Raub

Raub is played by Croatians in the United States, though the actual origin of the game is uncertain. This description was contributed by Davorin Fundak, who learned the game in Oregon, from a relative in Ohio.

Raub is a game for two to four players. Best with four players, it is a fast paced game that can sometimes last surprisingly long.

The equipment

A 32 card pack is used, with German suits (hearts, bells, acorns and leaves). If such a pack is not available, it is possible to play with a standard 52 card pack from which the 2 - 6 of each suit are removed. The ranking of the cards in each suit, from highest to lowest is as follows (English equivalents and subsitutes from the international pack in brackets):

  • As (Ace)
  • Kralj (King)
  • Iber / Kraljica (Over. Substitute: Queen)
  • Decko (Under. Substitute: Jack)
  • X (10)
  • IX (9)
  • VIII (8)
  • VII (7)
Scoring is done on paper with one player being the score keeper. Each player starts at 21.

Idea of the Game

In each hand, one player (the declarer) tries to make at least two of the four possible tricks. The other players (the defenders) have an objective to make at least one trick each, but may also try to prevent the declarer from winning. A defender who thinks he cannot make one trick is allowed to drop out.

After the declarer and defenders are determined, players may draw new cards to improve their hand.

Players and Deal

There are from two to four active players at a time. The game is played clockwise.

After the dealer has shuffled and his right hand neighbour has cut, the cards are dealt clockwise: 2 to each player, 1 face up on the table to decide the trump suit, and then 2 to each player, so that each player has 4 cards. The turn to deal rotates clockwise.

Dealer's Options

At any time after the dealer has dealt the face up trump card and before he has seen his own hand, he has the option of saying "Raub" which makes him declarer and allows him to take the face up card. He must make at least two tricks. This is typically done with a higher strength turned up card, though it may be done with any card.

If the dealer has turned face up a seven and before he has seen his own hand, he may say "Trick" or "Stih" (pronounced "Shteeh") which makes him declarer and allows him to keep the face up card. He must make at least one trick.

The Bidding

If the dealer has not said Raub or Trick (Stih), then everyone looks at their four cards and player on the dealer's left has first opportunity to become declarer (by saying "I lead") or to pass. The declarer will have the opportunity to exchange up to 4 of his cards, and must then take 2 or more tricks with the suit of the turned up card as trump. If the first player passes, the opportunity to become declarer passes to the second player, and so on clockwise around the table. As soon as anyone says "I lead", that player becomes the declarer and the bidding phase ends.

If the turn reaches the dealer, the other three players having passed, he has three options:

  1. he may say "I lead", becoming the declarer;
  2. he may pass, in which case the cards are thrown in, the deck is passed to the next player to deal, and the scoring for the next hand is doubled (this is called a Refa);
  3. he may turn face up a second card from the top of the undealt part of the deck for a new trump suit.

If the dealer turns up a second card and it is the same suit as the first, he must turn up a third card. If this is also the same suit the deal passes to the next player and there is a Refa.

If the second or third card turned up is a different suit from the first, there is a second round of bidding, similar to the first, again beginning with the player to dealer's left. At the end of this second round, dealer does not have the option of turning another card. If all pass, the deal passes to the next player and there is a Refa.

Once two or three cards are face up, the dealer can no longer gain the face up card by saying "Raub" or "Shtih".

The Defenders' Decisions

Once a player has become declarer, each player, beginning clockwise from the declarer, has the option of playing, "Idem", or not playing, "Nejdem". First the player on declarer's left announces whether he will play, followed by the other players in turn. If none wishes to play then declarer has (by default) made 4 tricks. A player may say "Forpass", indicating his intention to play should all of the remaining players choose not to play. Saying "Surpass" supersedes a preceding "Forpass", and indicates this player will play should the remaining players choose not to play.

