I’m a massive fan of Italian card games in general, but Briscola has to be my absolute favorite.
Seeing as this is one of the popular games in Italy, it’s no surprise that so many people want to learn how to play, and that’s exactly why I’m here.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be armed with everything you need to know and be a pro in no time.
Briscola shares some similarities with games such as Scopa, another classic if you love trick-taking games.
What You’ll Need to Play Briscola Card Game?
First up, you’ll need to gather your card-playing buddies. The good thing about Briscola is that it’s perfect for pairs or larger groups, as it can be played between 2 and 4 people.
It’s possible to play Briscola with a standard deck of cards. However, if that’s the case, you’ll need to remove the 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s, leaving you with 40 cards.
If, however, you want to play truly authentically, then you should get your hands on an Italian deck of cards.
How to Play Briscola the Italian Card Game?
For the purpose of this guide and to avoid over-complicating things, I will be discussing the two-player version of the game.
The only difference is if there are more people, you’ll form teams, and those teams can show each other their cards before the game starts.
The cards are ranked the same as in the game Brisca, where the threes are worth more points than the other numbered cards.
The ranking is as follows:
- 2-7: 0 Points
- Jack: 2 Points
- Queen: 3 Points
- King: 4 Points
- Three: 10 Points
- Ace: 11 Points
2. The Deal
The deal for Briscola is different from other games. Each player picks a card from a split deck; the person with the lowest card is the dealer.
Once the dealer has been designated, each player is dealt three cards.
The rest of the deck needs to be placed in the middle of the table, with the top card flipped over and put in view of all players. It will determine the trump suit or (the Briscola)
The Briscola is always ranked higher throughout the game when playing any card of the same suit.
Briscola Card Game: Rules and Gameplay
The player sitting on the dealer’s left takes the first move, and the game moves anti-clockwise afterward.
Players pull one card from their hand and place it into the center. Now, things can go one of two ways.
- If anyone matches the trump, the person with the highest trump wins.
- If nobody plays a Briscola, whoever has the highest card of the same suit as Trump wins the round.
The winner of the round now takes all the played cards and goes on to lead the next round.
Before the next round starts, everyone should take a new card from the stockpile.
At the end of each round, scores need to be counted. You can use the card rankings above to work this out, and it can be handy to keep a pen and paper close by to keep note of your scores.
The overall winner is revealed when all the cards from the stockpile have been used up, and everyone adds their scores together. The person with the highest number of points is the winner.
Handy Hints and Tips for Playing Briscola
Below is a list of hints and tips that I’ve picked up over the years and often use in my favor to outwit my opponent:
- Be Savvy: Be careful when and how you choose to play your cards. Sometimes, holding on to the higher-ranking cards until nearer the end of the round can be beneficial and keep your opponents on their toes.
- Be Mindful: Always observe your opponents, read their body language, and watch closely for the cards they’re playing.
- Bluffing: Be confident; don’t be afraid to throw a bluff into the mix. Playing weaker cards to make your opponent think you’ve got a weak hand can make them pull out their high rollers at the wrong time.
Common Mistakes Made in Briscola
Check out the common mistakes below; this way, you’ll know what to look for and avoid so you don’t compromise your position in the game.
- Not Reading the Rules: Thoroughly reading the rules and getting to grips with the card values before you start playing is essential to avoid making mistakes.
- Being too Eager: Playing your high cards too early can be tempting, but watch out because this can leave you vulnerable for future rounds.
- Focusing too Much on the Trump Card: Quite often, people can over-rely on the trump card, forcing them to get rid of their good cards early in the game.
- Not Having Your Wits About You: If you don’t watch what others are doing and keep track of the cards they’re playing, you could miss out on vital opportunities.
- Strategy: Change up your method each round. Playing in the same style throughout the game will allow your opponents to read how you play.
The Final Hand
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to play the timeless classic card game Briscola and you’ve got the hang of it to teach your friends and family how to play, too. If you’ve enjoyed learning about this Italian card game, you might also want to broaden your horizons with these Spanish card games.