Card Games/Piquet

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For a very long time, Piquet was the dominant 2-handed card game. It features a remarkable combination of melding and trick-taking. One interesting feature is the strong asymmetry between dealer and non-dealer. The game is played with what is known as a piquet deck and has been used for numerous other games since. There are also variants for more than 2 players.

Overview[edit]

The game was originally played with 36 cards, but since c. 1700[1] it is played with 32 cards: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7. The rules have numerous variants, but the following deliberately vague and incomplete description correctly describes all of them.

The dealer deals 12 cards to each player, in batches of 2 or in batches of 3. The remaining 8–12 cards form the stock. Elder hand (i.e. the non-dealer) first discards some cards, then draws from the stock to fill his hand up again. Afterwards dealer does the same.

Before card-play begins, the players need to find out who holds the better cards with respect to three kinds of announcements, point, sequence, and set, and consequently has the right to score for them. Point goes to the player who has the greatest number of cards in one suit, and scores the number of cards.[2] Sequence goes to the player who has the longest consecutive sequence in one suit. This player can score for all such sequences in his hand: 3 or 4 points for every such sequence of length 3 or 4, and 15–18 points for every such sequence of length 5–8. Set goes to the player who has the highest-ranking 4 of a kind, worth 14 points, or else 3 of a kind, worth 3 points. Often only Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten are allowed in sets. As for sequences, the player with the highest-ranking set can score for all sets.

Elder hand begins card-play by leading to the first trick. The second player to a trick must follow suit; in older rules there was also an obligation to take the trick when possible. In this phase players can score points for leading to a trick and for winning a trick. In the end, a player who won more than 6 tricks also scores 10 bonus points.

There are a number of ways to obtain additional bonus points. A player who has no court/face cards before discarding, scores 10 points for carte blanche. A player who scores 30 points or more before the opponent scores at all gets another 30 points for pic, or 60 points for repic if this happens before the first card is played out. A player who wins all tricks scores another 30 points, in addition to the 10 points for winning the majority of tricks, for capot.

Modern English rules[edit]

Since 1744, the standard rules for Piquet in England were those from Hoyle's "Short Treatise on the Game of Piquet", which contained 26 rules regulating specific difficulties. Later editors of Hoyle's Games added 9 more rules, but these were not considered authoritative. In 1873 the Portland Club developed a more complete set of rules for Piquet au cent. This was followed in 1882 by the publication "The Laws of Piquet adopted by the Portland and Turf Clubs", which quickly became the English standard for both Piquet au cent and Rubicon Piquet. The rules for playing a hand, as given in that publication, differ in many details. Some of these differences do not appear to be justified by the different accounting methods. The rules for Piquet au cent are generally more conservative than those for Rubicon Piquet.

Rubicon Piquet[edit]

General principles for these rules are that in calling, a player whose call is not good or equal is only required to expose a minimum of information; and that any information exposed to the dealer may be deferred to after the first deal. Also, both players must discard at least 1 card.

Dealing: For all purposes (cutting for deal, calling and playing) the cards rank A–K–Q–J–10–9–8–7. Dealer deals 12 cards to each, in batches of 2 or in batches of 3. The remaining 8 cards form the stock.

Discarding and taking in: The first 5 cards on the stock belong to elder hand, who discards 1–5 cards and draws the same number. If elder hand draws less than 5 cards, he may look at the remainder, at least one of which will be drawn by dealer. Dealer discards at least 1 card and up to as many as remain in the stock, and draws the same number. If dealer leaves any cards in the stock, he may decide that both players may look at them. In this case elder hand must lead to the first trick before looking, or at least announce which suit he will lead.

