Continental Rummy

Continental Rummy is a Rummy variant that supports a lot of people. A lot of people. You can play it with as few as two or as many as twelve players! Unlike many other rummy games, in Continental Rummy you cannot lay down melds as you get them. Also, unlike Gin Rummy, you cannot go out with part of your hand unmelded. Going out is an all-at-once, one-and-done deal.

Object of Continental Rummy

The object of Continental Rummy is to be the first player to organize your hand into sequences and go out.


The size of the deck in Continental Rummy scales up as the number of players do. A game can use as few as 106 or as many as 212 cards! If playing with two to five players, shuffle together two decks of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards plus two jokers. For six to eight players, use three decks plus three jokers. And for nine or more players, use four decks plus four jokers.

You will need some way of keeping score. The simplest way is to give each player an equal number of poker chips or similar tokens and handle the accounting that way. Each of these chips may represent a cash value, if desired, or simply an abstract point. You can also use pencil and paper, but scoring on paper is complicated by having to enter each score twice (as a plus for the winner and as a minus for each loser).

Shuffle the cards, using the multiple-deck shuffling technique if needed. Deal fifteen cards, three at a time, to each player. Then, place the stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. Turn the top card of the stock face up. This card, the upcard, is the first card of the discard pile.

Game play

The player to the dealer’s left goes first. They begin their turn by drawing either the upcard or the top card of the stock. Then, they discard any card they wish, which becomes the new upcard. Play then passes to the left. Play continues like this until a player can go out. If the stock runs out before then, set aside the current upcard, shuffle the discard pile, and turn it face-down to form a new stock.

Players are attempting to use the cards they draw to build sequences. A sequence is three to five cards of the same suit in consecutive order. Cards rank in the usual order, and aces may be high or low, but not at the same time. That is, 3-2-A-K-Q is not a valid sequence. Jokers count as wild cards, and may substitute for any card a player wishes. A player may have multiple sequences of the same suit. Unlike most other rummy games, sequences are the only melds in the game; sets of three or more of a kind do not count as a meld.

In order to go out, a player must have all of their cards in sequences. The following are the only valid combinations of sequences a player is allowed to go out with:

  • Five three-card sequences.
  • Three four-card sequences and one three-card sequence.
  • One five-card sequence, one four-card sequence, and two three-card sequences.

No other combination of sequences (e.g. three five-card sequences, a twelve-card and a three-card sequence, etc.) is allowed. When a player is able to go out, they discard their sixteenth card and lay the others face up on the table. The players then verify that it meets one of the legal patterns listed above. If it does, the player wins the hand. If it doesn’t, the hand continues, with the player who wrongly declared themselves out being forced to play with an exposed hand.


A player who wins the hand collects the following from each of their opponents:

  • One point for winning
  • Two points for each joker melded
  • Seven points for going out on the first turn
  • Ten points for going out with the fifteen cards dealt (i.e. on the first turn, without drawing)
  • Ten points for using no jokers
  • Ten points for the entire hand being of the same suit

Game play continues until one player reaches a previously agreed-upon number of points. That player, of course, wins the game.


California Jack

California Jack is a trick-taking game for two players. It plays pretty similarly to All Fours, which it descends from. Unlike most games, though, the stock is kept face up. This allows each player to see what’s coming up on future draws, and lets them keep track of what’s in their opponent’s hand!

Object of California Jack

The object of California Jack is to be the first player to reach a score of ten points. Players score points by capturing certain trumps and the most card points overall on a hand.


California Jack uses a standard 52-card pack of playing cards. The choice is yours as to what kind to use, but we of course endorse playing with Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player. Then, place the stub face up in the center of the table, forming the stock. The suit of the top card of the stock becomes the trump suit for the hand.

Game play

The non-dealer leads to the first trick. They may lead any card they wish. The dealer must either follow suit or trump. Only if they have neither a card of the suit led or the trump suit are they free to play a card of any other suit.

The highest card of the suit led wins the trick, unless someone played a trump to it, in which case the highest trump takes the trick. The winner of the trick puts the two cards in a won-tricks pile in front of them, then draws the top card of the stock. The player who didn’t win the trick then draws the next card. The winner of each trick leads to the next one.

Players should keep an eye on what the next card of the stock is going to be. Many times, whether a player wants this card or not will determine how seriously they contest the trick. Additionally, as the hand goes on, a player with a good memory can keep track of the exact contents of their opponent’s hand.

