Let's get the painful but obvious problem with an
attempt to canonize a regional game out of the way: these rules are
very much a product of the environment in which they are used.
Bouré is indigenous to Acadiana, played almost nowhere else,
and it sports enough variations to make a Poker fan's hair curl.
Because of this, I am terming the version of Bouré explained
in the majority of this document Rural Avoyelles Parish
. Even that is something of a misnomer, since the
rules are not standardized over even such a small subset of the
population of Louisiana, but I'm writing it down so I get to call
it what I damn well please. Rural Avoyelles Parish
Bouré--abbreviated RAP Bouré--it is. So, without
further ado, I proudly present a canonical non-canonical set of
rules for Rural Avoyelles Parish Bouré
Number of Players
is an unrealistic but
technically feasible set of limits. The two-player game is very
weak, however; three-player is doable but tends towards split pots.
The best game is found with four, five and six players; more means
that you will probably have to use cards from people who pass to
supplement the primary deck, which makes for weaker deals.
is a more realistic set of limits, and the
ones I recommend. Stray on either side with care, and don't let
those games give you a false impression of just how the game
: One standard French-suited 52-card deck and an
ample supply of tokens for use as betting material are necessary.
Poker chips are recommended, moreso if you have different coloured
chips that you can give different values. Since there is a fixed
ante amount, the smallest unit necessary is one ante's worth.
Before the Game
: Trade money in for chips. An equal amount
for every player is suggested--it makes eyeballing for winners
easier--but certainly not enforced. Indeed, many people simply play
RAP Bouré with cash, but that makes for a much messier
table, along with the added challenge of figuring out whether
everyone has anted when the players at the table are less than
sober. Decide on an ante amount. I suggest USD 0.10 or the closest
equivalent where you live; enough to make a pot with four or five
people playing actually tangible, but not so much that you feel
you're really losing out when you have to pass on three or four
hands in a row. If you're playing with friends, family, or anyone
you'd like to see alive again, a 'pot limit' is highly
recommended. The 'pot limit' does not actually affect the maximum
amount of money in the pot, but it determines the maximum amount
you have to put in the pot if you bouré or renege. Without
this limit, people can have to put up many dollars due to a bad
hand or a misplay, which can cause wounded feelings and even a
knife in the hand. [You think I'm kidding? We take our games
seriously down here in Louisiana.] We've had a lot of success with
a 'pot limit' of USD 1.00, or ten times our ante.
important point, especially for a regional game
such as RAP Bouré, is to make sure that everyone playing is
aware of the particulars of the game you're about to play. There
are many variations on the rules of Bouré, and when someone
says that they know how to play, that does not mean that they know
how to play the version that you
know how to play. Some of
the differences between versions, such as whether you have to play
a trump card if you cannot follow suit and cannot beat the highest
trump on the table, can be the difference between a bouré
and a split pot, and will cause consternation (and perhaps worse)
if the particulars are not out on the table immediately. Some
important points to cover if you've got someone coming in who is
not a regular part of your gaming group are your rules for the
aforementioned situation, how you treat reneges, and whether you
use an 'in or out' round before you declare how many cards you
take. Most of the other particulars will be small enough to not
matter, but don't blame me if you get shot at because someone who
plays a just-different-enough-to-cause-trouble variant shows up and
causes trouble. You can't just tell someone to read their Hoyle's
when you have a problem crop up. [Which is part of why I'm writing
this website, of course.]
Choose someone to be the first dealer. Eldest, youngest, the person
whose establishment is being used to play, or "me" are all valid
choices. Everyone places one ante's worth of money into the 'pot,'
generally in the centre of the table.
Order of Play
: Deal rotates deosil. The dealer deals one
card at a time face-down, starting with the person on their left
and continuing deosil, until everyone has five cards. Instead of
dealing eir last card face-down, the dealer deals eir fifth card
face-up. The suit of the face-up card determines the "trump" suit
for that hand, and that hand only
. It is also the dealer's
fifth card, so they effectively get a "free" trump for dealing.
In or Out
: Starting with the person to the left of the
dealer and continuing deosil, each player declares whether they are
are 'in' or 'out.' A player who stays out for a hand has lost their
ante, but cannot bouré or renege, both of which cost
considerably more than the cost of an ante. The dealer collects the
cards of players who are 'out' and places them in a stack. (This is
technically only necessary for games with more then five people,
and is not likely to be necessary with six players.)
