Pâsur

This page is based on a description by Ali Jahânshiri and further information from Rama Morovati, Datis Khaje`ian and Fiona Zahedi.

Introduction

Pâsur is one of the most popular card games in Iran. It is a fishing card game in which numeral cards are captured by making a total of 11. Points are scored for aces, jacks, the majority of clubs, the club2 and the diamond10 and for clearing the table (sur). The object is to be the first player or team to reach 62 points. Other names sometimes used for this card game are: Chahâr barg (four-cards), Haft khâj (seven-clubs), Yâzdahtâyi ("eleveny") and Haft va chahâr, yâzdah (7+4=11). Although the name Pâsur traditionally refers to this specific game, by the start of the 21st century it had come to be used by some Iranian players as a word for card games in general.

Players and cards

A regular 52-card deck is used. Pâsur is typically a 2-player game but it can also be played with 3 or 4 players. Four players can play as individuals usually play in partnership, with partners sitting opposite each other. It is possible but unusual for more than four to play using two packs of cards.

Deal and play are anticlockwise.

Deal

The dealer shuffles and then deals out the cards in batches of four: four cards to each player face down, starting with the player to dealer's right, and then four cards to table face up. If a the face up cards include more than one jack, more than two queens or more than two kings, the dealer must gather all the cards, reshuffle and deal again. Otherwise, if a single jack is face up on the table, the dealer buries this card in the undealt pack and replaces it with the top card of the undealt pack.

The remainder of the deck is temporarily put aside. After everybody has played their four cards, another hand of four cards is dealt to each player from the undealt part of the pack, but no more cards are dealt to table after the first deal. When these cards have been played there is another deal, and this continues until all 52 cards have been dealt (this takes six deals for 2-player game, four deals for the 3-player game and three deals for 4-player game).

After all the cards have been played and the game scored, the turn to deal passes to the next player to the right.

Play

Starting from the player to dealer's right, each player in turn must play one card to table face up. This play may result in some cards being captured from the table. In this case, the played card and the captured card(s) are taken and stacked face down in front of the player. If played card can't capture any table cards, then it remains on the table to be available for other players.

When all the cards have been played in the final four-card deal (when there are no more cards to deal), the last player who made a capture wins all the remaining table cards.

Card capturing rules

Kings and queens capture by pairing
A king played from hand captures a king from the table. A queen played from hand captures a queen from the table. This is the only way kings and queens can be captured.
Numeral cards capture by addition
Each numeral card from ace to ten has its pip value: A=1, 2=2, ... 10=10. When a numeral card is played which makes a total of 11 when added to one or more cards on the table, that set of cards is captured. For example a 4 can capture a 7, an ace can capture a 10, a 6 can capture a 3 and a 2.
Jacks capture all numeral cards and jacks
When a jack is played, it captures all the cards from the table at once, except for queens and kings. If a jack is played when the table is empty or contains only kings and queens, the jack does not capture anything and just remains on the table.

Notes:

  • There is no obligation to play a card that makes a capture just because you can. You can play any card you wish to. However, if you played a card which does make a capture, you must take the captured cards.
  • Sometimes there may be a choice of captures. For example the cards on the table are A, 2, 4, 5. If you play a 5 you may capture either the 5 and the ace or the 4 and the 2: it's your choice.

Sur

If a player plays a card other than a jack and captures all the cards from the table, the player scores a Sur. For example, if there is a queen alone on the table, playing a queen and capturing it scores a Sur. If the only cards on the table are a 2 and a 3, playing a 6 captures both of them and scores a Sur.

There are three exceptions, when emptying the table does not score a Sur:

1. Playing a jack never scores a Sur
If the table is not empty, and has no queens and kings, playing a jack captures all the table cards leaving it empty but no Sur is scored for this.
2. A Sur cannot be scored in the last deal
After the dealer has dealt the final four cards to each player, and there are no more cards to deal, emptying the table does not count as a Sur.
3. A player or team with 50 or more points cannot score a Sur
Emptying the table does not count as a Sur if the player or team already has a score of 50 or more points. This refers to the score the last time the points were counted - points for cards in the player's current capture pile are not included.
 

Each Sur is represented by a card taken from the player's capture pile and placed separately face down beside it. However, if you score a Sur and an opponent already has one or more Surs, instead of scoring your own Sur you cancel one of the opponent's Surs, and the card is returned to the opponent's capture pile. Thus only one player or team can have Surs at any one time, and only this player will score points for Surs after all the cards have been played.

