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Polt to Tzar

This game was contributed by Guyon Roche, who learned it in Auckland University, New Zealand, around 1989. We are not sure of its origin. It is a trick-taking game, like Whist, but with an exchange of cards between the winners and losers of each hand, similar to President or maybe 3-5-8.


Maintain social status by winning at least as much as your inferiors and climb the ranks by winning more than your superiors.

Players and Cards

About 5-7 people using a standard 52 card pack with joker.

Initial positions are decided randomly. The Tzar chosing the best seat, and the ranks descending clockwise (Tzar, President, Upper Class, Middle Classes, Lower Class, Polt)


The Polt deals an equal number of cards to each player (10 cards each with 5 players, 8 each with 6 players, 7 each with 7 players). The remaining cards are not used.

Card Exchange

The Tzar gives two cards of his choice to the Polt and the President gives one card to the Lower Class. For each card given, the Polt and Lower Class must return the highest card in their hand of the same suit - this may mean giving back the card they were given. The Joker does not need to be given as it has no suit. If the Tzar or President accidentally or otherwise gives the Joker as a favour, then the highest card of any suit (other than the Joker) is returned.

Declaring Trumps

Once the card exchange is complete, the Tzar then chooses and declares trumps.


The President leads and play proceeds like Whist until all cards have been played. (Players must follow suit; if unable to do so they may play any card. the highest trump, or if none is played, the highest card of the suit led wins the trick. The winner of a trick leads to the next.) Players can retain won tricks as a record of how much they have won.


At the end of play, social status changes according to how many tricks each player has won. Players remain above lower ranking people who have equal or less number of tricks, and rise above higher ranking people with less tricks.

Variations and Options


During dealing, no-one may touch their cards until the Polt knocks on the table. To do so means exchanging position with the Polt.


This option uses the 500-style ranking of cards where the jacks migrate suits. For example if hearts are trumps then order goes Joker, Jack of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, A, K, Q , 10, 9... 2. Note that the Jacks don't migrate during card exchange as trumps has not been declared.

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Last updated: 11th August 2003