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Argentinean Truco

Truco is widely played in South America. It is derived from the simpler game Truc, which is played in Catalonia and Southern France. Each player is dealt three cards, which are played out in tricks, and points are also scored for holding combinations of cards in the same suit. It is the possible to bet extra points on who has the best combination or will win the tricks, and the bluffing, talking and joking that goes with this are an important part of the game. Truco is usually played by four players in partnerships, but it can also be played by two or six.

The following description is of the version of Truco played in Argentina and in the south of Brazil, where it is known as Truco Gaucho, Truco Gaudério or Truco Cego. On other pages you can find a survey of different versions of South American Truco, rules for Uruguayan Truco, and rules for two other versions of Brazilian Truco.

Cards and Card Ranking

Truco is played with a standard Spanish 40 card deck of four suits:

coins (oros) cups (copas) swords (espadas) batons (bastos)

Each suit consists of numeral cards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and and picture cards 10, 11 and 12. The 10 is called Sota (Valet), the 11 Caballo (Horse) and the 12 Rey (King). The 1 is called As or Ancho.

There are four special cards, called cartas bravas, which are the highest in the pack. From high to low, these are the ace of swords, the ace of batons, the seven of swords and the seven of coins. Below the seven of coins the remaining cards rank in descending order: 3, 2, 1 (cups and coins), 12, 11, 10, 7 (cups and batons), 6, 5, 4. Among these lower cards only the rank counts; the suits are not important for trick taking - so for example all threes are equal, and the aces of cups and coins are equal. The low aces and sevens are known as "false cards" - los ases falsos or los anchos falsos are the aces of coins and cups and los siete falsos are the sevens of cups and batons. The kings, horses and valets are collectively known as las negras (the black ones).

The cards also have point values, used in valuing and comparing Flor and Envido announcements. For this purpose pip cards ace to seven count face value, and pictures (las negras) count zero.

In North America, Spanish cards can be obtained from TaroBear's Lair.

The Players and the Deal

Truco is usually played by four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. There are also versions for two players and six players, which will be described later. The game is played anticlockwise.

The partnerships may be arranged by mutual agreement, or determined by "drawing kings" - the players take turns to draw a card from the pack, and the first two who draw kings are partners. The player who drew the first king will be the first dealer. Thereafter the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. The dealer gives three cards to each player, dealing them one at a time anticlockwise.

The player to the right of the dealer is the mano (hand). This player will begin the play of the cards. The last player of each partnership to play (that is the dealer and the player to dealer's left) is called the pie (foot). Usually the pie will act as the captain of the partnership, deciding whether to bet and what to play on the basis of signals from partner.

Outline of the game

There are three ways of scoring points:

Bets on Flor or Envido are made during the first trick, while bets on Truco can be made at any time. Logically, the bets are made in the order Flor-Envido-Truco, and each player must respect this order. In practice they may appear to come out of sequence, because a player who has (for example) no interest in the Flor or Envido can immediately bet on the Truco. However, if another player wants to bet on the Flor or Envido, they would have to do so before answering the Truco bet.

All betting is done by means of reserved words. Anyone who says one of these words at a time when the corresponding bet is legal is considered to have made that bet - so careless talk can cost points. Because this version of Truco is played in Argentina, the reserved words are in Spanish. To play the equivalent game in English, it would probably be best to devise English reserved words for at least some of the bets, so that betting could be incorporated into the conversation and banter that accompanies the game as in Spanish.

A game is won by the first team whose score reaches 30 points or more, which will usually take several deals. It is usual to play the best of three games, but it is possible to play a just a single game to 30 points ("un 30 seco").

Within each game the first 15 points are called malas (bad ones) and the next 15 are called buenas (good ones). Thus a team which has 12 points has "12 malas", and a team with 18 points has "3 buenas". A Truco player would never announce the score as 20-7, but would say "5 buenas - 7 malas". This terminology is traditional, but has no actual effect on the play.


Flor does not occur very frequently, and the rules for betting on Flor are quite complicated. It also introduces a larger element of luck into the game. Perhaps for these reasons, many people in Argentina play without Flor.

A player whose three cards are of the same suit is said to have a Flor (flower), and must announce this, saying "flor". If more than one person has a Flor, and all of these are simply announced by saying "flor", the team of the person with the best Flor scores 3 points for each Flor that was announced.