Note that a player who has 50 or more points on the score sheet can neither score a Sur nor cancel an opponent's Sur.

Scoring

After all the cards have been played, the players or teams count points according to the cards in their capture piles and the Surs.

  • Having 7 or more of Clubs (which is called Haft Khâj "seven-clubs") is worth 7 points
  • Each Ace is worth 1 point
  • Each Jack is worth 1 point
  • 2 of Clubs is worth 2 points
  • 10 of Diamonds is worth 3 points
  • Each Sur is worth 5 points

Players normally count their clubs first, then add their Surs, and then go through their cards a second time to add their remaining points, keeping a cumulative total. For example 8 clubs: 7, plus two Surs: 17, plus an ace: 18, a jack: 19, two of clubs: 21, another ace: 22, another jack: 23, another jack: 24.

The scores of the players or teams should add up to 20 points, plus 5 points for each Sur. Each of the players or teams adds these points to their cumulative total for the game.

The first player or team to reach 62 or more points over as many deals as it takes wins the game. If more than one player has 62 or more points, the player or team with most points wins. If there is a tie for most points, the game continues.

If the cards you have captured so far and any Sur that you have enable you to reach or pass 62 points, you may stop the game by saying "per shodam". The points are counted and the player or team with most points wins, provided that they have at least 62. If there is a tie for most the game continues. (If you stop the game and it turns out that you have less than 62 points you have made a fool of yourself. If no one has as many as 62, the game continues.)

It is not possible to stop a game which is being continued because the points were tied at 62 or more when they were last counted. In this case the game must contnue until all the cards have been played before the points are counted again.

Three-player game

The rules given above also apply to the three-player game. Notice that when two players eachscore a Sur, the second Sur cancels the first one, benefitting the third player. When there are just two players, the player with who scored most Surs scores for the difference between the Surs made by the players. With three players the result depends on the order in which the Surs are scored. For example if the players are A, B and C and five Surs are scored in the order A, B, B, A, C then it is C who will score one Sur, since the Surs scored by A and B cancel each other. On the other hand if they were scored in the order A, C, B, A, B it would be B who scored.

In three-player version, if two players have the same number of clubs, then it is the third player who gets the 7 points for "haft khâj". This is true even if the third player actually had fewest clubs - for example the clubs are divided 5-5-3.

Tactics

Some advice from Ali Jahânshiri:
  • When it's your turn to play and you see that you can't capture any card then it'd be better to play a high card because it's less probable that your opponent can use it to make a combination. For example, a 10 can be only captured by an A whereas a low card such as 2 can be used in various combinations to make 11.
  • Your focus should be on taking most of clubs in order to become Haft Khâj because it is worth 7 points.
  • As far as possible, don't play a club unless you are going to match it with table cards.
  • When you match and capture face cards (i.e. Ks and Qs), it's a good idea to throw one of them onto your opponent's captured pile (being careful not to throw a club) to make sure that these cards are separated in the next round.
  • If you can make several combinations, always make the one bringing you more points. For example, you have heart4 in your hand an there's a club7 and a diamond7D on the table. Here, you must go for the club7 because it's a club and can help you become Haft Khâj.
  • Whenever possible and appropriate, clear the table with a Jack because your opponent's next play to the empty table is likely to give you a Sur.
  • It's a good tactic to leave a minimum of 11 points on the table in order to hinder your opponent from scoring a Sur. Accordingly, avoid capturing cards which would leave a total of 10 or less on the table.
  • If the total on the table is already 10 or less and you can't benefit from this situation, the best play to hinder a Sur is a face card, but if you don't have one, play any card raising the total on the table to 11 or more.

Note, however, that in a three-player game, if your left-hand opponent scores a Sur, it may be good to leave a lone King or Queen or a total of less than 11 on the table, if possible without clubs, to help your right-hand opponent to score a Sur which will cancel the first Sur.

Variations

The target score varies. Some play to 100 instead of 62. Some play to 61.

Some play that a Sur cannot be scored by a player or team with more than 40 points. On the other hand, some players impose no restriction and allow a Sur to be scored irrespective of how many points you already have.

Some play that although you cannot score a Sur for yourself after the last deal, when playing your last four cards, you can still make a Sur to cancel an opponent's Sur during this period.

Other Pâsur web pages

Here is an archive copy of Ali Jahânshiri's Pâsur page.