Tute

This page is partly based on information from Luis Fernando Gimnez and John Williamson and also draws on descriptions of Tute in several books, such as:
- Juegos de Naipes Españoles (Heraclio Fournier, Vitoria, 1972)
- Carmiña Verdejo: Juegos de Cartas (Salvat, 1995)
- José L Núñez Elvira: El gran libro de los juegos de cartas (Martinez Roca, Barcelona, 1990)
and on the web page on Tute Cabrero by Emilio Platzer.

Introduction

Tute is one of the most popular card games of Spain, and also in some Latin American countries. It is a point-trick game with trumps of the "marriage" type. There are several versions, all with the same basic structure of trick taking and card values, but adapted for different numbers of players, and in some cases with the extra complication of bidding. The game for four players in two fixed partnerships will be described first, then versions for other numbers of players.

The Cards

For Tute, a standard Spanish pack of 40 cards is used. The suits and the rank and value of the cards in each suit are as follows:

SuitSymbol
Swords (espadas)sword
Batons (bastos)baton
Cups (copas)cup
Coins (oros)coin
RankPoint value
Ace (as)11
Three (tres)10
King (rey)4
Horse (caballo)3
Jack (sota)2
Seven (siete)0
Six (seis)0
Five (cinco)0
Four (cuatro)0
Two (dos)0

It can be seen that there are 120 card points in the pack altogether (30 in each of the four suits). In addition to these, 10 points are awarded for winning the last trick, bringing the total available to 130, and further points can be scored by a player who holds the king and horse of the same suit.

In each deal one suit is designated as the trump suit, all of whose cards can beat any card of the other three suits. In most forms of the game the trump suit is determined by turning a card face up during the deal - this card is called "la carta que pinta" (the card that paints).

In North America, Spanish cards can be obtained from TaroBear's Lair.

Partnership Tute

The deal

The first dealer is chosen at random and the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand. The dealer shuffles the cards, the player to dealer's left cuts, and then all the cards are dealt out one at a time, face down, starting with the player to dealer's right and continuing anticlockwise, so that each player has 10 cards.

The last card of the pack, which belongs to the dealer, is turned face up, and the suit of this card is trumps. This card is part of the dealer's hand. When the other players have seen it the dealer can pick it up and play it in the same way as the other cards.

The Play

The cards are played out in tricks, the object being to win tricks containing high-value cards. The direction of play is anticlockwise; the player to dealer's right leads to the first trick.

Any card may be led. If possible, the other players must follow suit - that is, play a card of the same suit that was led. Subject to the necessity of following suit, players are also obliged to play a card which beats the best card so far played to the trick is they can. This means that:

  • if you are able to follow suit, and no one has yet played a trump to the trick, you must play a card which beats the highest card of the led suit that has been played to the trick so far;
  • if you are unable to follow suit, and no one has yet played a trump to the trick, you must play a trump if you have one;
  • if you are unable to follow suit, and a trump has already been played to the trick, you must play a trump which beats the highest trump so far played to the trick if you can.
On the other hand, if you are unable to beat the best card in the trick, you have no obligation except to follow suit. This means that:
  • if you are able to follow suit but unable to beat the highest card of the led suit played, you may play any card of the led suit;
  • if a non-trump was led and the trick has been trumped, but you can follow suit, you may play any card of the led suit;
  • if a non-trump was led and the trick has been trumped, but you have no cards of the suit led and no trumps which beat the highest trump on the table, you may play any card you wish (there is no obligation to trump in this case);
  • if a trump was led and you cannot beat the highest trump played to the trick, you must still follow suit with a trump, but can play any trump you wish;
  • if you have no card of the suit led and no trumps you may play any card you wish.
If no trumps were played, the trick is won by the highest card of the suit was led. If anyone trumped it is won by the highest trump played. The cards of the completed tricks are kept face down in front of one of the members of the team that won the trick. The winner of the trick leads to the next.

Singing (los cánticos)

A player who holds in hand the king and horse of the same suit can score extra points by declaring ("singing") them, and showing the two cards. The king and horse of a non-trump suit are worth 20 points, and the king and horse of trumps are worth 40. When declaring a 20 you also mention the suit - for example "20 in cups" (veinte en copas). When declaring 40 it is not necessary to mention the suit (as it must be the trump suit).

