Baloot is a game for four players in fixed partnerships, partners facing each other. The standard international 52-card pack is used after removing the cards between 2 - 6, The game is normally played counter-clockwise.
Cards and Dealing
5 cards are dealt to each player at the beginning of game, one card is turned face-up in the middle of the table. After the bidding round is concluded successfully, each player receives 3 more cards. The cards in each suit ranking from low to high:
- Hokum: 7 - 8 - Q - K - 10 - A - 9 - J
- Other suits: 7 - 8 - 9 - J - Q - K - 10 - A
The objective of the bidding round is to take the exposed card in the middle of the table. This process begins with the player sitting right of the dealer. The winner of the bidding round gets this card and 2 extra cards from the undealt pacl, the rest of the cards is distributed among the other players.
- Players have the option to chose one of three options: "Sun" (Playing with no trump suit), "Hokum" (using the exposed card's suit as the trump), or "Pass".
- When a player declares "Sun", bidding ends immediately and any opponents who chose to pass previously are given the opportunity to declare "Sun" and get it before the current player or pass.
- When a player declares "Hokum", all players are given the opportunity to declare "Sun" or pass. If one of the players declares "Sun", the steps outlined in the previous point are applied. However, if all players passed, then this player is given the opportunity to either change to "Sun" or confirm "Hokum".
- The third and fourth players are given the opportunity to declare "Ashkal" which is equivalent to "Sun" with the exception that the exposed card is given to the player's partner.
- If all players decided to pass, a second bidding round begins.
- If a player decalres "Sun" in the second round, bidding ends immediately.
- If a player decalres "Hokum", players whose turn didn't come up yet are given the opportunity to either decalre "Sun" or pass.
- If all players decide to pass, this player is given the opportunity to change to "Sun" or confirm "Hokum".
- If the player chooses the latter, they must also select a trump suit that's not the same as the exposed card in the middle of the table.
- If all players pass in the second round, the cards are re-dealt and the game is restarted.
- If "Hokum" is confirmed, the other team is given the opportunity to double the round's score, the player who got the exposed card can then choose to triple the score, then the player who chose to double can raise it to quadruple, and the player who got the exposed card can then declare "Gahwa", which means that the outcome of the game depends on the outcome of round, regardless of the current result.
- If the round's score is doubled or quadrupled, the round is considered "locked", which means players can’t lead any trick with a "Hokum" card if they have any other suit.
- If "Sun" was chosen, and the team that decalred it has more than 100 points and the other team has less than 100, the teams are given the opportunity to double the round score as previously mentioned. However, the round can't be locked since there’s no "Hokum" suit.
- The winner of the bidding round leads the first trick and players must follow suit. Each trick is won by the highest card and the winner of each trick leads the next. Projects are also declared in the first round (refer to the "Projects" section below)
- If a player can't follow suit in "Hokum", then the player has the choice to play a "Hokum" card, which are considered the highest of all cards. The winner of the trick is the player who plays a "Hokum" card, unless a higher "Hokum" card was used by another player.
- The round ends when players are out of cards.
Projects are bonuses the two teams can earn during a round if they have the following sequence of cards:
- Sira: 3 cards in a row of the same suit.
- 50: 4 cards in a row of the same suit.
- 100: 5 cards in a row of the same suit, or 4 Tens, Jacks, Queens, or Kings, or four Aces in "Hokum".
- 400: Four Aces in "Sun".
- Baloot: the King and Queen of the "Hokum" suit (does not apply in "Sun").
Note: Players are allowed to declare 2 projects only (the Baloot project is added automatically). Players can't use the same card in more than one project.
- Players calculate bunts throughout the round and scores are calculated using them.
- Bunts depend on the cards in each trick rather than the number of tricks.
Card values in "Sun":
- A = 11
- K = 4
- Q = 3
- J = 2
- 10 = 10
- 7 - 9 = 0
Card values in "Hokum" (for the "Hokum" suit only):
- A = 11
- K = 4
- Q = 3
- J = 20
- 10 = 10
- 9 = 14
- 7 - 8 = 0
- Project and table bunts are added to these (the team who manages to collect last trick gets 10 extra bunts).
Bunts are converted to points using the following calculations:
- Sun: bunts are rounded to the nearest 10, multiplied by 2, then divided by 10. If the number is difficult to round (e.g. 45), it's just multiplied by 2 and divided by 10 directly.
- Hokum: bunts are divided by 10 and rounded to the nearest whole number. If the number contains 0.5 (e.g. 3.5) the half is ignored and the number is rounded down.
- If the team that won the bidding round got 13 points or more in "Sun", or 8 points or more in "Hokum", each team gets their points (in addition to any project points they may have gotten).
- If that team didn't succeed in getting the above mentioned points, they get nothing and the other team gets all the points (26 points in "Sun", or 16 in "Hokum") with any additional projects points.
- If one team manages to get all the tricks in one round, this team gets 44 points (88 points if the exposed card was an Ace) with any additional project points, and the other team gets 0 points.
- The game ends when one of the teams reaches 152 point or more, or wins a "Gahwa" round, and that team is considered the winner.