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Primiera set shares many cards with the tarocco set
Origin Italy
Type Trick-taking
Players 2-6
Skills required Tactics, Strategy
Cards 62
Deck Tarocco Bolognese
Play Counter-clockwise
Card rank (highest to lowest) Trump suit 20-0
Long suits: K Q C J 10 9 8 7 6 A
Round suits: K Q C J A 6 7 8 9 10
Playing time 30 min.
Random chance Moderate
Related games

Tarocchini (plural for tarocchino) are point trick-taking tarot card games originating from the 17th century. They are the diminutive form of tarocchi (plural for tarocco), referring to the reduction of the Bolognese pack from 78 to 62 cards, which probably occurred in the early 16th century.

The games are popular in the Bologna region of Italy and has been confined mostly to this area. Tarocchini are very complex games, yet the rules have changed little over the years.

Deck description

Tarocchini can be played with a standard Tarot deck (where the 2-5 number cards in each suit have been removed), though normally, a special Tarot deck, the Tarocco Bolognese is used. The trump cards are in a non-standard order (probably because of this, the Bologna tarot decks were amongst the last to add numbers to the trump cards). The biggest difference in ordering is amongst what is known as the Popes ("Papi") or Moors ("Murett") (cards 2-5; Popess, Empress, Emperor, and Pope). In this version, all four Papi are equal (the last one played is the highest, in regards to taking a trick). In the Tarocco Bolognese, these cards are replaced by four Moors, two of which are identical.

The Fool is not a trump, it can't beat any cards and is played as an excuse from following suit. The Magician is the lowest trump. However, both the Fool and the Magician may be used as contatori (counters or wild cards) to assist in making sequences. The contatori are very valuable, because they can be used as wild cards in multiple locations. The four highest trumps, which are unnumbered, are Angel, World, Sun, and Moon and they are collectively known as grande (big). Angel, World, Magician, and the Fool are collectively known as tarocchi.

Rank Name of the card Card Points
(20) Angel (Angelo) 5
(19) World (Mondo) 5
(18) Sun (Sole) 1
(17) Moon (Luna) 1
16 Star (Stella) 1
15 Lightning (Saetta) 1
14 Devil (Diavolo) 1
13 Death (Morte) 1
12 Traitor (Traditore) 1
11 Old man (Vecchio) 1
10 Wheel (Ruota) 1
9 Fortitude (Forza) 1
8 Justice (Giustizia) 1
7 Temperance (Tempra) 1
6 Chariot (Carro) 1
5 Love (Amore) 1
(1-4) Moor/Pope 1
(1-4) Moor/Emperor 1
(1-4) Moor/Empress 1
(1-4) Moor/Popess 1
(0) Magician (Bagattino) 5
Suit Kings 5
Suit Queens 4
Suit Cavaliers 3
Suit Jacks 2
Suit Pip cards 1
Fool (Matto) 5
Note: Grande, the four Moors, the Magician, and the Fool are not numbered in present day Bologna tarot decks.

The cards won by each side are counted in pairs, with 1 being subtracted from the total for each pair. There are also six points for winning the final trick, giving a total of 93 points.

Common rules

In tarocchini, card points are not as important as bonus or meld points gained from combinations. Combinations can either be associative or sequential. Associative combinations or cricche consist of three or four of a kind sets.

Associative combination Three of a kind points Four of a kind points
Tarocchi 18 36
Kings 17 34
Queens 14 28
Cavaliers 13 26
Jacks 12 24

There are four types of sequential combinations although two of them are more like associative combinations. Each sequence needs at least three cards for 10 points and every extra card is worth 5 points. What separates the sequences from the cricche is the use of the contatori. The contatori may not be used to substitute Angel or a King. They also cannot fill in consecutive gaps with one exception: in the trump sequence if the two cards replaced are trump 16 and a grande.

Sequence Minimum requirement Extra cards
Trumps Angel and at least two of the next three grande (one of which mustn't be a wild card) Consecutive numbered trumps
Suits King and at least two face cards of the same suit (one of which mustn't be a wild card) Ace of the same suit
Moors Two Moors plus a third Moor which can be a wild card Up to six Moors with wild cards
Aces Two Aces plus a third Ace which can be a wild card Up to six Aces with wild cards

Multiplicative bonuses occur when three or more cricche or sequences are made at one time. This doubles the points.


The four-player version of this game, Ottocento, is the most popular version.


Ottocento is played by 4 players in two partnerships sitting opposite each other. The middle part of the game is very similar to the basic tarot game. It adds a round of point-counting before and after the game based on sets and runs of the cards. An unusual feature is that the partners are allowed to make certain limited signals to each other during play.

As usual for Tarot card games, dealing and card play are counter-clockwise. The dealer gives 15 cards to each player, in 3 rounds of five cards apiece. The dealer takes the last two cards into his hand. The dealer has to discard two cards, which can not be "5 point" cards (such as kings, or the trumps worth 5 points). The cards that the dealer discards are counted as points to his side, unless he and his partner capture no tricks at all during the card play in which case the cards must be surrendered to the opponents.

After the first 5 cards have been dealt, if all players agree the game may andare a monte. If this happens, all the cards are thrown in, and the deal passes to the next player. The first player speaks first, declaring a monte if he wishes to restart the game. This continues with each player until it reaches the dealer. If all have declared a monte, then the game will be restarted.

The game consists of three parts. Just after the hand has been dealt, all players may score their hands according to the meld points contained within. Next, normal card play occurs. Finally, the partners score any meld points that they have in their captured tricks. The scoring of meld points after card play is unique to Tarocchini and Minchiate.

First declaration

After the cards have been dealt, each player may declare certain combinations of cards that they hold in their hand to collect meld points. They do not have to declare anything, and may optionally declare a smaller set or run than they actually have. Anything that is declared must be placed face-up on the table. The decision of what to declare is an interesting strategic choice.

Game play

Once the first declaration of points is finished, normal card play ensues. Note that some information has been disclosed by the declarations, so players will have more clues than usual as to the contents of the other players' hands. As in all tarocchi games, there is the rule that a player that can't follow suit must trump if possible. If lacking trumps, then any card can be discarded. The Fool excuses the player from following suit: it is played to the trick instead of following suit, and then retrieved to its player's pile of won tricks in exchange for a worthless card. It can't be captured unless the opposing team wins all the tricks (a slam) but this is very rare. One of the most important strategies is to capture or protect the Bagattino as it is very useful in scoring. The last trick has a bonus of 6 points.

During the actual card play, the eldest is permitted to make certain signals to his partner. The current game allows only three signals:

These are some of the formerly allowed signals:


Once all tricks have been completed, the captured cards are examined for meld points. Combine these meld points with the meld points from the first declaration. Next, count card points in pairs with one point subtracted from each pair. Then add the last trick bonus. After adding the meld points with the card points and last trick bonus, the first team to reach 800 wins. It is actually possible to win at the first declaration if one team can reach 800 points. If both teams can do it, the team with the higher points win.

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