Slovenian Tarok

This page is based on a contribution from Zoran Obradovic.

Introduction

This is the Slovenian version of the central european Tarot games. It is closely related to Austrian tarock - for example the four player form is similar to Austrian Königrufen - but because of the differences in contracts and scoring, it is less baroque and much more competitive. There are quite a few small variations in the rules, some of which are mentioned after the main description.

Technically, Tarok is a point trick game with bidding. The cards have values; players bid to decide who will be declarer; then tricks are played and the declarer's side wins if they take more than half the card points. In some contracts declarer can choose a partner by specifying a king.

That is the basic game, but a lot of extra variety has been added. There are other possible contracts with different objectives, and players can earn bonuses for feats achieved during the game, such as winning the last trick with the lowest trump. Such feats can be announced in advance for extra points.

The four player version of Slovenian Tarok is described first. This is the most popular form for social play. The same game can be played by five people, by the simple expedient of having one player sit out of each hand. Many serious players prefer the more demanding three player game, in which there is less variety, but greater scope for scientific play.

Cards

The Tarok pack has 54 cards; it is essentially the same as the pack used for Tarock in Austria, and for Taroky in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are 8 cards in each of the four suits Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds, plus 22 trumps (taroks). The highest tarok, the Škis (pronounced shkiss), looks rather like a Joker. The second highest trump (XXI) is called the Mond and the lowest trump (I) is called the Pagat. The black suits rank from highest to lowest: King, Queen, Knight, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7. The red suits rank from highest to lowest: King, Queen, Knight, Jack 1, 2, 3, 4.

Identification of the cards. The taroks all have large roman numerals except for the škis. In the four suits, the king has a crown, the queen is female, the knight rides a horse, and the jack is the other picture card. The numeral cards are identified by counting the spots on them (there is no corner index).

Škis

Mond

Pagat

Spade king

Heart queen

Club knight

Diamond jack


The cards used in Slovenia are essentially the same as Austrian Tarock cards, which players in North America can obtain from TaroBear's Lair or from tarock.net.

The point values of the cards are as follows:

kings5 each
škis, XXI (mond) and I (pagat)5 each
queens4 each
knights3 each
jacks2 each
all other cards1 each

The process for finding the total point value of a pile of cards may seem slightly strange: for each set of three cards you add up their values and subtract 2. If at the end of your counting you have one or two odd cards left over they are worth one point less than their total value. (So 2 or 3 one-point cards are worth 1 point, but a single one-point card is worth nothing). The total value of the pack comes to 70 card points. This traditional point counting method, which is common to most forms of tarot, is further discussed and explained on a separate page: counting card points in tarot gems.

In a positive contract, the declarer's side wins if at the end of the play they have at least 36 of the available 70 points.

The Contracts, a summary

In each hand the declarer is the player who is prepared to undertake the highest contract. This is decided by bidding, so in order to understand the bidding, you first need to know what contracts are possible. The available contracts are here listed in ascending order, with their scores and brief descriptions. Further details of the contracts are given later.

The first two contracts listed (klop and three) are only available to Forehand (the player to dealer's right), in the case when all the other players pass.

name score description
klop (sometimes called klopecki) minus (points taken) or 70 avoid taking points; no bonuses; available to forehand only
three (tri or trojka) 10 + difference call a king; take 3 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points; available to forehand only
two (dva or dve or dvojka) 20 + difference call a king; take 2 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points
one (ena or enka or enojka or enica) 30 + difference call a king; take 1 card from the talon; win at least 36 card points
solo three (solo tri) 40 + difference play alone; take 3 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points
solo two (solo dva) 50 + difference play alone; take 2 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points
solo one (solo ena) 60 + difference play alone; take 1 card from the talon; win at least 36 card points
beggar (berač) 70 play alone; take no tricks; no bonuses
solo without (solo brez or brez talona) 80 play alone; no cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points; no bonuses
open beggar (odprti berač) 90 play alone; take no tricks; declarer's cards are exposed; no bonuses
colour valat without (barvni valat brez) 125 play alone; no cards from the talon; taroks are not trumps; win all tricks; no bonuses
valat without (valat brez) 500 play alone; no cards from the talon; win all tricks; no bonuses

In the above table "difference" is the difference between the card points taken and 35, rounded to the nearest 5 points.

