How do you play three-player belote?

Not always straightforward to gather four players to play a game of belote... But luckily, there are several variants born from classic belote, one of which is for three players! Let's learn the official rules for three-player belote.

We will explain everything so that you can be an ace, or even a jack in this belote, which varies slightly from traditional belote. To your card decks!

Before starting a game of three-player belote

In order to be able to play as a three, you will need to bring a deck of 32 playing cards.

The rules of the game of “three-player belote” are very similar to those of traditional belote, except that in this belote game, the accepter plays without a partner and has as his opponents the two other players around the table.

The player who accepts the face-up card must win more points than either of his two opponents. To designate the dealer, the players must pull out a card from the deck at random. He who draws the smallest card will be the dealer.

Three-player belote: dealing of the cards and trump suit

There are several ways of distributing the cards if you want to play belote as a three.

Playing three-player belote with 24 cards

In order to be closer to the rules of the four-player game, the simplest way is to remove the 7s and 8s in each suit (Diamonds, Clubs, Hearts, Spades) from the deck. As such, each player will have a total of 8 cards in hand.

This three-player belote is therefore played with a total of 24 cards and there will be 8 tricks to be played on each deal.

The cards are dealt as follows:

In the first round of dealing, the dealer starts by dealing 5 cards to each player (3+2 on each round of the table, or the other way around).

The face-up card is then placed in the middle of the table. This face-up card suggests the trump suit and starts off the bidding round. The players can either pass or take, then bid one after the other.

As in the rules of classic belote, if all of the players pass twice, the cards are redealt.

Once the accepting phase has finished, the accepter collects the face-up card. The dealer finishes dealing (two cards to the accepter and three extra cards to each of the opponents).

A variant of three-player belote

Another variant of three-player belote consists of dealing out all 32 cards, putting aside a hidden stash at the end of the dealing.

The players will not have the same number of cards in their hands as in classic belote and the hidden stash complicates the game, as it is less easy to guess your opponents’ cards…

The dealing is carried out as follows:

  • First of all, the players each receive 6 cards (the dealer deals three cards to each player with two rounds of dealing).
  • The 19th card in the deck is to be the face-up card placed in the centre of the table. Be careful: once the accepting phase has concluded, the accepter does not pick up this card.
  • In one final round of dealing, the dealer will deal three cards to each player. The final card in the deck, the “bergère”, or “shepherdess”, is turned face up on the table. A stash of three cards, face down, is left out of the game.
  • Finally, the player who holds the 7 of Trumps is allowed to swap that with the face-up card.

At the end of the deal, each player has 9 cards in his hand. The playing phase can begin.

Three-player belote: let’s play!

Once the card-dealing method has been chosen for your game as a three, you can start to play.

When you play three-player belote, the rules are the same as those for classic belote with four players.

Nevertheless, by playing belote with three players, the set-up is a bit different, since the accepter is alone facing the defense, comprising two players.

Whether accepter or defender, all of the players must think up new tactics for playing as a three…

The first card of the game, also called the lead, is played by the player who received the first card during the dealing. If you are playing a version of belote with announcements (squares and sequences), the rules are the same. The announcements can start after the lead has been made.

The rules for winning a trick are the same as in traditional belote. The highest card wins the trick. The trump suit is superior to the led suit. The order and value of the cards is identical to that of classic belote.

A good hand combines having lots of trumps with master cards in the three non-trump suits.

In the trump suit, the Jack is the highest trump. The 9 is also up there. Then the order proceeds as follows: Ace, 10, King, Queen, 7 and 8.

In No-Trumps, the Ace is the strongest card, followed by the 10, King, Queen and Jack. The 9, 8 and 7 are the weakest cards.

The aim is to win as many tricks as possible. At the end of the game, the tricks are totalled up and the points counted to find out whether the accepter managed to make his contract.

How do you count up the points in three-player belote?

Once all of the cards have been played, you will need to work out the number of points scored in the game.

Counting the points

The point counting is done in exactly the same way as in the rules of classic belote. You add the value of each card and total up the number of points in order to get the score for the game.

In the trump suit: the Jack is worth 20 points, the 9 is worth 14 points, the Ace is 11 points, the 10 is 10 points, the King 4 points and the Queen 3 points. The 7 and 8 have the same worth: 0 points!

In No-Trumps: the Ace is worth 11 points, the 10 is worth 10 points, the King 4 points, the Queen 3 points and the Jack 2 points. The 9, 8 and 7 are of equal rank and are not worth any points.

As there are no teams to speak of in three-player belote, each player’s scores are counted up separately.

If the accepter fails in his contract, he will not get any points (except for belote rebelote, consisting of the King and Queen of Trumps, which cannot be taken away) and it is the opponent who got the higher score than the accepter who scores the points.

Games bonuses

Game bonuses bring in even more points.

The total number of bonus points for the announcements (square, tierce, fifty and hundred) and the bonuses (belote rebelote, 10 of der and capot) are the same as they are in four-player belote.

At the end of each game, the points are added up.

The player who wins overall is the first to reach the number of points agreed upon at the beginning of the game. In general, a total of 1000 points signals the end of the game.

The first player to reach the specified ceiling wins the game! He can then pull himself out of the game and leave the other two to decide the result between them. This is a great opportunity to try out two-player belote!

Now you know the rules of three-player belote. You no longer need to have a four in order to challenge your family members or new friends! Playing belote with friends will enable you to improve your belote strategy.

And remember that the important thing is to have a good time! Be a good sport and know how to pass on your passion for this card game.

Consider practicing online too! Install FunBelote on your smartphone to challenge players from all over the world! Join the large community of FunBelote players and win batches of chips by opening your own player account or by referring one of your friends.

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See you very soon on FunBelote! App available on the Google Play and Apple stores, for mobiles and tablets (iOS and Android).

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