if the Jack or Nine is missing from his own hand. He can also add some extra potential points (ace, belote). If he does not have the missing card, he will pass or bid a suit in which he has good cards.
– 90 to a suit: signifies that the bidder has the Jack, the 9 and another trump and, in addition to this, one or two winning tricks in the other suits.
– 100 to a suit: the bidder holds the Jack, the 9 and two other trumps, as well as one ace in another suit.
– 110 to a suit: the bidder holds the Jack, the 9, two other trumps and at least two aces in No-Trumps.
– 120 to a suit: the bidder is two-suited, knowing that he is bidding for the suit in which he is stronger to be Trumps. His partner will only bid over this by 10 points if he has all of the aces in the other suits.
– 130 or more to a suit: indicates that one is close to “capot” but that some tricks are not a given…
Announcing a contract “of aces”
A player proposes a contract of “80 + suit” only if he has two or three aces and something to help in the chosen trump suit. In response, his partner is obliged to change the trump suit by choosing the suit in which he has the best holding. This convention enables them to win the bidding, knowing that his partner has some aces.
Playing belote contrée: know how to count the points
To score points, the pair must fulfil their contract. In belote contrée, there are many ways to carry out the counting of points scored during a game.
Counting by “points announced”:
With this method, the winning team scores only the contract points announced during the bidding. Additional points are not accounted for.
Belote rebelote (King and Queen of Trumps) is not guaranteed. It will go to the defenders if the players with the contract fail. In that case, the opposing side will score 162 points plus potential point bonuses.
Counting by “contract + points achieved” like in the FunBelote app:
The total score is equal to the contract points + the points for the tricks taken by that pair (for example, 80 for the contract chosen + 110 points made = 190 points scored).
Belote is guaranteed for those who announced it and is accounted for now (for making or taking down a contract).
The accepters fail if either of the following is true:
- Their contract was not fulfilled.
- The defenders score more points than them.
End of the game: The first team to reach the number of points agreed at the start wins the game. It’s simple!
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