Bonuses

Bonuses are additional ways of winning game points in the "normal" contracts (three, two, one, solo three, solo two, solo one). Most bonuses can be scored without prior announcement, or can be announced in advance for a double score. Just the scores and brief descriptions are given here; further details of bonuses are explained later.

bonusunannouncedannounceddescription
trula1020 take škis, XXI and I in tricks
kings1020 take all 4 kings in tricks
king ultimo1020 win the called king in the last trick (only the called player can announce this)
pagat ultimo2550 win the last trick with the pagat (tarok I) (only the holder of the pagat can announce this)
valat250500 win all the tricks - in this case no other bonuses count

Except for valat, the scores for the game and bonuses are independent of each other. A team may win some and lose others, so a player may have conflicting objectives during a hand. It is quite possible to win the game and yet lose points because the bonuses were worth more than the game.

The score for valat eliminates all other scores for the hand.

Playing Procedure

The game is played anticlockwise. The first dealer is selected by cutting the pack (highest card deals), and the turn to deal rotates anticlockwise after each hand.

The sequence of events on each deal is as follows:

  1. The cards are dealt
  2. The players bid to decide who will be declarer
  3. The declarer calls a king, if the contract requires it
  4. The declarer exchanges some cards with the talon, if the contract requires it
  5. There is a round of announcements, when bonuses and kontras can be announced
  6. The cards are played out in tricks
  7. The cards taken by each team are counted to determine the result
  8. The score for the hand is recorded

Deal

Dealer shuffles, gives the cards to the opposite player to cut, then deals in packets of six cards. The first packet is placed face-down in the middle of the table, to form the talon. Then packets of six are dealt to the players, starting to the dealer's right, until all cards are dealt. It is crucial that the talon cards are dealt in a bunch from the top of the pack without any shuffling or interchanging of cards.

Instead of cutting, the player opposite the dealer is allowed to "knock", or tap the pack of cards. They must then be dealt as follows: the first six cards to the talon, then four packets of 12 cards. Each player in anticlockwise rotation, starting with the player to dealer's right, chooses whether they will have the first, second, third or fourth packet. If the first player choses to have the first cards, the others do not get a choice, but are automatically assigned the second, the third, and the fourth pack of twelve in rotation. If the first player chooses the first cards he can also specify whether the talon is to be dealt first (as usual), or immediately after the first player's cards, or at the end.

Hand with no taroks
If any player is dealt no taroks that player must immediately show all his cards. All the players must then throw in their hands; the cards are shuffled and cut again, there is a new deal by the same dealer, and a game of compulsory klop is played.
Misdeal
If the dealer misdeals (giving out the wrong number of cards, dealing in the wrong order, exposing cards during the deal, etc), 20 points are subtracted from his score, and he gets an asterisk by his name. If the same player misdeals again, he loses a further 40 points, and gets another asterisk. If it happens a third time he will lose 80, then 160, and so on. The player who misdealt deals again.
The škis round
When the players wish to end the game - maybe at a certain time, like 4:00 AM, or when a player reaches a certain score - usually 1000 - or when the players are simply too sleepy or too drunk or too fed up to continue with the session), the škis round is played. The cards are dealt and a hand is played as usual, but at the end the players note who received the škis in the deal. The next time that it is this person's turn to deal, the hand they deal will be the last one of the session. For example, if in the škis round, the dealer gets the škis, another four hands will be played after that one. If the škis is in the talon, another škis round is played to determine who will deal last.