Calling and showing: The point is always called first; the right to score it is won by the player with the greater number of cards in a single suit. The sum of pip values as indicated in the table is used as a tie-breaker. The player whose point passes scores the number of cards. The order of the next two calls is not compulsory, although sequences are normally called before sets because they must be scored before sets. (This can be important w.r.t. pique or repique.) The right to score for sequence is won by the player with the longest consecutive sequence of at least three cards in one suit. The rank of the highest card in the sequence is used as a tie-breaker. The player whose sequence passes scores the value of the sequence plus any additional inferior sequences, as indicated in the table. The right to score for set is won by the player who has the greatest number of cards of the same rank, the number being at least three and the rank being at least 10. The rank is used as a tie-breaker. The player whose set passes scores the value of the set plus any additional inferior sets, as indicated in the table.

Players are allowed to make understatements when calling, so long as they actually hold the cards they claim to hold. E.g. it is allowed to pretend that a sequence is shorter than it is, or to call an inferior sequence that one also holds, but not to pretend that a sequence to a Queen is a sequence of the same length to a Jack.

Each call begins by elder hand announcing a minimum of information (number of cards for point, length for sequence, size for set). Dealer responds with "good" if his hand is inferior or "not good" if it is better. If the information is not sufficient, dealer responds with "equal", and elder hand announces the tie-breaking information. Dealer again responds with "good" or "not good". When calling point or sequence the tie-breaker may not actually break the tie, and so dealer may also respond with "equal". In this case neither player scores.

Every card used to score must be disclosed on request, either by showing it or by saying what it is. For elder hand this obligation starts immediately after scoring; for dealer it starts after elder hand has led to the first trick. It is proper etiquette to volunteer this kind of information when it is relevant for the opponent.

Playing cards: Elder hand leads to the first trick. The second player to a trick must follow suit if possible. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick. There are no trumps. Whenever a player leads to a trick, he scores 1 point. Whenever a player wins a trick with the second card, he also scores 1 point. The winner of the last trick additionally scores 1 point. A player who wins more than 6 tricks scores 10 points for the card. A player who wins all tricks instead scores 40 points for capot. Players can always look at earlier tricks and at their own discards.

Special cases: A player who scores 30 points or more before the opponent scores at all gets another 30 points for pique, or 60 points for repique if this happens before the first card is played out. Equality in one of the three calls does not count as scoring in this sense for either player. A player who, before discarding, has neither King nor Queen nor Jack, can score 10 points for carte blanche. This must be announced as soon as discovered. The carte blanche must be proved, by dealing the cards quickly on the table, after the opponent has discarded. Thus if elder hand has carte blanche he discards but does not draw, and tells dealer to discard (and not draw). Then he shows his hand, after which both players draw in their cards.

Partie: A partie normally consists of six deals, players players cutting for the right to decide who deals first (which is a slight advantage), and then dealing alternately. In case of a tie, another two deals are played. In case of another tie the partie is drawn. The outcome of a partie is also expressed in a score. Normally this is 100 points plus the difference of total scores. However, if the loser of the partie scored less than 100 points, the winner is said to win a rubicon, and the value of the partie is 100 points plus the sum of total scores.

Piquet au cent[edit]

General principles for these rules are that in calling, a player whose call is not good or equal is only required to expose a minimum of information; and that any information exposed to the dealer may be deferred to after the first deal. Also, both players must discard at least 1 card.

Dealing: For all purposes (cutting for deal, calling and playing) the cards rank A–K–Q–J–10–9–8–7. Dealer deals 12 cards to each, always in batches of 2. The remaining 8 cards form the stock.

Discarding and taking in: The first 5 cards on the stock belong to elder hand, who discards 1–5 cards and draws the same number. If elder hand draws less than 5 cards, he may look at the remainder, at least one of which will be drawn by dealer. Dealer need not discard, but may discard up to as many as remain in the stock, and draw the same number. If dealer leaves any cards in the stock, he may decide that both players may look at them. In this case elder hand must lead to the first trick before looking, or at least announce which suit he will lead.