Playing is a commitment to win at least one trick, and there is a penalty for failing to do so. A defender who does not think he can make one trick can drop out, but dropping out makes it easier for declarer to win two tricks. A player who drops out lays his cards face down on the table and stay out of the game until the next hand.

Example Bidding

Some examples of legal bidding sequences:

Dealer     A       B       C
          Pass   Pass  I Declare
Play      Pass   Play          --C is declarer and must make at least two tricks.
                               --Dealer and B must make at least one trick each.

Dealer     A       B       C
Raub      Pass   Play    Play  --Dealer is declarer and must make at least two tricks.
                               --Dealer gets face up card.
                               --B and C play and must make at least one trick each.

Dealer     A       B       C
Raub      Forpass Pass   Play  --Dealer is declarer and must make at least two tricks.
                               --Dealer gets face up card.
                               --C plays and must make at least one trick.

Dealer     A       B       C
Shtih     Play  Forpass  Pass  --Dealer is declarer and must make at least one trick.
                               --Dealer gets face up card.
                               --A and B play and must make at least one trick each.

Dealer       A       B       C
            Pass   Pass    Pass
Pass (and   Pass   Pass    Pass
flip new
card)                           
I Declare   Pass   Play    Play  --Dealer is declarer and must make at least two tricks.
                                 --B and C must make at least one trick each.

The Draw

After the declarer and defenders are determined, each has the opportunity to discard and receive new cards. Beginning with the first participating player to the dealer's left, each player may discard from 0 to 4 cards and receive the same number of cards from the deck.

If the declarer said "Raub", "Shtih", or "Muss", he then picks up the bonus face up card and discards a card in return.

The Play

If all defenders have conceded there is of course no play - the declarer just wins.

If one or more defenders is playing, the declarer leads to the first trick. It is necessary:

  1. to follow suit if able;
  2. when holding no card of the led suit, to play a trump if possible;
  3. subject to the above rules, to play, if possible, a card beating those already in the trick.

If a non-trump suit is led and is trumped, subsequent players who hold cards of the suit led may play any such card. A player who has no cards of the suit led and no trumps cannot win the trick and is free to play any card.

A trick is won by the highest trump card in it, or if no trump was played, by the highest card in the led suit. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Scoring

When four tricks have been played, the players score according to the tricks that they took. This is the procedure:

Scoring begins at 21 for each player, and the aim is to reach zero. Normally, if the declarer made two or more tricks, he subtracts one point from his score for each trick taken. If the declarer made one or no tricks, he adds four points (the penalty). If the dealer became declarer by saying "Shtih" he deducts a point per trick taken if he wins at least one trick; if he takes none, he adds four penalty points.

If a defender made one or more tricks, he subtracts one point for each trick. If a defender made no tricks, he adds two points (the penalty).

A non participating player does not score.

Refa

If all players pass, scoring is doubled for the next hand. A "Refa" is indicted by drawing a horizontal line under the players' scores. There may be multiple Refas, in which case they are played out one by one sequentially.

Muss

Once any player's score is under 10, the dealer may announce "Muss". He does this before turning face up the trump card. If he says "Muss", the dealer receives the face up card, must make two tricks, and all other players must participate as defenders. "Muss" is typically declared in an attempt to force a leading player to participate and hopefully not make any tricks, thereby increasing his score.

Passing the Deck

Before a dealer deals, he has the option of just passing the deck to the next player instead of dealing. This creates an automatic Refa, doubling the score for the next hand.

Misdeal

If a player misdeals, the deck passes to the next player, and a Refa is declared. If the misdeal is intentional, an additional penalty of four points is assessed.

Variations

Some play that after the participating players are determined and have drawn new cards, a player holding the seven of the trump suit may exchange it for the face up trump card. He may do this only if it is the sole card face up.

Game End

When a player reaches or passes zero, the game ends. Each of the other players pays him the number of units indicated by his score. If two or more players pass zero on the same deal, the others pay the amount of their scores, and the winners share the winnings equally.