Do you ever get your friends around for an exciting night of card games, but when it comes to it, you’re stuck playing the same handful of games you’ve always played just because it’s all you can come up with? Yes? If that’s the case, it’s time to expand your knowledge of card games and start learning something new.
I love good card games, I can’t get enough of them, and I’m always trying to pick up as much knowledge as possible about games from other countries and cultures. For example, I recently learned a lot about the kinds of card games played in Japan and was amazed by the diversity.
So, when I heard about HOKM, a trick-taking card game originating from Iran, I couldn’t wait to learn more, and it’s since become one of my most played card games.
Are you ready to learn more? Let’s take a look.
What is HOKM Card Game?
As I just mentioned, HOKM is a trick-taking game that originated in Iran. However, I believe it was also a top-rated Indian card game, but instead of HOKM, it was known as Kot Pees, Rung, Coat Peace, or Chokri. Quite a lot of name variations for one game, aren’t there?
In Iran, the game is most commonly called HOKM, which means command or order, but in some cases, the game is also referred to as Seven Hands or T’rup; these names keep coming.
So, to avoid confusing you, for the rest of the game, I will be referring to it as HOKM, don’t worry.
HOKM Card Game – An Overview
HOKM is played using a standard deck of 52 cards. I want to think if you’re here looking for card games, you already have one. But if you haven’t, or let’s say your deck has seen better days, check out these Stargazer Waterproof Deck of Cards. They make an excellent talking piece and liven up any card game.
So, now that you’ve got a bit of the background, and have everything you need to play, let’s talk through the rules and give you some hints on tips on how to win the game so you’ve got a head start on your friends and family.
How to Play HOKM Card Game?
There are a few variations of HOKM, depending on how many people you’ve got playing. For this instruction guide, I will mainly refer to the four-player game, and then later, I’ll tell you how you can adapt the game to suit other size groups. Let’s take a closer look.
At the start of each round, you must select one person to be the dealer who will dish out all the cards to each player. The first person to receive an Ace is declared the HOKM, which means they’re the ruler or significant if you like. This person is in charge and gets some extra privileges such as:
- They lead the first trick
- They receive the first card in the deal
- They declare the trump for each hand
The dealer should continue to dish out the cards after announcing the HOKM. When another ace is revealed, whoever has it is the HOKMs partner. The other two players become a team, so you now have two pairs of players.
Now it’s time for the real deal. Thirteen cards must be dealt out to each player three at a time. Everyone will take five cards for the first turn, and you’ll take four cards for the last two. Once the HOKM has received its first five cards, they must select and declare the trump. It will make more sense in the next section; don’t worry.
The game aims to match the trump suit. If you can’t, you can play any other card. However, only the highest card of the trump suit can win the trick. If nobody has matched the trump by the end of a hand, the highest overall card takes the trick.
As you’re playing in teams, it’s the first team to win seven tricks that get the point. However, if you’re on the HOKM team and you win seven tricks, but the opposing team hasn’t won any, you’re team gets two points.
If you’re not on the HOKM team and are the first to win seven tricks, your points are tripled, so you’ll get three points.
The game ends when the first team gets to seven points (this explains one of the names for the game, seven hands).
Other Variations of HOKM
As I mentioned, the most common way to play HOKM is with four players, but if you have two or three players, there are other ways.
With two players, the game starts the same. One person deals out cards face-up until someone receives an Ace. This person then becomes the HOKM.
If you’re the dealer, five cards are given to the HOKM before giving yourself five cards. The HOKM then declares the trump before discarding their three weakest cards from their hand. You then need to discard two cards from your hand.
The HOKM now takes a single card from the undealt pile for themselves to see. If they think it’s useful, they’ll keep it. If not, they can discard it to the discard pile before taking another. However, the second card they pick up, they have to keep. The same goes for you now as the second player.
The game continues with each player having thirteen cards, as with the four-player version. This option at the start of the game adds something more engaging and challenging due to the lack of players. Plus, it means you must take a chance, as you could discard a good card and only replace it with a worse one.
For a three-player game of HOKM, the deal is done over four turns so that each player will start with 17 cards. Like the four-player version, everyone takes five cards in the first run and four in the next turns.
The rules are the same, following the trump suit where possible, with the highest played card winning the trick.
Scoring is the same as the four-player game, except if one player takes seven or more tricks, they win the round and take one point.
And that’s how it’s done. Now you know how to play the Iranian card game HOKM. It’s different, isn’t it? I love the fact that it’s distinct in style. If you want to learn more about card games from other cultures, look at Tien Len, the national card game of Vietnam.