Contributed by Jared McComb

Foolery is a game for 3-7 players using a 78-card Tarot pack.

Deal all the cards out among the players (some may get one more than others). Dealer leads the first trick of the first deal.

For convenience' sake on my part, these rules assume your deck is French-suited, with courts Jack, Cavalier, Queen, and King.

You must play 1, 2, 3, or 4 cards of the same rank, or a 5-card hand, when you lead. Trump cards are special and can't be included in normal plays except for five of a kind - see below.

After the lead, players must play the same number of cards in an equal or higher hand. If it's an equal single card or pair, the following player is skipped.

Aces are low.

5-card hands, lowest to highest:

  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full House
  • Straight Flush
  • Five of a Kind (includes a trump card; 11 for Jack, 12 for Cavalier, 13 for Queen, 14 for King)

Highest card counts for determining whether a hand is equal or higher, except in the Full House where the set of 3 determines it. There is no order of suits - all suits are equal.

If you can't or don't wish to beat a play with normal cards, you can trump it. Any 3 trumps beat 5 cards, any 2 trumps beat 3 or 4 cards (including a previous 3 trumps), and any 1 trump beats 1 or 2 cards (including previous trump plays). You can't lead trump unless that's all you have, after which you may lead one, two or three trumps at once.

Higher trumps are needed to beat lower ones, even when trumping 5 of a Kind (so, for example, you must play the VIII or higher if you are trying to trump 5 of a Kind of sevens). Only the highest trump in a set played counts for beating purposes. Note that trumping previously played trumps follows the same reductions as trumping normal cards, so in order to beat 3 trumps you must play exactly 2 trumps, to play 2 trumps you must play exactly 1 trump. A single trump can be beaten by a single higher trump.

The Fool beats everything and always ends the trick, no exceptions, and can be played at any time, unlike other trumps. However, it can't be led and can't be used as a normal trump card in a set of 2 or 3 trumps. If you get stuck with it and nothing else to lead, you are automatically the Peasant at the end of the hand.

You may pass your turn if you cannot or do not wish to play. If no one can or will play, the last person to play wins the trick and starts the next one. All played cards are set aside in a pile.

  • First out: King (or Queen)
  • Second out: Prince (or Princess)
  • Middles: Nobles
  • Second-to-last out: Merchant
  • Last out: Peasant

(No Princes or Merchants if with three players.)

Rounds after the first, the Merchant shuffles and deals the cards, and the King gets the first turn.

The King gets the Peasant's two highest cards, and gives the Peasant any two cards of his choice. The Prince and Merchant similarly exchange a single card. The Merchant and the Peasant may make requests as to what cards they would like, but the King and Prince are not obligated to follow through on them. The Fool may under no circumstances be passed.


The inventor suggests that it may work better to require three trumps to beat three trumps, and two trumps to beat two trumps, rather than requiring one fewer trump to be used.

Last updated: 7th November 2012