Tapp Tarock

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Tapp Tarock
A trick-taking game of the European Tarot card game family.
Austrian-style 54-card Tarock hand.
Skills requiredTactics, Strategy
DeckIndustrie und Glück
Card rank (highest first)Trumps: Sküs, 21-1
K Q C J 10 9 8 7
K Q C J 1 2 3 4 [1]
Playing time20 min.
Random chanceModerate
Related games
Strohmandeln, Dreiertarock, Illustrated Tarock, Point Tarock

Tapp Tarock (German: Tapp-Tarock), also called Viennese Tappen (German: Wiener Tappen) Tappen or Tapper, is a three-player tarot card game which uses the 54-card Industrie und Glück deck. This is an introductory game for more complex tarock games like Cego or Königrufen. During the interwar period, it was the preferred card game of Viennese coffee houses. Even today Tapp Tarock is played sporadically. The exact date when it appeared is not possible to identify, but it is likely to have been developed in Austria in the early 19th century.[2] The oldest version was narrated in 1821.[3]


Tapp is the name of the face-down stack of cards in the middle of the table – in other games known as the talon or stock. The names of other card games are also derived from it, including Tappu or Tappä for the Swiss Tarock variant of Troggu, as well as the Austrian Stubaital valley game of Dobbm.

Other names for Tapp Tarock were Tarock-Tapp(en), or just Tappen or Tapper. Because the announcement "ich tappe" ("I'll tapp") referred to the lowest level of the game, it soon became fashionable to name the game after the next highest level, Dreiern or Dreierl.[3] In the late 19th century the name Zeco was also used.[4] That suggests a link with Cego, which refers to the Blind, as the talon is known in that game. Tapp or Württemberg Tarock, is an unrelated south German game that is not a member of the true Tarock family.


Tapp Tarock is probably the oldest tarock variant in which four basic features of tarock are found together:

  • the shortening of the 78-card tarot deck to the current 54 cards
  • the conversion from Italian suits to French suits
  • the conversion of The Fool or Sküs (Excuse) to simply being the 22nd and highest trump
  • the introduction of the bonus of winning the final trick with trump 1 (Pagat Ultimo)

The conversion of the Sküs was completed, according to the tarot expert Michael Dummett, in Austria. [5] In Troggu, the older Swiss tarot game, the Fool can function as the highest trump or as the excuse. The introduction of the Pagat Ultimo, according to card game historian John McLeod, is believed to have come from Trappola, which was widely played in Austria.


The game is played with the 54-card French suited Industrie und Glück deck. It includes 22 trumps numbered in Roman numerals with the exception of the highest, the Sküs. The second highest trump, the XXI, is known as the Mond while the lowest trump, I, is called the Pagat. The Sküs, Mond, and Pagat are together known as the Trull and are worth 5 points each. Other trumps are worth only 1 point.

The 32 plain suit cards consist of four courts: king, queen, knight and jack, along with four pip cards. The cards rank as follows:

  • In black suits: king, queen, knight and jack 10, 9, 8 and 7
  • In red suits: king, queen, knight and jack, 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Kings are worth 5 points, queens 4, knights 3, jacks 2, and the pips 1. Like score counting in other tarot games, 2 points are subtracted from each trick taken. There are 70 card points in a round so to win at least 36 points are needed. Other than card points there are bonus points as described below.


Preliminary round[edit]

In the preliminary round, the seating arrangement is determined by lot. Similarly, the first dealer is determined by lot. It is then played in turn. The first player to the dealer's right starts the next round.


The dealer first sets out six cards face down on the table (the talon) and then assigns each player 16 cards (usually counterclockwise in sets of four cards).


The right of the dealer players now opens up the auction to play. Each player must beat the bid or pass, anyone that passes can't bid again. The player that bids "solo" ends the auction. The winner of the auction is the "declarer" and plays alone against the other two players (the "defenders"). The bidding increments are as follows:

  • Three cards: The declarer exposes the talon and takes either the first or last three cards from the talon. The declarer then discards three cards from her hand and places it onto her trick pile, these three count as her first trick. Kings or the Trull can't be discarded, other trumps can't be discarded unless there is no other option. All discarded cards must be shown to the defenders. The remaining cards from the talon are added to the defenders' trick pile. If the declarer wins the game (36 points or more), she will be awarded bonus three points from each defender, but if she loses, she will have to give each defender three points.
  • Bottom 3: Like above but the declarer only takes bottom three cards from the talon without exposing the rest. The bonus is worth four points.
  • Top 3: Identical to the above but with the top three cards. Statistically, the odds are the same as "Bottom 3". The bonus is worth five points.
  • Solo: The entire talon is awarded to the defenders' trick pile. The bonus is eight points.


The declarer can also announce a contract before play begins. Contracts pose greater risk because the defenders gain prior information but awards more bonus points if the declarer succeeds. Failure to fulfil a contract can be disastrous and can leave the declarer with negative points. The contracts that can be made:

  • Pagat Ultimo: Declarer wins the last trick with Trump I. 8 bonus points from each defender with a contract, only 4 points if it was unannounced. Failure to fulfill the contract means the declarer will pay each defender 8 points.
  • Valat: Like the "slam" in French tarot, the declarer wins all the tricks. With a contract, this multiplies the bid by eight times (e.g., the Solo bid's 8 points multiplied by 8 for 64 bonus points from each defender). However, failure to fulfill means the same number of points will be paid to each defender. An unannounced valat will only multiply the bid by four times.

Game Play[edit]

Play is counterclockwise starting with the declarer. Each player must follow suit. If void of that suit, a trump must be played. If void of that suit and trumps, any card can be played but won't win the trick.


There are many variations of Tapp Tarock with the most common being Illustrated Tarock and Point Tarock which add more complex rules in bidding and contracts.


  1. ^ Dummett, The Game of Tarot, pp. 440r
  2. ^ Kastner and Folkvord (2005)
  3. ^ a b Mayr and Sedlaczek (2001), pp. 105–110
  4. ^ Ulmann (1887), pp. 19–39
  5. ^ Dummett, The Game of Tarot


  • Dummett, Michael (1980). The Game of Tarot. Duckworths. ISBN 0 7156 1014 7.
  • Kastner, Hugo and Gerald Kador Folkvord. Die große Humboldt-Enzyklopädie der Kartenspiele. Baden-Baden: Humboldt (2005). ISBN 978-3-89994-058-9
  • Mayr, Wolfgang and Robert Sedlaczek. Das Große Tarockbuch Archived 2014-01-05 at the Wayback Machine. Vienna: Zsolnay (2001). ISBN 3-85223-462-X
  • Ulmann, S. Illustriertes Wiener Tarockbuch. 1887.

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