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 Bouré. 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: 2-10 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. Therefore, 4-6 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 plays.

Equipment: 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.

Another very 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.)

Draw: 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 then 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.

Play: 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:

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 continues.

Forced Plays: 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 must lead that card. Similarly, if they have taken one trick and have the two highest cards still in play, they must lead both 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 hand.

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 stays.]

Bourés: 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.

Reneges: 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.

Continuing: 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 ante.

Variations: 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.

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 life.

Endnote: 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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Last Updated: 2002.08.18.0110