Baloot, the most famous game in Saudi Arabia
The General Sports Authority conducted the first Baloot championship at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh during 4 to 18th of April 2018.
Baloot is one of the most popular card games being played in the country for ages. Young Saudi men are fond of it and you will see people playing it at social gatherings. You can see Baloot game cards being sold at super-marts, online and at local stores!
Some adults have been playing it for quite a time and now are an expert at it! Yet the game is the famous one among the Saudi youth.
What is the origin of Baloot?
Some people claim that the game is similar to or derived form of the French card game Belote. While others say that it is an Indian game that crossed the Saudi borders a hundred years from now and since then has been alive.
And then there are some who would say that the word Baloot is a derived form of English dictionary word Plot which means to plan something.
What are the rules of Baloot?
Baloot is a game for 4 players where the game is played in a partnership of two. The game uses a standard pack of 52 cards. However, card numbers from 2-6 are removed before starting the game which means that the game is played with 32 cards. The game is sequenced to be played in an anti-clockwise manner.
Cards and Dealing
The game begins by giving each player 5 cards. One card is placed in the middle and is exposed. After the bidding round is completed, 3 more cards are given to each player.
This is how cards are ranked in each suit, i.e. from low to high:
- Hokum: 7 – 8 – Q – K – 10 – A – 9 – J
- Other suits: 7 – 8 – 9 – J – Q – K – 10 – A
Bidding is done for the purpose of attaining the card that is exposed and is placed in the middle. The player who sits at the right of the dealer starts the bidding process.
The one who wins the bidding not only get his hands at the exposed card but also gets 2 additional cards from the pack that has not been distributed among the players yet. Once the bidding round is completed, the remaining pack of cards is distributed among all the players. Players can choose one of these options:
Sun: to play with no trump suit
The one who selects this option tends to end the bidding and if any previous player has chosen to pass gets the option to choose sun.
Hokum: to use a suit of the exposed card as trump
The one who chooses Hokum give other players an option to choose sun or pass. The one who chooses the sun allows others to choose sun or pass.
One who chooses pass is given the option to choose the Sun when one of the players chooses the sun.
- If all players choose the option of “pass” then a new round of bidding starts.
- The 3rd and 4th players have the option to declare “Ashkal” or “Sun” with the exception that the card which is exposed card is with his partner.
- Declaring Sun in second round ends the bid.
- In case Hokum is declared, players who did not get their turn have the option to choose sun or pass. In case all others had passed, this player has the option to choose Sun or confirm Hokum.
- If all players pass, then the game is reset.
In case Hokum is selected, then the other team is given the option to double the score of that round. The one who has the exposed card with them can even triple the score. The player who selects to double the score then gets the option to quadruple the score. In such a case, the exposed cardholder can declare Gahwa and result of the game would depend on the round irrespective of the current result.
In the case where the scores are doubled or quadrupled, that round is considered locked. A locked round means that players can’t play the trick with Hokum card.
If Sun is selected then that team gets 100 points and the teams are given a chance to double the round’s score. Yet, the round cannot be locked as Hokum wasn’t selected.