First of all, belote is played with a 32-card deck. Cards range from 7 to Ace in each suit (diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs).
Four players form two teams of two. At the table partners are sitting North/South while opponents are sitting East/West.
A game of classic belote consists of several deals (also called ‘games’). A deal includes eight tricks (i.e. the number of cards held by each player).
On each deal the team that ‘takes’ must reach 82 points to fulfil the contract.
The goal of a game is to be the first team to score 501 points.
Belote is made up of two phases called ‘bidding‘ and ‘card play‘.
The aim is to determine which team will have to make the contract on a deal and reach 82 points.
On the first deal a random player is designated as the ‘dealer‘. He starts by dealing each player five cards.
Then one card is placed face up at the center of the table. It is known as the ‘trump card‘.
Each player will speak in turn, starting with the first player to the dealer’s right. He can either pass or take the card if he finds the suit interesting.
The suit of the card taken (diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs) becomes the trump suit for the rest of the deal.
The remaining cards are then dealt (two for the one who takes the contract and three to each of the other three players) so that each player has a total of eight cards.
If no player takes, there is a second round and each player can choose another trump suit among the three left.
If no player takes again, the round is over. The player to the dealer’s right becomes the dealer and cards are redistributed.
Card play starts once bidding is over and a player takes and chooses the trump suit.
It is necessary to distinguish trump cards from other suits in your hand. They will always prevail over the other three suits on a deal.
Trumps don’t have the same value as non-trump cards:
In trumps, the Jack counts 20 points, the 9 counts 14 points, the Ace counts 11 points, the 10 counts 10 points, the King counts 4 points, the Queen counts 3 points, the 8 and 7 count 0.
Non-trump cards are worth:
At no trump, the Ace counts 11 points, the 10 counts 10 points, the King counts 4 points, the Queen counts 3 points, the Jack counts 2 points, the 9, 8 and 7 count 0.
CLASSIC BELOTE: A FEW RULES TO FOLLOW
The player to the dealer’s right starts and plays the card of his choice. He can choose any card of any suit (trump or no trump).
Then each player in turn puts down a card from the required suit or the trump suit.
The higher-ranking card takes the trick and the winner of each trick leads the next.
If a player doesn’t have a card from the required suit, he can play a trump. He ‘trumps’.
If a player doesn’t have a card from the required suit or the trump suit, he can play any card of any suit.
If the card put down is from the trump suit, the player must drop a higher-ranking card from the trump suit except if he doesn’t have any or his partner is currently winning the trick.
If your partner is currently winning the trick, you can play any card except if the required card is a trump.
End of deal: How to calculate points at classic belote?
The deal is over when each player has played the eight cards of his hand.
To find out if the team that took has made its contract (i.e. it must score 82 points), you have to count the points of each team by adding up the values of their cards.
If the team fails to fulfil its contract, the other team wins 162 points. The team that took is said to be ‘inside‘.
10 OF DER
The team which wins the last trick scores a 10-point bonus called ’10 of der’.
BELOTE AND REBELOTE
When a player has the trump King and Queen in his hand, he can play them in the order he wants and say ‘belote’ and ‘rebelote’. His team gets 20 additional points. They can’t be taken from the team announcing ‘belote’ and ‘rebelote’.
In case of a ‘capot‘, i.e. if a team wins all the tricks of a deal, that team scores 252 points.
When both teams have equal scores on a deal, the points are ‘hanging‘.
The opposing team scores the points it has earned but those of the betting team are ‘hanging’ and added to the points of the winners on the next deal. These points add up in case of another tie and hang over again to the next round.
Ending a game of classic belote
The first team to reach the 501-point threshold wins the game.
If both teams pass it in the same round, the one with the highest score wins the game.
If there is a tie, both teams play a last deal to determine the winners.