: The dealer next asks each player still in for the hand
how many cards they'd like to replace from their hands, once again
starting at the player to their left. They can take any number of
cards up to and including five, or they can choose to not take any
at all. The dealer collects their discards into a second stack and
deals them new ones from the cards left undealt. If the original
deal runs out, the dealer shuffles the cards of people who are out,
making sure to not use the discards from this round
. This is
why it is important to keep them separate; there may be trump cards
in the 'out' hands, but only fools would throw trumps away during
the draw round. After providing cards for all of the other players,
the dealer does the same--if they are still in the game--and only
do ey collect eir fifth card. This is to ensure that
everyone is reminded until the end of this round just what suit is
trumps. We actually use four aces from a dissimilar deck of cards
and turn one face up to show the trump suit, but if everyone at the
table is drinking, it may be better not to bother, as arguments
over whether the face-up card got updated can ensue.
: The player closest to the left of the dealer leads.
They can lead any card, face-up in the centre of the table. Play
continues deosil, each player putting one card down. However, they
must follow a strict set of rules in doing so:
- Playing to Win: They must play to win. If the eight of
diamonds is the highest card on the table, and the player has both
the seven and the Queen of diamonds, they must play the Queen. Aces
are high, not low.
- Following Suit: They must follow suit, even if they
cannot beat the highest card on the table. In other words, if the
Queen of diamonds is on the table, and the only diamond you have is
a four, you have to play it. You do not have to play the
highest card in that suit; indeed, that would be considered
- Trumps: If you do not have a card in the suit led, and
you have a card in the trumps suit, you must play it. The trump
suit is higher than every other suit in terms of value; a two of
trumps beats the Ace of any other suit, and the Ace of trumps is
unbeatable. Remember that you can only play trumps if you
cannot follow suit. This obviously does not apply if the suit led
was the trumps suit.
- Following in Trumps: If you do not have a card in the
suit led, and you have trumps, but you cannot beat the highest
trump card on the table, you still have to play a trump. This is
a common point of variation; make it clear when you play with
- Sluffing: If you do not have a card in the suit led, and
you do not have a card in the trumps suit, then and only
then can you throw down a card that is in neither of those
suits. This is commonly referred to as 'tossing off' or 'sluffing,'
and the card has no value. This commonly occurs on the last trick
of the hand.
Whoever played the highest card takes the cards out of the centre
and places them face-up in front of them so that people can see
what has been already been played. Then they lead, and play
: If a player has taken their second trick and
they have the highest card still in play--typically the Ace of
trumps, but possibly lower depending on previous tricks--they
lead that card. Similarly, if they have taken one trick
and have the two highest cards still in play, they must
of these cards at the same time. The other players then
each play two cards, following the rules above, typically playing
their two lowest trumps or their last trump and a low off-card.
This logical trend continues; if you are dealt the Ace, King,
Queen, Jack, and ten of trumps and you are the person left to the
dealer, you must play all five at the start. A failure to do any of
this results in a renege. The easiest way to remember what you're
supposed to do is this: if you know you're going to take the
pot--three tricks out of five is a majority--then you cannot
lead people on by playing something else. You must force the
The rules for forced plays can get more complex. For example, if
you've taken one trick and have the Ace, Queen, and Jack of trumps,
you have a guaranteed win even if the King is still in play. The
rules are a bit hazy here--we would put all three down, and give
the person with the King a trick if they have another trump, but
your results may vary. Just how mathematical you want to get with
forced plays is up to you; you may be happy to just deal with the
cases in the above paragraph. Another case of a forced play is if
you play a trump card and no one else has any trumps left, but you
do; the rest of your trumps should be played at the same time.
This is another common point of variation and contention;
discuss just how complex you allow forced plays to be when you're
playing with new people.
Collecting the Pot
: After all five cards in everyone's hands
have been played, typically during five tricks, the player who took
the most tricks takes the pot. If two or more players have
collected the same number of tricks, the pot is 'split' and stays
in the centre of the table. This can only occur if the tricks are
divided up between three people in a 2-2-1 configuration or five
people in a 1-1-1-1-1 configuration. If the person who would take
the pot reneged during the hand, the pot stays as well. [If one of
the almost-winners of a split pot reneged, the money still
: If a player who stayed in does not take any
tricks during the course of a hand, they have bouréd.
Instead of a normal ante for the next round, they must match the
amount of money that was in the pot during the hand. This will
count as their ante. If there is a 'pot limit,' they only have to
put up that much as their ante for the next round. It is generally
polite to let those who bouréd and reneged to count the pot
before the winner takes it and everyone else antes, so that they
know how much they have to pony up.
: If ever a player does not play correctly--they do
not follow suit when they should, they do not play to win, they
forget to play trumps, they do not lead the Ace when they have
taken two tricks--they renege
. Play continues, but that
player automatically loses the round and, for all intents and
purposes, has bouréd.