Bidding

After the deal, the auction starts. The player to dealer's right ("forehand") says nothing and waits for the other players to announce their bids. Each player in turn after that must either bid by naming a contract or pass. Once having passed a player may not re-enter the auction. The auction continues until three players have passed consecutively, and the last player to have bid becomes declarer.

During the bidding there is an order of priority, starting with forehand (highest) and continuing anticlockwise around the table to dealer (lowest). When bidding a contract, if you have lower priority than the previous bidder you must bid a higher contract or pass, but if you have higher priority than the previous bidder it is sufficient to bid an equal or higher contract.

Example:
The players in anticlockwise order are A (forehand), B, C and D.
B bids "two", C passes. Now if D wants to bid, the minimum bid is "one", because B has priority over D. If D passes then A is allowed to bid "two", which overcalls B's "two", because A has priority over B.

If the three players other than forehand just pass, forehand is now free to name any contract. This is the only case in which the first two contracts in the list (klop and three) can be played.

If someone other than forehand does bid, then the final bidder is the declarer. This player now names the contract they will play; this can be the last contract they bid (or held) or any higher contract.

Compulsory klop
In certain circumstances a hand of compulsory klop has to be played. In this case the bids from three to beggar inclusive are unavailable. The lowest possible bid is solo without, and if (as will often happen) the other three players pass, forehand has the choice of naming solo without or higher, or playing a klop. Most of the time, klop will be played.
Compulsory klop is played after a player's cumulative score reaches exactly zero (see scoring) and after a player is dealt no taroks.

Calling a King

If the contract is one in which declarer gets a partner, the declarer names a suit. The holder of the king of that suit becomes declarer's partner but does not tell anyone who they are. The partnerships are sometimes not discovered until quite late in the hand.

It is legal to call your own king. In this case you play on your own against the other three players in partnership, but they will not realise at first that they are all on the same side. This is generally not a very good idea, because declaring a solo game will bring you 30 points more.

You also play alone if the called king happens to be in the talon.

Exchanging cards with the talon

In contracts which entitle the declarer to take cards from the talon, the talon is now exposed in two sets of three cards, three sets of two cards, or as individual cards, depending on the contract. Declarer chooses one of the sets and adds the cards to his hand. The talon cards which the declarer does not take are put in a face down pile and count as part of the opponents' tricks. If a king was called, the pile of rejected talon cards must at first be kept separate from the opponents' tricks, since some of the players do not yet know who is on which side. After taking the chosen set of cards into his hand, declarer then discards the same number of cards face down into his trick pile. Five point cards (kings and cards of the trula) may never be discarded; other trumps can be discarded freely but must be discarded face up, so that all the players know how many trumps are in play.

If the king called by the declarer happens to be in the talon, then the declarer can win the remainder of the talon (the part not taken) by taking the part of the talon that contains the called king, and winning a trick with the king. When the called king is played, the remainder of the talon is tossed face up on top of it, so that it is collected by the winner of the trick.

Colour valat (barvni valat)
If the contract is solo three, solo two or solo one, the delarer can, after exchanging cards with the talon, increase the contract to colour valat. This is the normal way in which colour valat arises - colour valat with the talon cannot be bid directly. "Colour valat without" is normally bid only when a player wanted to play colour valat (and is strong enough to do it without help from the talon), but another player has outbid the solo games. Colour valat scores 125 points there is no score for the difference, nor for other bonuses. Note that if a player wants to play a valat with trumps (which is more valuable than colour valat), he play a normal contract can announce it during the round of announcements (or make it unannounced).

Announcements

There is now a round of announcements. Beginning with the declarer, each player can pass or make one or more announcements on behalf of her side. An announcement is a statement that you are going for some bonus, or a kontra of something said by the other side. The round of announcements continues until three players have passed consecutively.

This, at least, is the theory, but in practice the announcements are made in no particular order, and they still turn out fine.

