Bavarian Tarock

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Bavarian Tarock
Bavarian pack-Suit of Acorns.jpg
The suit of Acorns from a Bavarian pack
FamilyTapp group
Age range10+
DeckGerman, Bavarian pattern
Card rank (highest first)A, 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 played in Bavaria and several regions of Austria as well as in Berlin. The name is a clue to its origin as an attempt to design a game resembling Tapp Tarock but without using a Tarock pack.[2] The original form of Bavarian Tarock thus incorporated several elements of the true Tarock games, whilst being played with a 36-card German deck. However, during the last century, it has evolved into "quite a fine game" that, however, has less in common with its Tarock progenitor. It is descended from Tapp Tarock via the very similar game of Tapp, played in Württemberg, and is thus related to Bauerntarock, Frog and Dobbm. It should not be confused with Königrufen, also known as Austrian Tarock or just Tarock.


Bavarian Tarock came from the Württemberg game of Tapp, also known as Württemberger Tarock, which arose from the desire to play Tapp Tarock without Tarock playing cards. The game probably spread to Bavaria while it was still being played with German-suited cards i.e. around the mid-19th century and became known there as Haferltarock or Haferltarok or, simply, as Tarock. The earliest record of its rules identified by Dummett dates to the 1920s, where it is called Bayerisch Tarok or Sans Prendre,[3][4] however mention is made that as early as 1880 the game was being played in Munich with a "kitty of 30 or 50 pfennigs"[5] and in 1888 of the "pleasant game of Haferltarock being played for a mark".[6]

The earliest version of the game, which may still be current, involves 3 bids as in Tapp, but no payment or bidding for additional points. Instead there are fixed payments to or from a pot. During the 1930s, the game evolved to allow trump suits other than Hearts with a bid of Frage and also to reward the winner of a game in which the opponents were Schneider. After the Second World War the game developed further, dropping any special status accorded to the suit of Hearts and introducing a far more elaborate auction. The result is "quite a fine game", better than Tapp albeit further removed from the ancestral Tapp Tarock.[3]

Ludwig Thoma, the prominent German author, was an avid player of Bavarian Tarock before and during the First World War.[7]


Tarock pack: Franconian pattern

German playing cards are used, traditionally those of the Bavarian pattern, with the values Sow (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

Card ranking[edit]

In Bavarian Tarock, a card's trick-taking value generally increases with its face value. The Sow (Sau, symbol 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 values[edit]

The complete deck required for Bavarian Tarock

The cards have the same point values as in Bavarian Schafkopf. The 10, with ten card points, is just below the Sow (Sau,[a] 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
Sow (Sau) 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


In the original game, Hearts formed the permanent trump suit unless a Solo was bid. In the later variant, 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. In the complex version of the game, the trump suit is chosen by the declarer; all nine cards of the chosen suit are trumps and the sequence within the trump suit is unchanged. There are no permanent trump cards in this version, as for example, in Skat, Doppelkopf or Schafkopf.


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 the deal. In earlier variants, it is a draw and there is no payment if both sides score 60; in the latest variant the declarer loses if the result is 60-60. The game is normally played for small stakes, the amount won depending on the nature of the bid.


The rules of Bavarian Tarock have evolved over time. This section will describe three of the main stages: the earliest known rules, an intermediate variant and a current variant.

Earliest rules[edit]

The following is a summary of the earliest known rules; those according to Huber. Although published in 1923, they probably reflect the form of "Ur-Haferltarock" played in the 19th century.[4][3] In 2008, this version, with a more detailed scoring system but no description of the bidding process, was published by Sirch, suggesting it is still current.[8]

Dealing and bidding[edit]

Each player draws a card from the pack. The player who draws the highest card (or the first Sow) becomes the first dealer. The dealer shuffles, offers the cut to his right, and then places 3 cards as a stock or gstaat on the table. He then deals 11 cards to each player in packets (4 – 3 – 4). There are three bid options:

  • Frage is a bid to score 61 or more points against the two defenders with the aid of the stock, i.e. the winning bidder may pick up the stock and exchange up to 3 cards with it, laying his discards to one side. The discards belong to the declarer. Hearts are always trumps.
  • Solo is in effect a Suit Solo, identical to Frage except that the stock is not picked up and a suit other than Hearts may be named as trumps.
  • Herzsolo is a Heart Solo. Again the stock is not used. Hearts are trumps.