Calling and showing: The point is always called first; the right to score it is won by the player with the greater sum of pip values as indicated in the table. The player whose point passes scores the number of cards. The order of the next two calls is not compulsory, although sequences are normally called before sets because they must be scored before sets. (This can be important w.r.t. pique or repique.) The right to score for sequence is won by the player with the longest consecutive sequence of at least three cards in one suit. The rank of the highest card in the sequence must also be named, and is used as a tie-breaker. The player whose sequence passes scores the value of the sequence plus any additional inferior sequences, as indicated in the table. The right to score for set is won by the player who has the greatest number of cards of the same rank, the number being at least three and the rank being at least 10. The rank must also be announced, and is used as a tie-breaker. The player whose set passes scores the value of the set plus any additional inferior sets, as indicated in the table.

Players are allowed to make understatements when calling, so long as they actually hold the cards they claim to hold. E.g. it is allowed to pretend that a sequence is shorter than it is, or to call an inferior sequence that one also holds, but not to pretend that a sequence to a Queen is a sequence of the same length to a Jack.

Each call begins by elder hand announcing a minimum of information (number of cards for point, length for sequence, size for set). Dealer responds with "good" if his hand is inferior or "not good" if it is better. If the information is not sufficient, dealer responds with "equal", and elder hand announces the tie-breaking information. Dealer again responds with "good" or "not good". When calling point or sequence the tie-breaker may not actually break the tie, and so dealer may also respond with "equal". In this case neither player scores.

Every card used to score must be disclosed on request, either by showing it or by saying what it is. For elder hand this obligation starts immediately after scoring; for dealer it starts after elder hand has led to the first trick. It is proper etiquette to volunteer this kind of information when it is relevant for the opponent.

Playing cards: Elder hand leads to the first trick. The second player to a trick must follow suit if possible. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick. There are no trumps. Whenever a player leads to a trick, he scores 1 point. Whenever a player wins a trick with the second card, he also scores 1 point. The winner of the last trick additionally scores 1 point. A player who wins more than 6 tricks scores 10 points for the card. A player who wins all tricks instead scores 40 points for capot. Players can always look at earlier tricks and at their own discards.

Special cases: A player who scores 30 points or more before the opponent scores at all gets another 30 points for pique, or 60 points for repique if this happens before the first card is played out. Equality in one of the three calls does not count as scoring in this sense for either player. A player who, before discarding, has neither King nor Queen nor Jack, can score 10 points for carte blanche. This must be announced before discarding. The carte blanche must be proved, by dealing the cards quickly on the table, after the opponent has discarded. Thus if elder hand has carte blanche he discards but does not draw, and tells dealer to discard (and not draw). Then he shows his hand, after which both players draw in their cards. But if dealer has carte blanche he may defer announcing it until after elder hand has drawn from the stock.

Partie: A partie normally consists of six deals, players players cutting for first deal (which is a big advantage), and then dealing alternately. In case of a tie, another two deals are played. In case of another tie the partie is drawn. The outcome of a partie is also expressed in a score. Normally this is 100 points plus the difference of total scores. However, if the loser of the partie scored less than 100 points, the winner is said to win a rubicon, and the value of the partie is 100 points plus the sum of total scores.

Rules from "Encyclopédie des jeux de cartes, 1896[edit]

Point-values of cards
Rank A K Q J 10 9 8 7
Value 11 10 10 10 10 9 8 7

Having shuffled the cards, the dealer presents the deck to the non-dealer for cutting. At this point the non-dealer may instead shuffle as well, in which case the dealer shuffles again and presents the deck again for cutting. The non-dealer is obliged to cut; the two parts of the stack must be at least two cards each. (In case of any irregularities in cutting, the dealer deals again.)

The non-dealer having cut, the dealer puts what was the lower part of the stack on top of what was the higher part, and deals 12 cards to each in batches of 2 or 3. Each player may only change the size of the batches after having told the opponent before shuffling.

If, due to a mistake by the dealer, one player has 13 cards, non-dealer decides whether the deal must be repeated. If the deal is not repeated, the error is corrected in the next stage in the obvious way, i.e. by the affected player taking one card less from the stock than otherwise possible and discarding as many as necessary to keep 12. If one player has 14 or more cards, dealer must deal again in any case.

