Saturday, November 21, 2009


Earlier in the week, my sister in law mentioned that we'd be going to play cards in a few nights at a friend's house.  I had said that it sounded great and was interested in seeing exactly what it was about.  She then asked me if I knew how to play bulotte.  I naturally responded, I have no idea what that is.  So the hunt for more information on bulotte began.

I checked online a little to see if any of it made sense.  From what my sister in law explained, it seemed quite similar to euchre in the US.  Now I had played euchre, but not since I was about 14 at my junior high where I proved my complete inability to play cards.  So I still didn't have any real answers as to what bulotte was (thanks for the help there Wikipedia) but I digress  I did however find out that euchre is similar to a french card game called ecart√©.  But moving along.

So first I guess I should discuss how the French deck differs from the American deck.  The suits are all the same, but they have different names of course.  Clubs are called trefles, which is the word that used for clover or shamrock.  Hearts is pretty straightforward, coeurs.  Diamonds is a word I really didn't understand at first, carreau.  It has a lot of meanings, but is most commonly used for "a tile."  With the shape of a tile it makes sense, so there's that one.  Spades also works pretty well too.  They are called "pique."  (For those who don't know, spade comes from a Latin root, spatha, which is a flat type of blade.  We also get the word "spatula" in English, meaning "little flat blade" from the same root.  Thank you, Alton Brown.)

Secondly, the numbers are, of course all the same.  However, the Jack in English is known as le valet.  Obviously this comes from medieval and renaissance courtiers, and I only know of it from going to see The Marriage of Figaro back in high school.  The queen is not simply Reine as I thought it would be.  Instead, the card was marked with a "D."  This is another thing I would not know, but for a different reason.  Built in to all computers is a game we in the US call "Hearts."  In French apparently, the name is "Dame de Pique," which translates as "Queen of Spades."  Had I not been digging through stuff on my partner's computer, I would never know this.  The last is the king, le roi, not complicated.  (Although there is no suicide king in France, which itself was odd to me, but what can you do?

The basic setup is with two teams and each person has 6 cards.  Once again, this is a departure from euchre as far as I know.  However, I don't remember much as it was 12 years ago last time I played.  Also, like in euchre, before dealing, a member from the opposing team has an opportunity to cut the deck.

So to start the game you have to bet how many points you can win.  You have to say what will be trump, and how many points you can get.  Points are achieved by adding up the total number of the cards that you have in each hand.  For example, if each person were to discard, let's say there was a 9, 10, K, A thrown.  You would get 39 points for that hand.  So you can rack up points pretty quick really.  So instead of calling your tricks, you call how many points you can win.

Now, after you have bet, whoever bets the highest starts.  You go round-robin with the four until you have someone who says they can get the most.  The minimum bid is 80, but you can go up into something like 120 or 130.  It's unbelievable.  But once you have a highest bid, then that person lays the first card.  I should have also mentioned this earlier, but in addition to using the 9, 10, K, Q, and A, you also use the 7, and 8 cards.  The 7 and 8 have no real value other than for points, and are the lowest, but the highest value is, like in euchre, the Jack.  After that, the order is 0, 10, A, K, Q. 

If you can pull off how much you said you could win by, you get your points.  However, you only get the number of points you said you could pull.  So if you said you could win 100 with hearts a trump, then you will only get 100 points.  Even if you did have 130 points.  However, if you are unable to take the hands and come up short, your points are awarded to the opposing team.

So the game looks fun, but I am still not sure if I completely understand it.  I will have to watch it a couple more times to make sure that I get what's going on completely.  The last thing I need to do is screw over a partner in the game.

Also, as a side note.....We had raclette for dinner last night.  Quel ironie! :-)

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