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The rules of preference

Preferans is a card game, aimed at training the mind, spending enjoyable time, and socializing with interesting people.

Preferans appeared in the early 19th century and evolved from the basic elements of various ancient games popular in Europe.

Its name, Preferans, comes from the French word "préférence," meaning "preference." This principle, used in auction trading, was adopted in Preferans for trading in the first stage of the game to determine who would get such a desired bonus and the right to order the game.

Preferans is played by three or four players. In a three-player game, dealing occurs in rotation, and all players are involved in the game. In a four-player game, one partner, dealing the cards, does not participate in the game. They sit on the side. It's also possible to play with just two players – "with the dummy," in which case the cards of the third player are laid out on the table, and the active player plays on behalf of them.

Deck of Cards for Preferans and Dealing

The deck for Preferans consists of 32 cards — eight cards of each of the four suits. In the order of participation in trading for the right to order the game, these are the following suits:

  • spades
  • clubs
  • diamonds
  • hearts (the highest suit)

The order of suits is significant in trading and ordering the game (contract).

Cards in each of these suits are ranked in the following order:

Ace, king, queen, jack, ten, nine, eight, seven.

One of the suits can be declared a trump. In this case, any card of the trump suit becomes higher than any card of any other non-trump suit. It's also possible to play without a trump, in which case the highest card is the highest card of the suit that was led.

Cards do not have point values; only the number of tricks taken by the player matters.

Dealing consists of dealing two cards up to ten cards, with the remaining two going to the side, neither first nor last. A fierce competition among players determines who gets the remaining cards.

Trick. How Cards are Played

At the heart of Preferans lies the principle of taking tricks. A trick is a set of cards played on the table by each of the partners in one round of the game.

Each trick consists of three cards, one from each player. The exception is called "pass," where the first card played is from the side cards.

In all types of Preferans, the partners' goal is to take as many tricks as possible or, conversely, to avoid taking any tricks.

The first move belongs to the player sitting to the left of the dealer, and subsequently to the player who took the last trick. Players play one card at a time.

The highest card, not beaten by other cards, wins the trick. The player takes the trick and places it next to them, keeping track of the number of tricks taken.

Each player must play a card of the same suit as the one led. If a player doesn't have a card of that suit, they must play a trump. However, if they don't have trumps either, they can play any card.

Types and Values of Games

All possible games to be played are divided into three types:

  • Trick-taking games — the player specifies the desired number of tricks (but not less than six) that they undertake to take with their chosen trump or when playing without a trump;
  • Mizer — the player undertakes not to take any tricks, while opponents try to prevent them from doing so;
  • Passes — all players try to avoid taking tricks, or take as few as possible.

The costs of the ordered games are distributed as follows:

Contract Player commits to take tricks Contract price
6 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 6 2
7 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 7 4
8 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 8 6
Miser 0 10
9 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 9 8
10 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 10 10

Upon receiving the cards and assessing their capabilities, the player tries to order the maximum contract and collect as many points as possible in the pot.

Auction Trading Rules in Preferans

The first word in trading belongs to the player sitting to the left of the dealer – this is the first hand. Then the right to make a bid passes clockwise to the next player. Each turn allows only one bid for the game or saying Pass.

The player sets the Contract based on the number of tricks they can take if they take the remaining cards and declare a trump or play without a trump.

Trading can start from setting six tricks. That is, the first word a player can say is "six spades." The next partner can participate in trading for the remaining cards and say "six clubs," or Pass.

The player who wins the bidding and takes the remaining cards afterward (if both opponents passed) can only set the contract they bid up to, or any higher-ranked contract.

An exception is the Miser contract, which can only be ordered immediately. This rule is called "cabal Miser." The Miser contract cannot be ordered by a player who has already participated in trading. The desire to play Miser can only be announced with the player's first word. In further trading, they lose the right to order Miser.

During trading, opponents sequentially name the suit of the game and the number of tricks. However, during trading, you can keep the bid the same by saying "here." If a player opens the bidding with "six spades," the second player says "six clubs," and the next one passes. In this case, the first player already has the right to say "clubs here" repeating the bid, rather than saying "diamonds."

A player who doesn't want to trade says "Pass" and forfeits the right to order a contract and participate in further trading for the remaining cards.

A bid made during trading cannot be revoked. A player who made such a bid, after which their partners passed, must take the remaining cards and set a contract not lower than the one declared in the trading.

When all players have passed, the game of Passes is played – a game in which all participants try not to take tricks.

The player who made the highest bid is called the "declarer." They open the remaining cards for all to see, take them, and discard two unnecessary cards without showing them to anyone. After that, the contract is set.

After a player has made a bid and received the remaining cards, they are obligated to order the game, even if they do not see the possibility of fulfilling the commitment.