You are only allowed to sing immediately after winning a trick. Before leading to the next you can declare one king-horse combination which you have in your hand. If you have more than one such combination you must win another trick before you are allowed to declare another. If you want to declare a 40 and a 20, you must declare the 40 first. It is illegal for a player to declare a 40 having previously declared a 20.

Scoring

When all the cards have been played, each team counts the points in the tricks they have won. The team which won the last trick counts 10 points extra (called diez de ├║ltimas or diez de monte), and any team which has declared any 20's or 40's adds in these points as well.

The team which has more points in total wins the game. If there is a tie the team that won the last trick wins.

It is usual to agree to play a series of games - say six or eight. The team which wins more games wins the match, and the losers pay for the drinks. Sometimes it is agreed that the match should continue until the winning team is ahead of the losing team by a margin of two games.

Variations

A tute is a combination of all four kings or all four horses held in one hand. Some play that a player who has a tute can declare it after winning a trick, and this declaration wins the game.

Some play that the partner of a player who wins a trick can also sing. It is then possible that both partners will sing after the same trick, but each player can only sing one 20 or 40 at a time.

Some play that if a team wins with 101 or more points, they win two games instead of one.

Individual Tute

Luis Fernando Gimnez describes the following version of Tute for three or two players playing as individuals.

The dealer deals 10 cards to each player, one at a time. The next card is placed face up to determine the trump suit and the remaining undealt cards form a stock which is placed face down across the trump card, leaving its rank and value visible. After each trick, each player, beginning with the winner of the trick and going around anticlockwise, draws a card from the stock without showing it to the other players. In the two-player game the trump is drawn as the last card of the stock; in the three player game the face-down stock is exhausted after three tricks and the face-up trump is left on the table. After the stock is exhausted the players continue playing from the cards in their hands.

The remaining rules and the scoring are the same as when playing with partners, except that each of the players counts their points separately and the player who has most wins.

The players descide at the beginning how long they want to play (number of games or length of time). At the end of the session the player who has won the most games is the overall winner.

Tute corriente

The books say that this two-player game is the oldest form of Tute. Six cards are dealt to each player, and the thirteenth card is placed face up on the table and determines the trump suit. The remaining stock is placed face down across the face-up trump. The non-dealer leads to the first trick.

Until the stock is exhausted, there is no requirement to follow suit, overtake or trump - the second player to a trick may play any card. The winner of the trick draws the top card of the stock without showing it, the other player draws the next card, and the winner of the trick then leads to the next. The face up trump will be taken as the last card of the stock. When there are no stock cards left, the play continues as before except that the second player to each trick is obliged to follow suit and to beat the led card if possible, and if holding no card of the suit led to play a trump if possible.

A player who has just won a trick can sing one 40 or 20. Declaring a 20 does not debar you from declaring a 40 later. If immediately after winning a trick you hold 4 kings or 4 horses (a tute) you can sing them and win the game.

If the face-up trump is an ace, three or picture card it can be exchanged for the trump seven. If it is a 4, 5, 6 or 7 it can be exchanged for the trump 2. If you wish to exchange you must notify your opponent by placing your trump two or seven under the face-up trump. Then the next time after that that you win a trick (assuming that you do win a trick before the stock is exhausted), you can add the face-up trump to your hand. If you win no tricks before the face-up trump is drawn from the stock, then you simply take your two or seven back.

After all the cards have been played each player counts the points won for cards in tricks, singing and the ten for last. 101 or more points are needed to win. If neither player has as many as this a second deal is played, dealt by the player who scored the 10 for last in the first deal. The points won in the second deal are added to those won in the first. As soon as you believe you have 101 or more points you can claim to have won. If your claim is correct you win, but if you claim and it turns out that you have fewer than 101 points you lose (irrespective of how many points your opponent has).

Tute habanero

This is another two player game. The rules are the same as for tute corriente except for the following:

  1. Eight cards are dealt to each player, instead of six.
  2. There is an alternative way of winning, called capote. At the moment when the stock is exhausted, if you think you can win all of the last eight tricks, you can announce this. If you succeed you win, irrespective of the number of points taken by either player. On the other hand if you lose even one of the last eight tricks after announcing capote, your opponent wins the game.

