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Truco

Origin Spain
Family Trick-taking
Players 2, 4, or 6
Skills required Tactics,Strategy
Cards 40
Deck Spanish
Play Anticlockwise
Playing time 31 min.
Random chance Medium
Related games
Truc, Put

Truco is a variant of Truc and a popular trick-taking card game originally from Valencia and Balearic Islands (Spain) and played in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Italy (in Piemonte, in Lomellina, and a particular variant in the towns Porto San Giorgio, Sirolo, Numana, Porto Recanati, Potenza Picena (Marche) and Paulilatino (Sardegna) ), Uruguay, southern Chile and Venezuela. It is played using a Spanish deck, by two, four or six players, divided into two teams.

Except for the variant played in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and many others, Truco is played with a 32-card French deck - See below.

Overview

Each player is dealt three cards from a subset of the deck consisting of the numbers 1 to 7 and figures sota in Spanish or valete in Portuguese (jack, worth 10), caballo in Spanish or dama in Portuguese (equivalent to a queen, worth 11) and rey in Spanish or rei in Portuguese (king, worth 12).

The most common form of the game is the four-player version, in which there are two teams of two players, who sit opposite each other. For six players, there are two teams of three players, with every second player on the same team.

The game is played until a team finishes a game with 30 points or more. The 30 points are commonly split into two halves, the lower half called malas in Spanish or ruins in Portuguese (bad) and the higher half called buenas in Spanish or boas in Portuguese (good). Therefore, a team with 8 points would be ocho malas or oito ruins (8 bad ones), and a team with 21 points would be seis buenas or seis boas (6 good ones). However, because both teams can score points in one round, it is possible (but very rare) for both teams to go over 30 points in one round. Usually as soon as one team goes over 30 points, the game is ended, to stop there being a tie situation. However, sometimes the winner is the one with more points, otherwise another hand is played, until the tie is broken.

The popular appeal of the game comes from the exciting bidding process. Each type of scoring can be bid on to score your team more points. Bids can be accepted, rejected or upped. Bluffing and deception are also fundamental to the game.

Card Ranking

In addition, the Uruguayan version of the game uses a "Muestra" each hand. The following cards of the same suit as the "Muestra" are ranked higher than the Ace of swords and are called "Piezas": 2, 4, 5, Knight, which in some regions is called Perico, worth 30 points, and the Jack, which in some regions is called Perica, worth 29 points. Finally, if any player has the King of the same suit as the "Muestra" and the "Muestra" is a "Pieza", the King becomes that card.

The Venezuelan version is quite similar to Uruguayan version with the exception that the "Piezas" 2, 4, and 5 are not used. The "Muestra" or as it is known in Venezuela, "La Vira" (or trump suit) is designated by turning over the top card of the deck after shuffle or optionally, the top card following the deal. "La Vira" is then placed beneath the deck offset 90 degrees so that it is visible during the play of the hand. The suit of "La Vira" designates the suit of El Perico (the Knight) and La Perica (the Jack) which become the highest two cards in the game respectively. The remaining three Knights and Jacks are ranked as initially specified.

Mano (Mão) & Pie (Pé)

In Truco, there are two concepts concerning which player begins the round and who is the last. The mano in Spanish or mão in Portuguese ("hand") is the one that plays first and the pie in Spanish or in Portuguese ("foot"), the dealer, is the last to play. The hand is always the player on the right of the foot. The turn to deal is then passed counterclockwise, so the hand of the first round is the foot of the second and so on. If playing in teams, partners sit opposite each other.

They can also refer, when playing in teams of two, which player of the partnership plays before and which after. This has no significance in the game, as the playing is always done counterclockwise. But it has strategic significance since the foot of a team is traditionally considered the "captain" of the partnership during that round.

If the game is tied (for example, if two opponents have the same points for envido), the hand wins. That advantage is offset by the fact that, being the last one to play, the foot plays with all their opponent's cards in sight. Also, the foot and the one sitting to his left are the ones who call envido in a game of four or more. Then, the hand is the first one to call his points for envido.

Structure of the game

Players can earn points in three different ways. These will be further developed below in special sections for each one.

The score won by a player is added to his team's score (when playing in teams). Any bet, win, loss, or surrender by a player also affects his partner/s. For this reason, partnerships are usually formed by mutual arrangement between two players who know each other very well. As in bridge, it is not rare for partners to share information using preestablished signs and gestures. Communication is usually performed by a standard set of gestures (see señas). Arranging a secret set of gestures is thus frowned upon.