The value of a Flor, for comparison purposes, is the sum of the values of the three cards (Ace to 7 are worth their face values, 10 to 12 are worth zero), plus 20. Therefore the best kind of Flor is 5-6-7 of a suit, which has a comparison value of 38. If there is a contest for the Flor, it is won by the team of the player who has the highest Flor. For example if North has a Flor 4-10-12, South has a Flor 2-3-10 and East has a Flor 1-3-5 then East's Flor wins (it has a value of 29 which is better than South's 25 or North's 24), and if all three of them announced Flor, the East-West team will win 9 points for the three flores. If two or more players have a Flor of equal point value, the best is the one which comes earliest in the order of announcements, starting with the mano and going around the table anticlockwise.

If you have a Flor you must announce it (or risk a penalty for not doing so), and you are not allowed to announce a Flor if you do not have one. These are the only announcements in the game that have to be honest - in the case of envido and truco you can bet irrespective of what cards you hold.

If you have Flor you must announce it before playing to the first trick, and before making or accepting any other kinds of bets. If no one has announced a Flor before you, or only your partner has done so, you just say "flor". A Flor announcement cancels any Envido bets which may already have been made, and any betting on the Truco is suspended until the Flor has been dealt with. After announcing Flor, you must wait a moment to see whether any subsequent players have a Flor, as all betting on the Flor must now be completed and settled before anything else can happen.

When a player announces Flor, all other players who have Flor announce it in turn, going anticlockwise around the table (players who have already played to the first trick cannot take part - if they had Flor they should have announced it earlier). If an opponent has already announced Flor and you also have one, you have four possible replies:

When "Contraflor" has been said, the opponents have three possible replies:

When "Contraflor al resto" has been said, the other team has only two possible replies:

Example: Suppose the score is 8 buenas - 6 malas, two opposing players have Flor and a bet of "Contraflor al resto" is accepted. If the 8 buenas team have the better Flor they win the game. If the 6 malas team have the better Flor, they score the 7 points the leading team needed for game plus 6 points for the two Flores, a total of 13 points, bringing their score up to 4 buenas.

If both teams have announced "Flor" and neither has said "Con flor me achico", then when the betting on Flor is over, the players announce the point value of their Flores in turn, starting with the mano or the first player in anticlockwise order from the mano who has a Flor, and continuing around the table to the dealer. If when it comes to your turn someone has already announced a better Flor than yours you can simply say "son buenas" (they are good), admitting that your Flor is not the best one. The player with the winning Flor should show the cards at the end of the hand, to show that it was genuine and allow the points to be scored.

Only players who actually hold a Flor can take part in the betting on Flor. Any bet on the Flor (as opposed to a simple announcement of Flor) is made on behalf of the whole team. Here are some more examples of Flor betting and scoring:

-Flor-Flor N-S score 6 points Only one team has Flores so no betting is possible.
Con flor me achico
N-S score 4 points 3 for North's Flor and 1 for E-W's surrender
Contraflor al resto
Con flor me achico
N-S score 4 points Once West has surrendered, there is nothing more that East can say
FlorFlor-Con flor me achico E-W score 4 points South surrenders on behalf of the partnership
FlorCon flor me achico-Flor The team with the best Flor scores 9 points This is different from the previous example. North tried to surrender before South had had a turn to speak. South's Flor announcement overrides North's surrender. North could now say Con flor me achico again, surrendering on behalf of both partners, or even change his mind and say "Contraflor al resto".
Con flor quiero
Contraflor al resto
The team with the best Flor score 9 plus the points needed by the leading team to win the game. By simply announcing Flor, West leaves it to East to answer North's bet.

All the above expressions for bets are reserved words. Announcing Flor is usually taken as a pretext to show the audience your skills as a (bad) poet. Here are two examples:

Por el rio Paraná
viene bajando un piojo
con un hachazo en el ojo
y una flor en el ojal.
Down the Paraná river
a louse is coming
with an axe blow in his eye
and a flower in his buttonhole.
Pintor que pinto la luna
pinto la luna y el sol
pinto a tu hermana desnuda
y en cada teta una flor.
Painter that paints the moon
that paints the moon and the sun
paints your sister naked
and a flower on each tit.

Pedir Flor

It was mentioned above that if you have a Flor but fail to announce it you risk a penalty. At the end of the play, any player who suspects another player had a Flor which they did not announce can challenge, saying "pido flor". If the challenged player had a Flor, the challenging team scores three points for it. If the challenged player can show two cards of different suits, proving that the hand was not a Flor, the challenged player's team scores one point. A player could challenge both opponents in this way, scoring separately for each challenge.


