Baloot is a trick-taking game typically played by four players. Games with two or three players are possible, too. Well-known in the Middle East and North Africa, it is particularly popular in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Its Arabic name is written بلوت . Other names for the card game Baloot include Balout, Baloot Runner, and Baloot Arabi. A very similar game is Belote, which is basically Baloot’s European cousin.
To play Baloot, you need a standard deck of 32 playing cards without any Jokers. The dealer shuffles this deck and deals cards to each player. After half the cards are dealt, a public card is revealed. The first player to pick it up determines whether you play the round in Sǔn or Hokom.
In Sǔn, the card ranks follow weakest to strongest 7, 8, 9, Jack, Queen, King, 10, and Ace. But in Hokom, the ranks go from weakest to strongest like this: 7, 8, Queen, King, 10, Ace, 9, and Jack.
Then the remaining cards are dealt until each player has eight cards. The number of cards dealt may vary with the number of players in the game.
Then it’s time to play: The player to the dealer’s left starts by playing any card. The suit of this card is the trick’s leading suit. The other players must follow suit if possible. If a player cannot follow suit, they may play any card but can never win the trick. The player who plays the highest card of the leading suit takes the trick and begins the next one.
Special to this game are special cards or group of cards that can be announced to gain bonus points. The highest combination is called Baloot. Depending on the regions and preferred rule sets, the specific card combinations may vary. These combinations are announced in the first turn and revealed in the second turn of a round.
The specific card combinations can vary depending on the region and the specific rules being used. But here are some examples of possible Baloot combinations:
- Sira: A player has three cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit.
- 50: A player has four cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit.
- 100: A player has five cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit OR four image cards of the same rank (Jacks or Queens or Kings)
- 400: A player has four Aces. This only applies in Sǔn rounds. Otherwise, this is a 100 combination.
- Baloot: A player has the King and Queen of the Judge suit.
After announcing the card combinations, all players continue playing tricks as described above until all tricks are played. Then it is time for scoring.
Each team scores points for the cards in the tricks that they took. Scores for the card combinations are added, too. The team with the highest total score wins. One tradition is to play until one team reaches 152 points. This threshold may vary.
If you like the concept of combining trick-taking with announcing card combinations, you might want to check out our Pinochle Palace!