Kontra

During the round of announcements, a member of the defending side may double the score for the game and any difference points by saying "kontra the game". After this has happened, either member of the declarer's team may double the acore again by saying "rekontra". Then the defenders can double it again if they wish by saying "subkontra" and finally the declarer's team could say "mordkontra", by which time the original score for the game and difference has been multiplied by 16.

In the same way, an opponent of a player who has announced a bonus can double the score for the bonus, by saying (for example) "kontra the king ultimo". The game and bonuses are scored independently, and are therefore kontra'd, rekontra'd, and so on independently. If you want to say kontra, you must specify exactly what you are saying kontra to. A kontra'd bonus can be rekontra'd by the team that announced it, subkontra'd by the other side and mordkontra'd by the announcing team.

If a bonus is announced by a player other than the declarer, it may not be clear which team they belong to. Since you are not allowed to kontra your partner, it is illegal to kontra an announcement unless you know for certain that you are on the opposite team from the announcer.

The Play

In contracts up to and including solo one, the player to dealer's right (Forehand) leads to the first trick, no matter who is declarer. In the higher contracts, from beggar upwards, the declarer leads to the first trick. The declarer leads first in a colour valat.

You must follow suit if you can. If you cannot follow suit you must play a trump. The trick is won by the highest card played of the suit led, unless it contains a trump in which case the highest trump wins (exception: colour valat).

Additional rule for all contracts - The Emperor trick
If the three trula cards, the škis, the XXI (mond) and the I (pagat) are all played to the same trick, then the pagat counts as the highest trump and therefore wins the trick. (The only exception would be if you were playing a colour valat and led a non-trump; if the other three cards played to the trick were the trula cards your non-trump would win).
Captured Mond
This rule applies in the "normal" contracts (three, two, one, solo three, solo two, solo one) and in "solo without", but not in the other contracts. If the škis and the mond (XXI) are played to the same trick, the player of the mond is penalised: 20 points are subtracted from his score. This penalty applies whether the trick is won by a partner of the player of the mond or by an opponent; it also applies to the player of the mond in an Emperor trick. It is an individual penalty - the partner(s), if any, of the player of the mond do not lose anything. The penalty is not affected by any doubles for kontras or radli.
The penalty for captured mond also applies if the mond is found in the talon when it is exposed and the declarer chooses not take the part of the talon which includes the mond, thus giving it to the opponents. However, if the called king and the mond are found in different parts of the talon, and the declarer takes the king and wins a trick with it, thus winning the rest of the talon including the untaken mond, there is no penalty. In "solo without", the declarer does not suffer any penalty if the mond is in the talon.
Additional rules for negative contracts (klop, beggar, open beggar)
1. You must beat the highest card on the table if possible.
2. You are not allowed to play the pagat unless it's the only card you can play (if it's your last card, if it's your only trump, or if it's the only card that will win the trick - see emperor trick).

The Scoring

A cumulative score is kept on paper. In most cases only the declarer (and the declarer's partner, if he has one) score. In general, solidarity of partnerships applies, so if the declarer has a partner, both members of the declarer's team will win or lose the same amount. Anything won by the declarer's side or lost by the opponents is added to declarer's team's score, and anything lost by declarer's team or won by their opponents is subtracted from declarer's team's score. The exceptions are:

  • klop, where everyone may score separately;
  • the penalty for losing the mond, which applies only to the player who lost it;
  • the penalties for revoking, misdealing, etc, which apply only to the culprit.

The point value of the contract is added to player's score if he wins the game, or subtracted from it if he loses. In a normal contract (three, two, one, solo three, solo two, solo one) this value is increased by the card point difference. The card point difference is calculated by subtracting 35 from the card points won by the player(s) and rounded to nearest 5. For example: if a player wins 43 card points, he has won by 10. If he wins 37 card points he has won with no difference. If he wins 21 points, he has lost by 15.

