Ramsen (card game)

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Ramsen-Bavarian pack-Special Trumps.jpg
The permanent trumps: Dallmutz, Belli, Großer Bube and Kleiner Bube
TypePlain-trick game
FamilyRams group
Age range8+
DeckBavarian-pattern pack
Card rank (highest first)A K O U 10 9 8 7
Related games
Lampeln, Mulatschak, Schnalzen, Schnellen
Features: 5 cards, 4 special trumps

Ramsen or Ramsch is a traditional Bavarian plain-trick, card game for three to five players that is played with a 32-card German-suited pack and is suitable both for adults and for children. It is one of the Rams group of card games that are distinguished by allowing players to drop out if they think they will fail to win the required number of tricks. An unusual feature of Ramsen is the presence of four permanent trump cards that rank just below the Trump Sow (often erroneously called the Trump Ace). It should not be confused with the contract of Ramsch in games like Skat or Schafkopf, nor with the related game of Rams which is also called Ramsen in Austria, but is played with a Piquet pack, does not have permanent trumps and has a different card ranking.


Ramsen appears to be at least 170 years old, there being a reference in an 1844 south German anthology to it being one of the card games that is "fun" and in which "one does not have to think too much".[1] In 1877, the game is described as one of several which is "popular with ordinary folk" in Bavaria.[2]

Ramsen is still taught and played in Bavaria today, for example, in Memmingen[3] and Markt Rettenbach.[4] It is described by Sirch as being suitable for adults and children alike.[5]

Overview and aim[edit]

Ramsen is a one of the Rams family of card games, the distinguishing feature of which is that players may choose to drop out of the current game if they think they will be unable to win any tricks or a minimum number of tricks.[6][7]

Ramsen is a plain-trick game in which the aim is to win as many tricks as possible and be the first to complete the two crosses used for scoring. It may also be played for small stakes.[8]


Ramsen is played with a 32-card, Bavarian pattern, German-suited pack with the suits of Acorns (Bay eichel.png), Leaves or Grass (Bay gras.png), Hearts (Bay herz.png) and Bells (Bay schelle.png).[5]

Suits of the Bavarian pattern pack
Acorn symbol of Bavarian playing cards Leaves symbol of Bavarian playing cards Hearts symbol of Bavarian playing cards Bells symbol of Bavarian playing cards

The ranking order of the cards within the plain suits is: Sow > King > Ober > Unter > 10 > 9 > 8 > 7. An unusual feature of Ramsen is the presence of four permanent trump cards that rank just below the Trump Sow:[5]

  • Bay schelle.png9 – the 9 of Bells or Dallmutz
  • Bay schelle.png7 – the 7 of Bells or Belli
  • Bay eichel.pngO – the Ober of Acorns or Großer Bube ("Big Boy" or "Big Jack")
  • Bay eichel.pngU – the Unter of Acorns or Kleiner Bube ("Little Boy" or "Little Jack").

Thus the ranking order of the trump suit (T = trump, A = Sow, etc.) is: TA > Bay schelle.png9 > Bay schelle.png7 > Bay eichel.pngO > Bay eichel.pngU > TK > TO > TU > T10 > T9 > T8 > T7.[5]

Permanent trumps
Bay schelle.png9 Bay schelle.png7 Bay eichel.pngO Bay eichel.pngU
Additional variable trump suits
Acorns Leaves Hearts Bells
Bay eichel.pngA Bay eichel.pngK Bay eichel.png10 Bay eichel.png9 Bay eichel.png8 Bay eichel.png7 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 herz.pngA Bay herz.pngK Bay herz.pngO Bay herz.pngU Bay herz.png10 Bay herz.png9 Bay herz.png8 Bay herz.png7 Bay schelle.pngA Bay schelle.pngK Bay schelle.pngO Bay schelle.pngU Bay schelle.png10 Bay schelle.png8


Dealing and trumps[edit]

The dealer shuffles the pack and rearhand cuts. Rearhand may keep (schlecken, literally "lap up") the bottom card of the top stack, but will then only be dealt four cards. Otherwise players are dealt five cards as one packet of three and one packet of two. The next card is flipped to determine the trump suit and the remainder placed face down next to it as the talon.[5]


Each player, in clockwise order beginning with forehand, may now exchange cards from the hand for cards in the talon. In addition, the dealer may exchange with the trump upcard. If rearhand has schleckt when cutting the pack, he may not exchange.[5]


Each player now reviews his cards and opts to "play" or "pass". If a player has exchanged, he must play. The reason a player may want to pass – and therefore not participate in the current deal – is that, if he takes no tricks, he is penalised by having to complete an additional cross (i.e. by taking an extra five tricks) in order to win the game.[5]

Trick playing[edit]

Forehand leads to the first trick or, if he has passed, players play in order of positional seniority, beginning with forehand. Players must follow suit (Farbzwang), must play a trump if unable to follow suit (Trumpfzwang) and, in doing either, must head the trick if possible (Stechzwang). If a player cannot follow suit or trump, he may throw in any card.[5]


A completed scoring cross

Before the game, two crosses (X X) are drawn for each player. For every trick won, a bar is drawn at the end of one of the arms of the crosses; for the fifth trick a bar is drawn horizontally across the middle of the cross (see diagram right). The first player to complete 2 crosses is the winner. If a player takes no tricks, he gets an extra cross to complete.[8]


  1. ^ Griesinger 1844, p. 84.
  2. ^ Schmeller 1877, p. 101.
  3. ^ Terminübersicht at www.spiegelschwab-memmingen.de. Retrieved 12 October 2018
  4. ^ Markt Rettenbacher Sommer Ferien Programm at www.markt-rettenbach.de. Retrieved 12 October 2018
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Sirch (2008), p. 59
  6. ^ Card Games: Rams Group at www.pagat.com. Retrieved 16 October 2018
  7. ^ Geiser, Remigius. "100 Kartenspiele des Landes Salzburg", in Talon, Issue 13, p. 38.
  8. ^ a b Sirch (2008), p. 60


  • Griesinger, Carl Theodor (1844). Skizzenbuch: Carl Theodor Griesinger's sämmtliche bellestristische Schriften, Vol. 2. Verlag der Griesinger'schen Verlags- u. Antiquariatshandlung, Stuttgart.
  • Schmeller, Johann Andreas (1877). Bayerisches Wörterbuch, Vol. 2. Rudolf Oldenbourg, Munich.
  • Sirch, Walter (2008). Vom Alten zum Zwanzger – Bayerische Kartenspiele für Kinder und Erwachsene – neu entdeckt. Bayerischer Trachtenverband, Traunstein.

External links[edit]