Klaverjas: The Popular Trick Taking Card Game

Written by Abha Vardhan

Klaverjas, also referred to as Klaverjassen, is a famous card game enjoyed in the Netherlands. Folks play the game in their homes, cafés, clubs, and on special days. The card game is usually played with a deck of 32 cards between four players, in teams of two, who sit opposite to each other.

You will find various versions of the game depending on where it is played such as in Utrecht, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam; however, the basic rules for all the versions are quite similar. Wilde Boom and Kraken are two more types of versions of the Klaverjas card game.

The Deck of 32 Cards

In order to play Klaverjas, you need a deck of 32 cards including Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Tens, Nines, Eights and Sevens in every suit such as Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades. The Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives, Sixes, and Jokers of every suit are not included.

Interesting to note is that the Ace is usually represented as Aas or A, King as Heer or H, Queen as Vrouw or V and Jack as Boer or B on Dutch cards.

The Objective of the Card Game

Unlike blackjack where each player plays against the dealer, players in this game play against each other. The game is played in a clockwise direction with four players paired in two teams, and each partner sitting opposite each other. In order to win the game, the objective is to attain more points in 16 hands. So, you need to be the pair of players with the highest score.

The pair who decides trumps should aim to gather the maximum points. However, if they are unable to accumulate the points, then their score becomes zero and the opposite team of the pair gets all the points.

Players are required to collect the Points by winning tricks having significant cards, and also as bonus Points throughout the game.

How the Cards are Dealt?

The dealer shuffles and hands out the cards not as a single card, but in batches. First, the dealer deals the three cards to each player, and then he deals the two cards and finally three cards i.e. 3:2:3. In some versions of the game, the dealer cards are dealt in two sets of four cards each to every player i.e. 4:4.

Card Values for the Trump Suit and Other Suits

In every hand, one suit will also be the trump. The card value for every card is different in the trump suit as well as other suits. Below you can find the card values for trump suit and other suits.

Card Values for Trump

  • Jack: 20 Points
  • Nines: 14 Points
  • Ace: 11  Points
  • Tens: 10 Points
  • King: Four Points
  • Queen: Three  Points
  • Eights: Zero Value  
  • Sevens: Zero Value

Card Values for Other Suits

  • Ace: 11 Points
  • Tens: 10 Points
  • King: Four Points
  • Queen: Three Points
  • Jack: Two Points
  • Nines: Zero Points
  • Eights: Zero Points
  • Sevens: Zero Points

How to Choose Trumps?

In general, the player sitting to the left side of the dealer picks the trumps. However, there are several other ways to choose trumps. The gamers should agree among themselves on which system to use to choose the trumps. Check below to find the various ways of deciding the trumps:

  • Your Choice: The member on the left side of the dealer will examine their hand, and decide the trumps, or they may pass. If they choose to pass, the subsequent participant, sitting in the clockwise direction, will be given the chance to decide the trumps. If all the players decide to pass, then it is compulsory for the player on the left of the dealer to decide the trumps.
  • The Dealer: Some versions of Klaverjas give the opportunity to decide the trumps to the dealer. However, if the dealer chooses to pass, the chance is given to the other participants, starting in a clockwise direction. If in all the players choose to pass, the dealer is required to decide the trumps.
  • Utrecht: In this version, the player sitting left to the dealer ought to decide the trumps after analyzing his hand.

How to Play Klaverjas Card Game?

The pair with the player who has decided the trumps need to get at least 82 points in order to win the hand. The game includes 16 rounds of hands, which means that each player decides the trump suit four times.

Every round had eight tricks. The players who win the final trick get an extra ten points, which makes 162, the total available points. When one round is completed and all the eight tricks have been played, each pair will count up their points.

If the pair with the trump is unable to make 82 points, they are defeated and the opposing pair gets all the 162 points. If the pair wins all eight tricks, they receive a 100 point bonus.

Amsterdam Rules

If you are unable to follow the suit and the opponents are playing the trick winning card, then you should play the trump card, if possible, in order to win. When the opponents are winning the hand by playing a trump card, you must try to play a bigger trump card. However, if you don’t have a higher trump card, you can consider playing a card of a suit other than the trump suit. It is worth noting that you cannot play a smaller trump card unless your hand only has lower trumps.

Rotterdam Rules

If you are unable to follow suit, you should, if possible, throw a trump card. If you are playing a trump, you should try to defeat any trumps that are by now played to the trick.

What Should You Know About Bonus Points?

Players can score extra points if they have certain special combinations of cards in a single trick. These extra point combinations are referred to as ‘roem.’ They are listed below:

  • Three sequential cards of the similar suit: 20 roem
  • Four sequential cards of the similar suit: 50 roem
  • Three sequential cards of the similar suit, together with the King and Queen of trumps: 40 roem
  • Four sequential cards of the same suit, together with the King and Queen of trumps: 70 roem
  • Four cards of the same cards:  100 roem
  • Four Jacks: 200 roem
  • King and Queen of trumps, also called as stuk: 20 roem
  • Four Kings, Queens Aces or Tens: 100 roem
  • The pair who win the last trick: 10 roem
  • When one team win all the tricks: 100 roem

For sequences, the order of cards in each suit is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight, and Seven. It is important to note that this applies to trumps and other suits. Also, that it is different from cards ranking for trick-taking purposes.

Players must use skill to gather roems in the tricks and should make sure to avoid giving away extra points to their opponents. Players must announce their roem openly; otherwise, they will not be counted. However, in cases where the players think that they might lose their hand and will have their bonus points will be transferred to the opposite team, they may intentionally not announce their extra points or roem.

Scoring: Add Your Collected Points

After every round, each team will count their points accumulated in the tricks.

  • If the pair who had decided the trumps has more points than the opposing team, then both the team will receive the points that they have earned.
  • However, if the pair who had decided the trumps fails to gather more points than the opposing pair, then all their accumulated points along with the bonus points will be credited to their opponents, and they will be left with zero points.

In general, when no additional bonus points are scored, the total points in one hand equal to 162, which includes 152 points for the cards and 10 points for the last trick. Therefore, the pair that decides the trumps must accumulate a minimum of 82 points in order to score.

Make the Game Entertaining with Signalling

The card game allows partners to signal one another. It is a traditional element of the game and is imperative for skilful playing. Discards are the most popular type of signal, which help a player to signal their partner about their strong hand. This makes the partner aware of the potency of their teammate’s trumps.

Discard signalling can be done by discarding low-value cards such as sevens, eights, or nines. This indicates that you have a higher value card of the same suits such as Ace. If a player discards a picture card of a suit, this specifies to their partner that they should not lead that suit. 

There are a few other signalling systems that partners can use to win in the card game; however, it is important that both partners should discuss the type of signalling they will be using in the game in order to avoid the confusion.

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