For Envido, the hands are valued as follows: if you have two cards of the same suit, the value of your hand is their sum plus 20; if your cards are all of different suits, your hand is simply worth the value of the highest card in it. Thus the highest Envido is worth 33 (7-6 of the same suit), and the lowest is worth zero (pictures in three different suits).

If all your three cards are of the same suit, you should normally have announced Flor, and if Flor is announced no betting or score for Envido is possible. If you are playing the game without Flor, then you can take part in the Envido using the best two of your cards - for example 6-3-2 of a suit would count 29 in the Envido (6 + 3 + 20).

Any player may bet or answer a bet on the Envido, and all bets and answers are made on behalf of the partnership. You cannot make the first bet on the Envido after you have played your first card or after you have bet or accepted a bet on the Truco. If an opponent has already bet on the Truco before you say Envido, that player can still reply to your Envido bet; after the Envido betting is over, you or your partner should reply to the Truco.

If nobody bets on the Envido, there is no score for it. You can bet by saying Envido, which proposes that the Envido should be worth two points, Real envido (royal envido), which proposes that it should be worth three, or Falta Envido (envido the rest), which proposes that it should be worth the number of points that the leading team needs to win the game.

If a team bets Envido, the other team have five possible answers:

If a team bets "Real Envido", the same answers are possible, except that a bet of "Real Envido" cannot be answered by the (lower) bet of "Envido".

If a bet of "Envido" or "Real envido" is answered by another bet of "Envido" or "Real envido", this new bet needs to be answered again in one of the above ways. There can be several such raises on one deal and they can be any number of "Envido" bets followed by any number of "Real Envido" bets. As soon as either team says "Quiero" or "No quiero" no further bets on the Envido are possible. If the betting ends in "Quiero", the players announce the value of their Envido (as described below) and the team with the best Envido wins the accepted amount. If the betting ends by a team saying "No quiero", the other team automatically wins the amount of the previously accepted bet (or one point if there was only one bet), irrespective of who actually had the best Envido.

Example: East: "Envido", North: "Real envido", West: "Real Envido", South: "Quiero". Whoever has the best Envido, their team will win 8 points (2 + 3 + 3).
Example: East: "Envido", North: "Real envido", West: "Real Envido", South: "No quiero". East-West automatically win 5 points (2 + 3), as West's bet was rejected.

Falta envido is the highest possible bet. It cannot be raised; the only possible answers are "Quiero" or "No quiero". If the answer is "Quiero" there is a showdown and the team with the better Envido scores the number of points the leading team needed to win the game. If the betting ends by a team saying "No quiero", the other team automatically wins the amount of the previously accepted bet (or one point if there was only one bet), irrespective of who actually had the best Envido.

Notice that if a team is very close to winning the value of "Falta envido" can be worth less than than the current bet, and can thus be used as defensive play when a team is far ahead.

Example: If North-South have a score of 14 buenas (29 points); East-West have 2 buenas (17 points). East says "Real envido" and North answers with "Falta envido", which proposes a bet of 1 in this case, since N-S need only one point to finish. If E-W say "No quiero" now, N-S will score 3 points and win, so the only sensible course for E-W is to say "Quiero", and the winners of the Envido will score just one point.

Remember that Quiero closes the betting, so an answer of "Quiero, Envido" does not raise the bet by 2 points; it accepts the current bet and the second word is not taken into account.

When a bet on Envido has been accepted, the players in turn announce (cantar) the value of their Envido. The mano speaks first, followed by the other players in anticlockwise rotation. If an earlier player has already announced a higher valued Envido than yours, you do not have to announce your value - you can simply say "son buenas" (they are good), admitting that your Envido is not best. If your partner's envido is the highest so far, you do not need to announce yours unless and until an opponent announces a higher one. You should not announce the value of your envido unless you must, as doing so gives away information which could be useful to your opponents when betting or playing the Truco.

The winning Envido is the one with the highest point total. In case of equality, the one earlier in anticlockwise order around the table from the Mano to the dealer has priority (so if East deals, North has highest priority, then West, then South, and East loses all ties). The cards that constitute the winning Envido should be shown to the other team at the end of the play to allow the points to be scored.

Example: East is dealer and the Envido holdings are: North 28; West 26; South 31; East 31. In this case North would declare 28; West would say "son buenas". South would be silent at this point as North-South are currently winning the bet, but when East declares, South would then happily announce 31 and North-South would win, since South has priority over East.

