Bavarian Tarock

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Bavarian Tarock
Bavarian pack-Suit of Acorns.jpg
The suit of Acorns from a Bavarian pack
DeckGerman, Bavarian pattern
Card rank (highest first)D, 10, K, O, U, 9, 8, 7, 6
Playing time45 min.[1]
Related games
Bauerntarock, Dobbm, Tapp

Bavarian Tarock (German: Bayerisches Tarock), Haferltarock or, often, just Tarock, is a card game which is played in Bavaria and several regions of Austria as well as variants in Berlin. Despite the name, it is not a true Tarock game because it is not played with a Tarock pack.[2] In fact, it is played with a 36-card German deck and is more related to Sechsundsechzig. That said, several elements of the genuine Tarock games have been incorporated, as in the game of Bavarian Schafkopf. Very similar card games include Tapp, played in Württemberg, and Brixentaler Bauerntarock. It should not be confused with Königrufen, also known as Austrian Tarock or just Tarock.


Tarock pack: Franconian pattern

German playing cards are used, traditionally those of the Bavarian pattern, with the values Deuce (Daus, Sau) to 6. The card deck has a total of 36 cards (4 suits each of 9 cards).[2] In the trade, special card games are sold which are labelled Schafkopf/Tarock (see illustration).

Suits of the German deck
Bells (Schellen) Hearts (Herz) Leaves (Gras) Acorns (Eichel)
Bay schellen.svg Bay herz.svg Bay gras.svg Bay eichel.svg


Bavarian Tarock is a game for 3 players, each of whom is dealt 11 playing cards. Three cards lie face down in the middle of the table and are called the Stock or Gstaat. This is the same as the talon in many Tarock games. If 4 players are available, the dealer sits out, so that there are 3 players and one dealer who rotates.


The player who wins the bidding (Reizen) is the 'declarer'. The declarer plays against the other two, the opposition or defenders, and must score at least 61 points to win. That means that if both sides score the same (60 points/ 60 points), the declarer has lost. If the declarer has bid more than 61 during the bidding (e.g. 71 points), they must achieve their winning bid in points to win the game. In other variants of the game, which do not involve bidding, players may agree a scale of scoring, with more game points being awarded for bigger wins. For example, a win of 91 points or more (where both defenders score under 30 points and are thus in the Schneider) may attract more game points and a win where the declarer takes all the tricks (i.e. the defenders are Matsch) may attract still more.

Card values[edit]

The complete deck required for Bavarian Tarock

Trick-taking values[edit]

In Bavarian Tarock, a card's trick-taking value generally increases with its face value. The Deuce (Daus, symbol D or A) is the highest card and it is followed by the: Ten (Zehner) (10) > King (K) > Ober (O) > Unter (U) > Nine (Neuner) (9) > Eight (Achter) (8) > Seven (Siebener) (7) > Six (Sechser) (6)

Hierarchy of card values
Acorns (Eichel) Leaves (Gras) Hearts (Herz) Bells (Schellen)
Bay eichel.pngA Bay eichel.png10 Bay eichel.pngK Bay eichel.pngO Bay eichel.pngU Bay eichel.png9 Bay eichel.png8 Bay eichel.png7 Bay eichel.png6 Bay gras.pngA Bay gras.png10 Bay gras.pngK Bay gras.pngO Bay gras.pngU Bay gras.png9 Bay gras.png8 Bay gras.png7 Bay gras.png6 Bay herz.pngA Bay herz.png10 Bay herz.pngK Bay herz.pngO Bay herz.pngU Bay herz.png9 Bay herz.png8 Bay herz.png7 Bay herz.png6 Bay schelle.pngA Bay schelle.png10 Bay schelle.pngK Bay schelle.pngO Bay schelle.pngU Bay schelle.png9 Bay schelle.png8 Bay schelle.png7 Bay schelle.png6

Card points[edit]

The cards have the same point values as in Bavarian Schafkopf. The 10, with ten card points, is just below the Sow (Sau or Deuce or Daus[3] 11 points), but well above the King (4), Ober (3) and Unter (2). The value of the Spatzen ("sparrows" – 9 to 6) lies only in their trick-taking ability during a game, but they have no points value when calculating scores at the end of the round.

Card value Symbol Points
Deuce (Daus) A 11
Ten (Zehner) 10 10
King (König) K 4
Ober O 3
Unter U 2
Nine (Neuner) 9 0
Eight (Achter) 8 0
Seven (Siebener) 7 0
Six (Sechser) 6 0


The trump suit is chosen by the declarer. In any game all nine cards of the chosen suit are trumps, the sequence within the trump suit being unchanged. There are no permanent trump cards as, for example, in Skat, Doppelkopf or Schafkopf.