Bidding starts with forehand who says "pass" or "I'll play" ("Ich spiele"). If unchallenged, he may announce any of the three contracts. If a subsequent player wishes to overcall the first bidder, he says "I'll play [a] better [one]" ("Ich spiele besser"). If unchallenged, he may only play a Solo or Herzsolo. To overcall the second bidder, a player announces "I'll play the best" ("Ich spiele am besten"), but may only play a Herzsolo. An earlier bidder may "hold" a higher bid, in which case he has priority unless it is outbid. There is only one round of bidding and each player must make the minimum allowed bid.


Forehand leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang) or trump if unable to follow (Trumpfzwang) but there is no compulsion to head the trick (i.e. no Stichzwang). The trick is won by the highest card of the led suit or highest trump if trumps are played. The two defenders keep their tricks in a single pile.


The declarer must score 61 points to win. If both sides score 60, the game is drawn and no payments are made. There is a fixed payment for the basic game of Frage, double for Solo and quadruple for Heart Solo. There may also be a Kasse (pot) which the declarer takes if he wins but pays the same contribution to if he loses in addition to paying to or from the other players. There was sometimes a single, separate pot for both Solo and Heart Solo with double the ante which was known as the Schreckensteiner.

According to Sirch, players ante an agreed stake to the pot. In Solo games the declarer collects, say, 1ȼ for every point scored over 60. For simplicity, this is usually done in 5ȼ increments, so a player who scores 71 collects 15ȼ. If the declarer loses, he pays from his own pot 1ȼ for every point below 60, so if he scores 50, he has to pay 10ȼ to the two defenders i.e. 5ȼ each. If he scores 49, he pays out 15ȼ, 5ȼ is drawn from the pot and 10ȼ is paid to each defender. A declarer who scores a slam collects double i.e. €1.20. In a "Froag Spiel" (Frage), all payments are halved. Sirch does not say that a Herzsolo pays double. He goes on to describe an alternative system in which a simple win (61-90 points) earns 50ȼ, a schneider win (91 or more points) earns 60ȼ. If he loses he pays the same amount to each defender. Again a Frage is worth half these payments.[8]

Intermediate variant[edit]

Dummett records an intermediate variant published in 1933. The rules are as for Huber above with the following exceptions:[3]

  • In a Frage contract, the declarer may announce a trump suit other than Hearts before picking up the stock.
  • There is a bonus payment for Schneider i.e. when the loser fails to score 31 points.
  • Various alternative scoring schemes are recorded.

Latest variant[edit]

Since the Second World War, a more complex variant has emerged, which is described in numerous publications. This is referred to by Dummett as Haferltarock, although the term has been used since at least the 1880s.[3] The following rules are based on Danyliuk.[9]

Dealing and bidding[edit]

Preparation and dealing is as above except that players contribute an agreed amount such as 50 cents to the Haferl ("pot"). The dealer then deals four cards to each player, then three cards, then three to the stock and finally a further four cards to each player. Players pick up their hands and bidding proceeds clockwise, commencing with forehand. Each player may "pass" (Ich passe) or announce the minimum legal contract. The first positive bid is announced by "play" or "I'll play" (Ich spiele) which is an offer to play the lowest contract, known as an Aufnahmespiel or "Pick-Up". This may be outbid by a subsequent player announcing "I'll play too" (Ich spiele auch), which is an offer to play a Handspiel or "Hand" contract. The earlier bidder may bow out by saying "pass" or hold by saying "I'll play on" or "I'm playing first" (Ich spiele vorn). Bidding passes back and forth between the first two players to announce a bid until one of them passes. Only then may the third player enter the bidding by announcing a higher bid than the highest to that point

The meaning of the two contracts is as follows:

  • Pick-Up (Stockspiel, Aufnahmespiel, Hineinschauen, Fragespiel). The declarer undertakes to win at least 61 points 'with' the stock i.e. by picking it up and exchanging up to 3 cards with it; the discards counting towards his score. He may then choose the trump suit. In another variant, which resembles the earliest rules, Hearts (Bavarian: Herz-Neischaugn) are the only trump suit permitted for this contract.
  • Hand (Handspiel). The declarer undertakes to win at least 61 points 'without' picking up the stock i.e. he will play from his hand only. He puts the stock to one side, unseen, where it will counts towards his score at the end. He announces straight away which suit will be trumps.

