The rules and how to play Buraco in 4 players
The passion for Burraco is spreading among many players around the world who appreciate the quite simple structure of the game that also needs reasoning and is therefore very challenging and funny.
Here we will explain the Burraco rules for 4 players, which is the most popular variant, but there is also the version for only two players.
Purpose of the game
The purpose of Burraco is to get rid of the 11 cards you have in hand initially creating runs (card sequences or combinations) or by binding cards in already existing runs. Players can add cards only to games started by themselves or by their partner. The first player of the pair that quit's his cards receives a new set of 11 cards to play (the pot). When one of the players of the pair quits the cards for a second time the game ends. However, to quit, the players pair have to make at least one Burraco: a run (sequence or combination) of at least 7 cards!
The players of each pair are arranged opposite one another. To decide the positions at the table you draw a card upside: the player who draws the highest card will be the first to be served, his partner will sit in front. The player of the other pair who drew the lowest card will be the dealer and will sit at the right hand of the one who must be served. In case of equal value the follow order will be honored: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades. In case of further tie the cards are caught again.
The dealer takes the cards stock and let it cut by the player to his right. The latter will then form two bunches, called "pots", of 11-card taking them one at a time from the bottom of the deck in his hand. The two bunches will be put to cross over another and positioned at a corner of the table. Meanwhile, the dealer deals 11 cards to each player in a clockwise order and one card at a time.
After the cards are dealt and the formation of pots, the dealer places the cards left over to those left by the player to his right going to form the stock and places it on the table. Then he draws the first card that will form the first "discard pile" and the first player can begin to play.
The playing phase
Fishing from stock or take the discard pile
At each turn the player can choose to take the card at top of the stock or all cards in the discard pile. In the latter case he must necessarily take them all!
As mentioned in Burraco must get rid of the 11 cards you have in hand initially by starting new runs or binding cards to already existing runs. Let's see how.
Start new runs
The player, after having drawn a card from the stack or taken the discard pile, may decide to start a new run.
Each run consists of a minimum of 3 cards.
There are two types of runs that can be created in Burraco: combinations and sequences.
The combinations are groups of cards of the same value. For example, a group of three Axes, or four Kings, or a five 7s. There are always 8 cards of same value in the card set (one for each of the four seeds in each pack) so putting together a combination is quite easy.
The sequences (stairs) are groups of cards with increasing value and of the same suit. So a player can have, for example, a 3-4-5 hearts or a 8-9-J-Q of spades, or a 9-J-Q-K-A of squares or also a A-2-3-4 of clubs. As in other card games Aces can be the highest card and the lowest, but in the same sequence there can not be two Aces and you cannot do the sequences like Q-K-A-2-3.
There is no minimum score to create a run, but only the constraint of using at least 3 cards.
The runs are shared by the pair of players but are kept by a single player, choosed by the pair self, which places them in sight in front of their place.
Tie cards ro runs
Players have the chance to add cards to the runs that he started earlier or that have been initiated by their partners.
In the case of combinations you can add one or more cards of the same value.
In the case of sequences you can add one or more cards, but these must be consecutive to those already present, in crescending or descending order. The values sequence should not be interrupted.
In Burraco there are two wildcards: the jokers and 2. These cards can be used to replace any other card in a combination or in a sequence. Every run can contain only one wildcard.
In the case of combinations, their use is simple because the wildcard is simply one more card in the run. However you cannot create a run on wildcards, so no combinations of 2 or jollys.
Instead in sequences the wildcard replaces a specific card. So you can have a sequence of 4-Jolly-5 or J-2-K or 9-2-10.
There are some special cases involving the two's in the case of sequences. You can use a 2 as a wildcard and in this case it works like a Jolly. But it can also be inserted in its "natural position" before a 3 of the same suit. In that case that 2 is no longer a wildcard, but a simple 2, and then, and only in this case, it will be possible to use in that sequence another wildcard.
But be careful! In sequences a wildcard can only be replaced by the card the wildcard is replacing! In no case can be replaced by another wildcard.
By convention the cards on the table are arranged in a vertical row, from highest to lowest, the wildcard, when added at one end, is always located at the bottom, both in combinations in the sequences.
Close your turn
When the player has finished to create runs and to tie cards to other runs, though it may have been unable or unwilling to do so, he finish his turn by discarding one of the cards in his hand and placing it, face up, on the discard pile.
The player can freely choose the card to discard from those in his hand with one exception: if you took a discard pile composed of a single card he cannot discard that one card. The exception of the exception is the case when the player had in his hands the same card (value and suit) and in that case needs to prove it.
Close your turn and take the pot
The first objective of each couple is to take one pot. When one of the players of the pair finish his cards by discarding the last in his hand, or playing them all, then he receives the pot.
In the first case (finishing by discarding) the player receives the pot, but he will look at the cards only when her partner will have discarded in turn, so after half a turn.
In the latter case (finishing by playing all cards) he will look and play them immediately because it is still in hand. In this case we talk about closing "direct" (or "on the fly") and is a significant advantage.
Every couple can take only one of the two pots. If the couple who took a pot finish his cards again, with any of the two players, the game ends, provided, however, to have at least a Burraco!
As mentioned above having a Burraco is the second condition to close a game victoriously. The first take was to take a pot. You can also do Burraco before taking the pot, but from the point of view of the priority Burracco comes after.
Doing a Burraco means making a combination or sequence of at least seven cards, including wildcards.
There are three types of Burraco: clean, dirty and semi-clean.
The clean Burraco consists exclusively of a run without a wildcard, in case with a 2 in its natural position.
The dirt Burraco instead includes a wildcard.
The semi-clean Burraco is instead a Burraco which includes a wildcard but has a sequence of at least 7 clean cards. For example 3-2-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 of spades. It is a variant to the classic rules which, however, has interesting implications during the game.
The main difference of the various types of Burraco is their value for the score.
A dirty or semi-clean Burraco can become a clean one if a 2 wildcard is replaced by a clean card and ends in its natural position. A dirt Burraco can become semi-clean if cards are added in order to have at least a seven cards without wildcard.
Quit to win the game
The third and last goal of the pair is quit a second time. As mentioned any of the two players can quit, no matter who took the pot.
But unlike the first quit you can quit the game only by discarding a card and this should be a clean one, not a wildcard. So you cannot quit by playing all the cards and you cannot quit by discarding a 2 or a Joker.
Once discarded the last card, the game ends and you have to to compute the scores.
The scoring is done by adding up the various categories of points. Points can be both positive and negative.
The value of the cards
For the score cards take on particular values:
- 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are worth 5 points
- 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K are worth 10 points
- Ace is worth 15 points
- The 2 is worth 20 points regardless of the use it has been done
- The Joker is worth 30 points
The couple who quit awards 100 points.
Each clean Burraco is worth 200 points.
Each dirt Burraco is worth 100 points.
Each semi-clean Burraco is worth 150 points.
The points for Burraco are assigned to both couples, the winning and the losing one.
Negative points are the sum of the points of the cards left in the players' hands. The only player who will not have negative points is the one that quit the game.
If the losing couple did not take the pot they aware -100 points.
If a player has taken the pot, but has not yet played it, it will still count it negatively.
Positive points are the sum of the points of the cards in runs, both of the runs that have become Burraco as well those that are not.
At the end for each pair are added basis points, negative and positive. Typically a round of games ends after a couple reaches 2005 points.
It's possible that a couple can have a negative total score!