French tarot – learn how to play with

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor


Welcome to the World of French Tarot!

Welcome to French Tarot, a thrilling card game that will transport you to another time and place. Get ready to immerse yourself in a game of strategy and cunning as you try to outwit your opponents and claim victory.

Let’s dive into the enchanting world of French Tarot, where every card has its own significance and every trick holds the potential for triumph.

Rank of Cards: In French Tarot, a deck comprises 56 cards, from Ace to King, in the traditional four suits: clover, heart, diamonds, and spades. But there’s something special in this deck – an extra card known as “The Knight,” placed between the Jack and the Queen.

The Trumps: Now, let’s explore the captivating trumps! They consist of 21 cards numbered from 1 to 21. These trump cards have the power to triumph over any suit and their value corresponds to their number. Amongst the trumps, we have two extraordinary cards – The Small One (number 1) and card number 21, both known as Oudler cards. And lastly, we have The Excuse, also called The Fool, which is a unique card that doesn’t win tricks but adds its own irresistible charm to the game. The Excuse is the third and final Oudler card.

Type of Game: French Tarot is a tactical trick-taking game that requires strategy and calculated bets. Make your moves wisely and strategize your way to victory!

Audience: French Tarot is a game designed for adults who enjoy a challenge and love the thrill of tactical card games.

Overview of French Tarot: Now that you have a glimpse into the mesmerizing universe of French Tarot, it’s time to gather your friends, shuffle the cards, and embark on an unforgettable adventure! Get ready to put your skills to the test and experience the thrill of outsmarting your opponents in this captivating card game.

I’m going to tell you about French Tarot, a game that is played in several rounds. In each round, one of the players, called the “taker,” places a bet to try to get a certain score. To make this bet, the taker needs to pay attention to the Oudlers, which are important cards. The more Oudlers the taker has at the end of the round, the fewer points they need to win their bet.

  • If the taker doesn’t have any Oudlers, they need to get 56 points.
  • If the taker has 1 Oudler, they need to get 51 points.
  • If the taker has 2 Oudlers, they need to get 41 points.
  • If the taker has 3 Oudlers, they need to get 36 points.

Here’s how French Tarot is dealt:

At the beginning of the game, the cards are spread out on the table with their faces down. Each player then picks a card. The player who gets the lowest card becomes the dealer for that round.

Okay, here’s how it goes. First things first, the dealer gets all sneaky and deals us three cards each, one at a time. But that’s not all! The dealer also forms this special group of cards called “The Dog” by laying down six cards, one at a time. However, there’s a little rule – the first and last cards shouldn’t end up in The Dog. Sneaky, right?

Once we’ve got our cards, we don’t rank them just yet. Instead, we take a moment to check their strength. And then, it’s game time! The player sitting to the left of the dealer steps up and declares whether they’re in or out. If they say “no,” it’s the next player’s turn to speak up. But here’s the fun part – you can totally outshine your opponents by placing an even higher bet if you want to. It’s a battle of wits!

The Tarot Bets:

When I’m playing Tarot and I want to take a risk, I have to announce a bet level that represents how many points are at stake. The initial bet is worth 25 points, and as I increase the bet level, the points I can win or lose also increase. Let me explain:

  • If I choose the “Petite” (Small) bet, I’m sticking with the base 25 points.
  • If I go for the “Garde” (Keep) bet, the points get doubled in case of a win or loss.
  • Now, if I dare to take the “Garde sans” (Keep without the dog) bet, things get even riskier. I have to keep my eyes off the dog card, and if I win or lose, my bet gets multiplied by 4.
  • Finally, there’s the “Garde contre” (Keep against the dog) bet. Here, I let the opposing team have the dog card without even looking at it. If I win or lose this high-stakes bet, my original bet gets multiplied by 6.

If nobody wants to take a risk, it’s time for the player to the left of the dealer to become the new dealer and start dealing cards all over again.

If someone decides to take the lead, they turn over a group of 6 cards. If it’s a Petite or Garde bet, the cards are shown to everyone. The taker then selects 6 cards (excluding the Kings and Oudlers) and keeps them hidden. The remaining 3 players work together to stop the taker from winning their bet.

French tarot - learn how to play with


When playing French Tarot, I always start the game since I’m the player to the left of the dealer. To begin, I choose a suit and it’s important for you to follow that suit if you have the corresponding cards. If you don’t have any of those cards, you must cut at trumps. The player who wins the trick gets the honor of starting the next round.

Now, let’s talk about trumps. It’s important to remember that whenever trumps are played, we have to raise the stakes. This means playing a trump card that is higher in value than the best one that was previously played, if possible. Of course, if you don’t have any trumps or cards of the requested suit, you can play any card from your hand. Just keep in mind that the goal is to win the trick and gain an advantage in the game.

I always keep the Excuse up my sleeve when I play. You see, the Excuse itself doesn’t have any power to help me win a trick directly. Instead, after the trick is finished, I can swap the Excuse for a card that’s essentially useless from my collection of previously won tricks. I can’t use the Excuse during the last trick, though, because it would be forfeited.

French tarot - learn how to play with


Let’s dive into the exciting world of French Tarot! To win this strategic card game, you need to understand how the scores are calculated.

First, it’s essential to know that each inning has two parts: the taker’s tricks and the defensive team’s tricks. They are counted separately, and their total must always be 91 points.

Now, when it comes to counting the cards, there are a few rules to follow. Whenever you have a dressed card, pair it with a low card to determine its value.

Here’s a breakdown of the card values:

  • The 3 Oudlers are powerful cards, and each one is worth 5 points.
  • A King carries the same value of 5 points.
  • A Queen holds the value of 4 points.
  • A Knight is worth 3 points.
  • A Jack scores 2 points.
  • All the other cards, known as the “low cards,” are paired up and worth 1 point each.