After the stock is exhausted, the players simply play out the last six tricks without drawing.


After the hand ends, the appropriate players score the following four points, in order:

  1. High—capturing the ace of trumps,
  2. Low—capturing the 2 of trumps,
  3. Jack—capturing the jack of trumps,
  4. Game—accruing the highest total of cards captured during the hand, scoring as follows: ten for each 10, four for each ace, three for each king, two for each queen, and one for each jack. 9s and below do not count toward the game score. If two players tie for game, the point is not scored.

After scoring the hands, the non-dealer from the hand just played deals new hands. Game play continues until one player reaches ten points. When a player scores their tenth point, scoring stops immediately. That player wins; the remaining points for that hand do not count.


Yaniv (a.k.a. Jhyap, Dhumbal)

Yaniv, as it is known in Israel, or Jhyap or Dhumbal, as it is known in Nepal, is a rummy-type card game for two to five players. Yaniv shares a common goal with Gin Rummy: each player is trying to reduce their unmatched cards’ point total below a certain threshold, whereupon they can end the game. In Yaniv, however, melds are discarded instead of held in the hand, meaning certain cards can be drawn from the discard pile and used over and over.

The game most likely originated in Nepal as Jhyap. Somehow, it spread from there to Israel, where it has enjoyed a period of popularity, especially among younger players, for the past several years.

Object of Yaniv

The object of Yaniv is to discard melds and be the first to call “Yaniv”, hopefully ensuring that the total of your unmatched cards is lower than that of your opponent.


Yaniv is played with a 54-card deck formed by augmenting a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards with two jokers. If you are playing with four or more players, you may wish to use a 108-card double deck to avoid frequent shuffling. You’ll also need something to keep score with—pencil and paper will do the job wonderfully.

Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Place the stub in the center of the table to form the stock. Turn over the top card of the stock; this is the first card in the discard pile.

Game play

In Yaniv, each of the face cards is worth ten points. Aces are worth one point, and are always low. All other cards are worth their face value. Jokers are worth zero.

Play of the hand

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Unlike most rummy games, in Yaniv, the first thing a player does is discard. A player may discard a single card, like they do in typical rummy games. However, they may also discard a set of two or more cards of the same rank. They can also discard a run of three or more cards of the same suit in sequence (e.g. 8-9-10-J♦). A player may only make one discard per turn. They can’t discard, say, a set then a run, or two runs, or two different sets.

In sequences, cards rank in their usual order, with aces always low. Q-K-A is not a valid combination! Also, jokers may be used as wilds to substitute for any card in a sequence (but not in a set).

It is important to keep the cards discarded in the proper order. Runs must always be kept in numerical order. Sets may be played in any order the player chooses.

After discarding, the player draws. The player may draw one card from the stock, or they may choose to take either the first or the last card that the previous player discarded. Thus, if the previous player discarded 8-9-10-J♦, the player may only draw the 8 or the jack, not the 9 or 10. This is where some strategy in discarding can be used—by carefully choosing the order they discard the cards in, a player can deny access to certain cards to the player after them!

Going out

As the game goes on, players gradually reduce the count of their deadwood (the cards left in their hand). When a player’s deadwood reaches five or fewer points, they may call “Yaniv!” to go out. This must happen at the beginning of their turn, before they discard.

All players then turn their cards face up. If the player has the lowest point total, they score zero for the hand, and all other players score the total value of the cards left in their hand. If another player has a lower point total than the player that called “Yaniv”, every player scores the value of the cards left in their hand. The player that called “Yaniv” also scores a 30-point penalty.

At the end of a hand, if a player has a score of exactly 200 points, their score resets to 100 points. Likewise, if a player ends a hand with exactly 100 points, their score is reduced to 50 points.

Ending the game

The deal passes to the left and another hand is dealt. This continues for as many hands as necessary. When a player’s score exceeds 200 points, they are out of the game and are not dealt into later hands. The last player remaining in the game is the winner.


Irregularities and how to handle them in your card games

In any card game, mistakes sometimes happen in dealing or the course of play. Cards get dropped, decks sometimes have the wrong number of cards, and hands sometimes get discarded by accident. All mistakes like this are, as a general group, called irregularities.