The Play of the Tricks (El Truco)

The mano leads to the first trick, and the other players in turn (anticlockwise) each play a card. There is no restriction on what cards can be played. The trick is won by the highest card played (see the ranking order of the cards explained above). The played cards are not gathered together, but remain face up in front of the players. The winner of the first trick leads to the second, which is played in the same way, and the winner of the second leads to the third and last.

Note that apart from the highest four cards, suits are not important. There is no requirement to follow suit, and any higher card beats any lower card, irrespective of suit.

It can easily happen that there is no single highest card played to a trick, but two or more equally high cards, for example two threes. If the highest cards are all played by the same team, that team wins the trick, and whoever played the first of them leads to the next trick. If the highest cards are played by opposing teams then the trick is a tie (parda) and belongs to neither side. In the case of a tie the player who led to the previous trick leads again. Example: East leads a king and North, West and South all play twos. The trick is tied and East leads again.

If there is no betting on the Truco, it is worth one point. This point is won by the side that takes the majority of the tricks (two out of three). If a trick is tied, the Truco is won by whichever team takes the earlier of the other two tricks. If two tricks are tied, the Truco is won by the winners of the only untied trick. If all three tricks are tied then the Truco is won by the team of the mano - that is, the non-dealing team. Note that if just one of the first two tricks is tied, the third trick does not need to be played.

At any time, any player can propose to raise the value of the Truco to two points by saying "Truco". Either member of the opposing team can answer on behalf of the team; the possible answers to this are "Quiero" (I want), accepting that the Truco is worth two points, or "No quiero", admitting defeat. If the answer is "No quiero", play ceases and the side which said Truco scores one point for it.
The team which answered "Quiero" to a bet of "Truco" can immediately or at any later time say "Retruco", proposing to raise the stake to 3. Their opponents can answer "Quiero" accepting that the Truco is worth 3, or "No Quiero", in which case play ceases and the team which said "Retruco" scores 2.
Vale Cuatro (It's worth four)
The team which answered "Quiero" to a bet of "Retruco" can immediately or at any later time say "Vale cuatro", proposing to raise the stake to 4. Their opponents can answer "Quiero" accepting that the Truco is worth 4, or "No Quiero", in which case play ceases and the team which said "Vale cuatro" scores 3.

"Vale cuatro" is the highest possible bet on the Truco. Once it has been accepted, nothing more can be said. The cards are played out and the side which wins the Truco scores 4 points.

Note that each Truco bet must be accepted explicitly. If the opponents say Truco and you want to raise to three the correct answer is "Quiero, Retruco". If you just say "Retruco" without saying "Quiero" first, your bet is not valid.

Conversation and Signals

Players are allowed to talk freely during the game (except that any reserved words used will be interpreted as bets if legal). In addition, you are allowed to signal to your partner the cards that you hold. The signals vary from one region to another, and you are allowed to develop your own code, but this is a widely used set:

Obviously you try to exchange these signals while the opponents are not looking. Normally the pie of each team receives the signals and makes decisions about the betting. You may also try to confuse the opponents by making false signals if you wish.

The Scoring

Traditionally, specially in the countryside, beans ("porotos") are used to keep the score. You need at least 28 of these - 14 for each team. At the start of the game they are all kept in a container. Each team appoints a scorer, who at the end of each deal takes out a number of porotos equal to the number of points scored by the team. The porotos are kept in front of the scorers in view of all the players. When a team's score reaches 15 malas, they put all their porotos back in the container and begin taking out porotos to represent their buenas score. The players have to remember whether each team's score is malas or buenas.

On each deal, the Flor or Envido is scored before the Truco, so if winning the Flor or Envido takes a team to 15 buenas or beyond, that team automatically wins the game, and the Truco is no longer relevant.

If no porotos are available, any other convenient token may also be used, or just a pencil and a piece of paper. Also some enterprising person has designed a "trucometro", a wooden box inside which you keep the cards, with a cover containing at each side two rows of 15 holes (for "buenas" and "malas"). Pins are used to mark after each hand is played the accumulated score of each side.

Procedure and Tactics of Betting

The bets for Flor or Envido must be done during the first trick. Flor is declared by the holder before playing to the trick. In practice, Envido bets are usually announced by the pie - the last player of each team to play to the trick. As a bet on Truco can come at any time, it may be that a bet of Truco may be made before Flor or Envido. A player that wants to announce Flor or bet on Envido can still do so, and the bet for Truco will wait until Flor or Envido bets are resolved; then Truco is in effect and should be answered accordingly.