Truco

The playing of the cards is done thus: the mano leads to the first trick (each round has three tricks) by playing one card. Then, counterclockwise, each other player plays one card. The player with the highest card (according to the ranking shown above) wins the trick. The cards remain face-up on the table until the round is finished.

Sometimes it happens that there is no single highest card, but a tie between two or more cards. If these tied cards were played by the same team, that team wins the trick. If that is not the case, the trick is called a draw, parda. The same mano then leads the next trick.

By winning two of three tricks, one wins a round, equivalent to one point. If a team wins the first two tricks, the third is not played. But if one of the games ended in a parda, the team that won the earlier of the other two tricks wins (e.g. If trick 1 was won by A, trick 2 was won by B, and trick 3 was a draw, A wins the round for having won the earlier trick. That concept is often referred to as "primera vale doble" (first is worth double) If trick 1 is drawn and trick 2 is won by B, the winner of the round is B and a third trick is not played). In the case of two pardas, the winner of the remaining trick wins the round. In case of three pardas, the mano wins the round. The winner of each round is the first one to play the next card. If a round is tied, or "parda", the hand plays first.

During play, there are multiple opportunities to raise the stakes of the round.

Truco must be accepted explicitly: if truco is said, the only way to accept it is by saying quiero, but in a less competitive fashion it could be accepted to close the challenge saying veo, dale or any way of saying yes . To call retruco immediately, it is necessary first to say quiero (and the same is true when calling vale Cuatro). Instead of saying explicitly "quiero", a player can play a card and it is implied that he accepted.

A player can play his card face up or face down, in which case it does not count towards the score. A card can be played face down in order to prevent opponents from deducing the value of a remaining card. In some cases (for example, when envido has been played), other players can deduce the value of some cards the remaining ones. If a player does not want his opponents to know his cards, which can be done in order to trick them into raising their bets, he can play his card face down. This should not be confused with "irse al mazo" (going to the deck), which means a whole team admits defeat without finishing the hand.

Envido

In games of two people, "envido" must be said before the player plays a card. In games of four or six, the foot and the player to the left of the foot are the ones who say "envido" (when they do, there are already cards played).

It is important to know that Envido bets have precedence before Truco bets. If one team calls Truco, and then the other calls Envido, the last must be completed (accepting, increasing or declining it) before the Truco.

When Envido is said, the challenged team/player can answer in any of these ways:

For Real Envido, the answers are the same, excepting Envido (because it would "lower" the bet). For Falta Envido, the answers are also the same as in Envido, excepting Envido and Real Envido (that leaves only Quiero and No quiero).

Quiero and No quiero close the bet and after one of that, no other Envido bet can be opened. In the cases where the bet is ended with Quiero, a comparison of the pairs (puntos de envido = "score of envido") is performed to see which team/player has the highest and wins the bet. The puntos de envido are calculated according to these rules:

  1. The score of a pair of the same suit is the sum of the values of the cards + 20, but considering that the King (12s), the Knights (11s) and Sotas (10s) are worth 0.
  2. If the player has no suit pair, then his puntos de envido is the value of his highest card, with Kings, Knights and Sotas worth 0.
  3. If playing without Flor, in case of having three cards of the same suit, the puntos de envido are those of the highest pair of the hand.
  4. A player is obliged to report his score correctly, because that can be used later to deduce his cards. For example, if a player has already played a six of spades and he has 27 for envido, he is forced to report his correct score, even if doing that means he reveals his ace of spades to the rest of the players. If the winner reports his score wrong, the points at stake are assigned to the other team.

The puntos de envido are told from the mano to the dealer player anticlockwise. In case of a tie between two or more players, the earliest (i.e. the one most on the left among the tied players) has preference. Any player, in case of having a bad envido can surrender without revealing information of his cards to the other team/player by saying Son buenas ("They're good"). To say this when playing in teams, is to surrender on behalf of the team. It is usual that when playing in teams, while telling the puntos de envido, the partner of the player that had said the highest envido can remain silent unless someone of the other team says a higher envido. Then, that player that remained silent will have to say either his score for the envidos (if his/her is higher) or Son buenas to recognize the defeat.

After finishing the truco, the winner of envido has to show his cards to the rest of the players by placing them on the table and announcing "[the amount of the envido] en mesa", or, more commonly in Argentina "las [the amount of the envido] jugadas" meaning that the announced cards have been played. Failure to do so may be noted by the opponents and causes the points to be given to them.

The envido is also referred to as "tanto", in order to talk about it without actually proposing it.

Flor

In Argentina, Truco is usually played without Flor (flower). The variant is called Sin Flor, or Sin Jardinera (without the gardenmaid).

