Hokm

This page is mainly based on information from Ali Jahânshiri. Thanks also to Babak Mozaffari and Cathy Tavangarian for sending descriptions of this game.

Game Overview

Hokm is a trick taking card game, in which the object is to be the first team or player to win 7 points. It's the most popular card game in Iran. Deal and play are anticlockwise.

The word Hokm literally means "command, order" but in card game jargon, it's Persian for trump suit.

Hâkem

At the beginning of each hand, one of the players becomes Hâkem. Hâkem literally means "ruler, governor" and in card game jargon, it refers to a player having certain privileges in the game. In Hokm, these privileges are:

  • To be the player who receives the first cards dealt.
  • To be the player who makes trump (i.e. chooses and declares what suit will be trump) for the current hand.
  • To be the player who leads to the first trick of the hand.

Players and Cards

Hokm can be played with 2, 3 or 4 players. If with four players, two players normally team up against the other two.
The game uses a standard 52-card deck. Within each suit, the cards are ranked from highest to lowest: A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Hokm for 4 Players

The four players are in fixed partnerships, with partners sitting opposite each other.

Determination of Hâkem, His Partner and Dealer

One of the players flips one card to each player anticlockwise. The first player to take an Ace becomes Hâkem. The dealing is continued (notice that Hâkem gets no more card) until another player takes another Ace. This player becomes the partner of Hâkem. If necessary, the players must change seats so that the partners are sitting opposite each other. The player to the left of Hâkem, who is from the opposite team, becomes dealer.

Deal

Before the deal, the partner of Hâkem (the player to dealer's left) has the right to cut the deck. The dealer then deals out all the cards in 3 rounds so that each player has 13 cards. Each player receives 5 cards at a time in the first round, and 4 cards in the following rounds. The first cards are dealt to Hâkem (the player to dealer's right) and the deal continues anticlockwise, ending with the dealer. Hâkem must choose and declare the trump suit on the basis of his own first 5 cards only. To avoid any possibility that Hâkem's partner might help by passing information about his cards, the deal must be paused during the first round, and no cards given to Hâkem's partner until Hâkem has declared the trump suit.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player holds no cards of the suit led, that player may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • The first team to take 7 tricks wins the hand and scores 1 point.
  • If the Hâkem's team wins the hand by taking the first 7 tricks, the other team having taken none, they win 2 points instead of 1. If the Hâkem's opponents win by taking the first 7 tricks, they win 3 points instead of 1.
  • The first team to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If the Hâkem's team won the hand, the Hâkem retains the rank, and the same dealer deals again. If the other team wins, the turn to deal passes to the right: the previous Hâkem deals and the player to his right becomes Hâkem for the following hand.

Hokm for 3 Players

Determination of Hâkem and Dealer

Before starting the game, one of the 2's is removed from the deck, leaving 51 cards (17 cards for each player). One of the players flips one card at a time to each player anticlockwise. The first player to take an Ace becomes Hâkem and the player to his left becomes dealer.

Deal

The dealer deals out all the cards in 4 rounds so that each player has 17 cards. Each player receives 5 cards at a time in the first round, and 4 cards in the following rounds. The Hâkem receives the first cards and the deal continues anticlockwise. The deal is paused after the first round, and continued after Hâkem has declared the trump suit.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. Each player in turn must follow suit. If a player holds no cards of the suit led, that player may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • If one player takes all the first 7 tricks, the hand is over and the winner scores either 2 points if he was Hâkem or 3 if he wasn't Hâkem.
  • Otherwise, the winner is the first player who takes a number of tricks that cannot be equalled or exceeded by another player. For example if the tricks are 7-4-3 the play must continue, because a second player might also achieve 7 tricks, but at 7-4-4 the player with 7 tricks has won, because no one else can take more than 6 tricks. In the same way 8-3-1 is not yet a win, but 8-2-2 is a win for the player with 8 tricks. In such a case the winner of the hand scores 1 point.
  • If two of players take the same number of tricks then the third player wins the hand and scores 1 point. So for example if the tricks are 7-7-3, the player with 3 tricks wins.
  • The first player to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If Hâkem won the hand, he keeps this rank and the same player deals again. Otherwise Hâkem becomes the new dealer and the player to his right becomes Hâkem for the following hand.

Hokm for 2 Players

Determination of Hâkem and Dealer

One of the players flips one card at a time to each player alternately. The first player to take an Ace becomes Hâkem and the other player becomes dealer.

Deal

The dealer deals 5 cards at once to Hâkem and 5 to himself and the undealt stock is placed face down in the middle of table. Hâkem examines his cards and declares the trump suit. Then he chooses 3 of his 5 cards to discard face down to start the discard pile. In the same way, the other player discards 2 unwanted cards from his hand face down.

Now Hâkem draws the top card from the undealt stock (without exposing it to his opponent). If he estimates it valuable, he can add it to his hand; otherwise he discards it face down and takes the next card from the top of the stock, which he must keep. If he chose to keep the first card, he must discard the second card face down, having looked at it. Now the other player draws from the stock, choosing to keep the first or second card in the same way. This continues, the players taking turns to draw, until the stock is exhausted. At this point, each player should have 13 cards in hand.

The decision whether to take the first card or wait for the second brings a lot of excitement to the game. Sometimes you miss a valuable card because you have picked the first card. Your opponent must not see any of your discarded cards.

Play

Hâkem leads to the first trick. The other player must follow suit. If he holds no cards of the suit led, he may play any card (including any trump card). The highest card in the trump suit always wins the trick. If no trump cards are played, the trick goes to the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Scoring

  • The first player to take 7 tricks wins the hand and scores 1 point.
  • If Hâkem wins the first 7 tricks he scores 2 points instead of 1. If Hâkem's opponent wins by taking the first 7 tricks, he scores 3 points instead of 1.
  • The first player to reach 7 points wins the game.
  • If Hâkem won the hand, he remains Hâkem. If not, he deals and the other player becomes Hâkem.

Glossary

Kot
Winning the hand by taking all the first seven tricks is called Kot which is worth 2 points.
Hâkem Koti
If you or your team could Kot the Hâkem player or team (impossible mission) then it's called Hâkem Koti which is worth 3 points.
Hokm Lâzem
To lead a trump card which obliges other players to play a trump card.
Boridan
(literally 'to cut' - cf. French 'couper') To win a trick by playing a trump card when you are void of the suit led.
Rad Kardan
(literally 'to bypass') Not to play a trump card when you are void of the suit led, because you are quite sure that your partner will win the trick.
Pâyin Âmadan
(literally 'to lay low') To play a low card because you are quite sure that your opponent will win the trick.
Bâlâ Âmadan
(literally 'to lay high') To play a high card in order to make the next player play a higher card if he can.

Other Hokm web pages

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

Software and Online Games

At the Varagh site you can play Hokm online against live players.