Tarot rules

Tarot is a very old card game. Much appreciated because it combines strategy and reflection, tarot is a family game whose goal is to obtain the maximum number of points. 

Contents and Goal of the Game

A classic game of Tarot is played with 4 players. The object of a tarot game is to make bets based on points. Each tarot card has a certain point value. A Tarot deck includes 78 cards. They can be divided as follows: 

  • Single color cards (♠️ ♦️ ♥️ ♣️) from Ace to 10 are worth 0.5 points
  • King of color is worth 4.5 points
  • Queen of color is worth 3.5 points
  • numbered Knight of color is worth 2.5 points
  • Jack of color is worth 1.5 dots.
  • Trump cards (also called Tarot) numbered from 1 to 21. Trump cards 2 to 20 are each worth 1.5 points
  • Ends: these are the cards Trump 1 (called the Small), the Excuse and Trump 21 (the strongest trump). Each is worth 4.5 points
  • The Excuse: a card representing a mandolin player. It is the equivalent of the Joker. This card is worth 4.5 points.

Before You Begin 

You will first need to determine who will be the dealer for the game. Here, there is no need to use a dice or to toss a coin. Spread the cards face down on the playing mat, and each player draws a card. The player with the lowest card is the dealer.

Points to keep in mind: 

  • If one of the players draws the Excuse, they must draw another card, because the Excuse does not count.
  • If two players draw the same type of card (5 of Clubs and 5 of Spades, for example), consider the order of importance of the suits: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. In our example, the player who drew the 5 of Clubs becomes the dealer.

Once the dealer is designated:

  • the player in front of the dealer must shuffle the cards.
  • the player to the left of the dealer must cut the cards. (not with a scissor! just make a few piles and mix them up again).

Then the dealer deals the cards. they will have to:

  • deal the cards in groups of 3 to the other players, in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • place a card in the center of the table each time they have distributed a group of 3 cards to each player. However, it is forbidden to place neither the first nor the last card in the center. This set of cards constitutes the DOG.

Players pick up their cards at the end of the deal, then assess whether they can play the deal or not. How? It’s simple. If one of the players does not have the Small (Trump 1) as the only Trump card in their hand, they reveal their hand and the deal is canceled. It will therefore be necessary to deal the cards again.


Once the deal has been made, each player, starting with the player to the dealer’s right, makes a bid. they must decide whether or not they take a bid. In the event that they think they cannot take a bid, the player must announce that they “pass”. Remember that taking a bid means scoring 25 points.

Once all the players have decided to take a bid or pass, those who have decided to take must choose their bid. If no player takes a bid, the hand is redealt. There are 4 types of bids in Tarot: 

  • A small: winning it offers the 25 base points. The player does not use the dog.
  • Guard with Dog: the taker shows the 6 Dog cards to all the players. Then, they put them in their hand, then discard 6 cards of their choice and puts them aside. These cards make up the discard pile. Score multiplier: 2
  • The Guard without the Dog: do you have a good hand and think you can score enough points? This option means that you intend to carry out your bid but without using the Dog. However, the Dog’s points will be counted to you at the end of the round. No one is allowed to see the Dog. Score multiplier: 4
  • The Guard against the Dog: you give the Dog’s points to the opponents (the defense) at the end of the round. In other words, you have to be damn confident in your hand 😁 Score multiplier: 6.

The player with the highest bid becomes the taker; the other three become the defense. The goal is simple: the defense must prevent the taker from carrying out their bid. 

Start of the Game

The player to the left of the dealer starts the game. They choose a card from their hand and place it in the center. Each player in turn, counter-clockwise, lays down a card. Here are the rules to follow: 

  • If the first player plays a color card, the other players must play a card of the same color
  • If a player cannot play a card of the same color, they must play a trump card
  • If a player can neither play a card of the same color nor play a trump, they are obliged to play another card. Of course, they won’t win the trick
  • If the first player plays a trump card, all other players are forced to play a higher trump card each time
  • In the same suit, the card with the highest rank wins the trick
  • The highest trump card wins the trick.

Calculating Your Points

At the end of the different tricks, it’s time to count the points. Doing this is very simple. 

  • The taker counts the points of their tricks using the points per card
  • Do not forget the multipliers associated with the contracts

To win, the taker will have to achieve a certain number of points according to the Ends that they will have won: 

  • 36 points if they have 3 ends
  • 41 points with 2 ends
  • 51 points with only one end.

The 3 defenders share the same number of points. This score will be negative if the taker has won the game, and positive if they lost. 

If the taker succeeds in their bid, they score the default 25 points + the points in excess of their bet. This total will then be multiplied according to the type of bid and the special cards, then multiplied by the number of defenders (in a game with 4 players, it will be multiplied by 3). 

The defenders’ score will be the same as the taker’s score, but without multiplying by the number of defenders. Thus, if the taker scores 60 points and succeeds in their bid, their score will be 180 and that of the defenders -60 points each. At the end of the calculation, the sum of the points between the defenders and the taker must be zero (= 0).