To have a Flor is to have three cards of the same suit in the hand. When playing with flor, any player having one must announce it or a penalty (see below) is risked. The player having the best Flor wins 3 points for each Flor announced. On the other hand, if a player has no Flor, that player cannot announce a Flor (on the contrary to Envido, where any player having or not the pair of the same suit can announce it).

The call for Flor can only be made before playing the first card, by simply saying Flor. Then, any other player having flor must announce his own (the playing of cards is suspended, so players without flores should wait until the bet is over), going anticlockwise and by saying any of this possible answers:

After calling Contraflor, the challenged team must answer by one of these:

After Contraflor al resto, the answers are:

After the bet has been closed by saying con flor quiero or con flor me achico, players announce the flores. The comparison between Flores is done similarly as in Envido: the values of the three cards are added up plus 20 (Aces to 7 are worth the face value and Sotas, Knights and Kings, 0). When two flores have the same suit, the one of that player playing earlier (counting anticlockwise, as usual in Truco) has precedence. If an earlier player announces a better flor than the one you have, it is usual to say Son buenas, admitting defeat but without unnecessarily revealing information about your cards. At the end of the hand, the flores must be shown.

As with all bets in Truco, each Flor (or surrender) is made on behalf of the team.

Pedir Flor

This is a penalty for those players that, having a Flor, didn't announce it. If a player suspects that another one is hiding a Flor, he/she can challenge this player by saying Pido flor. In the case that the player had actually a Flor, the challenger team earns three points. But, if the challenged player shows at least two different cards, his/her team earns one point.

The Real Trickery

In contrast to Poker, where things are kept at a low level and quiet, the game of Truco is actually played by tricking your opponent by playing fast and distracting them through conversation. Truco is generally played with friends, and players are often loud, telling jokes, and talking amongst each other. When playing fast and laughing, it sometimes becomes hard to concentrate on the game, which is what many experienced players take advantage of. This is done in many ways:

However, as tricky as it might be, in truco it is of very bad taste to cheat. Whether when writing down the score, hiding cards or cheat shuffling ("cartearse", to card yourself).

Pica Pica

In a game of 6, sometimes Pica Pica is also played. When players get their cards, instead of playing the 2 teams of 3, each confronted pair of players of different teams play a game, adding the resulting points to their teams. Usually Pica Pica played is every other game, but only if a team has 5 or more points, and no team has more than 20 (or 25). Pica Pica is also known as Punta y Hacha.

This is a way of finishing the game more quickly, because each pair in a pica pica plays a complete hand, with corresponding scores. Therefore, it is possible to have, for example, three "vale cuatro" in the same hand, which raises scores very quickly. However, envidos and its raises are usually capped (the most usual cap being 6 points).

Truco in Brazil

Playing Truco on the suburb of São Paulo

Truco is also a popular game in Brazil, with many regional variations, some similar to the Spanish counterparts, although the most known versions (Truco Paulista, Truco Mineiro and Truco Gaúcho) use a French deck and different rules. Truco Paulista can be known as Ponta Acima in some regions.

Truco in Brazil is mostly associated to college culture and lifestyle. The custom of students sitting on a table to play the game while drinking alcoholic beverages has become a stereotype itself, in such a way that it has even been featured prominently in advertising campaigns and it has been included in the program of every University "Olympic" Games around the country, known as Jogos Universitários. Truco can be played by two, three and even four people in each team, which makes it more way exciting and intriguing.

Brazilian Truco differs from the game played in other countries in various ways, including a maximum score of 12 points, the value of each hand and the card ranking (which itself can be different depending on where the game is played. It is also common to use a best-of-three games system when playing truco.

Truco Paulista

Truco Paulista is played mostly (but not limited to) the state of São Paulo and most usually played between two teams of two players each. The game is won by the first team to reach 12 points, with each regular round being worth 1 point.

One of the players is chosen to be the first to shuffle and deal. The dealer is allowed to look at the faces of the cards while shuffling so as to be able to place certain cards at certain spots within the deck (e.g. placing the highest-ranking cards together). They are not allowed, however, to browse freely through the deck. After shuffling, the deck must be handed to the player to the left (the cortador), who can either reshuffle the deck (without looking at the faces of the cards), separate it into two or more parts or simply do nothing. The deck (or the part of it chosen by the cortador, provided it contains at least than 12 cards) is then returned to the dealer who will deal the cards from the top or bottom of the deck (this is chosen by the cortador). The cards must be dealt counter-clockwise, starting with the player to the dealer's right. They can be dealt one at a time or, most commonly, three at a time. If the cortador chooses not to reshuffle, they can deal their and their partner's cards in advance.

