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Variation for Three Players

Basra is a fun engaging card game that is played widely in coffee houses throughout the Middle East. It is a game that offers something different to following suit and winning tricks. Basra is best described as a fishing game. Simple in its mechanics and easy going in its style, Basra provides a rich opportunity for strategy and skill. Having been played widely in Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon and all over the Mediterranean from as far back as the days of the Ottoman Empire, Basra appears in a number of variations. The version that will be explained here makes for an excellent card game for three players. Each player plays for themselves.

The Cards

Standard deck of 52 cards.

The Deal

Each player is dealt 8 cards one at a time, and then four are dealt face up to the center. This is called the "floor". If any of them is a Jack or the 10 of Diamonds, it is buried in the deck, and a new card turned in its place. The remainder of the deck is set aside for now.


The player�s objective in taking his turn is to win or collect cards from the floor by playing the right card. Of particular interest is the 10 of Diamonds, any Aces, Jacks, and the 2 of Clubs. And if he is good, he can play a card that takes up all the cards from the "floor" - a Basra! Cards can be taken by:

  • Pairing � simply matching the denomination of any card on the floor. A six takes a six, a King takes a King.
  • Combining � You can play a number card whose value is equal to the sum of two of more cards. For example, you could play a 10 to capture a 6 and a 4. Note, therefore, that you can only catch a picture card with another picture card.
  • Play a Jack � If you play a Jack, you take in all the cards and clear the floor.
  • Basra � a Basra occurs when a player captures all the cards from the floor without using a Jack. For example, say the floor was showing a 2, 4 and an Ace. You could play a 7 and clear the floor. Or, if the floor were showing 7, 2, 4 and 5, you could play a 9 and take them all. It doesn�t matter whether there�s only one card on the floor, or four or more, a Basra gives you 5 points.

The Play

Starting with the player to the dealer�s left, each player takes their turn by playing a card face up to the "floor". If it matches any of the face up cards according to the rules outlined above, the player announces his capture, and removes his own card and the card(s) he has captured and sets them aside neatly in front of himself. If the player fails to capture any cards, his card simply remains face up on the "floor" available for capture in future plays. The turn then passes to the next player and each plays a card until their hand is exhausted.

Once the players have exhausted all the cards from their hands, the dealer once again deals each player 8 cards one at a time, exhausting the deck. No cards are added to the �floor�. Once again the first to play is left of the dealer and the hand is played out until no players are left with cards in their hand.

If there are any cards left on the "floor" after the last play, the last player to have taken cards, takes these for him/herself.


At the end of play, each player tallies their score by awarding points for the following:

  • The 10 of Diamonds scores 3 points
  • The 2 of Clubs scores 2 points
  • Each Ace scores 1 point
  • Each Jack scores 1 point
  • 3 points for the Cards - that is, whoever holds the majority of cards at the end of play takes 3 points for that. If two player tie for having the most cards, the neither player scores for it and those 3 points are simply lost to the game.
  • 5 points for each Basra - Keep in mind that a Basra is scored for clearing the floor in one play but is not awarded if the floor is cleared with a Jack.


Basra is played over several hands to a grand total of 51 points. If more than one player is 51 points or over at the end of the hand, then regardless of who has the higher score, the game is played to a grand total of 61 points, then 71 and so on until one player clears the total beyond his opponents and is declared the winner of the game.


Rules for Basra - The Card Games Website
How to Play the Card Game Basra - Cats at Cards
Basra - Wikipedia

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