The value of any bonuses won by the declarer's team are added to their score; if they lose any bonuses, their values are subtracted. Conversely, if the opposition win any bonuses, their value is subtracted from the declarer's team's score and any bonuses lost by the opposition are added to the declarer's team's score.

In the higher contracts, beggar and above, the declarer simply either wins or loses the value of the contract. There is no difference and no bonuses (except that the penalty for losing the mond still applies in "solo without").

The score sheet looks like this:

AnaBorisCilkaDavid
    
 











 
   

Radli

The second row of the scoresheet is reserved for radli (also called radlc). (Radl is a word of German descent meaning a little wheel). These are little circles drawn under each player's name. All four players get a new radl whenever any of the following events happens, :

  • a klop is played;
  • a contract of beggar or higher is played;
  • any kind of valat is won or lost.
The radli are added to the scoresheet immediately after the hand on which the event occured has been scored.

When a declarer wins a contract and the score is calculated, his radli are checked. If the declarer has any outstanding radli from previous hands, his score (and that of partner, if he has one) for this game are doubled and one of the declarer's radli is annulled (usually by colouring the circle). If the declarer loses a contract, the score is still doubled, but the radl is not anulled.

If any radli are left over at the end of the night, 100 points are subtracted from the players' score for each uncancelled radl. The idea of radli is to punish the players who do not declare contracts themselves, but rather wait for other players to call them. Also, some people consider that bigger scores make the game more fun.

Example

After a few games, the score sheet might look like this:

players Ana Boris Cilka David
radli xoo ooo xoo xoo
1 +40   +40  
2     -30 -70
3   +70    
4     +120  
5  
+180
 
+210
+100
 
 
6 +140   +60  
7 0      
8       +90

Let's see what happened:

In the first game Cilka plays 1, calls Ana, and wins by 10, so their score is 30 (for one) + 10 (the difference) = 40.
In the second game David plays 2, calls Cilka and announces pagat ultimo. Unfortunately, they lose the pagat and the game by 0 points, 20 (for two) + 50 (the announced pagat ultimo) = 70 points are subtracted from their scores.
In the third game, Boris plays beggar (berač) and wins, so his score is 70 and everybody gets a radl.
In the fourth game, Cilka plays solo 3, and announces the trula. She wins by 15 and gets the trula. She has some radli, so her score is 40 (for solo three) + 15 (the difference) + 20 (the announced trula), everything * 2 (the radl) = 150. One of her radli is annulled.
In the fifth game, Ana plays 1 and calls Boris, who announces king ultimo. During the game, Cilka loses her mond to Ana's škis, so 20 points are subtracted from Cilka's score. Ana and Boris win the game by 10 and also win trula, so their score is 30 (for one) + 10 (the difference) + 20 (the announced king ultimo) + 10 (the trula), everything * 2 (Ana's radl) = 140. One of Ana's radli is annulled.
In the sixth game, Cilka plays 2 and calls Ana. They win only 34 points, so their score is reduced by 20 (for two) + 0 (the difference), everything * 2 (Cilka's radl) = 40. Cilka's radli reamin as they are.
In the seventh game, Ana plays beggar and loses, so her score is 70 (for the beggar) * 2 (the radl) = 140 and everybody gets another radl.
Before the eighth game Ana's score is 0, so compulsory klop is played. However, after the cards are dealt, David decides his cards are too good, so he plays "solo without" and wins. His score is increased by 80 (for solo without) * 2 (the radl) = 160 and everybody gets another radl.

Usually, no blank lines are left; each player's scores are written in the first available space in the column, so the scores are not aligned across the page for each hand, as in the diagram.

As already described, the game is traditionally ended by means of a škis round. When the last hand has been played, points are subtracted from the players' scores for any uncancelled radli (100 points per radl), and the winner is announced.

