Xeri (Ξερή)

This page is based on information from Alexandros Kouridakis and Thanos Tsakonas.

Introduction

Xeri (from the Greek adjective “ξερή” meaning dry or plain) is a well-known Greek card game in which players try to capture the pile of played cards by matching its top card. The play is quite similar to the Turkish game Pişti, though the scoring is different. The idea of the Xeri, in which a player matches and captures a single card, is also used in combination with another fishing game Kontsina (Κοντσίνα) to form the basis of Diloti (Δηλωτή), a more complex game with much scope for strategy.

Players, Cards and Deal

Xeri is played by two players whose goal is to collect the most points by capturing cards from the table. A standard international 52-card deck is used.

The first dealer is chosen by any convenient method, and the turn to deal alternates between the players from round to round. It is generally disadvantageous to be the dealer.

The dealer shuffles and the dealer's opponent cuts. Each player is then dealt 6 cards and another 4 are dealt on the table to begin the play pile. The players' cards may be dealt one at a time, in batches of two or three at a time or all six at once. The four cards of the play pile cards are dealt face-up, one on top of the other, the first card from the deck becoming the bottom card of the pile, the fourth becoming the top card. If the top two cards of the play pile are equal in rank, or if the top card is a Jack, the play pile is shuffled into the deck and a new one is formed. The rest of the deck is set aside and used as a talon (stock pile), from which more cards are dealt when required.

The Play

The non-dealer plays first, and the turn to play alternates between the two players. On their turn, each player must play a card on top of the play pile.

  • If the played card is of the same rank as the card immediately below it (for example a King is played on a King or a 7 on a 7), the player captures the entire play pile and places it face down in front of him in his pile of captured cards. The captured cards may not be looked at again until the end of the round.
  • If the played card is a Jack and the play pile is not empty, the player captures the entire play pile irrespective of the rank of the card below it, and adds it to his capture pile as above.
  • If the played card is not a Jack and does not match the top card of the play pile, it is simply laid face-up on top of the play pile, and it is now the next player’s turn.
  • If the table is empty, the played card is placed face up on the table to start a new play pile, and may be captured "xeri" (see below) if the next player can match it.

Play continues until both players' hands are depleted. When that happens, the dealer deals a new 6 cards from the talon to each player to start a new hand. Play proceeds as normal, with the non-dealer acting first after each deal. This continues until the talon is depleted. When the talon and both players’ hands are all depleted, any cards left on the board are taken by the player who last captured any cards from the table. The round is over at this point.

The “Xeri”

If there is just one card in the play pile and the next player captures the card by matching its rank (not by playing a Jack, unless the lone card is also a Jack), then that player is said to have captured the lone card “xeri” («ξερή» = “dry”, “plain”). In that case, the lone card is placed face-up under the player’s capture pile and perpendicular to it, so that about half the card is visible, as a reminder that it has been captured “xeri” and scores extra points. The card still counts as one of the player’s captured cards. A player may capture any amount of “xeri” during play.

Scoring

Once the round ends, each player accumulates points based on the cards they have captured. There are 25 points in total, plus any additional points scored by any “xeri” the player has captured. The points are awarded as follows:

  • 3 points for “the cards”: Awarded to the player who has captured the most cards. In the event that both players capture exactly 26 cards, the cards are said to be “split” and no player earns any points for “the cards”.
  • 1 point for each Ace, King, Queen, Jack or 10 the player has captured (20 points in total)
  • 1 additional point for “the good 10”: Awarded to the player who captures the 10 of diamonds. Thus, this card counts for 2 points in total (1 for being a 10 and another one for being the “good 10”)
  • 1 point for “the good 2”: Awarded to the player who captures the 2 of clubs.

In addition, each player scores an extra 10 points for each “xeri” capture they have made. In the rare event that this “xeri” is a Jack, 20 points are awarded instead of 10. Remember that a “xeri” is still considered as a captured card as well. For example, if a player captures the 10 of diamonds as “xeri”, it counts towards their card total for “the cards”, earns them 2 points, one for being a 10 and another for being the “good 10” and gives them an additional 10 points for being a “xeri”.

The player who scores the majority of these points wins the round, and the player who was the non-dealer becomes the dealer for the next round. An agreed number of rounds is played and whoever wins more rounds is the overall winner.

Variants

Four players. Xeri can be played by four people in partnerships, partners sitting opposite each other. In this case the direction of play is anticlockwise. The opponent to dealer's left who cuts the deck before the deal and the opponent to dealer's right plays the first card.

Exposed bottom card. Some play that the cut card, which becomes the bottom card of the deck, is shown to everyone and placed face up under the pile of undealt cards, so that all can see its value. If the cut card is a jack, the cutter looks at the next card and continues until a card is reached that is not a jack, and places that card where it will be the bottom card of the pack.

Initial play pile. Some allow the top two cards of the initial play pile to be of equal rank or the top card to be a Jack, and do not replace the play pile by a new set of four cards when this happens.

No xeri with dealer's last card. Some players do not score the very last card played by the dealer at the end of the round as a “xeri”, even if it captures a lone card played to the empty table by the previous player.

Jack xeri. Some score 25 points rather than 20 for a xeri in which a lone jack is captured by another jack.

Point scoring. Instead of just counting games won, some groups keep a tally of the total number of points won by each player or team. The first player or team to have a cumulative score of 151 or more points at the end of a round wins the game. If both players or teams reach 151 in the same round, the game continues to a cumulative score of 251 or more points, and so on.