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Barbu uses a standard deck of cards.
A randomly selected player becomes the first declarer. For the first 7 rounds, this player selects which contract is used, until each contract has been played once. Then the player to the his left becomes the next declarer. The game continues until every player has been the declarer and played out all the contracts, for a total of 28 rounds.
The contracts are divided into positive and negative contracts, based on the points available.
No Last Two - The objective is to avoid winning the last two tricks. The winner of the second-last trick is penalized -10 points. The winner of the last trick is penalized -20 points.
No Tricks - The objective is to avoid winning any tricks. The winner of each trick is penalized -2 points.
No Barbu - The objective is to avoid the Barbu (King of Hearts). Whoever takes the trick with the Barbu is penalized -20 points. Leading with hearts is forbidden until someone has played hearts in a trick.
No Hearts - The objective is to avoid all Hearts cards. Each Hearts card won in a trick has a penalty of -2 points, except the Ace which has a penalty of -6 points.
No Queens - The objective is to avoid all Queen cards. Each Queen taken in a trick has a penalty of -6 points. The round ends when all the Queens have been taken.
Trumps - The objective is to win maximum tricks. The declarer chooses the trump suit and play follows standard trick-taking rules. Each trick won is worth 5 points.
Dominoes - The objective is to get rid of your cards quickly and this contract does not involve any trick-taking. The declarer plays a card face up. Cards of the same rank or an adjacent card within the same suit to any card on the table can be played. If a player has no valid cards, they pass their turn.
The first player to get rid of their whole hand scores 45 points. The next player to do so scores 20 points, the third scores 5 points and the last is penalized -5 points.
Players can win or lose additional points by making side-bets with each other. This is done by choosing to ‘double’ another player after the contract has been chosen for the round.
Whichever player scores more than another player in the round wins their side-bet. As payment, the difference between their scores for the round, is added into the winner’s score and subtracted from loser’s score.
A player who has been doubled may choose to ‘redouble’ in response. In this case, double the difference in scores is applied.
The declarer cannot double other players - they can only redouble.
The other players are required to double the declarer twice during every set of seven rounds. It can also be set to 1, 3, 4 or 5 times, or the rule can be disabled entirely.
The method of scoring depends on the contract being played and on whether players have chosen to double. Points can only be gained in the positive contracts. In the negative contracts, players attempt to avoid losing points.
Whoever has the most points at the end of the 28 rounds wins.
All contracts can be disabled individually, and three additional contracts are available. These are all negative contracts.
No Men - The objective is to avoid King and Jack cards. Each King or Jack won in a trick is worth a penalty of -3 points.
No Trumps - The objective is to avoid winning too many cards of any single suit. Whoever wins the most cards in a single suit is penalized -36 points. In the case of a tie, the points are divided evenly between the tied players.
No 7th Last - The objective is to avoid winning the 7th or last trick. Winning the 7th trick has a penalty of -10 points and the last has a penalty of -20 points.
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