Renonce

If a player breaks any of the rules (plays the wrong suit, discards wrong number of cards, fails to beat the highest card on the table when he could have done so in a negative contract, or talks in such a way as to give away information about his cards), he is punished by the full score of the game (the contract + 35 difference, if appropriate + bonuses, plus kontras and radl).

Detailed descriptions of some contracts and bonuses

Klop:
It's every man for himself. The object of the game is to win as few card points as possible. At any rate you want to avoid losing (taking more than 35 cards points), and if possible you want to win (take no tricks at all). The additional rules for negative contracts apply. In addition, in each of the first six tricks a card is turned up from the top of the talon and added to the trick as a "gift" to the player who won the trick, usually called a "vitamin". As klop is played when everybody passes, the talon cards tend to be rather juicy.
If a player loses (takes more than 35 card points), he scores minus 70. If a player wins (taking no tricks), his score is +70. If any player wins or loses, then only the the winners and losers score.
If no one loses and no one wins, the card points taken by each player are rounded to the nearest 5 and subtracted from the player's score.
If a klop occurs while some players have uncancelled radli, those players' losses are doubled. Any player with an uncancelled radl who wins a klop scores double (140) and cancels a radl.
Three, two, one:
Declarer chooses a partner by calling a king, and gets to exchange the appropriate number of cards with the talon. The object of the game is to win at least 36 card points.
The score for the game is (10 or 20 or 30) + bonuses + difference.
Solo three, solo two, solo one:
Declarer plays alone and gets to exchange the appropriate number of cards with the talon. The object of the game is to win at least 36 card points.
The score for the game is (40 or 50 or 60) + bonuses + difference.
Declarer can also raise the contract to colour valat after exchanging with the talon.
Berač (Beggar)
Declarer plays alone and doesn't get to change any cards. The object of the game is to take no tricks. The additional rules for negative contracts apply. The talon is placed face down in the middle of the table and the declarer starts the game by placing his card to his side of the talon. Other players do the same. The player who wins the trick places leads the next trick by placing his card on top of his first card, but doesn't cover it completely, then others do the same. In time, a kind of a cross is formed on the table.
This manner of playing the cards has no magical meaning. It was rather devised to enable all the players to see all the cards that have been played so far.
The score for the game is 70.
Solo without:
Declarer plays alone and doesn't get to exchange any cards. The talon (unrevealed) goes to the opposition. The object of the game is to win at least 36 card points.
The score for the game is 80; no bonuses, no difference.
This contract is rarely bid. It's the last resort if somebody bids beggar and you have a winning hand. It's also used when a compulsory klop is being played and you just know you're going to lose it.
Odprti berač (Open beggar)
This contract is played the same way as the beggar, except for one major difference. After the first trick is played, the declarer arranges all his cards face up on the table so that the other players can see them. This makes the contract extremely hard to win. The declarer's opponents are not allowed to discuss the play.
The score for the game is 90.
Colour valat:
Declarer plays alone against the other three players with the object of winning all the tricks, but the trumps function as an ordinary suit. The declarer leads to the first trick. A player unable to follow suit is still obliged to play a trump, but the trumps do not win - the trick is won by the highest card of the suit led. When a trump is led, players must follow with trumps if possible and the highest trump wins.
The score for the game is 125.

Notes on pagat ultimo and king ultimo

  • For king ultimo it is good enough for either partner to win the last trick with the called king in it. For pagat ultimo, the pagat actually has to win the trick - if not, the bonus is lost even if the trick is won by the partner of the person playing the pagat.
  • If the bonus is not announced, but you play the called king or the pagat to the last trick, you are deemed to be attempting to get the bonus, and you score minus the appropriate bonus if the pagat is beaten, or your side loses the last trick containing the called king.
  • An announced bonus of this type can be lost in three ways:
    • you play the card to the last trick, but it fails to win (or, in the case of the king, your partner also fails to win);
    • the card is forced out prematurely;
    • your side does not possess the card at all (stranger things have happened!).
  • If the bonus is announced, the side making the announcement is obliged to keep the card until the last trick (if possible).
  • It is customary to turn the declared card around or to put it face up on the table, so that other players can see it.

