Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Belote, not just a game at Tous Va Bien!!!

About a year ago, Ben and I were sharing our plans with each other for the week. On Tuesday, I said, "I'm watching Paulina and Gabby for Outi", to which Ben replied, "okay, then I'll go to Belote". Belote, I thought. Is this the name of a new bar?

Upon finishing with the kids, I called Ben to see if I could meet him. Turns out, he was still at Belote. Instead of giving me foreign directions, he offered me a very familiar address: that of the Bretagne (or thee of Brittany-descent)- run, French Expat restaurant in Manhattan Midtown West, known simply as Tout Va Bien.

Upon my arrival, I was offered a seat, a glass of red, and a cursory rule rundown. Oh, and a buddy, a real Belote card shark (pun intended)... to help to me win. And, I did. But, only because of him. I left that evening with no knowledge of the game beyond that it was played in pairs, and one lays down cards in some order!

And, that's what I came with, into the game with Ben and Herve and Ben's father: Belote is played in facing pairs and one lays down cards in some order!

Yet, what I came out with, after two evenings of intense play and exchanging smiles with his father over Ben's competitive nature, was this:

Belote is a game is played with a special 32 card deck. Really, it's just a U.S. deck, with all cards from 7 up, without the Joker either.

The game begins with the Dealer asking the person to his/her right to cut the deck, after which the Dealer begins, beginning w. the player to his/her left to deal 2 or 3 cards each to each player. Then, the Dealer continues to deal either 3 or 2 cards to each player, until all players have 5 cards. The dealer then places the remaining part of the deck in the middle of the table and flips over the top card.

At this time, the player to the Dealer's Left can decide whether he/she wants to take the flipped card, thus making the suit it represents the TRUMP. The TRUMP means that, no matter what card is laid down, this suit can cut or win over that card. BUT, there is an order to the TRUMPS as well, which is Jack, 9, Ace, 10, King, Queen, 8, 7. The higher the better. For Non-Trumps, the Order of Worth goes Ace, 10, King, Queen, Jack, 9, 8, 7.

If s/he does not want it, the next player to the Left can take it, and so on. If no one takes the card, the Player to the Dealer's Left then takes the card that is face up, but can decide which suit s/he wants to be the TRUMP. The Dealer continues to finish dealing the deck, giving the player to his/her Left 2 cards, and all other player's 3.

Play commences with the player to the Dealer's Left laying down a card, and play moving to the Left. Obviously, each player is trying to lay down the card that will win the hand (see Non-Trump Order of Worth). BUT, each player also must keep in mind what his/her partner is laying down. Because if your partner has laid down, say that Ace of a suit, and no one has cut, why would you waste your Ace, and thus give away points to your competing team?

In conclusion, I have no idea how the points are counted, or what each of the cards are worth! I just know the order that makes me win! For the rest, I could suggest going to the following website: http://www.pagat.com/jass/belote.html. Me? I'm just going to ask my card shark buddy next time at Belote at Tout Va Bien. Happy learning!!!

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