If the talon contains a face-up card by mistake, and the card is not the top card of the talon or the top of dealer's 3 alloted cards, this is ignored. The case of misdeal mentioned above does not apply (that is, non-dealer has no right to repeat the deal). But this situation may arise with a 7-card talon when correcting a misdeal, or with a 9-card talon [when do the rules allow a 9-card talon?]

In some countries the local custom says that the dealer counts the first 5 cards of the stock and puts them crosswise on top the last 3. This should not be followed, as it gives the dealer the chance to notice special features of the individual cards.

If a player realizes that he dealt out of turn, he can insist that the deal be aborted and the opponent deals, even after players have seen their hands, so long as no one has followed to the first card led.

A player who has carte blanche, i.e. not a single King, Queen or Jack, can count them singly on the table and score 10 points. This has to be done immediately after the opponent has drawn from the stock and discarded. I.e. dealer does it before drawing, while non-dealer does it after both have drawn and discarded. These 10 points are subject to duplication etc. like any other game points.

Non-dealer discards 5 cards and replaces them from the stock. Non-dealer has the right to discard and replace 1 to 4 cards instead of 5, but has to announce this. Non-dealer may look at whichever of the top 5 cards he leaves in the stock. [Do the rules mention dealer's discard? Must dealer discard at least 1 card?]

A player who has taken too many cards from the stock but has not seen them, may simply put them back. A player who has taken too many cards and has seen them, must forfeit all declarations. The punished player's opponent scores all legal combinations unconditionally.

If after discarding a player has less than 12 cards (because he received less than 12 from the dealer, or because he drew less than he discarded), then this is ignored. At the end of the hand, the player with more cards plays a one-card "trick" or even a series of them.

Non-dealer is not allowed to encourage dealer to make a mistake, by appearing to wait for dealer to discard and draw before non-dealer has done it. In this case the deal ("coup") is annulled. If dealer erroneously draws before non-dealer for any other reason, the punishment varies according to local custom.

If non-dealer has not announced discarding and drawing less than 5 cards, and dealer took the stock expecting to find only 3 cards there and consequently has more than 12 cards, then the deal is repeated unless non-dealer agrees with dealer playing with the bigger hand.

Players must not even touch the stock before discarding, or they forfeit all declarations. After touching the stock, a player may not change the discard any more. In the worst case, if a player discovers having discarded too many cards only after touching the stock, the player will have to play with fewer cards as described above.

A player may not waive the punishment of an opponent having more than 12 cards, and may not fix the error by drawing superfluous cards as in a children's game.

Non-dealer adds the point values of the cards of one suit and announces the result, provided it is at least 30. He looks for the longest sequence in suit, with the highest ranks, and announces the length and the suit. And he looks for the highest-ranking quatorze (i.e. four of a kind of Tens or above) or threes (also Tens or above) and announces that. All in one go. One is allowed to announce inferior combinations that one holds instead of better ones, but of course that can lead to losing the right to score to the opponent.

Dealer makes similar calculations, but only announces what is better than what non-dealer has announced.

Now non-dealer scores for those announcements that were not topped by dealer. For point the number of cards. For Sequence the sequence announced and any lower sequences, counting 18, 17, 16, 15, 4, 3. For the quatorze or threes announce and any lower ones 14 or 3. Non-dealer simultaneously plays out the first card for trick-play and scores 1 point for playing out.

References[edit]

  1. Merlin, Origine des cartes à jouer, p. 121: "… le 6 est supprimé, ainsi qu'il l'est dans le piquet français depuis la fin du dix-septième siècle." Cavendish (1896), p. 76: "In the edition of 'The Compleat Gamester' of 1709 a note is added, that 'These were the Rules of the Game when it was play'd with the sixes, but however the Rules hold for the Game as it is play'd at present without the Sixes, only when it is played without the Sixes the Elder Hand is to take Five of the eight cards in the stock.'" This fixes the time when the alteration of the pack became generally recognised in England.
  2. This is not entirely accurate, see Cavendish (1896), p. 64.