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Ecarte is a centuries old game of French origin and came to Britian in the 1820s. It originally began in French gaming houses, but works well with or without a money interest. Ecarte is a fast moving two-player game.

The Cards

A 32-card deck is made by shortening the pack to 7 and Up. Cards rank K, Q, J, A, 10, 9, 8, 7.

The Deal

Players cut to deal and are dealt five cards in batches of 2 and 3. The next card is turned up, which establishes trumps.

If the dealer turns up a King, he/she is awarded 1 point.

Each player then examines their hand and decides whether they want to play immediately, or perhaps exchange some cards

To play, he/she says “I play” or “I stand”.

On the other hand, if the player wishes to improve their hand, they say, “I propose”.

If the dealer accepts, he/she says, “How many?”, or the dealer may say “I refuse”, in which case play begins immediately.

If the dealer accepts, he/she gives the opponent as many cards up to five as the player wishes to exchange. The dealer may either ‘stand pat’ or exchange some cards of his/her own.

If the dealer exchanges any cards, the opponent has the option of “proposing” or “playing”.

This continues until someone elects to play, or the deck is exhausted of all or nearly all cards, at which time the hand must be played.

Marking the King

After the exchange and before play begins, a player holding the King of Trumps may declare and score 1 point for it. The point cannot be claimed once a card has been led to the first trick.

The Play

The non-dealer leads first, and thereafter the winner of the trick leads to the next.


You must follow suit, and you must try to win the trick by playing a higher card.

If you can’t follow suit, then you must trump in.

The trick is won by the highest trump played to it. If no trumps are played, to the highest card of the suit led.


If a player stands with their original five cards and wins 3-4 tricks, they get 1 point All 5 tricks is called "vole" and pays 2 points.

If any cards were exchanged then, as above, 1 point is awarded for 3-4 tricks, and 2 points for “vole”, all five tricks.

Now, read carefully – If the Non-Dealer loses without “proposing” or the Dealer loses after “refusing” the first proposal, then the winner gets 2 points, regardless of how many tricks they take.

A game is played over several hands to 5 points.

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