Booray, originally known as Bourré is a 2-7 Player trick-taking card game popular with the “Cajun” area of Louisiana, known as L’Acadiane. Cajuns, or the Cajun Country, refers to the French settlers of Louisiana in the South Eastern United States.
Although Louisiana, and the surrounding Louisiana territory became a part of the Anglo-Saxon United States in 1803, many settlers decided to remain after the purchase, swapping their French citizenship for American citizenship. As such, there is a plethora of French language, cuisine, and culture still extant today in Louisiana.
How to Play Booray?
This How to Play section will provide basic instructions on a game of four Player Booray.
The game is played using the standard Anglo-American 52-card deck.
The Dealer will be determined by the means chosen by the Players, who will then shuffle the deck.
Before the cards can be dealt, each Player must ante up.
An “ante” is merely the required minimum bet at the start of each round. Each Player must pay in an equal wager, including the Dealer.
Once the deck has been shuffled and antes have been put up, the Dealer will deal out 5 cards to each Player, and then 5 cards to themselves. All cards are dealt face-down except for the final card dealt to the Dealer, which will be dealt face-up.
The suit of this card determines the Trump suit of the game. Like in all other trick-taking games with Trumps cards, cards of the Trump suit will beat all other non-trump cards. A 2 of Trumps will beat a King of Non-Trump.
Play or Fold
Once each card has been dealt, and each Player is aware of the Trump suit for this round, Players will take turns deciding if they will play with the cards they have been dealt, or will “fold” and surrender their cards to sit out of this round.
The process is very similar to Poker’s mechanics of play or fold.
- Players that wish to play the round will then have to pay one more wager, equal to the previous ante.
- Players that fold still lose their initial ante, but do not have to put up this second wager.
- Once folded Players have handed back their cards, and Players that will continue have paid their second ante, the draw or pass portion of the game may begin.
Draw or Pass
Players that choose to remain in the game will then be given the option to discard. Players will be given this option in the same order they declared their intent, usually clockwise from the Dealer.
- Players may discard up to 5 cards, or their entire hand. Once discarded, Players will be able to draw the same number of cards from the deck, dealt out by the Dealer.
- Players must always finish their discard phase with 5 cards in their hand.
- If a Player does not want to discard any of their cards, they may simply declare “Pass.”
- Once this phase of the game has ended, the trick-taking portion can begin.
Trick-taking follows the same order as before, clockwise from the Dealer. The first Player to the Dealer’s left that is still in the game leads the first trick, playing a card into the center of the play area.
This card “leads” the trick, the trick being the grouping of cards that will be made as all Players put in their own card of choice. Leading Players may play whichever card they wish.
In Booray, there are specific rules a Player must follow when following after the lead. Players who did not lead the trick must therefore “follow suit” if they are able.
To follow suit, a Player must play a card of the same suit as the leading card.
However, a Player that cannot “follow suit” may still play a Trump. A Player that cannot play a Trump card, nor can follow suit, is still forced to play any card of their choice. However, this card will be unable to win the trick.
Cards that do follow suit are then scored based on their rank. Aces are always high, and the card of a higher rank wins out against other cards so long as it follows suit or is not Trump. A Trump will always beat a non-trump card, even if it is not following suit or of a lower rank. Only a higher-ranking Trump can beat another Trump.
The winner of a trick then earns the right to collect all the cards in the trick, placing them in a face-up pile next to them, and then may lead the next trick.
Players take turns leading, based on the winner of the trick, until all five cards have been emptied from each Player’s hands, and all five tricks have been played and won.
The way the pot, formed from each Player’s pay-in or “ante”, is divided will be explained in the below “Scoring” section, including payouts in the case of a tie.
- Each Player must play one card per trick.
- You must try to win the trick if you are able.
- Players must play their Trump cards if another Player leads the trick with a Trump.
- Players may discard all five of their cards during the Draw or Pass phase, if they desire.
- The Dealing position will move clockwise at the end of each round.
- The winner of a trick earns the right to lead the next trick.
Scoring in Booray
The scoring of each trick is relatively simple. Cards that follow the suit of the leading card are ranked based upon their card rank, whether or not they follow suit, and whether or not they are Trump cards.
Trump cards always beat cards that follow suit which always beat cards that do not follow suit, or:
When Playing For Money
As Booray is a gambling card game though, there is another aspect of scoring outside of the individual games. Played for money, Booray involves special rules regarding the way money is divided amongst the Players.
- If there is a Player that definitively won more tricks than any other Player, they are awarded the entire pot.
- If there are Players that won the same amount of tricks, such as both of them winning 2 tricks, or if no Players win more than 1 trick, the pot is then “split.” The split pot is not awarded to any Player, and instead remains on the table.
- If a Player is unable to win any tricks, they are considered “Boo-ray.” A Player that is Booray must pay the entire value of the pot as their ante next round. If the ante is $5, and the pot is $20, the Booray must pay $20 as their next ante.
Strategy & Tips
- You must win if you are able, but only if the trick is possible to win. If you cannot follow suit, play the lowest-ranking card in your hand. This will preserve your higher-ranking cards of the other suits for the subsequent tricks.
- If you are dealt the Ace of Trump, try to not play it if you are able until you can be sure to waste other Player’s good cards, as the Ace of Trump automatically wins the trick.
- Like many trick-taking game, when it is time to Draw or Pass, try to get a deck with a variety of suits, unless they are Trumps. More variety makes it more likely that you will be able to continuously follow suit.
- You know the Dealer has at least one Trump card, so play carefully until the Dealer uses it.
Example Scenario of a Bourré Game
The following is a possible example trick in a game of Booray:
- Player 1 leads the trick with a 9♦
- Player 2 follows suit with a 7♦, but cannot win the trick.
- Player 3 plays a 6 of Trump, beating Player 1’s 9♦
- Player 4 play an Ace of Trump, beating Player 3’s 6 of Trump.
Even though Player 3’s Trump was a lower rank than Player 1’s card, it was a Trump and therefore beat it. However, the only thing that beats a Trump is a higher-ranking Trump, which Player 4 had in their hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Trump in Booray?
Booray’s Trump is determined by the fifth card dealt to the Dealer, who flips it face up to declare Trumps. Whatever that card’s suit becomes the Trump suit.
Can you lead with a Trump?
Yes, Trumps do not need to be “broken in” as in some other games, meaning the use of Trumps in Booray is unrestricted.
Is Booray similar to Spades?
Booray, like many trick-taking games, is a close relative of Spades. Both games involve the use of tricks-taking, however, Booray is more traditionally a gambling game, whereas Spades is more commonly played for fun. Both games use similar rules in the trick-taking aspect, but differ in other areas making them distinct from one another.
Can you throw off in Booray?
Generally, you cannot throw off. Throwing off in Booray is generally not allowed, as the game has a “Win if able” principle in the ruleset. However, if the trick is already impossible to win, such as when the leading Player leads with Trump, and you have no Trump in your hand. In a situation like this, throwing off is acceptable.
How many Players are in Bourré?
Bouree or Booray can be played with 2-7 people. However, if there are 7 people in the game, then a special rule is added during Draw or Pass.
Instead of discarding the whole hand, Players will only be able to swap 3 of their 5 cards. This is to prevent players from receiving cards that were discarded due to the limited number of cards available when 7 people are playing.