However, there is a variant of the game in which hearts are the permanent trump suit if the talon is used to replenish cards; otherwise in Hand contracts, the trumps are chosen by the declarer.


Each player draws a card from the pack. The player who draws the highest card becomes the dealer. After thoroughly shuffling the card and after they have been cut by the middle hand (Mittelhand, the player to the dealer's right), the dealer deals the cards as follows:

  • a packet of four to each player
  • a packet of three to each player
  • three cards to the Stock (Gstaat)
  • a further packet of four cards to each player


In general in Tarock, a Hand contract is stronger than a Pick-up, a contract involving the drawing of cards from the stock. Bidding (Reizen) may take place in the follow way:

  • "Play" or "I'll play" (Ich spiele), by which the declarer offers to take at least 61 points with Pick-up (mit) i.e. using the stock
  • "Hand", by which the declarer offers to take at least 61 points without Pick-up (ohne) using the Stock.

After declaring "Hand", bidding may continue in steps of five:

  • "And five" (Fünf mehr), 66 points is the target
  • "And ten" (Zehn mehr), 71 points is the target

etc. This can continue until the following is announced:

  • "And 55" (55 mehr), the target is 116 points, and
  • "Slam" (Durch), which means that the declarer intends to take all the tricks.

In some places there is a tradition, that a player who is not forced to bid by the opposition, may raise the bid himself. But in self-bidding, the contract must be played as a Hand, i.e. the stock may not be used. If the number of points announced by the declarer is not achieved, he loses the round.

There are also variants without bidding. In these cases, each player in a clockwise direction declares his preferred contract or says "pass" ("weiter"). If several preferences are expressed, the following ranking is used (beginning with the highest):

  • Bettel ranks above
  • Hand contract in Hearts (Handspiel in Herz) which ranks above
  • Hand contract in other suits (Handspiel in den übrigen Farben) which rank above
  • Pick-Up contract in Hearts (Stockspiel in Herz) which ranks above
  • Pick-Up contracts in other suits (Stockspiel in den übrigen Farben)

If no-one bids or chooses a contract, the cards are thrown in and redealt by the next player.


The declarer has three options:


In Pick-Up (Stockspiel, Aufnahme, Hineinschauen, Fragespiel) the declarer may pick up the stock and exchange three unwanted cards. He may then decide which suit will be trumps. In another variant, Hearts (Bavarian: Herz-Neischaugn) are the only trump suit permitted for this contract.

Hand (Solo)[edit]

The declarer may announce "Hand", in which case the stock is not picked up, but counts towards the declarer's points. He announces straight away which suit will be trumps.


Acorns (Eichel) Leaves (Gras) Hearts (Herz) Bells (Schellen)
Bay eichel.pngA Bay eichel.pngK Bay eichel.pngO Bay eichel.pngU

Bay eichel.png10 Bay eichel.png9 Bay eichel.png8 Bay eichel.png7 Bay eichel.png6

Bay gras.pngA Bay gras.pngK Bay gras.pngO Bay gras.pngU

Bay gras.png10 Bay gras.png9 Bay gras.png8 Bay gras.png7 Bay gras.png6

Bay herz.pngA Bay herz.pngK Bay herz.pngO Bay herz.pngU

Bay herz.png10 Bay herz.png9 Bay herz.png8 Bay herz.png7 Bay herz.png6

Bay schelle.pngA Bay schelle.pngK Bay schelle.pngO Bay schelle.pngU

Bay schelle.png10 Bay schelle.png9 Bay schelle.png8 Bay schelle.png7 Bay schelle.png6

Bettel is a contract found in other games such as Skat (under the name Null) and Bavarian Schafkopf. In Bavarian Tarock under a Bettel contract, the declarer may not take any tricks and card points are not counted. It is only worth playing Bettel if a player has mainly blanks[4] (Spatzen or "sparrows") and/or is void[5] (frei) in one suit - in order to be able to discard individual high cards at one's leisure. In Bettel, the ranking of the card values changes: when Bettel is announced, the 10 becomes 'low', i.e. it ranks between the Unter and the 9 in each suit. Otherwise, the ranking of the cards remains the same. There is no trump suit in Bettel and players must follow suit in Bettel without exception (known as Farbzwang).