As the host, it’s your job to decide how to handle any irregularities that occur in your game. It’s important, especially in games like poker with money involved, to know how to handle them in a fair and consistent way. Ruling one way in one situation and a different way when it happens again engenders distrust from your players. That means some of them may not come back the next time you host a game. If you stick to the same rules, your players will play confident in the knowledge that they will be treated fairly in such a situation.

The resolutions recommended here are based on Bob Ciaffone’s “Robert’s Rules of Poker”, the governing document of modern poker. If your players have played in a casino poker game, they’ll appreciate having the situation resolved the same way it would be in the casino. Even if you’re not playing poker, these general rules will be helpful in a wide range of situations.


Any time that irregularities cause a hand to be abandoned and re-dealt, it is called a misdeal. When a misdeal occurs, the dealer gathers up the entire deck, including the players’ hands. The same dealer then shuffles and deals a new hand.

In most cases, a misdeal can only be declared at the beginning of a hand. After two players have acted on their hands, the opportunity to declare a misdeal ends. Regardless of what may have happened on the deal, the hand is played as usual from that point.

Dealer errors

Any of the following errors will result in a misdeal:

  • Dealing the first card to the wrong position.
  • Not dealing a hand to a player who is in the game.
  • Dealing a hand to someone who isn’t in the game (or an empty seat).
  • Dealing cards in the wrong order.
  • Giving a player too many or too few cards, unless the players missing cards would simply get the next card(s) of the deck if the proper sequence were followed.

Exposed cards

If the dealer accidentally exposes the first or second card of the deal, this causes a misdeal. Should the dealer expose a card after this, and the game is one where the entire deck is not dealt out, the dealer completes the deal as usual, then replaces the exposed card with the top card of the stub. The exposed card is then placed in the discard pile, or as the bottom card of the stub, if the game doesn’t use a discard pile. (If the game starts each hand with one card in the discard pile, the exposed card will count as that card. In Texas Hold’em and Omaha, the exposed card is usually placed on top of the deck and is used as the first burn card.) In games that deal out the whole deck, or if the dealer exposes a second card, it causes a misdeal.

Players never have the option to accept an exposed card. Doing so is unfair to the players that did not have their cards exposed. It also encourages collusion between the dealer and the player.

If a player flashes one of their own cards after the deal is completed, they do not get a replacement. The card is still live. The player assumes all consequences of the other players’ knowledge of their card.

If a player intentionally shows cards to another active player, these cards must be shown to the entire table. This is to prevent that player from having an advantage. If the player shows cards to a player who is not currently in the game or to someone who isn’t playing, those cards must be shown to the other players at the end of the hand (or identified when they would be shown otherwise).

Boxed cards

A card that is turned opposite to the rest of the deck (i.e. it is face up when the rest of the deck is face down) is called a boxed card. If only one boxed card is found, it should simply be set aside. Boxed cards that get mistakenly dealt in error should be replaced at the end of the deal as if it were an exposed card. If the game requires that the entire deck be dealt, or a second boxed card is found, it causes a misdeal.

Incorrect and imperfect decks

We’ve discussed these before in “Incorrect and imperfect decks“, but here’s a refresher. Decks with damaged cards or cards identifiable from the back are called imperfect decks. Decks that have the wrong cards for the game being played are called incorrect decks. Every player has an obligation to point out that the deck has something wrong with it if it comes to their attention.

After the hand ends, the deck should be corrected, if possible. If not, a new deck should be substituted. Imperfect decks should always be replaced at the end of the hand.

Incorrect decks

If a card with a contrasting back design is discovered in the deck, the hand is void. The only exception is if the foreign card is found in the stub after dealing is complete, and is not part of the stock or any other place where it could potentially be put in play.

If a too many copies of a card (i.e. with the same rank and suit) are found in the deck, the deal is void. The scores are reset to what they were at the beginning of the hand, or any money placed in the pot is refunded.

In most cases, the deck having too few cards is not cause for concern. The deal is simply finished out as usual. However, if the game requires all cards to be present (because they are all dealt out initially or because every card is used at some point), when the number of cards is discovered to be inadequate, the hand is void, as if it had a foreign card or too many cards.

Extra cards (and jokers)

If a player discovers a joker or other card that simply doesn’t belong in the deck (like, say, a 2 in Pinochle), it is treated the same as if it were a boxed card. That is, the player should call attention to it and set it aside. The dealer should give the player a replacement card after the other cards have been dealt.