The players each play one card, starting with the player to the right of the dealer, the mão (hand) and ending with the dealer, called the (foot). The player who played the highest-ranked card wins the trick for the team and begins the following trick.

The rounds consist of a best-of-three tricks. The team that wins two tricks wins the round and gets the point. If the first trick (or first and second tricks) ends in a tie, the winner of the next trick wins the round. If the second or third tricks end in a tie, the winner of the first trick wins the hand. In the rare occasion that all three tricks end in ties, nobody is awarded the point. In the case of a tie, the following trick is started by the player who tied the last trick.

At any point during the game any of the players can raise the stakes by saying truco. When a player asks for truco, the opposing team has three options:

  1. Accept: the round is now worth three points;
  2. Run away: the team that asked for truco gets one point;
  3. Raise the stakes even further by asking for 6 (this can also be done later at any point if the team chooses to accept the truco).

If the team chooses to ask for 6 they are automatically accepting that the round is now worth three points while trying to raise the stakes even further. The opposing team (the one who asked for truco in the first place) has the same three options:

  1. Accept: the round is now worth six points;
  2. Run away: the team that asked for 6 gets three points;
  3. Raise the stakes even further by asking for 9.

This system goes on in this same pattern, with the players being able to raise the stakes further to game and finally match.

When one of the teams reaches 11 points, they play the mão-de-onze (round of eleven). In this round, the members of each team can see their partner's cards before the round begins and the team with eleven points may choose to play the round of run away. If they choose to play, the round is worth three points. If they choose to run away, the opposing team is awarded one point. If any of the players ask for truco during the round of eleven, the team loses the round. For this reason, if one of the players is dealt an unbeatable hand (having the two best cards at the same time) they may simply show the cards to the rest of the table and win the round without having to play. If both teams reach eleven points, the round must be played.

If one of the players receives fewer or more than three cards dealt by a member of the opposing team, they can point out this error after the round has begun and win the round. If the error is pointed out before the hand begins the deck must be shuffled and the cards dealt again.

In truco paulista the cards are ranked in the following order, from strongest to weakest:

8s, 9s and 10s are never included. Upon agreement, the 7s, 6s, 5s, and 4s can be removed from the deck, this is called playing with a clean deck (jogar com baralho limpo).

After the cards are dealt, one card from the remainder of the deck is turned over to determine the trump cards (manilhas), which rank above all others. The trump cards are the cards directly above the one which was turned over (e.g. if the card revealed is an 7, the trump cards are the queens). The strength of a trump card when compared to the others is determined by its suit, with diamonds being the weakest, followed by spades, hearts and clubs being the strongest.

Truco mineiro

Truco mineiro is a variety of truco played mostly in the state of Minas Gerais, but also not limited to it. The rules are mostly the same as in truco paulista, with only a few differences:

In truco mineiro, the round of eleven is replaced by the roughly similar round of ten, the only differences (aside from the number of points required) being that only the team with ten points is allowed to see each other's cards and that the round is worth four points instead of three. If both teams reach ten points the round must be played and they are not allowed to see each other's cards.

Truco mineiro uses a fixed set of trump cards, so there is no need to turn one card over after dealing to determine them (the order of the suits remain the same, however). The ranking of the cards is as follows:

Signals

Most teams communicate through body or facial signals as a way of making their parters aware of their hands without having to show it to everyone at the table. The signals for each trump card are standard among most players, making it easy for new teammates to communicate with each other without previously defining signals, although long-time partners usually develop their own unique signals. The standard signals are the following:

Señas

Señas are gestures that are used among players of the same team to tell the pie (hand captain) their most valuables cards or if they have good score for a potential envido situation. The most generally accepted señas are as follows:

Performing the señas during the game is a skill that takes time to master. The player has to be very careful not to be seen by players of the opposite team, although because of this the señas also can be used as a strategy to trick them (for example, show a gesture of a low valuable card and then play with an unexpected card).

Jargon

There are lots of informal expressions that have become part of the art of playing the game. Examples of jargon are described below:

Brazilian Jargon

In Truco Paulista, manilha are the cards of the next number of the one who was trumped at the beginning of the round. For example: if you trumped a 2, the manilha will be the 3s. Then, the strength of each manilha depends on the stamp, which follows (strongest to weakest): clubs (zap), hearts (copas), spades (espadilha), diamonds (pica-fumo).

Many times jargon is used to make the other team believe one's team has better or worse cards than it really does. For instance: if one is holding the As of spades and a worthless card he could say "estou seco" I'm dry, to indicate he hasn't got any better cards so that the other team will go for a truco on the last hand.

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