The game is played clockwise in turn. The player to the left of the dealer, the forehand (Vorhand) starts the bidding and plays to the first trick. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang), failing that they must play a trump (Trumpfzwang), and they must also play to win the if they can (Stichzwang). Following suit means that you have to play a card of the same suit as the lead. If a player is not able to do this because he does not have the led suit (farbfrei), he must play a card of the current trump suit. Only if the player no longer has any trumps may he discard (abwerfen) any card. As far as possible, each player is required to play a high enough card to win the trick in question. The trick is always won by the player who has admitted the highest card.


At the start of the game each player places 100 chips or equivalent into a mug (the Haferl). If the declarer wins a Pick-Up contract, he is paid from the mug. If the declarer loses, he pays one opponent from the mug and the other opponent from his own pocket. In Hand contracts everyone pays double the basic amount without using the mug.

In variants without bidding, winning amounts are determined before the game: Herz-Neischaugn counts as one stake, Solo counts double, Herzsolo counts triple and Bettel counts quadruple. Wins against an opponent in the Schneider are + 1, and with the opponent in Matsch another +1. How high the basic stake is and whether the game money of the three players comes from a common mug or from their own pockets is agreed beforehand.

In contract variants with bidding for every five points over the minimum winning score (61 card points) and for each declared increase (And five, And ten, And fifteen etc.) counts as another stake.

Scoring examples for a declarer who has scored 82 card points and bid up to 71 card points:

  • Win (61 card points achieved): +1
  • "Hand" declared: +1
  • 66 card points achieved: +1
  • 71 card points achieved: +1
  • 76 card points achieved: +1
  • 81 card points achieved: +1
  • 66 card points declared: +1
  • 71 card points declared: +1

The declarer would thus receive 8 times the basic stake in this case.

However, there are several ways to settle the game, so it requires prior agreement.

Additional rules and variants[edit]


With the so-called Berliner, only the dealer is allowed to play a game using the stock. The other players may only declare a Hand contract. At the same time it is sometimes agreed that the dealer may only play with hearts as the trump suit in a contract where the stock is viewed.

Kontra and Re[edit]

If an opponent of the declarer is convinced that the latter will lose, they may announce "Kontra!" before the first card is played, whereby the opposing party becomes the player and must now achieve the objective of the declarer (61 points with no bidding, correspondingly higher if there has been a bidding round). The Kontra announcement effectively means "double" and thus doubles the value of the game. The declarer may respond to "Kontra!" with the announcement "Re", thereby confirming his original game goal and doubling the game value again. Doubling the value of the game by calling Kontra and Re and possibly by calling higher bids such as Supp, Resupp and Hirsch are rather unusual in Bavarian Tarock. However, such bidding may be permitted.


  1. ^ Kastner, Hugo and Gerald Kador Folkvord. Die große Humboldt-Enzyklopädie der Kartenspiele. Baden-Baden: Humboldt (2005), p. 134. ISBN 978-3-89994-058-9.
  2. ^ a b Dummett, Michael. Twelve Tarot Games. London: Duckworth (1980), p. 230. ISBN 0 7156 1488 6.
  3. ^ The Sow is marked with an "A" and often misleadingly called an Ace, although in reality it is a Deuce, the Ace having been dropped from German suited cards by the early 18th century - see Hauser.
  4. ^ Low cards with no point value
  5. ^ Has no cards in that suit


  • Rita Danyliuk (2008), [[1], p. 57, at Google Books 1 × 1 der Kartenspiel: von Bridge über Poker und Skat bis Zwicken; Glücks- und Familienspiele; Kartentricks und vieles mehr] Check |url= value (help) (in German) (17th fully updated and revised ed.), Hanover: Humboldt, ISBN 978-3-86910-175-0CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  • Grupp, Claus D. (1997). Doppelkopf - Schafkopf - Tarock. Original edition. Falken, Niedernhausen/ Ts. ISBN 3-635-60223-X
  • Grupp, Claus D. (1996/ 1997). Kartenspiele im Familien und Freundeskreis. Revised and redesigned edition. Original edition. Falken, Niedernhausen/ Ts. ISBN 3-635-60061-X
  • Hausler, Manfred (2016). Trommler und Pfeifer: Die Geschichte der Bayerischen Spielkarten, 2nd edn., Volk Verlag, Munich. ISBN 978-3-937200-89-7
  • Hugo Kastner (2005), [[2], p. 134, at Google Books Die grosse Humboldt-Enzyklopädie der Kartenspiele die ersten 500 Jahre] Check |url= value (help) (in German) (Orig.-Ausg. ed.), Baden-Baden: Humboldt, p. 134, ISBN 3-89994-058-XCS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  • Sirch, Walter (2008). Vom Alten zum Zwanzger - Bayerische Kartenspiele für Kinder und Erwachsene - neu entdeckt. Bayerischer Trachtenverband.

External links[edit]