Dropped cards

If the dealer accidentally slides a card off the table, it should be treated the same as an exposed card. If a player drops their own card on the floor, the card is still live. In either case, the card should be recovered as quickly as possible.

Any dropped cards should be inspected for damage prior to being returned to play. It’s easy for cards on the floor to get stepped on and bent!



Couillon score boardCouillon is a Belgian trick-taking game for four players in partnerships. In Couillon, players try to collect the most points by capturing high-ranking cards in tricks. At the beginning of the hand, the players get the opportunity to select a trump suit. If they do, they risk incurring a penalty if they fail to capture as many points as their opponents. Several variations of the game are played throughout the Low Countries.

Object of Couillon

The object of Couillon is to collect the most points by winning tricks.


Couillon is played with a 32-card deck. Starting with a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, remove all of the 6s through 2s. You’ll be left with a deck that has ace through 7 in each of the four suits.

You also need something to keep score with, preferably something that erases easily. A small chalkboard or dry erase board is ideal. Draw a vertical line in the middle of the board, with five horizontal lines crossing it, as shown at the right. Label each half of the board as belonging to one of the two teams.

Determine partners by any agreed-upon method, such as high card draw or even just mutual agreement. Partners should be seated across from each other, so that as the turn passes around the table, players of alternating partnerships will be taking their turns.

Shuffle and deal four cards to each player, two at a time. Place the eight-card stub in the center of the table. Then, turn the top card of the stub face-up. The suit of this card (referred to here as the upcard) is a potential trump suit.

Game play

Determining trumps

The first order of business is to decide on what the trump suit is. The player to the left of the dealer may either accept the suit of the upcard as trump or decline it. If they choose not to accept it, the turn passes to the left, and the dealer’s partner then has the right to accept or decline it.

If all four players reject the upcard as the trump suit, turn up the bottom card of the stub. This suit then becomes the trump suit.

Play of the hand

The player to the dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Each player in turn, going clockwise, contributes one card to the trick. A player may play a trump to any trick. If they do not have or don’t want to play a trump, they must play a card of suit led, if able. Only if they have no cards of the suit led may they play any non-trump card they wish.

The highest card of the suit led, or the highest trump if any were played, wins the trick. (Aces rank highest, and all other cards follow their usual order.) Won tricks are not added to the hand; instead, cards from won tricks are placed face-down in a pile. Both partners from a side share one pile.


After all four tricks have been played, both teams tally the  point values of the cards in their won-trick pile. Aces are worth four points, kings are worth three, queens are worth two, and jacks are worth one. Tens and nines have no point value.

Whichever team collected more points wins the hand. They erase one of the lines from their half of the board to record this. If the side that accepted trumps lost, they add a mark to one of the lines. This line now counts double; to be erased, two wins are needed (one to remove the mark, and another to remove the line).

If the partnerships scored an equal amount of points, neither team scores for the hand. Instead, the next hand with a winner counts double.

The deal passes to the left, and new hands are dealt. Game play continues until one partnership erases all of their lines. That team wins the game.



Zetema plays like a weird mashup of Bezique and a rummy game. It can be played by two to six players. If four or six play, they play in two or three partnerships, respectively.

Zetema was most likely created by Walter Pelham, an employee of British card maker Joseph Hunt & Sons. Hunt & Sons published and marketed the game in the 1870s. Its rules were sold in a pack with (unnecessary) special cards and markers similar to those used to play Bezique. The rules were also published in a few card game books of the period, but it never really seemed to catch on, fading into obscurity shortly thereafter.

Zetema seems to have fascinated several card game experts, who appear to take its failure to achieve popularity as a bit of an affront. It was one of the many games that Sid Sackson plucked from obscurity in A Gamut of Games. Sackson overhauled the game, changing its rules and scoring with the aim of balancing it. David Parlett later took Sackson’s version of the rules and cleaned up its terminology before publishing it in several of his books, including The Penguin Book of Card Games. The rules we present here are those according to Parlett.

Object of Zetema

The object of Zetema is to be the first player to reach a score of 300 points (200 when four or more play). Points are scored by forming and declaring melds and zetemas.


