Basra is a fun engaging card game that is played widely in coffee houses throughout the Middle East. It is a game that offers something different to following suit and winning tricks. Basra is best described as a fishing game. Simple in its mechanics and easy going in its style, Basra provides a rich opportunity for strategy and skill.
Having been played widely in Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon and all over the Mediterranean from as far back as the days of the Ottoman Empire, Basra appears in a number of variations. The version we will explain here is common in Lebanon and makes for an excellent card game for two players.
Standard deck of 52 cards.
Each player is dealt 8 cards one at a time, and then four are dealt face up to the center. This is called the "floor". If any of them is a Jack or the 10 of Diamonds, it is buried in the deck, and a new card turned in its place. The remainder of the deck is set aside for now.
The player’s objective in taking his turn is to win or collect cards from the floor by playing the right card. Of particular interest is the 10 of Diamonds, any Aces, Jacks, and the 2 of Clubs. And if he is good, he can play a card that takes up all the cards from the "floor" - a Basra! Cards can be taken by:
Starting with the non-dealer first, each player takes their turn by playing a card face up to the "floor". If it matches any of the face up cards according to the rules outlined above, the player announces his capture, and removes his own card and the card(s) he has captured and sets them aside neatly in front of himself. If the player fails to capture any cards, his card simply remains face up on the "floor" available for capture in future plays. The turn then passes to the next player and each plays a card until their hand is exhausted.
Once the two players have exhausted all the cards from their hands, the dealer once again deals each player 8 cards one at a time, and the turn to play starts with the non-dealer. Play continues like this until the entire deck is exhausted. If there are any cards left on the "floor" after the last play, the last player to have taken cards, takes these for him/herself.
At the end of play, each player tallies their score by awarding points for the following.
Basra is played over several hands to a grand total of 51 points.
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