Tute americano

This is another two player game. The rules are the same as for tute corriente except for the following:

  1. Eight cards are dealt to each player instead of six.
  2. Declarations of tute (4 kings or 4 horses) are not valid.
  3. During the first part of the game, while there are cards in the stock, if a trump is led you must play a trump (but need not overtake the lead). If a non-trump is led you may play any card. If you fail to play a trump on a trump lead, then you must keep separate all cards that you subsequently draw from the stock, so that you can demonstrate to your opponent that you had no trumps at the time when you failed to follow suit, any trumps you eventually acquire having been picked up later. When the stock is exhausted you must follow suit, beat the led card, and trump if you have none of the suit, as usual.
  4. The winner is the first player to score 121 or more points.

Tute arrastrado

This is a game for three players, though often four play with the dealer sitting out of each hand.

Thirteen cards are dealt to each player and the last card is turned face-up to determine the trump suit. If it is higher than 7, it can be exchanged for the trump 7; if it is a 7, 6, 5 or 4 it can be exchanged for the trump 2. The holder of the trump 7 or 2 makes the exchange before the lead to the first trick.

The player to dealer's right leads and the rules of play are the same as in partnership tute, as is the singing. Tute (4 kings or 4 horses) is valid - a player who can declare a tute after winning a trick wins the hand outright.

At the end of the play, each player counts their points won for cards, singing, and the last trick. The player who has most points wins 100 chips from each opponent if he has 100 points or fewer; 200 chips from each opponent if he has 101 or more. Also any player who sang a 40 or 20 receives 40 or 20 chips from each opponent for this. If there are four at the table, the dealer does not take part in the payments.

It is also possible to play with a pot (plato). In this case everyone at the table puts in 100 chips at the start and whenever the pot is emptied. To win the pot you have to announce before the play begins that you will win at least 101 points on the hand. If no one makes such an announcement the hand is played and the winner is paid as described above. If you play for the pot and succeed in taking 101 or more points then you win 200 chips from each opponent and take the pot. If you play for the pot and take 100 points or fewer, you have to pay 200 chips to each opponent and double the pot. In the unlikely event that more than one player wants to play for the pot, then there is an auction and whoever is prepared to contract to take more points is allowed to play for it, winning if they make at least the contracted number of points.

Tute subastado

This description of Tute subastado (Auction Tute) is based on a contribution from John Williamson.

The players
There are three players, each playing for themselves, though two will be partners against the third in each hand. It is also possible for four to play, with the dealer sitting out of each hand or acting as censor.
The cards
Only 36 cards are used - the twos from the 40 card pack are set aside. The rank and values of the remaining cards are as usual in Tute.
The deal
The deal, bidding and play are anticlockwise. Twelve cards are dealt to each player in ones. In this version of Tute no card is turned face up for trumps - the trump suit will be chosen by the highest bidder.
Object of the game
In each deal one player becomes the soloist, who is determined by auction. The soloist's aim is to take at least the number of points bid, by capturing scoring cards in tricks, winning the last trick and making declarations. The other players' aim is of course to prevent the soloist from doing so.
The bidding
After each deal there is a round of bidding to determine the soloist. The player to dealer's right begins by either saying "pass" or bidding a number of points; the minimum bid is 60 points and bids must be made in multiples of five. The second and third player in turn each either pass or bid a higher number of points than was bid by the previous player. There is only one round of bidding and the player who bids the highest number of points becomes the soloist. If all three players pass, the hands are thrown in and there is a fresh deal.
The play
The soloist declares which suit is to be trumps and leads to the first trick. The rules of trick taking are as follows:
 
