Hola

This page is based on a description contributed by David Przednowek and further information from Scott Peslari and Bill Kushniryk.

Hola is a sort of trick taking game for two or four players, but it is unusual in that a card can only be beaten by a card of equal value, or by a wild card, sevens and twos being wild. The object is to capture aces, tens and the last trick. Hola is a Slavic word meaning "nakedness".

Hola may be of Polish or Unkrainian origin; it is played by Ukrainian-Canadians in Western Canada, and according to Bill Kushniryk, 'Hola' is a Ukrainian word meaning 'Naked'. It is closely related to the Czech game Sedma (seven) and the Hungarian game Zsírozás (greasing).

Players and Cards

Hola is for two players, or four players in fixed partnerships, partners sitting opposite. A standard 52 card pack is used. Six people can play, in teams of three, each player sitting between two opponents. In this case two 52-card packs are combined to make a pack of 104 cards.

Aces and tens are worth 10 points each - the other cards have no value. There are also 10 points for winning the last trick. The object is to take as many of the available 90 points as possible by winning tricks containing aces and tens, and winning the last trick.

Sevens and twos are wild, and can be used to capture cards of any rank.

With four players the game is played clockwise.

Deal

The first dealer is chosen at random and deals four cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down to form a stockpile.

Play

In the two player game the non-dealer leads to the first trick. With four players it is the player to dealer's left who leads. Any card may be led, and each of the other players in turn must play a card. They may play any card they hold but in order to beat the card led they would have to play either a card of the same rank as the lead or a wild card.

The player who led to the trick now has two options:

  1. to end the trick, in which case it is won by the last player who played a wild card or a card of the rank led;
  2. to fight (i.e. to continue the trick) by leading another card.

If the player who led decides to fight, each player in turn now plays another card. When everyone has played, the leader may end the trick or fight again by leading another round. This can continue for up to four rounds, after which everyone has run out of cards and the trick has to end.

The winner of the trick is the last person who played a card of the same rank as the original lead or a wild card. The winner of the trick gathers up all the played cards and keeps them face down (in the four player game partners can keep their tricks in a single pile). Then each player, beginning with the one who led to the trick, draws sufficient cards from the undealt stock to bring their hand back to four cards.

The player who won the trick then leads to a new trick.

Example: Suppose there are four players: A and C are partners against B and D and their cards are:

   Player A: A, 10, 7, 2 
   Player B: Q, 10, 7, 6
   Player C: J, 10, 8, 2
   Player D: 7, 6, 4, 2
If A leads the 10, the play might go like this:
  A    B    C    D  
 10    7   10    2   D is winning, so A continues:
  2   10    8    6   now B is winning, so A continues:
  7    6    J    7   now D is winning, so A continues;
  A    Q    2    4   C produces a 2 and wins the trick.
A and C win all 16 cards, everyone draws four new cards, and C leads to the next trick. It was a risk for A to lead the ace on the fourth round, trusting that C had held back a wild card. A and C can win the trick in three rounds C plays the 2 on the second round, as follows:
  A    B    C    D  
 10    7   10    2   D is winning, so A continues:
  2   10    2    7   D is still winning, so A continues:
  7    6    J    6   A stops at this point, having won the trick.
A wins the 12 cards, everyone draws three, and A leads to the next trick. A could still continue with the ace, hoping to catch an ace from one of the opponents, but there is a risk that B or D may have held back a wild card.

If after a trick there are not enough cards left in the stock for all the players to replenish their hands to four cards, the remaining stock cards are distributed equally among the players. When there are no cards left in the stock at all, play continues with the cards the players have in their hands, until all the cards have been played.

Scoring

At the end of the play, each team scores 10 points for each ace or ten they won in tricks, and the team which won the last trick (kown as "table") gets an extra 10 points.

If one team won all the tricks (called a Hola), they score 170 points (rather than 90). This happens very rarely.

If the non-dealing side take 50 or fewer points, the same player deals again for the next hand. If the non-dealing side take 60 or more points, the opponent to the left of the previous dealer deals the next hand.

The players should agree in advance the number of points needed to win the game - usually somewhere between 200 and 500.

In the six-player game, there is no score for the last trick, but because a double deck of cards is used there are 160 points at stake - eight aces and eight tens. The game is played to 500 points.

Variations

Some play that when one team achieves a 'Hola' (takes all the tricks in a hand) the other team loses any points they may have accumulated up to that point - their score falls to zero. They are said to be 'brushed off' or 'burned'. The team that won all the tricks scores just 90 points in this version, not 170.

Some play that a 'burn' occurs in the four-player game when all four cards of one rank cards fall in a single 4-card trick. For instance, the first player leads a 5 of hearts, the second player covers it with a 5 of diamonds, the third player covers them both with the five of spades and the fourth player takes the trick (burns) with the 5 of clubs. A burn is treated similarly to a Hola: the losers of the trick lose all their points - their cumulative score returns to zero.

Some play with the opposite rule from the one given above about the progression of the deal. The same player continues dealing until his team captures at least 50 points in a hand. The deal then passes to the next player. In this version of the game no score is kept - the objective is simply to win the right to lead (i.e. not to deal) and retain it as long as possible.

Hola may be played with sevens as the only wild cards, twos being worthless.

It is possible for three people to play Hola, each for themselves. In this case a 51 card pack is used - obtained by removing one worthless card (i.e. not an ace, ten or wild card) from the standard pack.

Software

You can download a freeware Hola program from Thanos Card Games.