The added complexity of this modern variant is the ability to bid still higher. Essentially, once a Hand contract is bid; bidding may continue in steps of five. For example, a player may say "And five" (Fünf mehr), which means that 66 points is the target needed to win. His opponent may outbid this with "And ten" (Zehn mehr), setting 71 points as the target. This continues until one of the players passes.

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


Play is clockwise as before. Forehand leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang), failing that they must play a trump (Trumpfzwang).[b] Only if the player no longer has any trumps may he discard any card. The trick is won by the highest trump if any are played or by the highest card of the led suit if no trumps are played.


Once the last trick has been played, players tot up the card points in their tricks. The declarer needs 61 points to win; otherwise the defenders have won, even if the score is 60-60. Payment is as follows:

  • Pick-Up
    • Declarer wins:
      • 61-65 points: 5 cents from the pot
      • every additional point: +1 cent from the pot
    • Declarer loses:
      • 56-60 points: 5 cents to one defender; the other defender takes 5 cents from the pot
      • every point below 56: -1 cent to one defender; the other defender takes 1 cent from the pot
  • Hand: all games are paid directly from the loser(s) to the winner(s) at double the above rate

The round ends when the pot is emptied.

Other 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.

Sharp Tarock[edit]

A 'sharp' variant has been published as an app by Stefan Vogl. This largely follows the intermediate rules above, but uses a shortened pack of just 24 cards (from Sow down to Nine) and players are dealt a hand of seven cards each. Players start with 10 euros each and 61 points are needed to win; if the declarer scores 60, he loses. A Frage, Solo or Herzsolo win earn 20 cents for the winning side. In addition there is an extra 10 cents for winning schneider and 10 cents for schwarz (winning all tricks). Hearts are permanent trumps in a Frage and, if the stock is used, a win only earns 10 cents, but a loss still costs 20 cents.[10]


  1. ^ 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 Hausler.
  2. ^ Danyliuk actually states that Farbzwang and Stichzwang apply, but it appears clear from the rest of her text that she means Farbzwang and Trumpfzwang. That would bring her rules into line with other leading sources such as Dummett or Kastner & Folkvord and follows the original practice based on the Tarock games from which Haferltarock is descended.


  1. ^ Kastner & Folkvord 2005, p. 134.
  2. ^ a b Dummett 1980b, p. 230.
  3. ^ a b c d e Dummett 1980a, pp. 562–563.
  4. ^ a b Huber 1923, pp. 32/33.
  5. ^ An Oberndoerffer Family History at Retrieved 8 Mar 2019.
  6. ^ _ 1888, p. 619.
  7. ^ Spiel mit Leichenreden at Retrieved 10 Mar 2019.
  8. ^ a b Sirch 2008, pp. 46/47.
  9. ^ Danyliuk 2017, pp. 57-60.
  10. ^ Tarock-Kartenspiel at Retrieved 10 Mar 2019.


  • _ (1888). Über Land und Meer: Deutsche illustrierte Zeitung, Volume 60. Deutsche Verlags-austalt.
  • Danyliuk, Rita (2017). 1 x 1 der Kartenspiele von Bridge über Poker und Skat bis Zwicken : Glücks- und Familienspiele : Kartentricks und vieles mehr (in German). Hannover: Humboldt. ISBN 978-3-86910-367-9. OCLC 1019706052.
  • Dummett, Michael (1980a). The game of Tarot : from Ferrara to Salt Lake City. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-1014-7. OCLC 7275570.
  • Dummett, Michael (1980b). Twelve tarot games. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-1488-6. OCLC 7605627.
  • 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
  • Huber, Franz (1923). Tarok und andere beliebte Kartenspiele (in German). Dresden: Rudolphsche Verlagsbuchhandlung.
  • Kastner, Hugo; Folkvord, Gerald Kador (2005). Die grosse Humboldt-Enzyklopädie der Kartenspiele : die ersten 500 Jahre (in German). Baden-Baden: Humboldt. ISBN 978-3-89994-058-9. OCLC 181460224.
  • Sirch, Walter (2008). Vom Alten zum Zwanzger - Bayerische Kartenspiele für Kinder und Erwachsene - neu entdeckt (in German). Bayerischer Trachtenverband.

External links[edit]