The game can be ordered no lower than the bid they reached during the trading for the remaining cards.

The "declarer" can order a contract no lower than the bid they reached during the trading.

A player is given the right to leave "without three", taking three tricks up without whists in the game they reached during the trading.

All trick-taking games are played only if they are bid. Otherwise, the game is recorded as played without a trick-taking round. An exception to this rule is the ten-round game. There is an agreement under which the ten-round game is verified. The ten-round game can be bid. The necessary parameter of this agreement is chosen when creating the game.


This is a contract in which the player who ordered it commits to take no tricks.

Miser is played as follows: the player who declared Miser (if their appointment is not overridden by a nine or ten-round game) opens both cards of the remaining cards for all to see. Then, two unnecessary cards are discarded, and the misère is not shown to anyone. If it is the declarer's turn, they make the lead before the opponents reveal their cards. If it is the opponents' turn, they reveal their cards before making their first lead.

There are no trumps in Miser. The ranking of cards is preserved, and a card must be played in the suit of the lead.

Whists on Miser have the right to record the layout. Recording cards is only allowed for the Miser game.

In Preferans, there is a contractual rule for trading on Miser: Miser is overridden by a nine-round game, a nine-round game is overridden by Miser without the remaining cards, which is overridden by a nine-round game without the remaining cards or a ten-round game. Such a convention can be changed when creating a game bid.

Rules for playing Passes

If all three players say "pass", Passes are played. This is a game in which all players try not to take tricks.

There are no trumps in Passes. It is mandatory to play a card in the suit of the lead. If there is no suit, any card can be played.

In Preferans Sochi and Leningrad, for each trick taken in Passes, a player writes a certain number of points in the pot. A player who has not taken any tricks writes the value of one trick in the pot. Exiting from Passes is possible by ordering the 6th, 7th, or 8th game. This is determined by prior agreement. The corresponding parameter can be selected in the settings when creating a game bid.

In Preferans Rostov, a player who has taken fewer tricks in Passes writes 5 whists against their partners for each trick taken by them. A player who has not taken any tricks writes one point in the pot. If the minimum number of tricks is taken by two players, they write the whists against the third player half and half.

If Passes occur several times in a row, then, by prior agreement between the players, the price for one trick may increase from Pass to Pass. Such an increase in the price of a trick in Passes is the subject of prior agreement.

Counting Whists

After ordering the contract, players who have passed must say whether they undertake to take the required number of tricks for this game. If a player commits to taking such tricks, they say "whist," and if not, they say "pass." A player who has declared "whist" is called the "whist-taker."

For the tricks taken, the "whist-taker" writes the agreed number of points in the "whists" section.

In case of a shortfall in tricks by the declarer, the "whist-taker" writes additional "consolation" (penalty) points for each trick missed by the declarer. Consolation is usually written by all players.

In case of a shortfall in tricks by the whist-taker, they write whists for the tricks actually taken and for the missed ones in the pot.

The number of tricks for whist-takers:

Contract Whist-takers must take tricks
6 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 4
7 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 2
8 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 1
Miser No obligation
9 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 1
10 spades (clubs-diamonds-hearts-no trumps) 1

If both opponents bid, then together they must take the required number of tricks for this game.

There is a contractual rule: "Stalingrad" - the obligation of both partners to bid when ordering a contract of "six spades." Such a setting can be selected when creating a game.

In eight, nine, and ten-round games, the responsibility for the shortfall lies with the second "whist-taker."

Whist can be responsible, then the full cost of the game is written off for the whist in the pot.

Semi-responsible - half the cost of the game is written off for the whist in the pot. The choice of responsibility for whists is a contractual parameter that can be changed when creating a game bid.

Whist can be greedy and gentlemanly. With greedy whist, in the event of a "draw," only the whist-takers write down the whists, and the passer writes only for the draw. With two whist-takers, each writes for themselves — both whists and draws.

With gentlemanly whist: in the event of a "draw," the whists of the "declarer" are halved. If one said "pass," the second partner can go for half a whist. And the passer has the right to return the whist. The one who went for half a whist in the event of a draw by the declarer does not write down whists. Greedy and gentlemanly whist is subject to prior agreement, which can be changed at the time of creating the game.

Ending the Game

The game ends under certain conditions chosen by the players before the start. A specific number of points is set in the pot, and each participant has reached it. In addition, the game may end if:

  • It is a timed game, and the time for the game has expired;
  • One of the participants refused to play and surrendered.

In this case, the game stops, and the results of the pot round are calculated for all players. The calculated number of whists is multiplied by the bet amount. The bet - the price of a whist, can be pre-selected in the parameter settings when creating a game bid.