What is Briscola?
Briscola is arguably one of the most popular Italian card games, alongside other classics like Scopa and Tressette. This game follows the standard trick taking card game rules, and has easy to understand rules that explain its continued popularity to this day.
How to Play Briscola?
Briscola can be played with player counts of 2-8 players. While the game is designed to be played with the 40-card Italian deck, you can use the standard 52-card Anglo American deck with the twelve 8, 9 and 10 cards removed, making a 40-card deck.
The following examples focus on a standard 2 player game. If teams are involved, note that players are allowed to show teammates their cards at the start of each game.
In Briscola, card ranks are based on the card values. This is shown in detail under the Scoring section of the guide, but for purposes of the gameplay explanation, the cards are ordered as such from highest to lowest:
Ace – 3 – King – Queen – Jack – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 2
The dealer is determined via card splitting, where the player drawing the lower ranked card becoming the dealer.
The deck is shuffled, and each player is dealt 3 cards, one card at a time. The remaining cards are set aside, and the top card is revealed.
The revealed top card is the trump suit, or the Briscola for the round. The Briscola becomes the highest ranked suit whenever a card of the same suit is played.
Each player begins the game with 3 cards each. The player to the left of the dealer will go first, with turn order proceeding in anti-clockwise order.
Each other player the plays out a single card until all players have played one card each.
If no Briscola (trump cards) are played, the player with the highest card of the leading suit wins.
If Briscola (trump cards) are played, the player who played the highest trump card wins.
Note that in Briscola, following the lead suit is not compulsory.
Card ranks are described in the Card Ranks section of the guide above.
The winner of each trick takes the cards used in the trick, and leads the next trick. Before each new trick begins, each player will draw 1 card from the draw pile to replenish their hand, with the winner going first and proceeding in anticlockwise order.
The revealed Briscola is considered to be the final card in the draw pile.
If no more cards are available in the draw pile, the game continues skipping the replenishing phase.
The player who wins each trick leads the next.
How to Win?
The Briscola card game ends once all players have no cards left. Each player/team calculates their score based on the score values of each card they took in tricks. The player with the highest score wins.
Note that it is possible to tie in Briscola due to the nature of scoring.
The Briscola rules are:
- The dealer of the round is determined by deck splitting.
- Each player is dealt 3 cards each, 1 at a time.
- The remaining cards are set aside to form the draw pile.
- The top card of the draw pile is revealed, showing the Briscola (trump suit) for the round.
- The player to the left of the dealer leads the first trick, and turn order proceeds in anticlockwise order.
- Tricks are won with the highest card/highest trump card. Unlike other trick-taking card games, players are not required to follow suit when possible.
- The game ends when all cards from the draw pile are taken. Note the Briscola card is the final card in the draw pile.
- Scores are calculated, with the highest score winning the round.
Scoring & Points
Briscola scoring is based on the card values of each card. The card values are provided in a table below:
|2, 4, 5, 6, 7||0|
The sum of points in each Briscola game is 120 points.
The following is an example round of Briscola with 2 players.
In this round, Hearts are the Briscola.
Player A: 6♦ 5♦ 3♣
Player B: J♤ K♦ Q♦
Player A leads the trick by playing the 3♣.
Player B is unable to follow suit and does not have a Briscola. He plays J♤.
Player A wins the trick by lead suit. Player A leads the next trick.
Player A: 6♦ 5♦ J♦.
Player B: K♦ Q♦ 3♥.
Player A leads the trick by playing the J♦.
Player B has a Briscola, and plays the 3♥.
Player B wins the trick by Briscola. Player B leads the next trick.
Strategy & Tips
- The key in Briscola game strategy is manage your cards.
- Briscola cards can be kept in hand strategically.
- If you can maintain the momentum of trick leading, you can win a lot more.
- Since the revealed Briscola card is the final card of the draw pile, losing a trick to get that card can be worth it.
- In 2-player games, if you know you have more than 60 points in taken tricks, you can call the game to end.
- Play low cards if you know you can’t win a trick.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I play Briscola online for free?
Briscola can be played on online simulators available via download, or even on smart devices. Most emulators even support multiplayer play.
Where does Briscola originate?
The Briscola card game originates from Italy, and is still popular centuries after its introduction.
Can Briscola be played with the standard 52-card deck?
Yes. To adapt the Briscola 40-card deck, remove the 8, 9 and 10 cards from the standard 52-card.