The trick is won by the highest trump played, or, if no trumps are played, by the highest card of the suit led. It is obligatory, if possible, to play a card of the suit led and to head the trick. If suit cannot be followed, then you must trump the trick and play a higher trump than any so far played to the trick. If, however, you can neither follow suit nor play a higher trump, you may play any card.
Declarations
After winning a trick and before leading to the next, the soloist may declare the holding of a rey (king) and caballo (horse) of the same suit. If in the trump suit, the declaration scores 40 points. A declaration in any other suit scores 20 points. Only one declaration may be made at a time. Both cards must be shown, and a declaration in trumps must be made before a declaration in any other suit.
Scoring
When all the tricks have been played, determine whether the bid has been made by adding up:
  • the value of cards the soloist has won in tricks;
  • the value of any declarations made by the soloist;
  • an extra 10 points if the soloist won the last trick.
If the soloist succeeds in making at least the number of points bid, each of the opponents pays the soloist according to the agreed stake (e.g. 10 pesetas for each five points). If the soloist fails to make enough points, the soloist pays each opponent the amount agreed.

If the soloist's bid was 120 points or more the payment for the bid (won or lost) is doubled.

Variations
Some play that the minimum bid is 50 or 70, rather than 60.
Some play that all bids must be in multiples of ten rather than five.
Some allow the bidding to go around the table more than once.
The censor
When playing tute subastado with four players, it can be agreed that the dealer should act as a censor. In this version of the game, at the end of the auction the dealer looks at the soloists's hand and has the option announcing a higher bid and temporarily swapping places with the soloist. In the dealer takes this option the cards are played and the dealer wins or loses from the two opponents on the basis of the increased bid; the displaced soloist neither pays nor is paid. The players then resume their places and the game continues. If the dealer chooses not to increase the bid, the hand is played out between the soloist and the opponents in the usual way.

Tute gana-pierde

Tute gana-pierde (win-lose tute) has at least two versions: one for four or five players in which the aim is to avoid taking most points, and one for three players where the aim is to avoid having the middle score.

1. Version for 4 or 5 players.
In this version the player who takes the most points is the loser, unless that player manages to take 101 or more points and win. There are 4 or 5 players. The dealer deals out all the cards singly, exposing the last to determine the trump suit. The player to dealer's right leads and the cards are played out under the usual rules.
A player who wins a trick containing a king and horse of the same suit gets an extra 20 points - or 40 if the suit is trumps. It is also possible to sing a 40 or 20 after winning a trick if one has the king and horse of a suit in hand - though clearly this would only be done by a player aiming to take 101 or more points. The winner of the last trick can choose whether or not to claim the 10 extra points.
At the end of the play, the players count their points individually, and if no one has taken more than 100 points, the player who has taken the most points loses. If a player takes 101 or more points or more, that player wins and all the others lose.
If there is a tie for most points, and one of the tieing players took the last trick, that player loses. If none of the tieing players took the last trick, then the one of them sitting nearest to the right of the player who did take the last trick loses.
2. Version for 3 players
This is played with a reduced pack of 36 cards, omitting the twos. The object is to take most or least points, avoiding coming in the middle. Twelve cards are dealt to each player; no card is turned up for trumps, and the first part of the hand is played without trumps.
The player to dealer's right leads to the first trick, and the usual rules of play apply.
If the king and horse of the same suit are played to the same trick, the winner of this trick must declare 40 and score 40 points, and the suit of the king and horse becomes trumps, starting with the next trick, for the rest of the hand. If there are any further tricks which contain the king and horse of a suit, the trick winner must declare this and score 20.
There is no singing of combinations held in a player's hand.
The winner of the last trick scores 10 points and players count the points they have won. The player who has the middle score is the loser. In case of a tie between two players, if the tieing players' scores are less than the third player's score, the third player loses. If the third player's score is less, the tieing players both lose.
The session continues until a player has lost six times, and that player is the overall loser.

Tute Cabrero

This game for 3 to 6 players, playing as individuals, is popular in Argentina and Uruguay. The objective is either to avoid winning any tricks, or if you do take tricks, to have either the highest or the lowest total of card points. In each deal there will be one or more losers, and a player who has lost four times is eliminated from the game. The game continues until there are fewer than three players, and the remaining one or two players are the winners.

Deal and play are counter-clockwise.

  • When there are six players, the dealer deals 8 cards to each of the other five players. The dealer has no cards, does not take part in the play, and therefore cannot lose on this deal.
  • When there are 5 players, 8 cards are dealt to each player.
  • When there are 4 players, 10 cards are dealt to each player.
  • When there are 3 players, 13 cards are dealt to each player, and one card to the centre of the table.