Variations

Calling a king

If you have all four kings, and play a three, two or one, you would normally have no option but to call yourself. However, some people allow a player who holds all the kings to call a card of the trula. In this case a player who holds all the kings and all the trula cards is allowed to call a trump (but a player with such a good hand should really be playing something higher than one).

Some people allow a player who has three kings to call the fourth by simply saying "the fourth king", without specifying its suit. This can make things somewhat more difficult for the opponents.

Bidding and contracts

According to many people the winner of the bidding must play the exact contract he bid - he cannot convert to a higher contract (except in the special case of increasing a solo three, solo two or solo one to colour valat.

Some people allow an additional negative contract called piccolo, in which the object is to win exactly one trick. It ranks between solo one and berač and is worth 70. Most players do not allow this contract, as it is thought to be too easy. If it is played, it would make more sense to rank it below solo three, or maybe even between three and two.

Some people allow colour valat to be played with a partner (after exchanging the talon in a contract of three, two or one). This is also too easy, and most players don't allow it.

In some circles compulsory klop is played when a player's score reaches 500, 1000 or any multiple of 500. Some also play a compulsory klop after a misdeal.

Bonuses and kontras

Some people allow an extra level of doubling - hirškontra - between subkontra and mordkontra.

Some people play that declarer's team only require 35 points plus one card (rather than 36 points) to win a contract.

A few people play that an unannounced pagat ultimo (won or lost) counts only for or against the holder of the pagat. The partner is not affected. Some play this only if the pagat ultimo is lost.

Klop

Some people play that in a klop, if the škis has not yet been played it is illegal to lead the XXI (unless it is your last card, or your last two cards are the mond and the pagat).

Some allow a klop to be kontra'd. If a player says kontra then anyone who takes more than 35 points loses 140 instead of 70. If no one takes more than 35 points the player who said kontra loses 140.

Berač

The declarer can bid berač holding the škis, gambling on the mond and pagat being held by different players, neither being in the talon. If you play this variation, the declarer leads the škis to the first trick, and the players who hold the mond and pagat are obliged to play them, so that the pagat wins an emperor trick. If the mond and pagat do not both appear, the berač has failed.

Colour Valat

Most people allow the declarer to lead his cards in any order, but some players require the declarer to play all his suit cards before leading any trumps.

Money game

Many people, when playing for money, operate the scoring differently. If the declarer has a partner, each member of the losing team pays one member of the winning team. If the declarer is alone, he receives from or pays to all three of the other players. Using this method, it is possible to settle up after each hand by pushing money across the table, or the score is recorded showing the gains and losses of each player.

This way of scoring increases the value of games played alone relative to those played with a partner. If two players in partnership win 80 then the results for the four players will be +80/+80/-80/-80, which if one player wins 80 points alone, the result will be +240/-80/-80/-80. In this version, a player whose mond is captured pays 20 to each of the other three players.

If you are paying out after each hand rather than scoring on paper, the management of radli and the scores for klop become rather complicated. For this reason some people play this form of the game without klop and without radli. If you do play with klop, then if no one wins or loses, each player pays for the points they took to each of the other three players. A player who wins or loses receives or pays 70 to all three opponents. If you play with radli, they are represented by some kind of token, such as matchsticks. Players who have any radli left over at the end of the game pay 100 to each of the other players for each radl they have left.

If playing for high stakes, you may want to dispense with the rounding of difference points to the nearest 5, but pay for them exactly instead. In that case the penalty for losing the mond becomes 21 rather than 20.

It is also possible to play for money using the paper method of scoring explained in the main description of the game. In that case, at the end of the game, the average score is worked out, and players pay or receive according to how far they are above or below the average.