Zetema is played with a unique 65-card deck. Take one deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and add a complete thirteen-card suit from another deck with the same back design. Which suit is chosen doesn’t matter, but it should be communicated to all players. You will also need something to keep score with. Pencil and paper, a dry-erase board, a smartphone application, or semaphore flags are all acceptable options.

If playing with four or six, determine the partnerships, either by some random method or by mutual agreement. Partners should be seated across from each other, so that as the turn goes around the table clockwise, it alternates partnerships (A, B, A, B in the four-player game, or A, B, C, A, B, C in the six-player game). Partners’ scores are added together, but otherwise the game functions as in the non-partnership game.

Shuffle and deal six cards to each player, or five in the six-player game. Place the remainder of the pack in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

Play of the hand

The player to the left of the dealer goes first. They draw one card from the stock. If they have any melds, they may show them (but do not lay them down on the table, as in most rummy games). Upon doing so, they immediately score for the meld. They then end their turn by discarding one card; if they declared a meld on that turn, the discard must be one of the cards of that meld.

Unlike in most other games, in Zetema there is not a single discard pile. In fact, there are fourteen of them! Thirteen of these are designated for each rank of card. The fourteenth discard pile is a general discard pile. When discarding at the end of the turn, a player always discards to the pile of the appropriate rank. (The use of the general discard pile will be explained later.)

After a player’s turn, the next player to the left may play, and so on.


Below are the possible melds in Zetema. Note that some of them refer to six cards; in the six-player game, these melds consist of five cards instead, as that is the maximum hand size when playing with six.

  • Sequence—Six cards of consecutive rank, not of the same suit. Scores 20.
  • Flush—Six cards of the same suit, not in sequence. Scores 30.
  • Flush sequence—Both a flush and a sequence, i.e. six cards of the same suit of consecutive rank. Scores 50.
  • Assembly—Five cards of the same rank. Scores differently according to the rank of the cards involved: kings or queens 130, jacks 120, aces or 5s 110, all other ranks 100.


Instead of a declaring a meld, a player can declare a marriage. A marriage is a king and queen of the same suit. A player can simply have both cards in their hand, usual. But if a player holds just one card of the marriage, and the other is in the discard pile of the appropriate rank, they can pull it out of the discards to score the marriage.

Multiple marriages may be scored at once, and in fact, they score more when declared in bulk. A single marriage scores 10 points, a double marriage 30 points, a triple 60, and a quadruple 100. A marriage in the duplicated suit is called an imperial marriage, and an extra 10 points is scored for each of these declared. If all five marriages are declared at once, the player scores 150 points!

When one or more marriages is declared, a player discards all of the relevant cards to the general wastepile, not the king and queen piles. Once placed here, they cannot be removed. The player then draws back up to six cards (five in the six-player game) and their turn ends. They do not make a discard to the per-rank piles.

A player holding a meld (such as a flush or sequence) involving a king and queen cannot declare the meld and sequence on the same turn. Instead, the meld must be declared first, and the marriage declared on a subsequent turn.

Forming zetemas

When a player discards the fifth card of one rank to that rank’s discard pile, they have formed a zetema. That player then scores according to the rank of the zetema. A zetema of jacks scores 20 points, of aces or 5s scores 15 points, and of any other rank 5 points. Zetemas of kings or queens theoretically score 50 points each, but these are rarely scored, since they cannot be scored if even one marriage is formed.

After scoring a zetema, the player forming it moves all five cards in the general discard pile.

Ending the hand

Game play continues as above until the stock is depleted, at which point players simply stop drawing. At this point, if a player runs out of cards, they drop out of the hand. The hand ends when the entire deck is in the general discard pile.

Another hand is then dealt, and game play continues until someone reaches the target score of 300 points (200 if four or more play). When this happens, the rest of the hand is not played—the game ends immediately. Whoever reached the target score is the winner.


Seven and a Half

Seven and a Half is a simple counting game that is said to be a predecessor of Blackjack. It’s easy to see the resemblance. In Blackjack, the goal is to reach a score of 21 without going over—in Seven and a Half, the object is the same, except instead of 21, the target score is, you guessed it, 7½! It can be played by up to around eight players.

Seven and a Half most likely originated in Italy, and was spread throughout the world by Italian immigrants. It is still popular there, especially around Christmas, when it is traditionally played. Seven and a Half is also played in Spain and Brazil.

Object of Seven and a Half

The object of Seven and a Half is to, through selectively drawing more cards, obtain a better score than the dealer without going over 7½.