: The deal moves one seat to the left; everyone
antes into the pot, even if it was split, and the unlucky folks who
bouréd and reneged must put the proper amounts in as their
: There are a number of variations to this
description of RAP Bouré, some of which are common, others
less so. Here is a non-exhaustive list of variations that you may
wish to try. I will mark the ones that we typically use, so if you
are using this website to learn the rules before you play with my
group, you will know which variations to prepare for. If you know
of any other good variations, please let me know.
- Ante Amounts: The 'official' RAP Bouré rules
state that a bouré or renege counts as your ante for the
next round. I don't like this, because it makes the amount in the
pot harder to count. Instead, we play so that you still have to put
one more ante-unit in along with your payment for the bouré
or renege. This keeps the pot amount at multiples of the number of
players, assuming you don't hit the pot limit on the penalty
payments. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be a common variant,
but we use it. So nyeh. We use this variation.
- Following Trumps: One of the more common variations
concerns whether you must play a trump card if you cannot follow
suit, have trumps, but cannot beat the highest trump on the table.
RAP Bouré says yes, some people say no, and we follow RAP
rules in this instance. It lends to a higher number of
bourés, but we find that it makes the game more
- Forced Plays: The rules for forced plays can be easy or
complex. While the more mathematically-inclined of us may not have
much trouble with all but the most obscure forced play situations,
the rest of the world may want to simplify the rules. It is highly
recommended not to change the 'forced Ace'-type rules, but the rest
are less obvious and therefore may be changed as you see fit.
- No "In or Out" Round: Instead of asking whether each
player is in or out before the draw round, you can combine the two.
Players can say "I'm out" if they do not wish to play for a round,
or state the number of cards that they want. This leads to less
bourés in general, since players close to the right side of
the dealer have more information to go on as to whether or not they
should stay in. It's hard to stay in when you've got a mild hand
and the person to the left of the dealer has a cat-caught-the-mouse
smile when they say, "Oh, I'll stay with what I have."
- Pot Limits: Mentioned a number of times above, a 'pot
limit' keeps bourés and reneges from breaking people's
banks. They are almost required for any friendly game, as feelings
can get hurt easily if you intentionally or unintentionally
bouré someone on a USD 100 pot. People can get hurt too.
Highly recommended. We use this variation.
- Reneging: The rules for reneging are bad enough. Indeed,
I think they are the only weak point of an otherwise easy-to-learn
game. Because of this, renege rules vary wildly from group to
group. Some allow you to retract a played card if you make a
mistake; for a while, we played such that if you caught it, you
acted as if you bouréd on the spot, adding money to the pot,
and then retracted the play. This turned out to be much more
trouble than it was worth, so now once a card has hit the table it
is irretractable, with some leeway given for new players.
- Table Talk: While not really a variation, there is a
mostly unspoken rule with card games that you do not engage in
table talk. However, when you play with people who do not lie about
the game, and you're playing primarily to socialize, we find that
table talk can actually soothe over wounds--keeping people out of a
hand when you drew all of the face-card trumps may keep them from
giving you evil eyes for the rest of the night. While it's not
kosher to actually state out loud the cards in your hand, we
definitely chat about the game as we play. This is highly
dependent on the group you play with, so it is not recommended
unless you know the people you play with well and think they can
handle it. We use this 'variation'.
As previously stated, we all put up USD 10 at the beginning of each
night. We also have a semi-complex rule system about just how much
money you can put up in a given night. If you lose all of your
starting money, you are allowed to put in half as much and get new
chips. If you lose all of that
, you're allow to get half
again as much, and so on. After doing some calculation, this leads
you to a total of USD 19.70 for a USD 10 start amount and USD 0.10
antes, since we round down fractional ante amounts. We also allow
players who put more money in to 'clear the bill'--they do not have
to pay up if their last round was a bouré or renege. Indeed,
if they bouré or renege and do not have enough money to
cover it, they simply put in everything they have and are allowed
to play in an attempt to take their money back.
From looking at the rules and the variations that we use, you can
see that we try to make the game as interesting as possible while
keeping it sociable, keeping rules that make bourés more
common but with a pot limit to keep the amount you lose in check.
We've found that this can lead to considerable pots; in one recent
five-player game, the pot got up to over seven dollars before
someone took it. In non-limit games, the pot has been known to
climb into the hundreds. I once again warn you about the bodily
harm that can result from those sorts of games, but it's your
: This is the first set of rules that I've ever
written up, and as such they may not be as clear as I'd like.
Please feel free to contact me if you need clarification or see any
errors; I'd like this to be as definitive a set of rules for RAP
Bouré as possible.
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