Envido is only valid if no one holds a Flor. A Flor announcement cancels any Envido betting that has already taken place. Here is an extreme example: East says "Truco", North says "Falta envido", West says "Quiero", and South says "Flor". North's and West's bets are cancelled, North-South will score 3 points for the Flor, and North-South must now answer East's original bet of "Truco".

In the game of Truco, the words for betting, accept and rejecting bets are absolutely fixed. No substitutes are allowed and any use of a reserved word can count as a bet. Here, making conversation and trying to confuse the opponents is part of the game. If you can make them say one of the reserved words, it counts as valid, even if they did not intend to say it.

The only implicit valid action is "folding": if both members of a partnership place their cards face down on the table it counts as if they said "No quiero" to the Truco. Even here you can try to confuse the opponents: if in reply to your Truco just one opponent puts their cards face down, they have not folded. If you now carelessly show your cards the opponents can still accept your bet and play on, though they will have to play with just the cards of the players who did not put down their hands.

Notice if you play a card while a Truco bet is pending, this does not implicitly accept the bet. You can use this as a way of letting the opponents think the bet is accepted and seeing what card they play next; you can say "quiero" or "no quiero" later.

As stated earlier, trying to confuse the opponents is basic. Here are some examples; the partnerships are North-South and East-West.

In the play of the tricks, you can profitably use information from the Flor or Envido values that were announced. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. A player who announced an envido of 28 and plays the 7 of swords is quite likely to hold the ace of swords with it. Don't bet against this player.
  2. If a player who announced a Flor and plays a cup, you know this player cannot have any of the top four cards.

Two player Truco

Two people can play Truco using exactly the same rules as for four players, except that obviously there are no partnerships.

Six player Truco

For a really fun evening, try playing the six player version of Truco. Each team consists of three players seated alternately around the table. Each player needs to be able to see clearly the faces of the others, to intercept the signals as they are passed (and pass his own signals without being caught). The scope for joking and bluffing with six people increases considerably.

In six player Truco, two different kinds of deal are played alternately:

When either team reaches 10 buenas (25 points) or more, only redonda is played; there are no more Pica-pica deals. The game finishes as soon as one team wins by scoring 15 buenas (30) or more.

It is usual for the other players to signal to the pie (foot) of each team. On the basis of this information, the foot gives instructions to the other players which cards to play, so as to make best use of the team's high cards. Do not underestimate the skill needed to win; with 18 cards dealt from 40, a good team captain with the right information from the partnership and perhaps a few signals intercepted from the opponents will consistently win against a team with no director or a poor one.

Remember that to reject a bet of Truco by folding, all three players of the team must put their cards face down, not only the one whose turn it is to play or two of them.


The Deal

If agreed in advance, a player who is dealt two fours and a card with no signal (i.e. a king or lower) can claim a maldon (misdeal). The hand is thrown in and the deal passes to the next player. Some players only allow maldon to be claimed by the mano; again this must be agreed before playing.

The Flor

As already mentioned, Truco is frequently played without Flor. In this case, there is of course no announcement, betting or scoring for Flores. If you have three cards of the same suit, you can use two of them to form an Envido.

Some play that a Flor consisting of three pictures (negras) is worth 30 points rather than 20.

Some play that you are not obliged to announce a Flor if you do not wish to. If an opponent has already announced a Flor and you think yours is too small to win, you just don't mention it. In this variation there is no "pedir flor" of course.

There are some variations on the meaning of Contraflor al resto:

The Envido

Some players allow two further types of bet:

The principle that a smaller bet cannot follow a larger bet still holds, so for example "Real Envido can be answered by "Dos Reales Envido", but not vice versa.

Drawn Game

It is normal to score the Flor or Envido before the Truco, so that if a team gains enough points from the Flor or Envido to win the game, the result of the Truco is irrelevant. In this case a draw is impossible.

However, some people play that the points for Flor or Envido are added together with the points for Truco at the end of the play. With this way of scoring, it is possible, but very unusual, for a game to be drawn. A draw can occur if one team has 14 buenas (29 points) and the other team reaches 15 buenas (30) by means of a Flor or Envido. If the first team then wins the Truco both sides have 15 buenas and no one wins. If the side which lost the Flor or Envido had less than 14 buenas, then the other team would say "no quiero" to any bet on the Truco, thus winning the game.