Seven and a Half is played with the 40-card deck commonly found in Italy. (This deck is also used to play Scopa and Briscola.) To form such a deck from a standard 52-card deck of cards like Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, just remove all the 10s, 9s, and 8s. You’ll be left with a deck that has ten cards in each suit (ace through 7, and the three face cards). You will also need something to bet with. Because of the all of the winning and losing that will be taking place, using chips is highly recommended. If Blackjack dealing equipment is available, such as a shoe and a discard rack, it might be useful, but is not required.

The banker (who also serves as dealer) has a considerable advantage, as in most banking games. Therefore, the first dealer should be determined by some random method, such as a high card draw. The banker must announce, prior to dealing the first hand, what the minimum and maximum bets will be. They will be responsible for paying out all winning bets, so they must set the limits to an amount they’re comfortable with losing. (The banker may declare new betting limits prior to dealing each hand.)

Each player who wishes to participate in the hand places their bet in front of them. Shuffle and deal one card, face down, to each active player, including the dealer.

Game play

Each player looks at their face-down card (their hole card), keeping it secret from the other players, especially the banker. Aces are worth one point. Face cards, other than the K♦, are each worth half a point. All other cards are their face value. The K♦ is a wild card, and can represent any positive whole number. (That is, no negative numbers and no fractional values!)

The player to the dealer’s left has the first turn to play. If they wish, they may state that they wish to hit or draw. If so, the banker deals them another card, face up. The player may continue to hit as long as they wish. When they are satisfied with the value of their hand, they stand or stay. The turn then passes to the next player to the left.

If a player draws to a total of eight or more, they have busted. They reveal their hole card, and the banker immediately collects their bet. The banker also removes their cards to the discard pile. This player sits out for the rest of the hand.

The payout

After each player has had a chance to participate, the dealer faces their hole card and draws as many times as they would like. Unlike in Blackjack, there are no rules on when they must hit or stay; they may play however they see fit. (Note that dealer is perfectly free to take into account the cards shown by the other players, and the number of remaining players in deciding when to hit!)

If the banker busts, they must pay each active player an amount equal to each of their individual bets. If they stand before busting, they collect the bets of each player with a total lower than the banker’s, and must pay each active player that ended with a total higher than the banker’s. Ties push, with the banker neither collecting nor paying any bets.

Two-card 7½s

If a player draws to a total of exactly 7½ in two cards—that is after hitting once they hold either a 7 and a face card, or the K♦ and another face card—they immediately turn their hole card face up. This is considered an automatic stand.

At the end of the hand, a player holding 7½ in two cards is paid at a rate of 2 to 1. (That is, they are paid double their wager.) The only exception is if the banker also has 7½ in two cards, in which case it is a push, as usual. Two-card 7½s always beat 7½s formed with three or more cards. (This is also true when the banker has 7½ with two cards and a player has 7½ with three or more cards.)

When a player holds a two-card 7½, they take over as banker and dealer beginning with the next hand, unless the current banker also had a two-card 7½. If multiple players have such a 7½, the first one to the banker’s left is entitled to become the next banker.

See also

Seven and a Half is generally a much less formal game than Blackjack. Nonetheless, a review of Blackjack dealing procedures may be helpful to assist a prospective dealer in keeping the game orderly.




Bezique is a two-player trick-taking game. Unlike in most trick-taking games, however, most of the tricks don’t affect the score at all! Instead, winning tricks gets you the right to form melds, which is where all the points are scored.

Bezique originated in France, probably deriving from Piquet and Sixty-Six. It reached its peak of popularity in France around 1840 or so, but spread across the English Channel and enjoyed a run of popularity in England until about the turn of the 20th century. Bezique is also the ancestor of Pinochle—in fact, its two-handed version plays nearly identically to two-handed Pinochle. Therefore, we’ve included the variant Six-Pack Bezique here. Six-Pack Bezique was said to be Winston Churchill’s favorite game, and he was well-regarded as one of the game’s earliest experts.

Object of Bezique

The object of Bezique is to score the most points by forming melds and taking the last trick of the game.


A single Bezique pack comprises 32 cards, from ace down to 7 in each of the four suits. Such a pack can be made by taking a standard 52-card deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards and removing all of the 2s through 6s. Six-Pack Bezique, as the name implies, uses six such packs, for a total of 192 cards. You’ll also need something to keep score with, such as paper and pencil.