The five-player game

The five-player game is virtually identical to the four-player game. The dealer deals the cards to all players but himself and thus finishes his role in the game. In the next game, the next player deals. The dealer never scores anything. In the money version of the game the dealer neither pays nor receives anything. However, if an event happens that causes everyone to get a radl, the dealer gets one too.

The three-player game

This is the variant favoured by many good players of tarok. This type of game requires much more concentration than the four player version, so it's not really suitable for the usual tarok + beer parties. The cards and their values are the same as in the four player game, and the rules of play are the same, except where specified below.

The player to the left of the dealer cuts the deck (or knocks) and the players are dealt 16 cards each in packets of eight.

Except in klop, the declarer always plays alone against the other two players. The possible contracts are:

name score description
klop (sometimes called klopecki) minus (points taken) or 70 avoid taking points; no bonuses; played only if everyone passes
three (tri or trojka) 10 + difference take 3 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points
two (dva or dve or dvojka) 20 + difference take 2 cards from the talon; win at least 36 card points
one (ena or enka or enojka or enica) 30 + difference take 1 card from the talon; win at least 36 card points
beggar (berač) 70 play alone; take no tricks; no bonuses

In the three player game, especially when played for money,  the card point differences are often scored exactly, not rounded to nearest 5.

Klop cannot be bid, but the other contracts are available to all players. The bidding begins with the player to dealer's right, and continues around the table anticlockwise. If all three players pass, klop must be played. As in the four player game, players whose first turn to speak was earlier have seniority in the bidding, and can equal the bids of junior players by holding. A junior player has to bid higher than a senior player or pass. A player who has passed cannot bid again during the auction.

The winner of the bidding can play the bid contract or convert to a higher one. The talon cards are then exchanged as appropriate, and there is an opportunity for announcements. The following bonuses are available:

bonusunannouncedannounceddescription
trula1020 take škis, XXI and I in tricks
kings1020 take all 4 kings in tricks
pagat ultimo2550 win the last trick with the pagat (tarok I)
valat250500 win all the tricks - in this case no other bonuses count

The cards are played as in the four player game, and the hand is scored. In a contract of three, two or one, a player whose mond is beaten, or who leaves the mond in the talon, pays an individual penalty of 21 points. To end the session, a škis round is played.

Variations of the three player game

Some players allow the higher bids of the four player game: solo without, open beggar, colour valat without and valat without. These contracts are much rarer with only three players than with four. Also, in this case, a bid of three, two or one can be increased to colour valat after exchanging the talon.

A player who has been dealt the pagat but no other taroks has a special privilege. During the round of announcements, the player can announce "Vogel frei", and the pagat is then exempt from the rules of following suit. The pagat can be played to any trick, and it wins the trick to which it is played, irrespective of what other cards are played to that trick. [I do not know why the announcement of this is in German. Vogel means bird, which is the pagat - sometimes known in Austria as the sparrow (Spatz), and frei means that it is free - i.e. can be played any time.]

Some play that the hand can be annulled, after the deal, by any player who has no taroks, or one tarok, or two taroks, both of which are below the X.

Other Slovenian Tarok WWW pages and software

The Slovenian Tarok Association (Tarok Sveza Slovenije) has 19 clubs with around 150 players in each. They organise regular 3-player Tarok tournaments - about 10 per year - and maintain a rating system.

Tarok.net offers a program which can be used to play three- or four-player Slovenian Tarok against live opponents over the Internet.

Blaž Merela's Game of Tarot is a Slovenian Tarok app for iPad, iPhone and iPod.

An old Slovenian Tarok progam formerly available at http://www.eunet.si/commercial/tarok/tarok.html, with attractive playing-card graphics including as an option to use the old Slovenian pattern designed by Hinko Smrekar and published in 1916, is available here.

Wesley Welch's www.tarock.net is the web site of an American group that play a version of Slovenian Tarok.