The ultimate goal is to win the game by reaching a specific score, which depends on the number of Oudlers you have:

  • If you have no Oudlers, you must reach a score of 56 points.
  • With 1 Oudler, you aim for 51 points.
  • If you possess 2 Oudlers, your target is 41 points.
  • And with 3 Oudlers, you need a score of 36 points.

Now that you understand the scoring system, it’s time to dive into the thrilling world of French Tarot and put your skills to the test!

So here’s the deal: if you make a bet and win, you get 25 points plus the difference in points between what you score and what you were supposed to score. Let me give you an example to make it clearer.

French tarot - learn how to play with

So, here’s the deal. You’ve played the game, right? And you’ve scored some points. But how does it all add up? Let me explain.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve taken a Garde and you need to score at least 51 points. And hey, you’ve got 55 points! Pretty good, huh? Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The result you get is not simply the total points you scored. No, no. It’s a little more complicated than that.

So, you take the total score of 55 points and subtract 51 from it. That’s 4 points, my friend! But wait, there’s more. Since you took a Garde, your total score gets multiplied by 2. So, 55 points becomes 110 points. And if we add those 4 points we got earlier, we end up with a grand total of 114 points. Pretty neat, right?

Now, let’s talk about the consequences for your opponents. Brace yourself, because things are about to get rough for them. Each player on the opposing team loses 58 points! Ouch! But hey, where do those points go? Well, they go straight into your pocket. You, my friend, get a whopping 174 points. Not too shabby!

Alright, so let’s say things didn’t go as planned. You scored 45 points. Hey, it happens to the best of us. But don’t worry, there’s a silver lining. You may have lost the game, but you can still make your opponents suffer a little. Let me explain.

With 45 points, you fell short by 6 points. Bummer, right? So, we take those 6 points and add them to the base result of 25 points. That’s a total of 31 points. But wait, there’s more! Time to double that score, because you took a Garde. So, the result is 62 points. Oh, and each of your opponents loses 62 points too. Take that!

Remember, at the end of the game, the total score of all players should add up to zero. It’s like the universe balancing itself out, you know?

Now, let’s talk about some special moves.

We’ve got the Small One at the End.

If I manage to keep the Small One until the last round and win the final trick with it, I score an additional 10 points (multiplied based on my chosen bid).

The Grand Slam

To achieve a Grand Slam, I have to win every trick. I can announce it after looking at the dog (if I’m allowed to by my bet). If I have the Excuse, I must play it in the last round and keep it if I do so.

The Grand Slam awards extra bonus points:

  • + 400 points if I announce it and successfully achieve it
  • + 200 points if I don’t announce it but still achieve it
  • – 200 points if I announce it but fail to achieve it


Before deciding whether to take or not, it’s crucial for you to thoroughly assess the strength of your hand of cards. Take into account factors such as the number and power of your trumps, the number and power of your dressed cards, and the number of Oudlers you possess.

By evaluating these aspects, you can make an informed decision. As the taker, you can strategically utilize the six cards you set aside. These cards can be used to create either clear cuts or singletons.

A clear cut occurs when you don’t have any cards of a particular suit. This allows you to start the trick with trumps and steal the dressed cards of that suit from your opponents.

A singleton, on the other hand, happens when you only have one card of a specific suit. Opponents who have been cautious and haven’t played their dressed cards during the first trick of that suit might mistakenly assume that you have more cards of that suit and fall into your trap!

When I play a game of Tarot, I embark on a mission to protect my precious cards and snatch up my opponents’ prized possessions. It’s like a thrilling race where strategy and timing are everything.

Keeping Your Balance

If you have a lot of powerful trump cards, you can try to catch the Small One by starting with trump cards. This will make everyone else have to play trump cards too. The player who has the Small One might give it up eventually, but if you don’t have enough strong trump cards, another player might play a higher trump than you and let their teammate play the Small One safely. In that kind of situation, a smart move is to play the 21 of trump early in the game, just in case your teammate has the Small One and you can save it.


Rules for 3 players:

The cards are dealt to each player, with 24 cards for each player.

The taker gets all the points, either negative or positive, depending on how well they did. The other two players split half of the points, either negative or positive.

If you’re playing a tarot game with 5 players, here’s what happens:

When the cards are dealt, the dog is no longer made up of 6 cards, but now only 3. If a player wants to be the taker, they have to announce it before the dog is revealed and call a King. The player who has the called King becomes the taker’s partner for that round. However, the called player shouldn’t let anyone know that they are with the taker until they play the called King.

If the taker happens to have all 4 Kings, they have two options:

  • They can call themselves and play against all 4 players.
  • Or they can call a Queen instead.

Also, the player who leads the first trick can’t play a card from the same suit as the called King, unless they’re playing the called King itself.

A game of cards usually follows a set of rules, and this one is no exception. So here’s how it goes:

Now, let’s talk about scoring rules for 5 players:

When the taker’s team pulls off their winning move, things get interesting. The taker walks away with 2/3 of the points, while the called player grabs 1/3. On the flip side, the opposing team loses 1/3 each. Now, if the bet doesn’t pan out, negative and positive points are distributed in the same way.

For instance, picture this: the taker’s team masters their bet, winning by a solid 50 points:

  • Each player from the defending team loses 50 points.
  • The taker, on the other hand, snatches up 100 points (that’s 2/3 of the points).
  • The called player grabs the remaining 50 points (1/3 of the points).

But wait, there’s one more scenario! If the taker is flying solo, they score it all—every single point. Imagine, in our example, that’s a whopping 200 points in their pocket!

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