In the first hand of the game, coins are trumps and the player who has the two of coins is the mano - this player will lead to the first trick. For the second hand, the player who was mano for the first hand becomes the dealer. From now on the mano is the player to the right of the dealer, and the turn to deal passes to the right after each hand.

In a game with more than three players, in the second and subsequent hands, the last card dealt to the mano is turned face up and its suit is trumps.

If there are three players to begin with, then in the first hand the centre card is dealt face down, and the holder of the two of coins exchanges it for the centre card, which is not seen by any of the other players. If no one holds the two of coins (because it is the centre card), the holder of the four of coins is mano. In subsequent hands with three players, the centre card is dealt face up and its suit is trumps. If it is higher than a 7, the holder of the 7 of trumps can exchange it for this card. If it is a 5, 6 or 7, the holder of the 2 of trumps can exchange it for the centre card.

The rules of play and singing are the same as in partnership Tute. Note that there is no obligation to sing when you are able to, and sometimes it is better not to sing.

At the end of the play, players who have taken tricks count their points, not forgetting the 10 for the last trick, and the points for singing if any. Then assuming that there are no ties, the result is determined as follows:

  • If five players have taken tricks, then there are three losers: the players with the second, third and fourth highest point totals.
  • If four players have taken tricks, then there are two losers: the players with the second and third highest point totals.
  • If three players have taken tricks, then there is just one loser: the player with the second highest point total.
  • If two players have taken tricks, then again then there is just one loser: the player with the lower point total.
  • If one player took all the tricks, but did not sing, then all the other players lose, except for the dealer in a six-player game.
  • If a player sings and takes all the tricks, then that player is the sole loser.

Please note that:

  1. A player who takes no tricks cannot lose unless one other player takes all the tricks without singing.
  2. The dealer in a six-player game cannot lose.

The cases where some of the players who have taken tricks have equal numbers of points are resolved as follows:

  • If there are at least three different point totals among the players, then the losers are all those that do not have the highest or the lowest point total.
  • If there are only one or two different point totals, then all the players who have taken tricks lose.
Examples with five players:
  • A takes 23 points, B 25 points, C 34 points, D 23 points, E 25 points. B and E lose.
  • A takes no tricks, B 28 points, C 74 points, D no tricks and E 28 points. B, C and E lose.

The usual penalty for infractions (failing to follow suit, failing to beat the highest card played, etc.) is that the offender scores two losses.

A count is kept of how many times each player has lost, and as already explained, a player who has lost four times must retire from the game. It is not quite clear what happens if the player whose turn it was to deal next has to drop out. I would suggest that he should only drop out after having dealt the next hand to the remaining players, so that the player to his right does not lose a turn to be mano.

Variations

With more than three players, some prefer to rotate the trumps suit instead of turning up the mano's last card. The sequence of suits is coins, cups, swords, clubs, coins, etc.

Some break ties using the seating order - the player whose turn to play in the first trick was earlier is considered to have more points. In the examples above, assuming that the players A, B, C, D, E are listed in counter-clockwise order and A is mano, A would lose as well as B and E in the first case (because A's 23 is higher than D's 23), and in the second case B would lose alone (because B's 28 is higher than E's 28).

Guiñote

This is a version of Tute for 2, 3 or 4 players played in Aragón, Navarra and part of Castilla. In Guiñote the horse (caballo) and jack (sota) change places. This means that:

  • the jack beats the horse in each suit;
  • the jacks are worth 3 and the horses are worth 2;
  • you can sing a 40 or 20 if you have a king and a jack (not a king and a horse);
There are some other differences:
  • The "tute" combination of 4 equal cards is not valid.
  • It is possible to sing more than one 40 or 20 after winning a trick. In games with a stock, declarations can be made after winning a trick and drawing from the stock.
  • The winner of the last trick deals the next hand. In the case of hands that are not played to the end because a player claims to have enough points to win, the winner deals next.
These rule differences can be applied to any of the versions of Tute described above, producing corresponding variations of Guiñote.

Other Tute WWW pages and software

Emilio Platzer's page tute.com.ar has rules in Spanish for Tute Cabrero and some other Tute variations.