Determine the first dealer through some random method. The dealer cuts as close to 24 cards as possible off the pack. The non-dealer estimates how many cards were cut and states their guess. The dealer then deals twelve cards to each player. If they had exactly 24 cards (exactly enough for the deal), they immediately score 250 points. If the non-dealer was exactly right in their guess, they score 150 points. The remaining cards become the stock, and are toppled over in a pseudo-fan in the center of the table to make it easier to draw from them.

Card ranking

Bezique uses the same ranking used by Sixty-Six and Pinochle. Tens rank higher than face cards, so the full ranking of cards is (high) A, 10, K, Q, J, 9, 8, 7 (low).

Game play

Before any game play begins, a player holding no face cards in their hand, only number cards, may show their hand to their opponent and score 250 points for carte blanche. Thereafter, if they draw another card that is not a face card, they may show this card before putting it in their hand and score another 250 points for another carte blanche. They may do this as many times as they both continue to draw number cards and show them. When they draw a face card, or they stop revealing their draws, they may no longer score for carte blanche.

Play of the hand

The non-dealer leads to the first trick. The dealer may play any card in response to this, and is not obliged to follow suit. However, only a higher card of the suit led can win the trick.

The winner of the trick is then allowed (but is not required) to declare and/or score any valid melds, as described below. The player that won the trick then draws a card from the stock, followed by the other player. Then, the player who won the first trick leads to the second trick. Cards from past tricks are simply left in the middle of the table and take no further part in game play.

The suit of the first sequence or marriage melded becomes the trump suit. Once the trump suit has been established, any trump can defeat a lead of a non-trump suit, regardless of rank. (If a trump is led, a higher trump is still needed to defeat it, of course.)


These are the melds that are possible in Bezique:

  • Class A
    • Sequence— A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. In trumps, worth 250 points, in any other suit, 150 points.
  • Class B
    • Marriage—K-Q of the same suit. In trumps, worth 40 points, in any other suit, 20 points.
  • Class C
    • Any four aces—100 points.
    • Any four kings—80 points.
    • Any four queens—60 points.
    • Any four jacks—40 points.
    • Four aces of trumps—1,000 points.
    • Four 10s of trumps—900 points.
    • Four kings of trumps—800 points.
    • Four queens of trumps—600 points.
    • Four jacks of trumps—400 points.
  • Class D
    • Bezique—Q♠-J♦. 40 points.
    • Double bezique—Two beziques, e.g. Q♠-Q♠-J♦-J♦. 500 points.
    • Triple bezique—Three beziques. 1,500 points.
    • Quadruple bezique—Four beziques. 4,500 points.

Melding is done by playing any valid meld, as described in the list above, face-up to the table. A player may play multiple melds to the table at once, but they may immediately score the value of only one of the melds so declared. The player may score another declared meld each time they win another trick. Melded cards are still considered part of the hand, and they can be played on later tricks. If a meld is declared but not scored, it must remain intact on the table to be scored on a subsequent trick win.

A player can reuse previously-melded cards for another meld, but only if the new meld is of another class. For example, a Q♠ cannot be moved from a bezique to a different J♦ to form another bezique (both Class D). It could, however, be moved to form a marriage (Class B) with a K♠. There are two exceptions. One is when an existing meld is augmented with more cards: a player may play Q♠-J♦ to score a 40-point bezique, then, on a later turn, add another Q♠-J♦ to score 500 more points for a double bezique. A player may also break up a meld by playing one card to a trick, and then restore it with a card from the hand to score again for that type of meld.

When the stock is depleted

Once the last two cards of the stock have been drawn, no more melds can be made. Each player picks up all of their melds from the table, which should restore their hand to twelve cards. The final twelve tricks are then played. The second person to play to each trick must now follow suit if able. They must also win the trick if able to do so.

The player that wins the last trick scores 250 points for doing so.

Ending the game

After the hand ends, the final scores are tallied. The player with the higher score earns an additional 1,000 points for winning the game. However, if the loser failed to score at least 3,000 points (an act which is known as crossing the Rubicon), regardless of whether the winner did the same, the winner also scores a bonus equal to the loser’s score. For example, if a player won 3,500 to 2,800, the winning player’s final score would be 3,500 + 1,000 + 2,800, or 7,300 points.