Text adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

Botifarra is an extremely popular card game in Catalonia and the north of the province of Castellón. It is a game for four players (in its normal version) who play in pairs.

Previous requirements

The basic rules of Botifarra are as follows:

This version of Botifarra is played with four players in two pairs who sit opposite one another.

To play Botifarra you need a 48-card deck formed by four suits (Fires, sickles, mushrooms and porrons in the deck of Catalan Playing Cards) with 12 cards each.

example of Aces in Catalan Playing Cards:
example of Manilles in Catalan Playing Cards:

The aim of players

The aim of the game is to get 101 points before the other pair.

The value of each card is as follows:

  • Manille (9), 5 points
  • Ace (1), 4 points
  • King (12), 3 points
  • Knight (11), 2 points
  • Jack (10), 1 point
  • Cards numbered 2 to 8 have no value.
  • One additional point is added for every trick won.

At the end of each hand, the points collected by each pair are counted. The pair to have more than 36 points records the number of points over 36 to their score. If both pairs have 36 points in their hand, neither records any points.

The value of points totalled must be multiplied by 2 if the hand has been declared botifarra (no trumps) or by 2, 4 or 8 where one of the players of the pair to open the hand has said contro, recontro or Sant Vicenç (2, 3 or 4 in some regional versions)

Dealing the cards


Before a hand is started, the player to be first in dealing the cards and selecting trumps must be established. Therefore, one of the four players confers a suit to each player and randomly turns over one card in the deck. The player to have the suit of the turned over card will be the first to deal the cards.

Now that you know which player is the first to deal the cards and select trumps, the player to his/her left must shuffle them and this player’s couple then cut the pack.

The cards can now be dealt. They must be dealt four by four, starting with the player to the right of the dealer, followed by the next player and so on until the 48 cards have been dealt, 12 to each player.

Selecting trumps

Once the cards have been dealt and before starting the hand, trumps must be selected. In view of the cards he/she is holding, the player to select trumps must either make the selection or pass the decision on to his/her partner.

The corresponding suit must be said out loud to indicate trumps: golden coins, cups, swords or clubs. The suit to have been selected controls the hand. It is also possible to say "botifarra". In this case, no trumps control the hand. If the decision is passed to the partner, he/she must select trumps from one of the previous options (Fires, sickles, mushrooms and porrons or Botifarra). If botifarra is selected, the number of points recorded by the pair winning the hand will be double.

Contro, recontro and Sant Vicenç

Once trumps have been chosen, the opposite pair can say contro. This means that the pair to win that hand will record double the points or four times if botifarra was selected.

To do this you must say "contro". If not, you must knock on the table.

Either player in the pair to have not selected trumps can say contro. This can only be said once for each hand, i.e. if your partner has already done you, you cannot say contro in that particular hand.

Once contro has been said, the components of the pair to have dealt and selected trumps can say recontro. This means that the pair to win will record the points of the hand multiplied by 4 or by 8 in the case of botifarra. To do so, you must say "recontro". If not, you must knock on the table.

Either of the players in the pair to have not said contro can say recontro. This can only be said once for each hand. Only if recontro has been said and the botifarra are not trumps can either of the players in the pair to have said contro say "Sant Vicenç". In this case, the points are multiplied by 8. If you do not want to say Sant Vicenç, you must knock on the table.

Playing the cards

Once trumps have been selected you can start playing the cards. The first player to play a card is the player to the right of the person to have dealt and selected trumps, who will select one of the cards in his/her hand and leave it facing upwards on the table in front of him/her.

The remaining players then play anti-clockwise until the trick is completed. The pair to have won the trick will collect the cards and save them facing downwards in a pile. The player to win the trick begins the next one.

Beating (matar) the card starting the trick is only possible with a card of the same suit of a higher value or a trump card.

Failing (fallar) a suit means that you have no cards of that suit. Similarly, semifallo means that you only have one card of that suit.

Scoring points and continuing the game

Once all the cards have been played, the points scored by each pair are counted and the pair to have won the hand will record the corresponding number of points.

Then, the player to have dealt the pack and selected trumps in the previous hand will be responsible for shuffling the cards, the person to his/her left for cutting the pack and the person to his/her right for dealing and selected trumps and so on.

In some regional versions, the cards are not shuffled at the start of each hand. The two piles of cards from the previous hand are simply placed on top of each other and the pack then cut. This means that the cards of the same suit are distributed relatively evenly among the players, leading to more spectacular hands.

End of the game

The game ends when one of the pairs has obtained more than 100 points.


Rules for playing cards

The rules below must be followed in order to know which cards to play:

  • The first player to play the trick can play any card. The suit of that card is known as the starting suit (palo de salida).
  • The rules for the remaining players are as follows:
    • If the trick is from his/her partner (the partner’s card is winning the trick):
      • If the player has cards of the starting suit, he/she must play one of these but does not have to play a higher card.
      • If the player has no cards of the starting suit, he/she can play any card.
    • If the trick is not from his/her partner (the winning card is from one of the components):
      • If the player has cards of the starting suit, he/she must play one of the cards from this suit and must beat it, whenever possible.
      • If the player has no cards of the starting suit but has others that win the hand (trumps), he/she must play a card to win the trick.
      • If the player has no cards of the starting suit or any card that wins the trick, he/she can play any other card.

In short, you are only forced to beat the cards of your components and not those of your partner and you must always (if possible) play cards of the starting suit.

Final Comments

When playing Botifarra you must also bear in mind that it is forbidden to speak, show you cards and make signs and comments that may indicate your cards or the good or bad decision of a hand. Despite this, it is quite normal to make some comments during the game, which adds to a more entertaining atmosphere.

The cards played must be placed in a pile facing downwards. Each pair will have its own pile and can only turn over the last trick of each pile to go over the cards already played.

Botifarra is a game of strategy and, as such, before playing a card you must think very hard about which is the best option, given that once you have played a card you cannot change your mind.

Breaking the rules

Breaking any of these rules means that the breaching pair will incur a revoke that is penalised by the loss of all the points in play. In other words, the other pair will record 36 points in the case of a normal hand and 72 in the case of botifarra, etc.

Dealing cards badly leads to the start of a new hand. This will not be penalised with any point, but the player to the right of the person have made the mistake will then deal and select trumps, thus making the initial dealer lose out on the option of selecting trumps.

Starting a new game

If, once the game is over, you want to begin a new one (if the players and the pairs remain the same), the same process of the last person to have selected trumps shuffling and the player to his/her right dealing and selecting trumps is followed.

External links

  • Butinet A site containing software to play Botifarra either against the PC or online.